A few months ago, something shocking happened. The guy I was dating refused to take things to the next level with me—sexually. He assured me he was crazy about me and explained that while he wanted to take that step at some point, he was hoping to wait until we had "built intimacy" before doing so. Say what? Needle-scratch. I was absolutely befuddled.
Images, from top: Adam Katz Sinding
For context, I should say that while I see absolutely nothing wrong with being (safely) intimate with whomever you want, whenever you want, I'm not exactly bed-hopping these days and I don't feel like I'd be jumping into things with this guy at all. We've been seeing each other regularly, we really like each other and, from what I can tell so far, are both interested in a committed relationship. In fact, he's said on multiple occasions, unsolicited, that he isn't going to date anyone but me. So … sex! Isn't that the whole point of a relationship? Just kidding, but only kind of. I mean, I'm in my 30s, he's in his 40s—we're all adults here. What gives?
Left to my own devices, my imagination runs wild. I come up with a zillion different reasons why this guy won't give it to me, ranging from he can't to he's not actually a he to I must be ugly. When I pose these theories to him, he laughs—at first. Then, he gets peeved. "Can't a guy just be romantic?" he asks.
At this point, I'm reminded of the slow start to Carrie and Aidan's relationship, because everything relates back to Sex and the City. I rewatch the "Are We Sluts?" episode—in which Carrie is frustrated by Aidan's apparent lack of interest in bedding her—and I can't help but melt a little. He sounds exactly like my new beau! "I just want to try to sleep with somebody I care about," Aidan tells Carrie as she pressures him to take it all the way. "I really think I can care about you. It's only been a week and a half, don't people date anymore?"
Were sweeter words ever uttered? You would think not, and my best friend reminds me that she would die to have someone say those things to her. I realize, however, that though this guy is verbalizing his feelings for me constantly, I am not hearing him because I'm instead reading his lack of sexual ambition as overall disinterest. I'm so used to men trying to sleep with me—not because I'm a Victoria's Secret model, but rather, I think, because this is just the female experience—that when one breaks the mold, I feel rejected to an extent that far surpasses the rejection I’ve felt after sleeping with someone who ends up not wanting a relationship. How messed up is that?
Still, we keep seeing each other on the PG (sometimes, PG-13) level, and eventually—after many, many conversations on the topic—I decide it's actually pretty nice to settle into a new relationship without the confusion of what I call "the sex haze," a phenomenon that's led me down the wrong path on more than one occasion. If we can have this much fun together without that element, on a sustained basis, maybe this is the real deal, I think. We have our first couple of fights before we round second base, which is, as he says, intimacy-building. (Cue my eye roll, but he's right). Also, we make out constantly, which is very, very sexy.
Before long, I'm wholly converted. It's become a game to me—how long can we, or should we, wait? The whole experience is reminiscent of high school, and brings with it feelings that are harder and harder to access as you age. I love that in this world, holding hands feels sensual, kissing feels illicit and there is no chemical confusion about why I feel one way or the other about this person in the infancy of our relationship.
So, do we ever go all the way? I'll let Carrie explain what happens next. "For the first time in a long time, I was nervous. Aidan and I were going to sleep together and it was going to mean something. I was no virgin, but this was definitely virgin territory."
It turns out, a guy can be romantic. You just have to let him.