Are You My Daddy?

“If we have sex – not necessarily tonight, or ever, but if we do – what should I know about you to make sure you have a good time?”

He’s asking me this question in the fluorescently-lit, 24-hour McDonald’s near Comedy Bar, and somehow that doesn’t make it any less romantic.

“Hmm,” I begin, gnawing on a French fry. “I like toys. I like being spanked. I have a burgeoning Daddy Dom/little girl kink. Everything else, I think you’ll figure out on your own.”

He nods solemnly, taking this in. He has a mind like a computer, and he’s just created a folder entitled “How to Make Kate Come.” I see it in his thoughtful, analytic eyes. McDonald’s is heated on this chilly March night, but a shiver goes through me nonetheless.

Later, he’ll be three knuckles deep inside me, fingertips cresting along the spot that makes me come. “That’s your sweet spot, huh, babygirl?” he intones. “You’re getting so wet for Daddy…” And, yeah, that does the fucking trick. Stars explode behind my eyes and I lose sight of the world for a few moments, lost in my littleness.

But post-orgasmic doubt sets in, as it is wont to do. “I’m pretty good at knowing what people want to hear,” he tells me when I compliment his dirty-talk prowess, and poof: there goes my boner. He can’t be my Daddy if he’s only stepping into the role for my benefit. It’s like dancing with someone who’s too cool to really get into it, and keeps pulling “ironic” faces and making fun of the music. You can’t relax into goofy wild weirdness around someone who’s there reminding you how weird it all is, however implicitly. You need them to get lost in the weirdness with you, so you can get out of your head and just be deliciously in your body together.

He didn’t want to dance with me. He kept mocking the music. He kept telling me “what I wanted to hear.” He was not my Daddy.

Wading into poly for the first time, I quickly discovered: it’s smart to talk to your partners’ partners, if they’re cool with that. You learn so much.

“He’s super GGG and so kink-minded,” my metamour said, moonily. “Some guys get so weirded out when you ask them to hit you or choke you, but he always does it when I want him to.” I could practically see the hearts in her eyes. As sweet as she was on this dude, I wasn’t quite sold on him. Something felt… off.

I mentioned my DD/lg feelings mid-sext one day, and then all the right keywords started popping up in his dirty-talk, like a social media algorithm that knows what you’ve shopped for online and reminds you of your history every day thereafter. “Does my little girl need a spanking?” he queried coolly from across the couch when I was depressed one afternoon.

I nodded, but his comment activated a sad sensation I knew well: performative kink. It is categorically different from actual kink. It’s the difference between “Yeah, sure, I’ll play a submissive role for you, I guess,” and “You are utterly in control of me.” Just as you can’t choose whether you’ll fall in love with someone, you can’t choose whether you’ll feel subby to someone – and I felt neither of those things toward this boy. But I could pretend. And I did.

His filthy monologues, at least, were on-point. Midway through our second fuck of the day, he murmured to me in his darkened bedroom, “I want you to come all over Daddy’s cock like you did earlier.” My vagina responded readily, but it was almost perfunctory: yeah, you said The Thing, so I guess I’ll do The Thing. But it wasn’t quite what I had imagined that Thing would feel like. A hollowness followed that dutiful orgasm: I was someone’s little girl, surely, but not his. He was not my Daddy.

My new beau texts me from a party. A couple in his sightline has what he perceives as an overt DD/lg dynamic, and he is, as he puts it, “having some FEELINGS.”

I text back: “Like, ‘wanting me to call you Daddy’ feelings? ‘Cause, like, same.”

We’ve only talked about this in generalities so far, but his reply tells me everything I need to know. “Fuck. Yes.”

I have no idea what I’m doing. I type a sentence which feels like it should live only within the hazy universe of sexting, and can’t possibly bleed into real life – and yet, here I am, saying it to a real-life partner, albeit in a text. “Excited to come fuck your little girl this weekend?”

There is barely a pause before his response comes back: “Yes, little one, Daddy is very excited to fuck you this weekend.”

The weekend comes. We are hyper-communicative kink nerds, thank god, and lie in bed talking about our Feelings before we delve into sex. “I liked it when we were texting, but I don’t know if I’ll like it in real life,” he carefully confesses. Noticing the confusion on my face, he clarifies: “You know… That word I can’t say.”

I laugh, because I don’t think I can say it either. It feels silly, saccharine, embarrassing, vulnerable. It feels like admitting to something I am absolutely not supposed to want, even though we’ve both admitted we want it, and we both know better than to kink-shame. It’s all well and good to believe other people have a right to their safe and consensual kinks, whatever those may be; it is another thing entirely to accept that you have a right to like what you like. That you are not broken or weird or sick for wanting the things you urgently want.

He kisses me, and it’s like this word we cannot say is silently fuelling our lust; it’s the whirr in my ears, the rat-tat of my heart. I say it a thousand different ways in my mind. I beam it at him while he claws at my skin, spanks my ass red, beats me with a cane. The word resides in my grimaces and in his smirks. It’s an unspoken parenthetical in every sentence we spit.

He lifts his head from where it ended up, between my thighs, and says with the steady calm that turns me to mush: “I’m going to make you come now.” And then he slides two fingers deep inside me, and hands me my Tango, and does what he has promised.

The sounds in the room, as I’m coming down from my orgasm, are a mellow chorus of mewls and whimpers and “Mm-hmm, that’s right” and “You are such a good girl.” I scrunch my fists in the sheets to gather my strength and my resolve, and then I look down at him and say, “Come here. I want to tell you something.”

As he crawls up my body, I wonder if he thinks I’m going to say “I love you.” It’s way too early for that. And also, what I’m about to say feels even bigger, trickier, riskier.

I pull him toward me and purr in his ear, “Daddy, you made your little girl come so hard.”

I feel his cock stiffen and stir against my leg, and he groans like it’s involuntary. Like I pulled the sound from deep within his body. “You want Daddy to fuck you now?” he asks, soft, so soft. I hear how hard he works to push the word past his lips, to force it out while his self-shaming superego tries to tamp it down. I moan my approval like watering a plant I hope will grow strong. And then he fucks me until I am even less than a little girl: a puddle, a cloud, a sweetly sighing mirage.

He strokes my hair in the afterglow, and comments thoughtfully: “I think what freaks me out about that word is how much I like it.”

I laugh. Yup. That. “I know what you mean. It’s like, ‘You can’t say that! That’s The Thing!'” The Thing that catches my breath and halts my words. The Thing that darkens my panties with want. The Thing that flips some secret switch in my brain from “off” to “on.” You know. The Thing.

He smiles, and pulls me tighter against him. “You are such a sweet little girl,” he breathes contentedly, and I know that he is right – and that he is my Daddy.

On Love That Doesn’t Last

I thought about relationship longevity when my college boyfriend asked me to stop wearing antiperspirant with aluminum in it.

“It can give you breast cancer,” he said, “and you already have a family history of breast cancer, so you’re especially at risk. You should switch to one without aluminum. Please.”

I ran a quick risk-reward calculation in my head. Possible eventual breast cancer, in a medical system that knows how to treat it and will do so at no cost to me, versus a few decades of visibly sweaty pits. It seemed to me it was a risk worth taking. Plus there was that other matter… “I probably wouldn’t even get the cancer until my forties or fifties,” I responded, reasonably.

“So?”

“So why do you care? We probably won’t even know each other by then.” My words hung in the air. We peered at each other curiously. A stand-off.

“I care about you and don’t want you to get cancer,” he said, finally, answering exactly zero of the questions I’d implied.

I thought about relationship longevity when a friend asked me if I’d be with my boyfriend forever, and I scoffed, “God, no.”

She was shocked. “But you two always seem so happy! Is something wrong? Are you going to break up?”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “No! We’re very happy. I love him a ton. He’s my favorite person on earth.”

I watched the confusion stagnate on her face.

How do you explain to someone that love can be good even if it’s brief, in a culture that adamantly steers us away from that knowledge? How do you prove that what makes you happy now won’t make you happy forever, nor should it have to? How do you unlearn the trope that love’s only love if it lasts?

I thought about relationship longevity when one of the kids on the improv team I coached made a Facebook status: “I love my girlfriend sooooo much and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her!” He couldn’t have been more than 15 years old.

Was it cynicism that made me roll my eyes, or just realism?

I cast my mind back to when I was 15. I thought I was in love with the purple-haired girl who’d recently dumped me. She was my first girlfriend, my first kiss, and my first break-up – yet I believed with my whole heart that she was irreplaceable, unrepeatable. I could marry that girl, I wrote in my journal, and it felt true, and maybe it was true; who knows.

When friends asked me why I was so fixated on this girl, the point I returned to again and again was: I could never get bored of her. Our conversations were so sharp and quick, our brains so well-matched, that we could debate and joke and argue forever and every moment would feel fresh.

Now her purple hair is black, and her eyes are sadder, and I can see that our hearts were as bad a pair as our brains were a good one. She wanted adventure; I wanted domesticity. She wanted independence; I wanted reliance. Sure, she never would have bored me, but I’m not sure that’s an altogether good thing.

I thought about relationship longevity when I met Bex. No friendship had ever formed so easily, quickly and solidly in my entire life. One day in November 2015, we were casual acquaintances who vaguely knew each other from Twitter and a bloggers’ retreat. The next day, we had had a threesome together, talked about sex and dating and flirting for hours, and become best friends. “Friendship cemented!” we crowed at each other over mac and cheese, and it wasn’t a joke.

If Bex had been a romantic interest of mine, instead of just a pal, friends would have told me to slow down. They would have said, “Whoa, that person drove nine hours to be with you on New Year’s Eve? Isn’t that a little intense?” They would have said, “You’re staying in that person’s house for five days and they’re letting you borrow their dildos? Isn’t it a little soon for that?” They would have said, “Hang on, you’re starting a podcast together? How do you know you won’t get into a fight and break up?”

But none of it scared me. None of it felt uncomfortable or rushed or ill-advised. Because I just knew. I knew we were meant to find each other in this weird world, I knew we were best friends in the truest sense of that phrase, and I knew we would be friends for a long time.

Sometimes you just know.


Wearing his shirt.

I thought about relationship longevity when I first met my current friend-with-benefits – because I wanted us to never be apart, and I don’t think he knew what he wanted.

Our first meeting was dazzling and disorienting. He talked about himself a lot but every word charmed and fascinated me. We talked for three or four hours over beer (me) and wine (him) and it felt like no time at all. I could’ve listened to him talk all night. And I would’ve, too, if he hadn’t gotten tired and wanted to say goodnight.

As is my M.O. as a shy person, I hadn’t opened up enough for him to see the real me – so he didn’t know we were meant to be friends. He showed me both his outsides and his insides, but he only saw my outsides, so he didn’t know our insides matched. He didn’t hear the jokes that cropped up in my head seconds before he made them, the emotional reactions that crossed my heart before they crossed his face.

When I went home and journaled my first impressions of him that night, I wanted to call him “the twin of my soul,” but that felt melodramatic, embarrassing, even in the privacy of my diary. That phrase floated around in my skull every time I saw him thereafter, though. Did you know you’re the twin of my soul? I thought but never asked.

It took months for me to relax around him, so it took months for him to see who I really was. But when he did, he knew too, I think. “I get the sense that you and I are going to be in each other’s lives for a long time,” he said to me once, slowly, as we sipped coffee at a diner. Harsh afternoon light filtered in behind him, and I shielded my eyes, but couldn’t conceal the grin that split my face. Finally, he understood. The twin of my soul.

Trust Your Body & Say What You Mean: A Sweet & Salacious Tarot Reading

The older I get, the more I appreciate people who perform emotional labor for myself and others. These skills are undervalued, underemphasized, rendered almost imperceptible by this culture which says emotional labor isn’t labor at all. Anyone who makes that claim simply doesn’t understand how much they have benefited from the emotional labor performed for them by people in their lives. If they saw it for what it was – if they recognized it while it was happening, instead of breezing past it in an entitled huff – they would be in awe. They would be grateful.

I feel this way about so many people in my life who perform emotional labor for me regularly: the friends who sit with me calmly when I’m sad, the partners who remember which small things upset me and which small things bring me joy, the therapist who puzzles through my motivations with me, even the baristas and waiters who remember my usual order. They are all giving me an exquisite gift made from compassion, intuition, and mindfulness. I do not take it for granted.

I feel this way about Carly from Tiny Lantern Tarot as well. Our reading last year opened my eyes to many worrisome patterns I was perpetuating in my dating life; Carly helped me see these issues by reading my cards, drawing on her knowledge of me, listening to my questions and concerns, and simply being present with me. (Carly uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, so I’ll be alternating between those in this post.)

This past week I went back to see Carly for another reading – specifically, a reading about my sex life, which Carly calls a “pussy fortune.” (They’re quick to point out, of course, that this language doesn’t resonate with everyone and there are many other things you could call a sexy tarot reading. My pun-brain is whirring… A “pre-dick-tion”? A “whore-oscope”? A “get-off-ecy”?!)

I’m a sex-nerdy, kinky, non-monogamous queerdo, so if I’m going to open up to someone – in either a personal or a professional capacity – I need them to be cool with all those things, or even involved in those communities themselves. Carly totally gets all of that, and I feel 100% comfortable unpacking sex/kink/poly things with her. If you are similarly inclined and live in or near Toronto, I would highly recommend booking Carly for a reading; their knowledge of and comfort with these areas of sexuality sets me deeply at ease.

She made me a cup of coffee and we settled onto the couch in her little turquoise office. We discussed some questions I’ve been wondering about: 1) How can I adjust my approach to dating to attract more people into my life who I’m emotionally and sexually compatible with and who want to date me? and 2) What areas of sexuality should I explore next, in my personal life and in my work? (Sex is inextricable from work for me. My sex life fuels my sex writing; my sex writing fuels my sex life. I cannot discuss one without the other.) I watched as they shuffled their gently glinting black-and-gold cards and laid them out methodically on a navy chest repurposed as a table, and we began the reading.

It was a long reading, full of thoughtful silences and the internal whir of one “aha!” moment after another. One of my favorite things about Carly’s readings is that she leaves long, comfortable silences in between sentences and cards. As a journalist, improvisor, and podcaster, sometimes silences make me panic – they’re “dead air” and that’s bad, right?! – but they are incredibly useful in a setting like a tarot reading. Sometimes I need a good ten or twenty seconds to absorb and process something one of us has just said – to turn it over in my mind and look at it from all angles – and it’s in those long pauses that I connect the dots, find the common threads, reach revelations. In everyday life, we so rarely get the opportunity to take a breath, think, and decide at our own pace what we want to say next. Carly holds space for their clients in ways both figurative and literal, and it is such a gift.

They pulled many cards and we discussed many facets of my dating life, sex life, and work life, so I won’t go into detail about all of it – but here are a few key concepts that have stuck with me in the intervening days…

Listen to your body. Trust your body. Let your brain take a backseat. This message came up in multiple cards. It’s something I frequently struggle with, as an anxious weirdo who over-intellectualizes and over-analyzes sex. Sometimes my body really does know best, and that’s hard to accept; I want to be able to conquer all problems with sheer brainpower! But my body is at least as smart as my brain, and I need to let it do its thing.

This has come up in my dating life a lot lately. I’ll force myself to go on a first date (and then sometimes a second or third date!) with someone because they seem like a good fit for me, logically. But my body knows different: my shoulders get tense as I enter the plan in my calendar, my eyelids feel heavy as I force myself out of bed the morning of the date, and I’m fraught with anxious nausea as I slide my shoes on and head out the door. There is a difference between good-nervous and bad-nervous, and I can distinguish between the two if I silence my brain-chatter and listen to my body. Nine times out of ten, my body has a better sense of whether someone is good for me than my brain does, and I should heed that more often.

This lesson also plays into more established relationships. It’s been over a year since I found out my ex-FWB was chronically abusive to other partners of his, and I keep reflecting on all the warning signs my body noticed that my brain decided to ignore. I didn’t feel good around him, I never got excited to go see him, and he often said creepy things that grated on me – but I kept assuring myself these were small things that ultimately didn’t matter, since the sex was good and he was, on the surface, “nice.”

Contrastingly, I recently had sex for the first time with a new beau who I believe is actually nice, and afterward, he breathed in my ear, “I have a good feeling about you.” I had a good feeling about him, too – in my body, not just my brain. Our bodies are wiser than we give them credit for.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. One of the cards Carly pulled for me this time, the Seeker of Feathers, also came up in our last reading, which I gather means I haven’t learned its lesson yet. This card is all about honesty, assertiveness, telling the truth, even when doing so is hard. I think most of us could stand to get better at this.

Sometimes I tell dates I like them and want to see them again when I kinda don’t. Sometimes I tell dates I’m cool with us keeping things “chill” and “casual” when I utterly am not. Sometimes I tell dates I’m “not sure what I’m looking for” when I actually know I’m looking for a committed primary partner.

Sometimes I tell partners I don’t care that I didn’t have an orgasm, when I actually do care. Sometimes I tell partners what they’re doing feels great, when I actually know what would feel better. Sometimes I tell partners our sexual incompatibilities are solvable, when I’m actually frustrated to catastrophic levels with one crucial mismatch or another.

I get myself into trouble when I lie, distort the truth, or omit pertinent details. I end up going on dates with people I barely like, making out with people I’d rather just cuddle, having sex with people to whom I should’ve said “good night” hours ago. To be clear, these experiences are consensual; they just lack the passion and enthusiasm and “oh yes”-ness that I consider vital. If there isn’t mutual excitement in a romantic and/or sexual interaction, why am I even there? What is the point?

I told Carly about how I struggle with letting people down, even when I know I’m not feeling a connection. She reminded me that dating is inherently risky and most people know that. There is always a risk of rejection, sadness, conflict, disappointment. That’s just part of the deal. I don’t have to protect people from that. Trying to postpone those feelings often just worsens them in the end. “Stop going on second dates with people you know you don’t want to keep seeing,” Carly advised me. Okay. I’ll try.

Consider your intentions. One of the cards Carly drew – the Ten of Feathers – was meant to represent how others observe or interpret me, and it indicated a fall. Chaos. Mental health struggles, addiction, loneliness, fears.

I felt a rush of embarrassment when they explained this to me. I flashed back to Kat Williams advising against being a “car-crash blogger” – a blogger who only writes about bad things that happen to them, in an effort to get clicks and sympathy. I often write about difficult stuff – but is that what I want to be known for?

As I blathered about this internal crisis, Carly reminded me that having a public image laced with conflict and chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And I realized they were right. I’ve received so many nice notes from readers telling me that my writing about soul-crushing experiences – unrequited love, rejection, insecurity – helped them understand and get through tricky situations of their own. This was a nice reminder that I should consider my intentions with regards to my work: writing sad stuff isn’t necessarily bad, it should just be something I deliberately choose to do, if and when I do it.

We also talked about how I should be more deliberate and intentional in my dating life as well. If I’m going out on multiple first dates a month with new Tinder suitors, I should ask myself: why? What am I hoping to get out of this? Am I actually having fun, or am I just doing this because I feel like I’m “supposed to”? If I’m having sex with a lot of people, is it actually as fun and exciting as I want it to be, or is it just exhausting? Am I pursuing romantic relationships because they’re what I’m “supposed to” want, or do I actually want them?

These are all questions for which my answers tend to oscillate, but the important thing is that I’m pondering them at all. Things get messy when I wander into new endeavors with no idea what I’m really doing – whereas, if I know exactly what I’m hoping to get out of an experience, I’m likelier to have a good time and get what I want.

Just like last time, I left Carly’s house feeling inspired, emboldened, and amped up. Their perspective, advice, and the simple act of listening to me had helped me shake loose some areas that had felt stuck. On the subway ride home, I stared at the notes I’d scribbled in my journal, and it felt like I was looking at a road map to a more satisfying sex life.

If you want to book a reading with Carly – which you should, ’cause she’s fucking terrific – you can make arrangements to come see her here in Toronto. They also occasionally travel to other locales; follow them on Twitter for updates on that. Carly also writes a tarot advice column called Ask a Feelings-Witch, to which you are welcome to submit questions.

I’m never entirely sure how I feel about witchy, magical practices – whether I believe they actually help or they’re just made-up silliness – but what I know about tarot is that it bridges a gap between the magical and the practical. The cards tell you some things, and you can connect those messages and lessons to the events of your own life, in ways that are often shockingly illuminating. Whether you believe tarot is a mystical practice imbued with the supernatural, or merely a secular window into your own psyche, I think it can be a helpful tool. After all, if you ask me, all the best things in life have a little ambiguous magic in them – and the wisest people are those who are open to mystery, to the unexplainable, to being surprised by life.

Submissive ‘n’ Stoned: Reflections on Weed & Kink

Marijuana is magic. I have known this for quite some time, and then a summer romance drives the point home for me.

But I’m not fully committed to this boy, emotionally; my mind is elsewhere, and that’s reflected in the way I talk about him. Tweeting on my way to see him one afternoon in July, I call him my “pothead fuckpal.” He’s normally thrilled when I tweet about him, but this time, he’s irate. I think it’s “fuckpal” he objects to moreso than “pothead.” Because, while it’s irredeemably true he is a pothead, he wants to be more than just my fuckpal. I’m not sure I can give him that, and we’re not talking about it yet.

But I am a bad girl who writes bad things on Twitter, so I deserve a punishment.

We smoke up when I arrive at his house, like we always do – me from my little glass pipe and him from his enormous DIY bong. He’s smoked for years longer than I have, and has years’ more sexual experience under his belt, so I guess he knows what sweet havoc weed can wreak. I always get way too high at his place, nervously smoking more than I should because I’m uncomfortable and don’t know what else to do with my hands. I sit there glued to the couch, and he begins to touch my thighs.

Weed makes every touch significant, every movement a story. He traces circles and lines on my skin and they spin off into wild visions, all radiating sensation back to my clit. My arousal builds slowly but steadily, like a ski-lift gliding up a mountain. He works his way toward my clit in maddening circles, and I want his touch there but it’s an unhurried want: we will get to that when we get to it, and that’s fine.

Stoned sex is a magnificent blur. Journaling about it in days that follow, I always have to tell the story in point form, free of narrative or coherence. So one moment he’s touching my clit, and the next I’m draped over his knee getting pummelled by a wooden hairbrush, and the next I’m kneeling between his legs with his cock down my throat. Oh, hello.

I love stoned blowjobs and submissive blowjobs for many of the same reasons: they absorb me, anxieties and all, in a way that sober vanilla sex rarely can; they free me from inhibitions and scripts so I can enjoy what my mouth is feeling instead of suffer what my mind is whispering; and they allow me to focus wholly on the task at hand (or… at mouth). I am a good girl, an orally talented girl, a very very high girl, and I love it.

I shouldn’t have called him my pothead fuckpal. I shouldn’t have agreed to date him when I knew I could never love him. But all those shouldn’ts don’t matter now because there is weed smog in my head and a cock in my mouth.

The first time I discovered weed makes pain feel near-orgasmic to me, I was doing yoga at a party, but I’m a perv so of course it didn’t take me long to figure out how to apply that to kink.

In September of last year, I had a near-weekly tradition. I would go to a boy friend’s house (a boy-space-friend, not a boyfriend, you understand), we would smoke weed, he would catch me up on his various Adventure Zone headcanons, and then he would spank me.

The weed served two purposes. First of all, it helped us two awkward anxious bunnies relax around each other. And secondly, it made his spankings feel like molten-hot fireworks exploding in my skin.

“Do you wanna go to my room?” he’d ask when we’d been chilling on the living-room couch for an hour or two, and that was code for: “Do you want me to beat your ass raw with a paperback novel?” Every time, I’d quirk a grin at him and say, “Yeah.” And we would go.

Though I’ve loved being spanked for years, it wasn’t until I met this boy that I thought I might be able to come from it. It always seemed nearly-mine, like an apple on a swaying branch beyond my grasp – but I could never quite get at it. The trying was fun, though.

What I loved most about our arrangement was that sex was never assumed, never a foregone conclusion. The spanking was the main course. The weed was the garnish. The good conversation was the appetizer. And when the meal was done, I could shimmy back into my skirt, say goodnight, and go home, wetness dripping down the inside of my thigh in a guilty ribbon. “Text me when you get home safe,” he’d tell me sternly at the door. He wasn’t my dom but he was a good snack to tide me over in between feasts. A good friend to have. A good warm hand on my ass.

Marijuana extends time in my brain. I can get lost in a moment of sensation and have no idea afterwards if it lasted eight seconds or forty minutes. This is all well and good if my partner is also high, or if they’re someone I know I can take my time with. Less so if I’m nervous.

“How long have you been doing that?” I ask you while you’re two knuckles deep inside me. “I have no sense of time right now. I need you to tell me if you want to stop.” Because I never want you to stop. I want your fingers pressing stripes into my most sensitive spots ad infinitum. I want to live in this hotel room with you and your devilish fingers forevermore. I want to come and come until I’m a husk of a human.

You sigh, with the careful, caring discontent of someone who sympathizes with my sexual anxieties but thinks they’re silly nonetheless. “You just lie back and relax. This is not strenuous for me. I’ll stop if I want to. Right now I just want you to feel good.”

Though our dynamic isn’t kinky, I hear this as a command. I lie back. I relax. And you must’ve said the magic words, because within minutes, I am coming, loud and unrestrained.

You slip your fingers out of me and let me catch my breath before suggesting a mid-sesh intermission to top up our intoxication levels. This entails sneakily smoking in the bathroom of this no-smoking hotel room, because we don’t have a balcony and fuck if we’re gonna throw clothes on and brave the current January windstorm in this state.

I stand in front of you in the yellowish fluorescent bathroom light, and we’re both poetically, unselfconsciously naked. I watch, rapt, as you grind some weed and load your one-hitter. You hand it to me along with your lighter, but I can’t get it lit, so you have to help me. I am a quivering little girl making doe eyes at you as you flick the sparkwheel and make a flame for me. I inhale deeply and feel so sexy, so safe.

The trick, you explain, is to exhale through a damp washcloth toward the exhaust vent in the ceiling; that way we’re least likely to set off the smoke alarm. You’ve pre-moistened a cloth for this purpose, and after watching me inhale, you grab it and lay it flat over my mouth, pressing the edges down tight. I breathe out and make a rusty stain on the white rag. “That was maybe the kinkiest thing you’ve ever done to me,” I joke.

I take another hit, and you wink at me – the big, broad, unexpected wink of someone who knows about my thing for winks – and I can’t laugh because my lungs are full of precious smoke. I grab the washcloth and push my breath through it, along with a rush of pent-up giggles. “Oh, you were trying not to laugh out the weed,” you realize. “I thought it seemed strange that you didn’t react to my winking. That never happens.” My whole body, my whole brain, wants to hug you and kiss you and suck your dick. C’mere, loverboy.

Minutes later, in our big hotel bed, I’m on my back with my legs spread wide and you’re sitting cross-legged between them, like my vulva is a movie you’ve been dying to see. You slide the S-Curve into me while I snuggle my Tango up against my clit. Despite having come twice already today and being, traditionally, a one-and-done kind of girl (a one-hitter, you might say!), I feel an orgasm building almost immediately. Be it the comfortable environment, the familiar partner, the excellent toys, or the weed, I don’t know. And I don’t really care to analyze it.

You push the toy’s rounded glass tip against my A-spot hard and I fall apart completely, an orgasm bursting through me and extinguishing all thoughts. The combo of climactic incoherence and marijuana incoherence is a funny one. I want you to keep fucking me, harder and faster, all the way through my orgasm, but instead I’m just shouting, “Aaaahhh, I want, I want,” and “M-m-please-m-m-moooore.”

You indeed keep fucking me, but also, you bark, “English!” The frustration in your tone seems to extend my orgasm, to stretch it out like taffy. But this command also jolts me just enough that I can collect my wits. “Harder, please,” I clarify, in perfect English, and you give me what I want.

Sometimes, when I’m in my head and struggling to come, you tell me to fantasize about whatever I want.

It’s a remarkably generous offer. Most people want you to focus on them, and them alone, while they’re fucking you. They want your eyes open and affixed on theirs. They want to do you so right, they blow your other thoughts away.

But this ignores, for many of us, how our sex-brains work. I can think you’re gorgeous and still need to picture someone else to get me over the edge. I can love what we’re doing, but get even more turned on when I think of us doing something else. I can adore you the way you are, but still envision a different version of you when I’m on the brink and I need something extra to get me there.

Tonight, in my bed, we are high, and you are fucking me, and I am close, and you say it. “You just relax and think about whatever you need to think about.” Your voice, as always, is steady and calm. And generous. So generous.

My mind moves in hazy kaleidoscopic shapes, searching for that one image or phrase that will get the job done. I see spirals of light, blinding sunsets, scenes from another dimension. But beyond all that, what I come back to is you. A different type of you, an alternate-reality version of you, but you, nonetheless.

“Be a good girl and come for me, princess,” the you of my fantasies mutters as you never will. And I come so hard, it clears the smoke from the rafters of my brain.

Diary of a Ghosted Girl

Sunday night. I am depressed. I have been depressed for a solid week, with no hypomanic reprieve. Shit is dire.

I have guzzled more wine than I ought to’ve, and smoked more weed than is probably reasonable. There are one or two crusted tears on my cheeks, but mostly I’m numb. Aching to feel something; aching to ache.

A new OkCupid message lands in my inbox, and I open it with the characteristic slowness of a person weighed down by depression. “Fuck. This profile was an intensely enjoyable read that had me grinning like a total idiot,” it reads. “I don’t even know where to start except HEY (for now).” Then he asks me something about toxic jelly dildos, which I mention in my profile. My ears perk up, and so do I, a little.

I flick through his profile – pictures, paragraphs, compatibility question responses – and it achieves the rare thing of making him seem more interesting rather than less. (Most men are atrocious at writing online-dating profiles.) I message him back.

Our conversation kicks into high gear almost immediately. Jokes. Stories. Questions. All-caps shouts of “ME TOO!” and sparks of recognition. He likes my puns. I care if he likes my puns. I talk about my work and he doesn’t take it as an invitation to ask invasive questions about my sex life, as so many OkSuitors before him have. I am absurdly, miraculously, hastily hooked.

He tells me his full name – “incase you’d like to move this over to Facebook/creep me for mutual friends/affirm I am in fact a real person and not an elaborate cat-fishing account” – and, to my shock, it’s almost exactly the name of a person I used to be in love with. Their first names are as close as Lee and Leo, and they have the same surname. Intellectually, I understand that this doesn’t mean anything. Emotionally, it seems to mean quite a lot. It feels like the universe is shining a spotlight on this boy and shouting in my ear: Notice this person. Pay attention. He could be important.

We move things over to text. We talk about sex in a way that is flirty but not explicit – my favorite, when I don’t know someone well yet. He’s such a good flirt that I’m screaming and cackling at my phone – indeed so good that a friend christens him “Mr. Goodflirtz” when I relay the key points of our conversation later.

I send him a picture of me. Not a nude – just a cute selfie, where I’m pleased with how I look, and I look like the kind of girl that a man like him might be interested in. “Fuck,” he writes back. “…Fuuuuck. I mean you are just so fucking good-looking.” More cackling at my phone. More blushing, sweating, and covering my eyes. My heart is thudding.

But it’s late, and I have to get some sleep – which I laughingly tell him even as he’s still blowing up my phone with compliments in little green text bubbles. “Yes yes sorry,” he writes. “Good night.”

I do a thing I have done too many times, and have promised myself not to do again: I get over-invested. I turn his name and face over in my mind. I lie awake thinking about the dress I’ll wear on our first date, and what we’ll do after he tugs it off of me. Eventually, somehow, I fall asleep – and dream about his pretty mouth all night.

On Monday morning I am pinged awake by my phone’s text tone. “That picture was the first thing I saw this morning as it was still open on my phone,” I blink sleep out of my eyes to read. This is followed by some gratuitous information about how his dick is reacting to said photo and what he is doing about it – information I find charming, not alarming, because at this point I feel like I know him. He is a wizard with words. His words alone have made me want to kiss his face, suck his dick, build some kind of future. It’s ridiculous.

“I’d gladly take any other pictures you’d like to share,” he adds – politely, I think. But I have a boundary around this, which I explain to him: I don’t like to sext with people before I meet them in person. It often makes me lose interest in them, or feel weird, so I tend to avoid it, especially if I suspect I might actually like the person. “Fair enough,” he writes back. “Let’s hang soon, then.”

“I am free tonight or Thursday,” I tell him, and he replies, “Thursday is probably best, but mayyybe tonight.” We talk logistics – locations, times – and lapse once again into giggly half-sexts laced with wordplay. I’m still barely awake; I tell him I’m going back to sleep, and I’ll be in touch later.

That afternoon, I send him a selfie of me looking put-upon and adorable. “This is my ‘You should have drinks with me tonight’ face,” I caption it.

No answer. I try to keep myself occupied with other diversions. Four hours pass. I complain to my best friend, stare at my phone for far too long, then decide to take a nap, hoping I’ll wake up to a text notification.

I wake up a few hours later. “I’m dying of anxiety,” I tell Bex. “Why hasn’t he texted me back?!” Bex, the greatest friend anyone could hope for, replies: “You don’t know much about him. Maybe work got out of hand, maybe he has food poisoning, maybe something came up with his family, maybe a friend just went through a breakup, maybe he was up all night last night and fell asleep, maybe he got hit by a bus, maybe he’s secretly a superhero and is fighting his arch nemesis, maybe he burned all of his fingers making tacos and can’t use a phone, maybe his phone broke and he’s at the store trying to get it fixed, maybe Pennywise lured him into the sewers with the promise of all the pussy he could eat, maybe he is volunteering at an animal shelter and got distracted by all the puppies, maybe he got lost in that weird circus store y’all have and has no phone service and is wondering if he’s going to starve and should start eating his own arm… I could keep going.” I laugh, but I’m still sick with anxiety.

“Or maybe he’s a dick who decided to ghost after 12 hours,” Bex continues, “in which case, you dodged a bullet, because you don’t want to hang out with him, because he’s a dick.”

do want to hang out with him, is the thing.

My anxiety disorder has decided this is the most important thing in the world. I barely sleep, barely eat. I feel nauseous over the idea that not only does “Mr. Goodflirtz” not want me, but no one wants me, no one has ever wanted me, no one will want me ever again. I wonder if he was only ever looking for a sexting partner. I wonder if he Googled me and got scared off. I wonder if he was using fake pictures and fake information to solicit nudes from me. I wonder if he was an undercover creep from 4Chan or the Red Pill. I can’t stop wondering. My sleepless night is a whirlpool of uncontrollable wondering.

On Tuesday morning, I resolve that I will not text him.

On Tuesday afternoon, I text him. “Hey, would Thursday still be a good night to get drinks?” I hate myself immediately after pressing “send.”

By Tuesday night, he still hasn’t answered. I log onto OkCupid to stare longingly at our messages – and I see that he’s online. After fighting the urge to anxiety-puke, I fight the not-altogether-different urge to message him some variation of “Yo, what the fuck, bro?!” I have to physically close my computer and walk away from it to keep myself from doing this. It feels like the most difficult thing I’ve done in a very long time.

On Wednesday I go to a therapy appointment. I sniffle and sob while telling my endlessly compassionate therapist about this dumb boy and all the dumb feelings I’m feeling about him. It’s a double-whammy: I’m hurting because he disappeared, and because I’m embarrassed by how much this has hurt me. He didn’t owe me anything. I know that. And yet I can’t help feeling wronged. Dropped. Ghosted.

“You just lost your job, you’re still dealing with the fallout of unrequited love, and then this happened,” my therapist points out, reasonably. “You’ve been rejected a lot lately. Rejection hurts. But it’s not a reflection on you. It doesn’t mean you’re unloveable.”

Tears stream down my face. I know she’s right. But I don’t believe she’s right. They are two different things.

My phone’s been on Do Not Disturb mode for the duration of our appointment, like it always is – and as I walk out my therapist’s office door, I press the home button, blindly hoping. But nope. Still nothing. The ghost is still dead, and so, it seems, is my heart.

A fuckbuddy I was supposed to see on Wednesday night texts to say that he’s sick, and to ask if we can reschedule for next week. I know him well enough to know he isn’t lying, but my anxiety suspects he might be – because I distrust all men right now. If someone could be so enthusiastic about me and then disappear off the goddamn face of the earth, then everyone could be lying about everything. I ignore the anxious voices in my head and choose to accept that a request to reschedule is indeed a request to reschedule – not another rejection, perched upon my already precarious heap of recent rejections.

On Wednesday night, I spend hours in bed just numbly staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out what I did wrong, what I can do differently going forward. I grab my phone and open Tinder. I know it’s bad. I know. It’s like an alcoholic trying to nix their “one last” hangover with “one last” hair of the dog.

But it makes me feel a bit better. I flirt with a few boys, until I find one I actually connect with on some level. We talk, and joke, and learn about each other, in the formulaic dance that early online-dating interactions all tend to follow. It’s not fiery with white-hot excitement like it was with Mr. Goodflirtz, but it’s something.

We schedule a date, and I go to sleep, dreaming of someone new.

I don’t think about my ghost much on Thursday. But late that evening, my phone’s text tone beeps, and my heart leaps into my throat. I claw the thing out of my purse at lightning speed.

“How are you feeling today?” a friend has texted to ask – and I’m so goddamn angry at myself for being disappointed.