Which, for the record, is not an attention-getting trick, although it probably worked. I do want to talk about sex today. Or sexy things, might be a better way of saying that. Maybe it was an attention-getter. Who knows.

Either way, SEX.

I grew up with and have maintained relatively conservative attitudes about sex – or at least about my personal involvement with it. I don’t care what other people do so long as they don’t do it with or to me; other people’s sex lives are none of my business and never have been.

As far as my own sex life, however, I prefer to keep it (a) to myself and (b) to a very minimal minimum. I do not intend to engage in extramarital sex. (I did have a relationship with a sexual aspect to it once upon a time, albeit not actual intercourse, but I do not wish to repeat the experience very soon.) In my limited sphere of encounters with it, sex and sexual activity messed with my brain in a lot of ways, with effects varying from falling grades to a severe and definite exacerbation of my already problematic guilt complex. To put it plainly, I don’t trust myself with the consequences yet. (I will get there. But it will take me a while.)

That said, I can’t avoid it entirely. I’m a college student. Lots of us think about nothing but. In the last couple weeks I have been witness to more than one sudden, surprising demonstration of sexuality, but there’s one in particular I want to talk about because it has happened before, in contexts both similar and not, and my reaction is worth exploring, I think.

So there’s this guy.

(So many good stories begin that way.)

I know him from high school; we sang in the same choir for at least a couple years, and I always kind of got a flirty sort of vibe from him, but I shut him down because I was not interested or had a boyfriend or just because I tend to shut people down because I’m a horrible person that way. And my guess is that he eventually figured that because we were seniors and probably going to different colleges and I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic that it wasn’t worth pursuing. Yet lo and behold, we were in fact going to the same college. Having found that out he struck up a conversation, and we texted some and hung out once before I left for Minnesota, and then there was more texting right before we all left for school and on into about September, at which point he sort of dropped off the planet. And then he got a girlfriend. I had other things to do at this point, so I didn’t care. In February or March we had a conversation in which he asked why we had never dated or something like that, and I said it was because I wasn’t sure he was serious about me, and also that he should worry about his actual real-life girlfriend and not the girl who may have been but never was. And then the other day he texted me again, out of nowhere, making sure to point out that he wasn’t with his girlfriend anymore. The conversation has since gone the way of some rather explicit confessions.

I said to Derek and Kailyn yesterday that I was 90 percent sure he just wanted to get in my pants. Today I am 100 percent sure.

I was really not sure how to react to that. I was almost ready to be offended that someone would say something like that! To me! (Sarcasm.) Call it what you will, but I am not accustomed to receiving compliments which are sexual in nature, even if they have no basis in fact.

In my aforementioned relationship, there were the occasional expressions of intense sexual desire, but because the gentleman involved and I were unquestionably in an exclusive relationship, I was somehow not first inclined to be offended, as I was this afternoon, and also when Jake made his overwhelming confessions of love last fall (though that wasn’t sexual). What’s the difference?

I’m thinking it may come down to reciprocation. I mean, the more obvious distinction is that of a legitimate, exclusive, obvious romantic relationship between me and the person in question, but that leads to the premise that I was in that relationship because I reciprocated the feelings. If I hadn’t felt similarly, I probably would have ended the relationship. (Or at least I like to think I would have had that strength of mind, etc.) And if I reciprocated the feelings, I would be trying to forge a relationship of some kind. (I don’t really believe in friends with benefits, either.)

Strictly speaking, I don’t think, as a female, it’s something to be insulted about when a guy tells you he thinks he’d enjoy having sex with you. You don’t have to prove it to him; there is never an obligation of any kind. I would be insulted if it were implied that I was sexually manipulative. I would also be insulted if it were implied that I was sexually indiscreet, though I know there are those who do not consider that a bad label to have. To each their own. But if a guy tells me he thinks he would enjoy having sex with me, I consider that an acknowledgement of my sexuality as a human being and an expression of his. Which I see no problem with. Humans are sexual beings, and we are wired to express our sexuality and to acknowledge other people’s (sometimes in the same instant). I do not have to acknowledge his sexuality in return if I choose not to. At some point, your actions are your own. Most encounters in life involve meeting each other halfway – someone will put forth something (a statement, an action), but you will put forth the other half, the reaction. And it is entirely under your control. (In other words, don’t play the victim unless you really are helpless, as may be in the case of rape and other instances of sexual assault. I say may be because there are some people, I think, who would manage to find a way to control even those situations via their reactions.)

That said, I cannot stress how important it is to be respectful when dealing with other people’s sexuality. If they turn you down even once, leave them alone. And don’t say you weren’t sure, they were sending you mixed signals, etc. John Green has two things to say on the subject of relationships which I love: “Use your words!” and “Don’t bother with somebody who maybe likes you” or maybe wants to have sex with you, as in this case.

I can’t really think of a clever way to end this.



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