The first time I saw him, we locked eyes walking down the hall and turned around after passing in that, “DAMMMMNNNN” kind of way, even though we were at work. A few days later, I was at lunch with another guy, but he followed me there, and I made an excuse to go ask for his name. The third time I saw him, I noticed the tattoo on his neck, but we exchanged numbers anyway and made a date for that night. The fire was burning, burning hot.
He was a beautiful specimen of man. Six-foot four, smooth black skin, effortlessly muscular, an infectious smile. I think in the beginning we legitimately liked each other: He picked me up to go to a pool party with his friends, he came over to my house to meet my friends, we did things together. On the other hand, he never slept over and, while I was completely entranced, I knew there were definite disparities. I was from a well-off suburban white family that valued education and didn’t dance. He was an inner-city kid who got out by joining the military, never made it to college and didn’t care to. He was a salesman—superficially open, but hiding most of himself, and even years later I have trouble sorting through what was calculated for sex and what was genuine. But when I left the country for an extended time, he sent me a few messages, even calling me internationally to say he missed me on Christmas. Maybe it’s naïve but I think, even through all the smoke and mirrors, we genuinely liked each other in the beginning; he thought the bad boy had finally found a good girl.
Then, shit happens. I heard he was sleeping around, he denied it, I started dating, I denied it—it all went to hell. And that’s fine—he was not exactly take-home-to-mom marriage material for a variety of reasons.
But even if I didn’t want a relationship anymore, that didn’t mean I didn’t want to have relations, if you know what I mean.
He was incredible in bed. Unbelievable can’t-keep-your-hands-off-it body, perfect rhythm, surprisingly selfless given that basically everything else about his life was done for his own interest. The term mind-blowing is not superfluous, as sometimes afterwards I would just lie there and feel the sensation ringing and reverberating through my body. You can understand why our arrangement continued for several years.
It was pretty standard. One of us would call, usually late at night, and he would come to my house. We would go to my room, and in the wee hours of the morning he would leave. We didn’t see each other socially. I didn’t feel slutty because I did like him, we were safe, and he had already been added to my number. I didn’t feel used or care if he saw other people (the office rumor mill pegged him with many conquests), because I didn’t want him beyond what we had. He had one purpose, and for that purpose, he was perfect.
I’m not going to pretend like there wasn’t some drama associated with this, but no relationship is without issues and once I understood it better, it was smooth sailing. He would accuse me of dating other people (which both of us were), and until I realized what he was doing I felt guilty. It was all for show on his part; he was just saying shit because that’s what people say, and he wanted me to react. And there were a few times where I thought I wanted to be together, which would cause him to gently show up a little less often. If I started dating someone seriously, I stopped seeing him, and when I was single again he was the first call (of course, he’d also call me periodically during the relationship, just to make sure I wasn’t single yet).
I’m not advocating this kind of relationship for everyone, but I wish there were more understanding that it can work without damage. I’m not jaded or dead inside; I believe in love and relationships. I just also believe in fun sex. It wasn’t dirty or messy because he couldn’t hurt me, and at the core of it, both of us knew what it was: an intense attraction with no roots.
In the end, I got fantastic sex for several years with no emotional baggage, which I consider a definite win. In fact, I have a quick and dirty, mutually impossible self-esteem boost just a phone call away. I learned quite a lot from him about how people work—about manipulation and how being shameless will get you what you want—and for that I am thankful. And whenever people debate no-strings-attached hookups, I put on my innocent face, but smile inwardly about my little arrangement.
Photo by Daniel Zedda