We’re sitting on the sofa and my feet are on his lap. It’s late and I’m tired and happy – we’ve spent the evening laughing and drinking pints. I’m trying to do my best to be up front with men about what I want, so I told him I didn’t want sex tonight, just company. My feet are on his lap, and he’s stroking them. Firmly, casually, intimately. It’s comforting.
We’d talked earlier about the fact that I can’t fuck right now. Feeling down and stressed plays havoc with my libido, and I’ve spent the last few weeks flaking out on friends and colleagues, abandoning plans with people I’m scared to be fragile in front of. Usually when I’m feeling this way I’ll hurl even more more worry-fuel onto the smouldering fire of panic that sits in my chest: telling myself that the men I date won’t want to hang out with me if I can’t provide a shag. But I haven’t seen this guy in weeks and I’ve missed him, so I take a chance. Tell him in advance that I’m not in a sexy mood so I can give him time to cancel if he wants to.
He doesn’t want to cancel. He wants to come out and meet me and drink pints and have a laugh. We giggle about the Mar-a-Lago raid, and then cackle at the hilarious news that Alex Jones’s lawyer dumped evidence of all his crimes into opposing counsel’s Dropbox. Sharing good news and jokes and occasionally kisses in the sunshine. Everything feels warm and safe and comfy.
Later, we leave the pub and cycle together through whisper-quiet streets. I panic sometimes that I’m riding too quickly – I know this route like the back of my hand, and my bike is lighter and faster than his. So I check behind me all the time, change gears and slow down to make sure he’s still there. Still up for coming home with me, even if we cannot fuck tonight.
There’s a rational person inside me who knew he wouldn’t cancel just because I couldn’t muster a shag. It’s still comforting to hear him say it, though.
“It’s OK, don’t worry. You know sometimes I’m not going to be up for sex either, right? That’s just how life works. I like spending time with you.”
I’m trying to be open with men about what I want and like, because when they do it to me it feels miraculous.
When I told him I wasn’t horny, he didn’t push me to explain why. He wasn’t grumpy or annoyed or piling on pressure. So I didn’t worry about being my best self, I just turned up to meet him with whatever self I could drag out at the time.
And now he’s here on my sofa, stroking my feet.
There’s a cosy intimacy in the casual way that he does it, but just as I’m relaxing into the sensation, he stops. I’m trying to be open, so I kick myself for not saying something sooner: ‘that’s nice’, for instance, or even just ‘thank you.’ When he pauses I dare myself to say it. Try to make my mouth form the words. Tell him ‘please keep stroking my feet, it feels lovely.’ I can! I know I can! Go on, say it.
Eventually I blurt out: “please will you touch my feet again?” and then add, hurriedly: “obviously no worries if not it’s just that it feels really lovely and intimate and I just realised I hadn’t said anything nice about it while you were doing it and I wondered if maybe you’d stopped because you thought I wasn’t into it so I wanted to communicate that it felt really good and I’m grateful. Sorry.”
He looks at me briefly, with an expression I can’t quite read, then puts one hand on my foot and starts stroking again.
We make out. For ages. Just kissing for kissing’s sake! Sitting on the sofa, me curled up catlike with his arms around me and his lips on my lips. Our heads tilted to rest on the back of the sofa, my fingertips tracing up his arms and feeling the taut outline and soft skin of his biceps and shoulders. Occasionally running my fingers through his hair.
If he’d told me to fuck him right then, I would have. I’d have fucked him however he liked, for as long as he liked. Such is the power of casual intimacy and aching, slow-slow makeouts. I’d have fucked him in whatever manner he chose, then afterwards wondered if I only did it because I felt I should. Repayment for the fact that he stroked my feet and made me laugh and cycled with me through whisper-quiet streets on a summer evening.
On this date, we did not have sex. But we drank pints and laughed and made out and he stroked my feet.
It’s hard to write blog posts about the dates on which we didn’t have sex – it’s shit for blog traffic, and it won’t satisfy those of you who’d prefer some porn or a rant. But it was such a lovely night: comfortable and friendly and safe.
I’m trying to be up front about the things I like. When men do that to me it feels miraculous.