I rarely stop loving someone just because I’ve stopped fucking them. The end of a sexual relationship doesn’t always mean the end of a relationship altogether. In all likelihood we were friends before our genitals ever touched. Whether it was a one-off shag, a short-but-sweet playtime, or a long-term commitment, there’s something we’ve shared that I’ll be gutted to let go of.
I’m feeling a bit wistful and nostalgic at the moment, to tell the truth. An article I wrote for The Debrief, in which I had to contact a bunch of my exes and get them to give me sex reviews, left me reeling. As I made a list of people, trying to work out who to ask, I found myself overwhelmed by how many people I’ve shagged that I’m still on ‘hey can I ask you a random question?’ terms with.
By my best estimates, I’m in instant email touch with 50% of the people I’ve slept with, albeit not all of them are regular drinking buddies or the kind of people I’d invite to a party. There are three or four people I wouldn’t want to contact, on the grounds that they were either arseholes or that we had nothing in common besides a desire to rub up against each other. Some people I’ve lost touch with but would buy coffee for in a heartbeat if I bumped into them in the street. And some still give me that happy/sad/happy ache of knowing that I can’t fuck them again, but that it was oh-God-so-good while it lasted.
Did you like me?
It sounds a bit High Fidelity to get in touch with people and go ‘hey, can you tell me how I was in bed?’ but it was kinda fun, and writing for Debrief gives me a chance to do these odd and interesting things (like watching all the porn documentaries on Netflix – a long weekend’s worth of work that still influences what the app recommends).
But the question itself is relatively easy, especially because those people who’d be less keen to answer it are likely the ones I’m not in touch with any more: the guy at Uni who fucked me once, with less enthusiasm than if he were fixing a broken toaster. The dude who – despite my repeated requests that he just fucking stop it – insisted on continuing to pull my hair until strands and strands came out onto the bedsheet. The girl I shagged in a tent. Badly.
The people I contacted are exactly the kind of people I most enjoy having sex with: kind ones. Considerate ones. People who are comfortable telling me what I’m like in bed, or equally comfortable saying ‘sorry, mate, I’m not sure I can do that.’
To be honest, though, while it’s intensely flattering to hear that I wasn’t completely awful in bed, and the exercise itself was a fun one, I suspect the actual question most of us would ask ex partners is ‘did you like me?’ It’s far broader and more telling than a query about sexual proficiency – we’ll forgive any amount of falling off the bed and shouting out the wrong name if the person doing it is good enough.
I guess that’s why I’m writing this, to be honest. Not in the vague hope that ex-partners will email to say ‘of course I liked you, dickhead’ but to do the opposite – to say that I liked them. A lot. And the like, love, lust and friendship doesn’t go away just because we’re no longer shagging.
Whether we hang out all the time, email once a year, or just like each other’s statuses on facebook occasionally – I still look at some of these people and think ‘damn. How the hell was I lucky enough to have you?’