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Three years ago, I was in a long-distance relationship where we confessed our undying love to each other daily but never defined what we were. To other people trying to conduct a partnership between Australia and the UK, I would recommend any more clarity whatsoever.
After our initial hookup, our sexual relationship was a virtual one. We created a powerful narrative of what we missed about each other’s bodies and micro-analysed our magic connection. We also subconsciously penned a script that we would one day need to act out, after a 14-hour flight and no shower. It was a lot of expectation to meet when we first slept together again. Safe to say, we didn’t meet it.
After this, the trajectory of our relationship soured. I became his pseudo-secretary proofing job applications from afar, before he dumped me from Mexico. Arguably the first legitimately unforeseen beat in this story was his decision to arrive in the UK unannounced two weeks later. He had no money and nowhere to stay but, in his defence, a solid plan to leave for India next month. Obviously I thought this was incredibly romantic.
But I also had no idea if this person cared about me. Pretty quickly, I stopped being able to justify paying for Airbnbs in my own village and brought him back to my parents’ house. Just afterwards, I found out he’d lied about sleeping with other girls. I felt myself breaking in a hurricane no one could see.
The next day, he emailed me at work. Ten thousand miles between us usually recommended email as a platform, but he sent this one when I was seeing him an hour later. Two sentences, describing why he’d cheated, stuck: “Our latest trip made me worry about our sexual connection. I was concerned it wasn’t as special as things I have had with previous girls I have been in love with.”
He left the UK a few days later. I drove him to the airport because I am a moron.
“I didn’t have sex for a long time afterwards – not because I thought his words had weight, but because I was heartbroken.”
I promised myself I wouldn’t let his email screw with my head. But I can still pinpoint the moment I read it as one of the worst moments of my life. I didn’t have sex for a long time afterwards – not because I thought his words had weight, but because I was heartbroken. And when I’m heartbroken, I behave like a very devoted nun, with all the celibacy that implies. Eventually I noticed that it wasn’t grief holding me back, but confidence. I’d come to associate sex with shame and sadness: I couldn’t separate it from this email or its author. I deleted sex from my life.
Months later, I was working on a stallion yard in Colombia (which was also a tattoo studio). As my love life had disappeared, I committed to making my writing assignments extra funky. I had never been around such sexually liberated people in my life, which made being sexually insecure and repressed quite stressful. I worried that these people might, having never had sex with me, assume I’m bad in bed if they knew about the email.
When I eventually opened up at a tarot reading, I did not get pity. I got told off for not prioritising sex, and reminded it’s part of my health and happiness.
Heading back home, I put sexual liberation on my to-do list. I arranged a date and miraculously met a boy I fancied on the first go. My sex life had a future!
Sadly, not with this man it didn’t. Despite him being hot as hell, intelligent and kind, he stood me up one night because his fridge broke. He didn’t rearrange. I left it there.
“After nearly two years without sex, a pandemic bang on date two was not what I’d planned for my comeback.”
The months which followed were not the hardest or the saddest, but the naffest. Having treated sex as the enemy before falling for someone but not scoring, I was bored. Thankfully, coronavirus arrived and passed my dry spell into law.
In truth, the pandemic invited a refreshing sexless chapter into my life. It made dating without physical interaction possible, without it being personal. I had some cinematically cute woodland walks with one guy before acknowledging the spark wasn’t there.
When lockdown lifted, my next date involved tinnies from Budgens in the park. After nearly two years without sex, a pandemic bang on date two was not what I’d planned for my comeback. Some panic surfaced when sex returned so casually back into my life, after being so absent.
Thanks to my unhealthily silent concerns, this guy and I arranged date three. I wore lacy underwear, made the executive decision to have fun and reclaimed my sexuality. Crucially, we had a laugh. He freed me from contrived narratives or comparisons to previous women. I was finally being physically present, instead of thinking about the physics of it all.
After being haunted by an email telling me I wasn’t sexually special enough, I realised it had never been a realistic review of my sexuality but a scapegoat for someone else’s bad behaviour. What had been lacking was a partnership.
Sex itself is simple: with trust and chemistry, anyone can do it really well. My current partner recently said he’s never experienced a physical connection like ours. It’s no coincidence that I’ve been having the best sex lately.
We’re a good team.
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