"I know you want me to hurt you, but I'm not going to hurt you," my ex said to me.
We were about to have sex for the first time in our epic four-week whirlwind relationship. She was the one who made me hold out -- I was ready to go in for the kill after the second date. (What can I say? It's rare I find myself wildly attracted to anyone.)
How did she know? How did she know I wanted her to hurt me? I wondered, feeling slightly violated -- like she had an intense bird's eye view into my most sacredly private thoughts. Did I love that she could read me, or did I hate it?
Our limbs were hot and twisted beneath her summer cotton sheets, and sexual heat was radiating between our naked girl bodies. Her steady hand touched my shaky hand, and I felt the sharp electric shockwaves of sexual tension burning between our lightly grazing fingertips.
"I couldn't hurt you," she said, staring me dead in the eyes. She really looked at me. Like really looked at me. I felt like her focused gaze was cutting right through my guard of bullsh*t.
How did she know? How the f*ck did she know I wanted her to hurt me?
I've been through some pretty heavy sh*t (What girl hasn't?), but I don't think I ever felt as vulnerable as I did in that delicate little moment. It was a different kind of vulnerable. It was a safe kind of vulnerable. I felt like an expensive, delicate China Doll in the arms of a serious doll collector who wouldn't dare let me slip from her hands.
It was new, and like anything new, it was scary, and exhilarating, and anxiety-inducing, and a wild turn-on at the same time.
That night in my ex-girlfriend's massive, windowless bedroom, I experienced "love sex" for the first time in my 20-something years on this planet.
What is love sex? Love sex is when sex and love are c-o-n-n-e-c-t-e-d. Normal people call it "making love," but that term makes me want to crawl out of my skin and then run for the hills, skinless.
It brings me right back to this one time in 11th grade, when I took too much dirty ecstasy at a party and was in the throes of a drug-induced panic attack. There was this creepy "hippy" dude who kept trying to "comfort me" by whispering "Let's make love. Let's make love. Let's make love." into my ear. I can't hear the term "make love" without feeling his nauseating nicotine breath on the back of my neck.
So yeah, "love sex" it is.
See, up until that night, I had only ever sought out "rough sex." I had been pretty damn sure I couldn't possibly have an orgasm if my partner didn't call me "slut," or "whore," or "bitch," or become physically aggressive with me.
The idea of deep kisses, and gazing into each other's eyes, and sweet little "I love yous" peppered into sex turned me right off. It had been a point of contention in most of my intimate relationships, except, of course, with sociopathic types and nameless one-nighters.
(Important to note: I'm in no way judging you if you're into rough sex. Plenty of amazing people love rough sex. This is merely ONE girl's experience.)
In the past, the very moment sex became remotely tender, I panicked and immediately stopped it. I pushed my partners into being aggressive with me. I only ever wanted to be objectified when it came to sex.
Intimate sex felt just, well, too damn intimate. Maybe it was because I went through trauma as a teen, or maybe it's because I struggled with an eating disorder most of my life, so I always felt disconnected from my body. Like I was one thing and my body was another thing.
When you feel disconnected from your own body, it's pretty hard to connect with someone else's.
And love sex, I've come to learn, is all about bodies intertwining with feelings.
I also had waged a violent war against my body my whole life. I didn't realize it was a place worthy of love, and gentleness and nurture. To me, my body was a place for punishment.
Also important to note: I felt so ashamed about this for a long time and never spoke to anyone about it. And I know there are a lot of girls (and boys) out there who have been through the same sh*t. If this is you, please remember that YOU are not damaged goods. Everyone has his or her own battle to fight. You're not alone. I see you, and I AM you.
That being said, the first time I had love sex, I was sh*t scared. But I trusted my partner. Yes, we had only been together a short time, but I had told her things I've never told anyone. She didn't judge me as I had feared or use my weaknesses against me as others had. She bestowed nothing but pure empathy onto me.
So I let it happen. And before I knew it, I was entirely lost in the experience. She was gazing into my eyes, tenderly kissing my entire body, taking her time, and most importantly, she was fully involved in making me feel good.
I didn't want to run away. I wanted it to never, ever stop. Our bodies were connected. Our fingers were wrapped up in each other's hair. Just her squeezing my hand with so much love was a more intense turn-on than any of the other kinky sh*t I had done in the past.
I know it sounds so cliche, but I felt like we expressed so many things during our love sex. I almost felt like she could feel my brokenness and was healing it with each touch. Until that point, touch had never meant anything positive to me.
And it might have been "love sex," but it was also "passionate sex." In fact, it was far more intense than any of the rough sex I had ever had in my life. But it was an intensity that was rooted out of love, not pain.
And, truth be told, I had the most earth-shattering, mind-blowing, planet-stopping orgasm I had ever had in my entire life. Normally after I've had an orgasm, I don't want to be touched for at least 30 minutes. My skin feels too sensitive, and I'm fueled with desire to pull my jeans back on and get the f*ck out of there, never looking back.
But she kissed my eyelids, and I felt a calmness I had only previously felt while on Xanax. Have you ever had your eyelids kissed by someone you love? It's the most f*cking beautiful feeling I've ever experienced. I felt more drugged than I ever had. I felt a full-blast body high.
And we continued to have love sex. And it changed the way I viewed sex forever.
So what's the problem? Well, I'm completely thrilled and glad that I'm capable of love sex. The trouble is I don't want to have meaningless sex anymore. However, I'm now single as a dollar bill. I'm a sexual creature. Sexuality is at the core of my very being.
But the idea of going home with a stranger and having empty sex doesn't turn me on -- not even remotely. In fact, the thought of it makes me want to run for the hills.
I crave intimate sex. I crave staring into someone else's eyes and having sex that is real and connected. Sex that is founded on trust, not danger.
Maybe this phase of longing for real intimacy will pass. But I don't think I want it to. Now that I've experienced connected sex, the cheap thrill of disconnected sex doesn't do it for me anymore. Because the greatest lesson I've learned through having love sex is that the most mind-blowing sex is loaded with emotion.
And while sex with feelings is scary and vulnerable, sex with feeling can sustain your sexual needs far longer than empty sex. And that's worth holding out for.