Here’s the thing: I didn’t go to his place to have sex. But Thomas seemed to assume that I was compliant in his assumption and because I went along with it, I guess I was. But I think it’s somehow important for me to note that I didn’t set out with that intention at all. He wasn’t even my type.
We met on OK Cupid and initially I wasn’t planning to respond to his tentative first contact; sporting a full beard, Thomas didn’t conform to my usual skinny, smooth-faced geek ideals.
Regardless, I felt a small pang of guilt after a couple of days and the fact that he lived in my small town piqued my interest, so I sent a short but polite message. He was enthusiastic in his reply and we messaged about plants and gardening – his profession and something I know a little about – until soon we’d established a certain camaraderie.
He was relentless in pursuing me over the next week but in a sensible and non-threatening way. He even shared that it had taken quite a bit of courage to approach me.
Our first date was a morning walk with my dog around a local park. At six foot, seven inches or 2 metres he was the tallest man I’d ever met and there was no chance of missing him. He was better looking in the flesh, but I still didn’t like the beard.
Conversation was easy and flowed smoothly, albeit with me asking a lot of open-ended questions. He didn’t really reciprocate but I have found over time that I can’t judge a man’s level of interest in me by the questions he asks, or doesn’t ask. Most men, I have learned, are conversationally lazy and content to let women do the main legwork.
Thomas had a nice mouth and a pleasant face with expressive brown eyes and smooth pale skin that, when he talked, revealed his youth. When he smiled, his eyes crinkled so that he appeared roughly his age, which was early thirties.
We’d laughed about the cougar label and though there was a considerable age gap between us, his ‘science geek’ personality, massive height and aura of self-assurance combined with his subtle dominance to bring us together as roughly equals. I thought he might have potential as a genuine partner – with a relationship defined on our terms that might last longer than a few days or weeks. If I could come to terms with the beard, that is.
And so we walked and talked for a couple of hours in the warm weather, after which we briefly discussed going back to his place for ‘a pot of tea’. I knew Thomas was a tea enthusiast and I was keen to establish a new friendship with someone so conveniently close to my home. I hadn’t had time to analyse my feelings about him, but I felt comfortable and relatively safe so I was ready to trust him in a private space.
On the surface this is not a big leap but in actuality it is a significant step and one that, if wrongly judged, could lead to disaster. In a couple of hours it’s not possible to read or ‘get a feeling’ for someone completely. In fact if they are adept at masking their real selves, it may well be impossible.
But I live my life thinking the best, and not the worst, of people. If I applied a system of water-tight personality assessments, I’d still be looking rather than experiencing.
And so, after dropping my dog back home, I found his rental and he greeted me at the door with a tender smile. We made easy small talk and then, when the tea was ready, Thomas moved to the couch.
I sat down next to him, my legs folded sideways under me. Conversation hummed along and we found plenty to talk about. There was a pause in our talk as I sipped my tea. He reached out a hand to stroke my own and surprised me with a compliment about how expressive my hands are.
“You’re not as shy as I expected,” I said, tentatively smiling.
“Well, after working in retail for so long I’ve learned a certain blustering to cover my nervousness. But right now, let me assure you that I am very nervous indeed. I have a beautiful woman sitting on my couch – and I’m wondering, should I keep talking to her, should I kiss her…”
I’m not sure what my expression revealed; it’s possible I’d schooled it well enough that it didn’t show my surprise at the suddenness of this suggestion. For a few reasons, it hadn’t crossed my mind that we might kiss or share physical intimacy. It was our first ‘day-time date’ and we’d literally only just met, plus he didn’t seem the type. I was open to the idea, however, and so I smiled assent.
I’d never kissed a man with a full beard before and to say that I liked it would not be honest. It felt exactly as I thought it might feel kissing the Banksia Man character of my youth – by the wonderful May Gibbs.
Immediately I recoiled as Thomas thrust his tongue into my mouth and kissed me fast and passionately, like a whippersnipper. For the briefest second it crossed my mind that I would have no chance of ever stopping him if he forced himself on me. He soon got the unspoken message and did slow down and as we kissed, his hands explored my breasts.
He pressed his forehead to mine and looked deep into my eyes. He kissed and stroked my face and hair and I responded with warmth, although not quite lust. On the other hand, he made no show of hiding his arousal.
“Can I take your top off?” he asked and again, I felt perplexed for a response. He wanted to escalate things already? I only had half an hour before I needed to leave to pick up my kids from school.
Without waiting for a reply and somehow blind to my confused expression, Thomas adeptly unhooked my bra and his mouth immediately moved to my nipples. This could have been an erotic experience but I was still startled and feeling as if I’d lost control.
As I wrestled with these misgivings, he continued to touch me and pulled me up to my feet. It was quite stirring to feel myself so small in a man’s arms, my head thrown back as I stood on tip toes as Thomas hunched over me like a bear.
I turned him around and firmly pushed him to the couch. He complied and sat patiently as I shimmied up my tight skirt and straddled him, perched in his lap as he enfolded me in his arms. I enjoyed being dominant – acting in my power instead of being a pliable doll for his wishes.
“I don’t suppose you want a quickie?” Thomas joked and I agreed that I didn’t.
I said that, regrettably, I’d need to be going soon. When that time came, we said goodbye and kissed fondly at the door, promising to speak soon. I left with the usual buzz of excitement that sex and physical passion stirs in me.
Thomas was on my mind during the next day and night and although we messaged back and forth a little, I felt a distance from him. He gave me several days to choose from for our next liaison. I was eager to move things forward, although when I agreed to come to his unit again, I didn’t intend for us to move straight to sex.
At his place for the second time, Thomas greeted me with a kiss. Again, we chatted while the kettle boiled and then moved to the sunlit couch with our pot of tea and cups. I found his new kissing game amusing and so we smiled and played for a while as our tea brewed.
In the space between one second and two, he stood up and his clothes fell to the floor, his erection clear between us.
All the while as he kissed and caressed me once again, instead of lust or desire, I was feeling disempowered and rushed. He hadn’t actually asked me then or earlier during our texted interactions whether I was looking for sex. Now it seemed he was assuming this was the reason I’d agreed to meet him again. Was I being incredibly naive in not realising the intent behind his invitation? I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes I am just plain thick!
Unconsciously, I subtly wrested back my power again. I pushed him down onto the couch and straddled his lap as he buried his head in my now-naked breasts. I thought about raising the issue of consent. Surely I was complicit in this business of assumed consent, because I hadn’t – yet – stopped him, I hadn’t said no.
But I hadn’t said yes either and I felt mildly affronted at not even being asked.
“Umm, do you have any condoms?” I asked instead.
He smiled reassuringly. “Yes. Shall we move to the bedroom?”
I allowed myself to be lifted to my feet and led by the hand to the boudoir, with its massive king-sized bed dominating the room. The timber plantation shutters were drawn and I crawled onto the bed, still dressed in my black tights and jersey cotton skirt on my lower half.
Before my head had even hit the mattress, he started peeling back all my layers. Thomas exposed my whole, bare body for his scrutiny. He even opened my legs and peered in, perhaps as if I was an alien species he needed to inspect, but he didn’t touch me. He was definitely the leader in this dance and I wondered what would happen next.
What did happen next was decidedly strange, even by my own collection of rather strange experiences on this journey.
I’m starting to fear this is normal, and not odd at all. Imagine, if you will, a man hell-bent on his own pleasure and his own needs, so that they dominate his experience. The needs of his partner, or her experience, do not even penetrate his consciousness. He sees her body as merely a conduit to orgasm, to his own brief and spasmodic glory. Her body may have its hot spots but he is not aware of them, nor is he aroused by them, and so he ignores them.
Thomas caressed me briefly and in a way that I can only describe as centred on his own arousal. He ignored my erogenous zones and after thrusting his thumb inside me a few times (I was tempted to ask, “What on earth are you doing?”) he rolled on the condom and immediately climbed on top of me. (It’s pertinent here to mention my earlier article on good sex and bad sex for any new readers who didn’t catch it.)
I’d earlier been disappointed to see that the ‘giant’ status did not carry through to his nether regions but I’d have been content with a normal man, especially one who wanted to give me pleasure. Sadly, once again my satisfaction seemed to be the last thing on his mind. He thrust and pumped away, almost suffocating me with his weight and sweaty beard.
There were some tender moments, some pleasant seconds but after his inevitable speedy climax, I was left thinking, “Is that it?”
He withdrew from me and almost immediately rose from the bed. It appeared that it was time for me to leave. Thomas dressed and told me of his busy afternoon ahead. I pulled my clothes on silently, pondering what had happened. He gave me a kiss and generous hug at the door.
Later, as I lay in my own bed that night, I felt used. Or was it ignored? Or was it a case of a disconnect between my reality and his? I knew it was partly my own fault. Why hadn’t I called him out? Demanded that he stop, or at least think about satisfying me?
During the next week I thought about it some more. We messaged a little but I’d lost interest in Thomas and mentally filed him in the ‘bad sex’ drawer. It was getting mighty full that drawer, since I’d been single. I didn’t think of Thomas as a bad person, but certainly a selfish one, and probably an ignorant one, especially for a guy who’d previously been married for 6 years. I pitied his poor wife if that was all she’d known of sex.
About a week later I received a text message on my phone from Thomas.
“I’m sorry,” he opened, “but I’ve met someone and I think she might be my next partner. I hope we can still be friends.”
Um, I don’t think so.