This Is Why I Won’t Sleep With You

Joe St.Pierre
Joe St.Pierre

Your lips can touch mine. Again and again. Your arms can envelop me as we lie next to each other in bed. Your breath can caress my skin. Your fingertips can move through my hair. You can say my name; you can call me sweet things. I will touch your lips with mine. I will let you embrace me tightly, as we fall into deep sleep. I will listen to your breathing. I will smile as your breath tickles me. I will hold my breath as your fingers touch my hair. I will hold my breath when you look into my eyes.

But I will not sleep with you.

Because you can never give me what I want, and what I need. I need to feel something real. I want to know what if feels like to not be dead inside. I want to feel alive. I don’t want to feel lust or like; I want to feel love. And you can’t give that to me, and I can’t give that to you.

I am tired of a few hours. I want long days, sunrises to sunsets put on repeat. I want a future that includes someone there, with me, and not someone somewhere, back there, far away. 

I am exhausted of goodbyes, of waking up with the sun up, of slowly fixing clothes and things, in silence, with knowledge that we will never see each other again.

I can no longer stand the way my traitorous body reacts so strongly, the way my heart beats louder with every kiss and every touch, but still it doesn’t feel anything worthwhile, and the sound of my heartbeats echo in the hallow halls of my soul. Because while my body cannot resist you, while you might know what to do to make me scream, there is still that emptiness, that loneliness, that no climax can ever fill.

Because I am lonely, so lonely that I can join you in games of pretend love and real lust, even if it means quelling the yearning in my mind for something more from you. But I am also so painfully aware that it is a loneliness that you cannot cure, that you are unaware of, that I will never let you know. 

Under the covers, hidden from the world, in you kissed me, and you smiled. You looked into my eyes and asked, “Are you going cry now?”

No, I’m not going to cry — at least, while both of us are under the covers. Your presence is like a soothing balm that puts out the numbness temporarily. But if I sleep with you, the illusion is shattered, and I will realize that it is truly nothing, and you will leave at first light. If I sleep with you, I will wonder what will it feel like to kiss someone I love, what it would feel like to embrace someone I care about, because you have come the closest to me, because you were my friend first. And those thoughts will consume me once more, and my head will be an immense collection of made up stories and fantasies.

If I sleep with you, you might be like every single one of them in the past. You will be a notch on my bed post. An item on my list. A conquest. You will be a funny story to my friends, just another one of them. You will be reduced to your looks, to your performance, to your skill. You will be stripped away of your humanity, of the things I like about you as a person, of the things you do that makes me genuinely laugh. And I don’t want that to happen to you because I care for you, as a friend, even if I want to be your lover.

Because after we sleep with each other, I might treat you indifferently, almost cruelly, and whatever friendship that we have between the two of us might dissolve into thin air because I am incapable of feeling anything, or I am simply terrified of letting you in. The only way to keep myself safe is to keep you away. But also because people reap what they sow, I don’t want you to see me that way. I want to be your friend, if I cannot be your soulmate. I do not want to be a story you tell your friends, a trophy, a conquest, another name to your own list. I am afraid that we will no longer have the same hesitant tenderness with each other, no matter how effervescent it is.

But all of that is conjecture, a probability. What is certain is this: if I sleep with you, you will go and leave me behind. You were never meant to stay; you were always meant to leave, to go back to where you belong. And when that inevitable day comes, I will be left with a bigger hole in my heart because it’s you, precisely because it is you, a friend, someone I care about, and not some random encounter that I can easily brush off and ignore — like everyone else before. 

My mind is littered with contradictions, with inconsistencies, all because I can’t put you in a box, I don’t know what to call you, and you disturb the ordered and compartmentalized world that I have created for myself.

I have decided: I will not sleep with you. Even if I like the feel of your soft hair against my fingertips, even if I relish in the taste of your lips against mine, even if I find myself looking for you, following you, waiting for you to come, even if I can stare with wonder at your sleeping profile, even if I push myself deeper and deeper into your embrace, even if I find calmness when I place my hand over your naked heart.

But my will is weak, so terribly weak, with my loneliness railing against my already battered defenses, and right now, I want to feel something, I want to be happy, I want you, and only you, even if only for a short and confusing time  — and one day, before you go, before you leave for home, I will find you, I will reach for you, and — if you want me and if you let me — I will sleep with you. TC mark

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