Promises I Didn’t Know I Made

YouNeverOweSexI was out late with friends. I was 19-years-old and lit up with enough alcohol to make me silly, energetic, and flirtatious. I was flirting without aim – with female friends and male friends, and without thinking through intentions. I didn’t have any real design, I was just feeling good. We went from bar to bar. I was spinning and heady. At one point I remember grabbing a guy’s hand and running off, speeding the group along.

Later that night, I went back to my friend’s apartment. I was sleeping on her couch, or that was my plan. That is, until her upstairs neighbor, who was the boy whose hand I had grabbed, led me off to his bedroom. I was pliant and thoughtless; young and inexperienced.

In his bed, he kissed me. His hands started roving over my body. That sobered me up somewhat. Finally, I was thinking about where I was and what I was doing. And I didn’t want to be doing it. I pulled away and told him as much. To his credit, he did stop touching me. Not as much to his credit, he then preceded to beg. “Please,” he said. “You held my hand.” He waited. “Please, have sex with me. You held my hand.” I again told him no. He continued, “Please have sex with me!”

I’ve never felt so stone-cold and turned off. He wouldn’t relent. He pleaded, begged, and I finally realized I had to remove myself from the situation because he was not going to stop or accept my “no.” I left his room and went down to the couch at my friend’s place.

In the morning, I brought it up with her. She was not impressed – with me. Like him, she said, “But you held his hand. You flirted.”

And so I did. I wouldn’t say it was my most responsible night. I wasn’t thinking through my actions, their consequences, or what they might communicate to others. Some growing up has helped that sort of thing. But he was also not responding to me. Would he really want to have sex with a girl whom he badgered into it? Was the sex more important to him than my desire for it? I was lucky, in that my indiscretion led me to the bed of a rather sad, wheedling boy, and not an outright aggressive one. He wouldn’t let my “no” be, but other than attempting to force me with words, he didn’t force me. I left annoyed with him, sobered that he was so much more interested in having sex than whether or not I wanted to have sex- but otherwise unharmed.

I also left shocked at my friend, and that she would assert that any sort of flirtation amounts to a promise for sex; that the so-called promise obligates a woman to later deliver on that sex, no matter how she feels or what she wants; and also that flirtation justifies men to be pushy as they make their claim for what they feel they deserve, impervious to what the woman might want herself.

It was not the first time, or the last, that a boy would beg me to have sex with him, or tell me that I had effectively already made a promise of sex to him through my behavior.

In many of those cases, my behavior was far less promising and flirtatious than it had been on that night. For instance, one evening I watched a movie alone with a male friend. We talked, enjoyed the film, and he made a move. It was unwelcome, and I told him I wasn’t really into it. He wouldn’t accept my no, either. He grew increasingly belligerent about it as I continued to assert myself, saying that I was obligated to have sex with him since I’d watched the film with him. The night ended with me kicking him out of my house.

There are no promises in sex or love. Consent has to happen all along the way. And men’s desires don’t get to trump women’s desires. Unless both people are into it, and both people are saying yes, the situation sucks.

Monologues are independent stories and the opinions shared are the author’s own. Do you relate to this story? Share in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Promises I Didn’t Know I Made

  1. A 30-year-old White Male

    Reading this made me think of times — when I was also about 19 years old — that I put women in this situation. Speaking for myself, it took only a few moments after I expressed that oh-so-typical entitlement to realize how fucking stupid and rude and creepy it was. Thankfully, I don’t recall ever saying anything as straightforward as those you describe. There are probably many sources for this particular type of entitlement — whether it be from peers or media — but it is all still just entitlement. Entitlement is scary because it provides a sound, logical analysis to a person as to why the focus of the entitlement is their rightful possession, meaning that they will be very persistent in their pursuit. In their mind, the focus is effectively theirs. Your personal experiences seem to highlight that disturbing tenacity.

    Reply
    1. Lai Post author

      Thanks for sharing. I think you’re right that it’s about entitlement, and good on you for reflecting and thinking better of the urge when you were younger. I’d add that it’s a sort of entitlement that doesn’t really respect the potential partner – or, possibly, that treats her as a desirable sex object, rather than a person who also gets to have her own desires. I think you highlight that when you mention treating a person as a possession. There’s nothing wrong with wanting sex, or thinking you were going to have sex, or asking if that might be on the table, of course. The only problem is when people don’t take their disappointment in stride and accept that their potential partner isn’t up for it.

      Reply

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