#12) No Strings Attached
This week we’re going to begin an exploration of the emotional dimension of sex with women. What’s so enticing that made me sure I could never go back to men? With the intensity and depth of the experience, so too comes the potential downside of that connection, which was something I had to experience firsthand to fully grasp.
I will admit up front that she was clear from the start. I met Sylvie on a dating app. We clicked right away. You can never tell for sure online, but from her photos she looked beautiful, chic, and captivating. I came to learn that she was born in France, moved to the U.S. for college, and was currently a professor at Columbia Business School. She had me intrigued from the start with her wit, humor, intellect, charm, and our mutual interest in women’s advocacy. She dubbed me Ms. Smarty Pants, and mused that I was that rare woman who passed through her aggressive filtering—in retrospect, her selectivity was part of the allure.
Sylvie confided that she had never slept with, let alone dated, a woman before. I know you all are shaking your heads as you read these words—here we go again!—but I will remind you that I was, and am still, a work in progress. These are my misadventures, and I still had a lot to learn! Sylvie was ten years my junior, and recently divorced. She had always been interested in both women and men, but she lamented that, up until now, her life was a series of back to back monogamous relationships with men. She felt more generous toward women, but was drawn to dominance and aggression, and found women rarely took the initiative.
Sylvie’s observation about women in dating was something I had noticed as well, but had never heard stated so plainly. Women of Generation X were socialized to let men take the lead. There was the Sadie Hawkins dance in high school where girls got to invite boys, but otherwise we were mostly relegated to waiting for boys to make the first move. By the time we got to college, with the 18 year-old drinking age and relaxed sexual mores of our time, things definitely opened up, but it was still predominantly left to the men to be the aggressor. We will be discussing this paradigm further in next week’s story about bisexual women.
In the weeks that followed, Sylvie and I flirted back and forth. We met at a time when both our lives were crazy busy. I was raising my kids, then in high school and middle school, completely alone, along with my work for The New Agenda giving speeches, doing panels, and running our annual events. For Sylvie, in addition to having a full class load for the semester and working with graduate students, she was a mother of a young daughter, and in the midst of writing a book with deadlines looming.
She told me up front that she didn’t want to disappoint me or anyone she dated, but that after all those monogamous relationships, she was just looking for fun and experimentation. I took that in, replied that with my life so hectic, I didn’t realistically have time for a relationship either. In my mind, romance with a super-sexy, whip-smart woman on the side was exactly what I was looking for, or so I thought. As we communicated, filling in the stories of our lives and mutual interests, I realized there was a difference between the head and the heart: part of me was secretly hoping this would be more than just a one-time tryst. Damn! I was starting to like Sylvie. Here’s where that optimistic side of me can work to my detriment in the world of love: I imagined that just maybe if we really clicked, she might change her mind.
It didn’t help that the banter and build-up on the sexual side was super intense. It became clear in those few weeks that there was a ton of mutual sexual desire, and tension was building. We both found it hard to do overnights because of the kids at home situation, so instead we settled on the idea of a first partial night together at a romantic, boutique hotel. The plan was to arrive in the early evening, order in room service instead of wasting valuable time at a restaurant, and then have the luxury of time alone to explore each other in bed.
When the day arrived, I was giddy with anticipation. I parked at the hotel, grabbed my bag from the trunk, and headed into the lobby to check in. I was giving the front desk clerk my name and credit card, when I felt a gentle touch at the center of my lower back. I turned around and there she was! The first words I said in my head were, OH MY GOD! Sylvie was that rare thing for online dating: she was so much better in person! She had such a great presence, and there was something both glamorous and seductive about her. She took my breath away.
She was attired in a tight black leather jacket, which hugged and accentuated her voluptuous curves, with a colorful scarf underneath, and tight blue jeans. She was a few inches shorter than me—my perfect height. Like the photos, her hair was black, short, and Euro-chic stylish. Her eyes were a deep brown, but the photos hadn’t captured the depth or allure of them when she smiled. Upon seeing me, her face lit up. I bent over and we kissed—that was to be our first, right there in the hotel lobby. She smiled, staring into my eyes, and whispered, “Hi!” and took my hand. There was instant, mutual chemistry. We both were stopped in the moment, until the hotel clerk nicely chimed in to ask if I wanted one or two room keys. Still looking and smiling at Sylvie, I responded, “One will be fine.”