“I’m just trying to be really candid with you,” I said quietly, staring down at the ripped, black upholstery of the taxi floor. “I love hanging out with you but I don’t think I want to sleep with you.”
We’d been on three dates. We met at a bar at last call and talked for an hour before I drunkenly decided to go home with you. You were interesting and we had chemistry. It wasn’t until I was half naked in your bed that I realized I didn’t want to have sex with you.
And guess what? That’s my fucking prerogative. I can decide at any time, however inappropriate or frustrating, that I don’t want to have sex.
I started to call a taxi to take me home, but you insisted that I should stay. You said it was fine, you liked me and wanted to “kick it.” I liked how you said that. It sounded casual, non-intimidating and cool. It should’ve been a red flag that you kept trying to undress me after I’d said no and I had to spend a sleepless night staving off your relentless advances. But something, perhaps alcohol and exhaustion, kept me there.
And then we went on three amazing dates. You’re intelligent and interesting and well traveled and kind and genuine. I really, really like you. I tried kissing you, slipping my arm behind your jacket and rubbing your back, seeing how it felt to be with you in a way that wasn’t platonic. I tried you on for size. You didn’t fit.
Another shocker: that’s also my fucking prerogative. I can test the waters. I can entertain possibilities within my relationships and change them if I decide it’s no longer what I want.
We’re standing outside of the venue and your hands are on my waist. You’re kissing my neck and asking me to come home with you. “I’m not sure about this,” I say. This is a lie. I am sure; I’m sure I don’t want to. So we share a taxi — I make it clear I’m going to my house, you’re going to yours — and I explain to you that I enjoy your company immensely, I feel very connected to you, and I always have fun with you. But I don’t want to sleep with you, and if that’s your ultimate goal, we should probably stop hanging out. The reality of it sucks: your physical desire is unrequited. That is no one’s fault. I just don’t want to have sex with you.
“But you haven’t even given it a chance!” you whine.
You are a grown-ass man. You should know this, but I’m going to break it down for you, because saying this to me makes it clear you don’t get it. I am not obligated to have sex with you. I don’t have to “give it a chance.” There is no way you are going to use persuasion or manipulation to get me to sleep with you. What did you think I’d say to this? “Oh, you’re right! What was I thinking? Let’s go give it a try.”
Furthermore, when someone says she doesn’t want to sleep with you, don’t try to persuade that someone to do so. There is never a scenario in which this will turn out well.
“I don’t need to give it a chance,” I respond calmly, even sadly. “I don’t want to sleep with you.”
“Are you seeing other people?” you ask.
Where the hell did that come from? What do my other relationships have to do with my lack of physical desire for you? I think the rationale here is as follows: I am so fucking irresistible, the only way she could not want me is if she’s enamored with someone else. This thought process is warped but I answer honestly.
“I’m not sure what that has to do with this, but yes. I am.”
“Are you sleeping with them?”
I shouldn’t have answered you. I don’t owe you any answers. We’ve been on three dates! There is no contract of exclusivity or disclosure or monogamy. I should’ve hugged you, gotten in the car and gone home. We’d both had a lot of whiskey. We could talk tomorrow. I’d said enough already. This was obviously getting out of hand. But some part of me got carried away with my own honesty, my self-righteous attempt at being “candid.”
You lost it. I remember the glowing tip of your cigarette flailing around in the air as you gestured wildly with your hands. You were yelling. We’d been on three dates and you were yelling at me in the middle of the street in a residential neighborhood.
“Fucking fine! If you’re dating all these other dudes, go fucking sleep with them! I’m sitting here trying to be real with you and you’re off fucking other guys? This is bullshit!”
It didn’t last long. It was a quick outburst, but it was enough. I had the most intense déjà vu of my life. I’d been here before. The screaming in the streets, the whiskey-fueled battles, the unfair accusations, the implication of the word “slut” without saying the word “slut” because you think that is somehow going too far. I spent a year in this place, my feet planted on the pavement beside a taxi. I spent a year threatening to leave but staying. Not again.
“I’ve done this before and I’m over it. Call me when you’re sober.”
I climb in the taxi and you stalk off to your house, shouting. I give my address and the taxi driver tries to talk to me, but I just shake my head and look out the window.
It breaks my heart. People face this expectation, this unfair reaction to their human condition, every single day. It’s no wonder there is so much bad sex out there, so much rape and coercion. I’m glad I was raised steely and strong, with the capacity to recognize what I want and do not want and assert myself. I am lucky. Not everyone feels the same confidence and ability to refuse. I’ll say it again: I am not obligated to have sex with you, under any circumstances. Don’t feed me those lines about “leading him on” and “messing with his head.” Nothing, no matter how shitty or confusing it might be, obligates me to give myself over to another person.
I am not obligated to have sex with you. And neither is anyone else.