45Chicago, United States
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My self-summary
By way of an introduction:

I have started to sleep around. I sleep with men I am not dating. I sleep with men and refuse to date them, actually. I come to their houses, fuck them, say thank you for a nice time, and don't let the door hit me on the ass on the way out.

You might think this is a pretty good deal, but it is not.

Because I fuck and tell.
Because I'm pissed.

Because when you set the bar so low it scrapes the ground (basic human decency + an orgasm will do, thank you very much), and men still manage to squeeze under it rather than just stumble over it, a woman must wonder what sort of parallel universe of dating jackassery she's entered.

I do not live where I say I do, but this site will not let me say I live in the state of Vibratoria. I am in my early 40s. I'm well-educated, employed, and independent. I have a pretty good body and a pretty great life.

I am no longer willing to accept behavior in men I date that I would not accept from anyone else, for any other reason. None of you have magical dicks. None of you. And even if you did have a dick that was magical, I would not tolerate what passes for normal behavior from you. I don't care if it vibrates me into multiple orgasms. I don't care if it makes my calves cramp, or the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at rapt attention. I don't care if it cooks dinner and does the fucking dishes. It's just not worth it.

This is my manifesta.

I have taken down my profile, I am buying a vibrator, and I'm going to start spilling secrets.
What I’m doing with my life
We met up in a bar and I told him the offer: no-strings-attached sex, one time, just for fun, and because he deserved it, and because I knew he wanted it.

And then we were at his place and I saw him looking at my lips. I said "are you going to kiss me?" and he said "I'm thinking about it."

And then I had one leg wrapped around his waist and the other one pressed between his neck and his shoulder. One of his hands held that leg up against his cheek while the other one pressed down between my breasts. The next time, my cheek was pressed against the pillow and his hands were cupping my hipbones. I pressed my hands into the wall so there was no space between us.

And then I said that was fucking great and I left.

And when I left, I didn't say "I'll call you" and then not call. And the next day, I didn't ignore him, or blow sunshine up his ass, or pretend not to understand when he said that he wanted more fucking. I didn't say "oh yeah sure" with no intention of following through. I said thanks but no thanks and invited him out for a platonic beer instead. I returned every email. I helped him work on a job application letter. I commiserated about dating woes.

It might have been easier to blow him off because I didn't want to date him. But here's the thing: I'm no coward. So instead of making him interpret silence, I treated him like a human being. Why? because if I strip off my clothing and let you put the most exuberant parts of your body up against and into the most intimate parts of my body, I can surely treat your thoughts with the same abandoned delight the next day.

So I don't see how it's so hard to do, really.

And there's my first complaint. It does not INJURE you to treat people like human beings, so stop acting like it does.


Why this man?

Good question. Exactly the right question, actually. Because if you know the answer, maybe you, too, can have a night of no-strings-attached fucking for good behavior.

The short answer is: he treated me like a human being.

We had exchanged emails dripping with rutting desire couched in ridiculously mixed metaphors. I was in a state of titillated dampness at the thought of him. And then he told me that he had realized he wasn't over his ex-girlfriend and it wasn't fair to me to lead me on when he was feeling some ambivalence about dating. I swallowed my disappointment, said ok, and got on with it. I proposed we meet up for drinks anyway, since I also like the way he wrote. (Make a note there: good writing might get you laid).

By the end of the night, as he watched my lips move around the shapes of words and then trickled his gaze down my collarbone and into the space between my breasts, he assured me that he was, indeed, over his ex and he wondered if -- maybe? please? -- he could kiss me. I said no. I do not interrupt other people's relationships.

I was still new to online dating -- freshly single after a five year relationship -- and took for granted that people would tell me their inconvenient truths, as this man had. But two years later, jaded and tired, I realized how rare it was. He hadn't been willing to simmer me slowly on the back burner with half-truths and vague promises. And he hadn't just blown me off, either, hoping he could buy time by turning into a flake. No, he cut his losses, and I like a man willing to cut his losses.

I realized such integrity deserved a night of fucking. So I looked him up, propositioned him, laid out the ground rules, and we fucked for hours, fucked until his bed had creaked and groaned six inches across the floor of his bedroom, fucked until he wobbled when he stood. I didn't know a man could come so many times. And the next morning, he told me he had slept like a baby. I told him good, you deserved it.

And he did deserve it.

So there's the lesson: sometimes, if you risk losing someone or something by telling the truth, you get the best of what they have to offer.
I’m really good at

Awhile ago, a former colleague contacted me to say he was going to be in town for a meeting and needed a place to stay. I invited him to use my spare bedroom. The night he arrived, he asked me if I would "do" him. He had been following my dating misadventures on my blog and I guess he wanted a piece of the action. "It's OK, I'm poly," he assured me. "And my wife wants me to get more experience." I turned him down.

If he asked me why, I would tell him the following:

First, sleeping around does not mean I am easy or available. You can't just ring my doorbell and expect a treat simply for the asking. I do not fuck indiscriminately. I fuck the men I *choose* to fuck. Most men do not make the cut. And being chosen is not always the compliment you think it is.

Second, I am not your fuck tutor. Needing sex remediation is not a valid excuse to proposition a woman.

Third, if you say that you are coming into town for a meeting, you should at least pretend that there is a meeting. Otherwise, I will have to conclude that you traveled across FOUR states to fuck me without checking beforehand that there was any fucking to be had.

The worst part, however, is that I decided to give up on dating and only use men for sex out of hopelessness, and he knew it, and he asked me to "do" him anyway.

I originally did not want to hold men in such low esteem that I only see them as living vibrators. I wanted to find one person and fuck gloriously, but also know him gloriously, in all his complexity and nuance. And I wanted him to want to know me too. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't looking for domesticity or marriage or any of those conventional traps. I was just looking to be treated like a human being, which, as we already know, is not so hard to do.

So what's the moral of this story? If you're one of the many, many men who has written me assuming (or just hoping) for a piece of the action, you should let go of that pipe dream. If you glossed over the despairing hopelessness lurking just under the anger, and went straight to "maybe she'll fuck me," you need to ask yourself some hard questions about how you see women.

But there's another moral, too: If you find me out there in the real world -- the real me, not Jane Doe -- and if you treat me like a human being, maybe I'll pull back my shirt to reveal my true identity -- and then fuck you until your whimper for mercy. So why not go out there and assume that every woman you meet also has a fierce sexy secret self just waiting to be discovered if you risk letting go of the bad faith, stupid little games, and petty cruelties that pass for dating these days?


The sad truth is that all of our relationships will end. If you're lucky, you die in love. But that only happens once, if at all. The rest end in endings we manufacture ourselves. And it's astounding how many people manage to fuck up endings after doing it so many times.

After swapping a few emails, or after meeting once in person, I have ended quite a few relationships before they even started. I usually send an email saying three things:

1. It was good getting to know you.
2. For concrete logistical reasons, I don't see things working out romantically.
3. I wish you the best of luck finding the right person.

And I almost always get an email saying the following two things:
1. Your reason is not a good one.
2. I didn't like you that much anyway, or you're taking this way too seriously

Now, if you didn't like me that much in the first place, why the fuck did you send me all those emails and try to IM me every time I came online? And don't you think a person should take seriously whom she chooses to fuck?

So I'm going to give you a new template:
1. It was good getting to know you.
2. I'm sorry to hear there was no spark. (I say this *even if I felt no spark* -- that is not information you need to share except as a cheap shot)
3. I wish you the best of luck because I am always on the side of love.

Now that's not so hard, is it? And doesn't someone who respects you enough to tell you the truth deserve the same respect? And wouldn't you rather be the person who acts like a grown up than the one who turns into a petulant four year old?

But reacting to rejection with knee-jerk defensiveness is not what pisses me off the most. You know what pisses me off the most? People who just sort of fade away after you exchange enough emails to know each other a little, or even meet in person. People who are so invested in this idea that they're nice guys that they avoid the hard parts. They are shielded from the discomfort, shielded from the consequences of their actions, and they get to sort of forget to put an ending to things and keep up the illusion that they're nice guys.

They are not nice guys. They are the worst sort of dating jackass: they are cowards disguised as nice guys.

And there's the advice I can't believe I have to give: there is no reason to take cheap shots when you're rejected. And there is no excuse for cowardice, even in the lawless world of internet dating.
The first things people usually notice about me

I miss sex. It's been about a month, now. That's a long time when you love sex.

I miss that first kiss. They have such different flavors: bold, tentative, gentle, giddy, fierce. Each person's lips feel new, yet vaguely familiar.

And I miss the part where the kiss is just the beginning of the way two bodies come together. He'll put his hand up against the nape of my neck; I'll grab his lower back and pull him into me: first chest, then hips, and then legs. I love pressing my body so completely against another person's body that it's like we're moving through each other. I like how our bodies interconnect, come apart, interconnect.

I like the earnest, direct enthusiasm of erect dicks. I like feeling them rise slowly in my mouth and hands and I like them later, when they're exhausted but happy.

I like feeling hands on my body in intimate spaces, because I feel fierce when I am so vulnerable. I love sex for just that fierce vulnerability, for its goofy search for the sublime, for its sweaty abandon, and its moments of intimacy.

I know a woman who once stitched two women together, weaving thread back and forth between their bodies. She hung weights from the threads. If either of the women moved, the other would feel the pulling at her skin. They were strangers before, but that thread and those weights interwove their selves together because each woman was taking care of the other, vulnerable and fierce at the same time.

I like sex for its intimacy. Even if it's not part of a relationship, even if I don't like the guy very much, I like the way we take care of each other -- if only once. I like the tug and weight of it, the way I feel wide open and folded in on myself. I miss that.

I do not have a shoe fetish, but I get a glimmer of what it's like to have one when I walk into shoe stores.

I enter and see hundreds of shoes, all arranged in orderly little rows. There's a moment when I think my perfect shoes are here, waiting for me to discover them.

That's the moment.

As I serpentine through the aisles, however, it dawns on me that most of the shoes are either sneakers, flip flops, or stripper shoes. Sometimes, before I leave the store empty handed, I try on the stripper shoes, but I know I'm not going to buy them. As I exit the store, I see more women enter, pause in the doorway, savor the moment of endless possibility, and then wander in to be disappointed.

What shoe stores sell is a fantasy of endless possibility.

OK Cupid sells this same fantasy. A lot of men on this site will work as hard as they can to live perpetually in the moment before they enter the site, relishing the notion that the supply of women is endless. These men want to think that any woman they meet is disposable because when they are ready, there will be another woman on the next page.

I have met these men. They are in their late thirties or early forties. They think (or just say) that they want a relationship, but their actions say otherwise. They want the fantasy. They will not go about it honestly by saying they want casual sex. They will pretend (or even believe) they want something more. They will lie.

I dated a man who took down his profile on the site where we met, even though I said I really didn't care about such things. Then my friend found his profile on another site. I asked him about it and he sheepishly took it down. Then she found his profile on another site. He confessed that he just wanted to stroke his ego. How stupid. Why not let me stroke your dick instead? Isn't that more fun?

Men like this go into OK Cupid to try on the stripper shoes. They prance around and pretend they're strippers and then put the shoes back on the shelf and saunter out, secure in the belief that when they really want to, they will find the right shoes. They never check the entire store because, deep down, they suspect that the shoes they want might not be there and, if they found that out, the fantasy would reveal itself as only fantasy. Even worse, they don't want to find the right shoes and then realize that those shoes are out of their league.

Women like me are tired of being bit parts in your fantasies of possibility. We will probably not be around when you are ready for anything more than games and, even if we are, we will not put on the stripper shoes for you. You stretched them out with your stupid role playing games and we have found better shoes elsewhere.
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
A funny thing happened when I put up my commentary about responding to rejection. Men who had understood -- and agreed with -- everything else I said were suddenly confused. They sent me perplexed messages asking for clarification. Some admonished me to write more clearly. A good number asked me who had broken my heart. "Someone really missed you up," said one man.

Another wrote this:

"This shit is getting old. get over it already. Hell, I've been hurt and kicked to the curb in this past year. I did nothing to provoke it. 16 Fucking years of working so that she could be a stay at home mom. What do I have to show for it. 'I don't love you. I haven't loved you and I want a divorce.' Fuck me! I raised her kid. I have a lot of anger in me to but I wouldn't want to put someone else through a fraction of the pain and regret that I've gone through.

I don't care what your tits look like. I bet you have a beautiful face. I bet you have a broken heart like I do. Broken, ripped out, smashed, neglected, stomped on, shit on, pissed on and slowly but hopefully not surely turning to stone. I don't want my heart to get cold and hard."

Until now, this man had been wooing me as ardently as the rest of them. But apparently, I hit a nerve.

As long as I spoke in vague generalizations about treating people like human beings and no-strings-attached sex, things were fine. Until I gave specifics, everyone got to think I was talking about someone else. They could cultivate the fantasy that I was talking about One Bad Man. They could keep thinking that their magical dicks would cure me, because surely I wasn't talking about them.

Then I smashed that fantasy. Because there was no one bad guy and no one bad experience. There were many men and many little insults, and some of those insults included acting like jackasses when I called things off and acting like cowards when they wanted to call things off. And I suspect that just about every man who sent me a perplexed or chastising or angry email didn't want to admit that they had probably done the things I was describing.

And let me tell you something embarrassing. I did it too. I gave someone my phone number; he called me, and I never called him back. I had my reasons, but it was still rude and thoughtless. So when I realized what I had done, I sent him an apology.

We all fuck up. It would be nice if more of us apologized. But first, we have to let go of the fantasy that it's only everyone else who is acting like a jackass.

To the men who have written me perplexed or chastising or hopeful emails:
You cannot rescue me. I don't need rescuing. I need respect. So do the other women you meet on OK Cupid. Want to get in my good graces? Own up to your own jackassy cowardice. I'd much rather hear about that than read any more knight in shining armor fairy tale fantasy bullshit.

As for the angry email: well, I don't plan to dignify that one with an answer.
Six things I could never do without
I remember lying in bed beside the first man I ever had sex with, back when I was a teenager.

In a moment, he was going to turn towards me, resting on his side and bringing his arms around my waist to pull my mouth towards his. We were going to slowly shed our clothing, a little awkwardly, but also eagerly. We were going to press our bodies up against each other and I was going to feel his hard cock for the first time against my pussy, before we tried to figure out exactly how to interconnect our bodies for the first time.

But none of that had happened yet. First, I would feel my heart beat in my breast. It pushed up against the inside of my chest and down my torso, pulsing into the sweet petals of my labia in anticipation of I-knew-not-what. The movement of my heart slid me almost imperceptibly up and down against the sheets, echoing in my ears, rustling like some small animal just waking up from a long, deep sleep.

After we had fucked that first time, the beating of my heart moved from up in my throat to between my legs. It pulsed there delightfully before returning, gradually, back to my breast. Once again, I could hear it gently sway me up and down against the now-damp bedsheets. I smiled to myself, because I had discovered the way a heart can expand through the fibers of a body and make me feel powerfully alive.

If I held very still, I could also feel my lover's heart beating against his chest in a discordant syncopation. I wondered if he also felt his heart move around before settling back into place. I've never asked anyone because, in those moments, I am so completely and perfectly turned inward, my body utterly alive. I can only hope he feels the same way.

There have been times when I've recaptured that feeling, allowing myself to rest quietly before turning to the man sharing my bed, knowing that soon enough there will be the primal rutting I love so much. And afterward, I will lie there again, breathing hard, sweaty and sated, feeling my heart travel a circuit around my body, showing me how wonderful it is to be so truly and sublimely alive.
I spend a lot of time thinking about

I met a man in a bar who told me he was in an abusive relationship. His girlfriend was beating him, throwing him down stairs, locking him in the basement, and burning him. He was afraid to go back because he thought that she would kill him.

Then I noticed that while we were talking, he was rubbing his dick and I realized that telling me about the abuse was part of his kinky fantasy. Having me believe the story made his fantasy more pleasurably real, but it also made him a jackass.

This guy broke the most primary rule of SM: he tricked me into entering his playspace without telling me that we were in a realm of fantasy. He used me for sex without my consent.

I love that in SM, everyone agrees on what they're going to do before they do it. Participants agree to give up part of the fantasy in order to make the fantasy possible and safe for all parties. Informed consent is what differentiates kink from assault.

A character in Sideways reminded me of that guy from the bar. Jack is about to get married, but wants to have one last fling. He meets a woman and they have lots of sex. As the affair evolves, Jack spins out a fantasy parallel life where he buys a vinyard with the woman and they live happily ever after. Of course, the woman eventually finds out that Jack's engaged and she beats him up with her motorcycle helmet.

Ironically, Jack gets unwittingly sucked into another couple's fantasy later in the movie and ends up naked and sobbing in a motel room without his wallet and wedding rings. See, Jack? it *hurts* when people play fast and loose with your feelings just to kink up their sex/romance life.

Both of these guys remind me of the man I consider my dating last straw. This man was a former colleague from over a decade before. We had lost touch until he found me on facebook. He threw himself at me. Ardently. He talked about how amazing it was to find me after all these years, about how he'd had a crush on me before, about how we shared this common history, about how he was ready to settle down and thought I was the one.

I believed him, which was why I was so shocked when he bolted with some muttered bullshit about needing to go for a long walk in the desert to gather his thoughts and decide what he wanted to do with his life.

I realized then that he had been spinning out fantasies for himself, experimenting with different futures, trying to figure out what sort of person he wanted to be. That's all fine, but he conned me into participating in his playspace without telling me that it was playspace. He coerced me into intimacy without seeking my consent. Not knowing what he wanted was no excuse.

And I know some of you are going to say, "but Jack and your former colleague didn't *know* what they wanted!" which might be true, but then they should have said so. Even if it comes out clumsily, or all wrong, or whatever, it's better than the alternative.

And I know that taking the time to get consent, working out the logistics, admitting to yourself what you're doing -- that's all scary and puts a damper on this story we like to tell ourselves about passion and fate and love, but you need to do it anyway.

In exchange, you get to enter a playspace with a clear conscience. And no one beats you up with a motorcycle helmet.

I dressed up as a man once. I bound my breasts, put on a moustache, and walked without moving my hips. With a high femme friend, I took the subway to a drag king show, where I made a date with the runner up. Other than that, I've lived as a woman.

It's ironic, then, that when I create a manifesta on OKC with my breasts as a userpic, I get asked repeatedly if I'm really just "acting like a man."

I get the question, I think: If I'm switching roles by sleeping around, then am I guilty of the same behavior I'm criticizing?

The answer to that question is no.

After my first casual fuck, I went over to my confidante's house. "I did it," I told her. "I can do it."

I didn't just mean that I could disengage sex from romantic relationships. I meant that I proved to myself that I could do so ethically.

It wasn't easy to be ethical: I recognized the desire to dress up fucking with romantic kink and indulge in a fantasy of leaving my awful single life behind. It was so tempting to whisper a lot of sweet bullshit into his ear, to sleep over, to let him think there would be more. I also recognized the urge to flee, to blow him off, to sever all ties in the hopes I could avoid any awkward feelings.

But I refused to give in to those urges, so I know it's possible to do. That night, I felt an odd mixture of condemnation and forgiveness for the men who pushed me to this choice: I understood how powerful the urge is to act like a cowardly jerk, but I also knew it was possible to resist the temptation. That night, I decided to write this manifesta, because I hoped that other men might also resist the urge to act like Jack in Sideways and the man who was my last straw. Then I wanted to find them and fuck them.

There are also faulty assumptions behind the question about "acting like a man." The assumptions are both sexist and anti-male.

I object to whispering sweet bullshit into women's ears to get sex. I object to being too lazy or clueless to figure out what you want and too dishonest to admit that you don't know what you want. I object to men being clueless, callous cowards, because I know there's another way.

I don't object to men (and women) wanting to have sex. I don't object to casual sex. I also don't think that doing those things = "acting like a man." Equating having casual sex with "acting like a man" is sexist.

The suggestion that I'm "acting like a man" is also based on the assumption that you can simply interchange male and female behavior in the first place. Doing so ignores the fact that male and female sexuality are regulated very differently in our culture. Women aren't supposed to seek out and enjoy sex with multiple partners. They're supposed to be selective with their mates. They're supposed to barter sex for emotional security, romantic love, and domesticity. Men are supposed to avoid this trap at all costs. According to this logic, I can never act "like a man" because we already have a term for a woman who acts like I do: slut.

I wonder, then, if calling my slutty behavior "acting like a man" reflects a desire to regulate my sexuality. The question implies that I should stop what I'm doing because I'm guilty of transgression.

It also assumes that "acting like a man" means acting like a jackass, which is profoundly anti-man. I don't think man should = jackass. I don't think one gender has cornered the market on bad behavior. I do think men have cornered the market on this particular type of bad behavior.

I'd like to consign the phrase "acting like a man" to the dustbin of pre-feminist history. Instead, I'd like to see more people act as ethically as this slut tries to do. I'd like the world to decide that the only person who needs to regulate slutty behavior is the slut him- or herself.

And if I find that man who really acts like a slut in the best possible way, maybe I'll whisper sweet truths into his ear, and maybe I'll sleep over, and maybe I'll let myself imagine romantic love and emotional security, and maybe I'll let him know there can be more, and maybe I'll invite him to join me in making it up as we go along.

And then I'll wrap one long leg around his waist and press my other calf against his shoulder and beg him to fuck me into sweetness and delight.
On a typical Friday night I am
I don't let men go down on me. I expect them to offer, of course, but I will turn them down. In part, I turn them down because letting a man greet my pussy so directly is too intimate for casual sex, but I also turn them down because, odds are, they won't know what they are doing and then I'll have to find a way to stop them. Better never to let them begin.

Even if you think you know what you are doing, do yourself and women everywhere a favor and listen to me.

I have spent delightful time with my mouth and tongue pressed into a woman's pussy. I have felt her open up to me, felt moisture seep out to greet my tongue, felt her arch her back to press into my mouth, and felt her come around my fingers. I have also felt my tongue go numb, my jaw cramp, my whole face start to ache with the effort.

When my first girlfriend went down on me, I thought I am blooming I am blooming. I felt myself open up to her and it was glorious.

So maybe that's why I die a little death (and not in the Shakesperean sense) when a man proclaims that he loves the taste of pussy, because a man like that can get so wrapped up with smearing his face in my pussy that he forgets some basic anatomical truths. I worry about this kind of man, because he's so in love with his love of the pussy that he forgets that it's attached to me. I get bored and start reviewing my shopping list and he doesn't even notice. He looks up from between my legs like some dumb happy puppy and I think maybe I should get a cat.

You stalk the clit with your tongue; you dance around her edges; you tantalize her; you press on that which presses against her. Then, when I am quivering with desire, desperate, THEN you can go ahead and move in on her and give her the attention she deserves. When we scoot backwards, or adjust your head with our hands, or wince, or push our legs together, it's TOO EARLY.

Then there's the man who gingerly sticks out the tip of his tongue -- you know, the part that has no tastebuds (or so he ardently hopes) -- and sort of touches my pussy, as if that's all it takes and he's taking one for the team doing it. My pussy is not a flagpole on a cold winter day. You don't get a trophy at the end of the season for touching it with your tongue.

The worst, however, is when a man slips off the edge of the bed, hikes up my thighs, and does what feels like a gynecological exam with his tongue. While he's apparently trying to crawl into my womb, I'm wondering when oral sex started to resemble reverse birthing. No matter how high I arch my back, or slip my ass off the edge of the bed, I can't get his tongue near my clit. This man is the worst because he's made a terribly transparant assumption: that penetration with his tongue is what is going to get a woman off, that penetration alone is anywhere near as delightful as undivided respectful attention to the clit.

"It's all about angles," a female friend told me imploringly. "Tell them it's all about angles, and their angles are wrong."

So I'm here to give you that message: your angles are wrong.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
I was driving home from work late one night, and I was crying. The lines on the road blurred in and out of focus. There was a thick, heavy pain in my chest and cement slowly hardening in my veins. The night before, I sat on my sofa with the phone pressed into my ear, convinced that if I listened hard enough, I'd be able to figure out what was going unsaid in the awkward, halting conversation with the man who had just spent a weekend at my house, talking and eating and drinking and fucking.

"Please," he had said, "please want to kiss me. Please kiss me." And I had kissed him as we lay intertwined on the same sofa where I now found myself alone. I remembered his head on my chest, his legs nestled between mine, his arm wrapped around my neck. I had articulated the curls on his head with my fingers, traced the outline of his lips, touched my own lips lightly to his temples, happy. And then he had asked and we had kissed and then slowly walked upstairs, holding hands, to spread out on my bed and then fuck and fuck. Only it didn't feel like fucking. It felt like making love. It's just in hindsight that I can call it fucking.

He was a former colleague from a high pressure job, and he had been brilliant at the work. After a few years, I had moved on and he had stayed, and slowly, he had stagnated. And then, over a decade later, he had appeared again, saying "I just had to find you," and "I feel . . . optimistic . . . about this. I feel like this is meant to happen," and "can I come visit you?" I had advised him to be careful, that we had a shared history we needed to respect, that we shouldn't play fast and loose with our own hearts. That's when he had said the part about feeling . . . optimistic. So I said yes, come visit.

He stayed an extra day. We slept with our arms wrapped around each other. We talked about that old job. He said "I feel like I'm making peace with that time by talking about it with you. You were there. I feel like I'm back in our past." And I had a sinking sensation that the thing he liked most of all was that I could remind him in ways he had never heard before how good he was at the work. I brought this up, but he brushed it aside. "We are our pasts," he said. We talked as if we were figuring out how to have a long distance relationship. "I want to buy the house next door to you and just be around you forever," he said.

Then he went home and disappeared. Then he updated his facebook page to say he was thinking about a tough decision. Then he told me someone he used to date asked him to move in with her. Then he told me he had turned her down. I asked if he'd been dating her when we were together. He said no. I asked if she thought they were dating and he said a slightly less emphatic no. I asked if he wanted to be dating me. Instead of answering, he said that he needed to take a long walk in the desert and just . . . think. He asked if we could continue this conversation in a week. I told him to enjoy his walk and that I was done.

Periodically, he sends me little text messages, saying "I'm thinking of you" or "I hope you're doing well" or "do you want to come to a party?" and I ignore them. Until he figured out what it was he was . . . thinking . . . about, I wasn't interested in his well wishes or party invitations.

So I was driving home that night, and I was sobbing, and the road was blurring in and out of focus and there was a pain consuming my chest and my heart was forcing something hard and unyielding into my very circulatory system, and I just thought, enough.

This is not a very exciting story. It's an old story -- the same old story, really -- one I see repeated all around me enough to know that I'm supposed to conclude he's just not that into you and quietly walk away. And I decided that while I might walk away from this man; I would not walk away from that behavior until I had named it as the bullshit it was. The next day, I called up an old friend and propositioned him because he had not taken the coward's way out. And then I looked up another man and fucked him. And I started writing my manifesta.

Over the months, I get the same question: who did this to you? And my answer is this story. One man too many came on with all the ardor of love, only to waft away in the cold light of early morning. It's a boring story because it's so fucking old, and I'm sorry if you were expecting fireworks, or gang rape, or a denouement at the altar, or a cheating spouse. The truth is, what pushed me into this choice was the sort of thing that men do everyday without so much as a fleeting thought. It was the callous disregard for my heart, the almost tactical deployment of a romantic narrative to kink up what should only have been casual sex, the roughshod swath cut through my life by too many men who don't understand that the emotional microaggression that passes for dating these days is like the steady dripping of a leaky sink. Give it enough time, and your house is going to collapse around you.
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