Our experience started online, as many of my experiences with guys do. We had only been messaging for a couple of hours about things that left no impression on my memory when he asked me out. I really shouldn't be dating right now, but the overwhelming fragment of myself that's afraid of loneliness doesn't seem to understand that men can't fix the bruised places within me. The past handful of years have been filled with an endless string of guys I've expected to make me feel better in the ways I can't seem to feel on my own. This is what brought me to him, and to me asking if he'd like to do something the following night.
The collection of times I've been stood up have taught me to not get excited about dates. Part of me always expects to be blown off and I hold onto that instead of the possibility that I could get something I've always wanted. I texted him at 1 PM the following afternoon to confirm our date, just in case he'd changed his mind overnight. As the hours passed by my text continued to go unanswered. I even sent the possibly-desperate-seeming-follow-up text a few hours later. Still nothing, and I became that girl who checks her phone every few minutes. He had seemed so nice and excited to meet me that I was surprised at his sudden disappearance. But then again, I didn't know him. He could be either of these two versions of himself. I sent one last now-definitely-desperate-seeming text stating how I was surprised that he had ghosted me. A few hours later around 7 PM his number finally appeared on my screen with words that said "I'm really sorry I was at the gym", which may be the worst excuse I've ever received for not replying to a text all day. He asked to make it up to me. I suggested that he should come over. Sometimes I wish I had a bit more self-respect, but loneliness can turn you into someone you're not entirely proud of.
I've never been very good at taking care of myself. I think it comes from this identity of low self-worth that I had attached myself to for so long. Because of this, I quite casually put myself in reckless situations. I have unprotected sex with one-night-stands. I can't remember to take my birth control every day. And I invite strange men into my home. I knew this wasn't a smart idea. I didn't know him, and it was possible he enjoys murdering women he meets on the Internet. So although my instincts, my mother's voice in my head, and every episode of Law and Order SVU were telling me I shouldn't do this, I decided to do it anyway.
He didn't do anything out of the ordinary: he came into my apartment, took off his shoes, probably asked me how I was. But somehow that's all it took for the wishfulness of everything I wanted him to be to melancholically transform into disappointment. There was just something about him, though I couldn't tell you what, that made me uneasy. Now I was left to spend an evening getting to know someone who I had already decided I wasn't interested in.
It wasn't fun. My first, very judgmental impression of him was right and I didn't enjoy his company. I didn't want him to be there, but he was, and I was too polite to ask him to leave. Usually, I'm great at first dates because I love to talk. I know how to ask people questions about themselves and respond in charming ways that will make them laugh. But I just couldn't pretend this time. After twenty minutes of particularly uninteresting small talk with a guy I didn't feel like revealing any parts of myself to, I decided to avoid the situation by suggesting we watch a movie. I figured once 11 PM came around it would be perfectly acceptable to make up the excuse of having to get up early and ask him to leave.
The movie was pretty terrible, but I tried to escape into it as if it was the best thing I had ever seen. I curled up as close to my couch's armrest as was physically possible and wrapped my arms tightly around my legs. I didn't want him to touch me like many guys do when you invite them over to your house to watch a movie. I thought maybe I could communicate this with my body in the way that I wasn't able to do with words. Of course, he didn't notice any of this, or at least he pretended not to. Shortly after the movie began, he draped his arm around my uninviting shoulders and used his hands to caress the space of my legs available to him. Usually, when a guy does this I return with some sort of affection, but with him, I didn't. I sat there unmoving, my eyes fixated on the computer screen, trying to distract him with small talk about anything.
I know what the obvious thing is to do in a situation like this: I should have taken authority over my body and told this person that I didn't want to be touched by him. I could have said it politely, or gently, or aggressively, and all of that would have been okay because it is my body. It's my body and it shouldn't be available for anyone to do with what they please unless I want them to. But I didn't say anything. I let him touch me in ways I didn't want to be touched while the uncomfortableness I felt screamed silently inside my head. If it hasn't already been made obvious, I should probably tell you that I've never been very good at saying "no" to guys. I don't know why this is, but it's something I really struggle with it. On too many occasions to count, I've had sex with guys I'm dating on nights I didn't feel like it because I knew they wanted to. I've said "yes" to dates I didn't want to go on because I didn't feel confident enough to decline. I've let managers hit on me because I'm afraid sticking up for myself will change the way they feel about me and in the end affect how much money I make. I've stayed in relationships I don't want to be in because I can't bring myself to have the uncomfortable conversation of hurting someone else's feelings. I guess I feel like my needs are less important than the wants of whatever guy I'm in a situation with. I don't know what series of events lead me to think in such a way. It's possible that deep down in a place I can't see, I still feel unworthy of love. I let guys have me in the ways that they want because I don't feel like I'm worth valuing for more than the physical parts of me. Perhaps it's because I've never felt good enough for my father's approval. Or maybe because I thought that my brother never particularly wanted a relationship with me. Maybe it's because I'm afraid of not being liked, and I figure if I turn down their sexual advances they won't want anything to do with me anymore. I mean I was never planning on seeing this guy again so I don't know why that would matter in this situation, but somehow it still did. I'm sure a therapist could work wonders with the intricacies of this part of my behavior. But, because I don't have the proper means to afford a therapist and because I wasn't strong enough to stand up for myself, I was curled in a ball on my couch as close to my armrest as I could get, feeling very uncomfortable while a guy I didn't like explored my body. I never said "no" even though I never wanted this to happen.
This was not the first time I had invited a guy over to my house to watch a movie and I knew what comes after the touching. I silently begged him not to kiss me. I hadn't returned any of his affection and I hoped that maybe that would be enough for him to understand I wasn't interested in things going any further between us. But he chose not to notice me, and I chose not to stop him, and suddenly I was kissing this person I didn't want to be kissing. I wish I could say this was the first time I've kissed someone I didn't want to, but it's not. It's not even the second time or the third. And so as he kissed me, I thought to myself, "I can get through this. I've done it before." I know I should have asked him to stop. The feminist in me is ashamed at my submissiveness. The truth is, I was afraid to stop him. I didn't know him. I didn't know how he would react. And I was afraid this person I didn't even care about wouldn't like me. I suppose this is what I get for inviting a strange man over to my house. As he kissed me and explored my body some more, I kept my hands crossed over my chest. I did nothing but mechanically kiss him back and wait for time to pass.
Pretty soon the kissing wasn't enough for him and he put his hands under my shirt and on top of my pants where my lady parts are. Eventually, it all started to feel good. I was able to lose myself in the experience of my body and the fantasies in my head. I thought maybe this was all okay because now I was using him for the feelings his hands were giving my body. I just had to pretend it wasn't him. He tried to unbutton my pants, but I had enough strength in me to pull his hand away and tell him not to do that. Our mouths continued to interlock, our tongues wrapped around each other, but then the pretending stopped being enough. I broke the moment with the lie that I had to use the bathroom. I thought maybe if I took a pause from the situation he would forget that he wanted to kiss me. There I was, trying to avoid the situation by avoiding the reality of his intentions. I couldn't stay in the bathroom forever pretending to pee, so eventually, I returned to the couch and went back over to my corner. I tried to start a conversation about something in the hopes that he would forget that just minutes ago his hands were under my shirt and his lips were interlaced with mine. He was obviously uninterested in the things I was rambling on about because shortly after I began talking, he leaned over me and pressed his lips to mine. Again, for whatever reason, I couldn't say "no", and my body copied his.
Things continued like this for a while: my body experiencing something I didn't want to be a part of while my mind tried to disappear to a place where this wasn't happening. It didn't really work, my thoughts were really loud, but my body didn't seem to care how I felt about him. It responded to him in ways that were completely detached from everything my mind was screaming at me. It felt good, the way his hands explored my body, and I tried to escape into that. I finally decided to touch him. I moved my arms from my sides and put my hand on his lower back right where his shirt meats his pants. I felt something. My hand recoiled from the surprise of not knowing what it was. I tentatively placed my hand again on this thing, hard and square-like, sticking out of the back of his pants. As I asked him, uncertainty quickly pulled my hand away again. "It's my gun", he said. He replied so casually, as if there is absolutely nothing scary or dangerous about being alone in my home with a man I don't know carrying a gun. Before my thoughts had a moment to process the weight of his words, my body got me off of the couch and backed into a corner. I place my hands in front of my chest in what could be interpreted as a praying motion, although that wasn't my intention. My heart beat under my hands and into my ears as the word "no" came out of my mouth. There I was, finally able to say the word. "Yeah, it's my gun", he repeats. His words do not contain a trace of empathy. Because I was shocked and scared all I could do was repeat "no". In my not-working brain, I seemed to believe that if I denied reality enough, it would stop being true. He tells me he takes it with him everywhere, as if that is suppose to make everything okay. I tell him that that is so dangerous, and he tells me I don't know what I'm talking about. But I do know. In that moment he could have done whatever he wanted with me, and I wouldn't have been able to stop him. He could have my body a million times in a million different ways and I would have to let him. He could kill me, if he was the sort of person who killed people. I didn't know. Because I didn't know him. None of this happened. Instead he said he would go if I wanted him to, and I said I did. Then, I sat curled on the floor and waited for my heart to slow down. I never heard from him again.
There isn't really a moral to this story. In life, we have a million different experiences, this is just one of mine. I can tell you that I have decided to stop inviting strange men over to my house. And, I do hope that the next time someone I'm not interested in tries to kiss me, I'll have enough strength to not let them.