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Sex, honesty, and what happens when you can handle them both.

March 10, 2011

*whew!* My last post, the lil update on T-Bone, sure did generate some interesting feedback. Translations of his e-mail ran the gamut from “he really likes you, he just wants to take it slow because he wants more than sex!” to “he totally is not into – why are you mad at him for it?” These responses echoed those I got from the few girlfriends I discussed this with (only one of which actually knows T-Bone, the rest never will).

Which was my entire point. These days, people can get away with responding to you in such a vague fashion, they can be interpreted all over the board. And I, for one, am sick of it. If you are going to do this, then yeah. I’m gonna question your cajones. Man or woman. Because it’s a fucking cop-out. You are asking someone else to do your work for you – to determine what you want, what to do next, how to handle things, so that you don’t have to. Sack up and say what you think/want, even if it’s “I don’t know.”

The flip side, of course, is that we all need to be ready to deal with honesty if we’re going to expect it from others. I’ve already talked about this, too.

However. Further thought and discussion about this with my dear friend Simone got me thinking a bit more about the reactions I received – specifically as they pertain to my final e-mail response. In our conversation, we did wander off a bit from addressing any specific comment (from readers or my friends) into how that e-mail might be perceived in more general terms.

I think that e-mail has significant potential to make a lot of people… slightly uncomfy.

Why? Well – two reasons:

  1. I was straight-up balls-out honest
  2. I directly addressed sex as a goal. Or rather, the goal. My goal. With no strings attached.

I am not sure, despite what it is we tell ourselves and each other, if either of these things go over well in our society in general, and especially in dating. Let me elaborate…

1. Honesty:

In my initial post on T-Bone? The overwhelming response was “just tell him what you want and see what happens!” After my update, I got the feeling, from some readers and a friend, that I came on too strong. I even questioned if I should have handled it differently…. But then I thought about what I actually wanted from/felt about this whole thing, and I think I did the right thing – I’m not interested in playing pretend in order to keep someone on the hook.

However. It did get me thinking: where is the line between “hey, I want this to be simple so I’m just gonna be honest about what I am looking for” and “woah that’s too much.” I mean… I don’t think being honest about what you want needs to be “too strong”. It can just be straightforward – especially if either any answer, as long as it’s similarly straightforward, is perfectly fine. No harm no foul – and no wasted time.

Simone had this to say:

I agree. And, honestly, I think the other thing is, WHERE IS THAT LINE? I’m sorry but “honesty” – in our culture – is perceived as “coming on too strong” in almost all cases. It’s only in really extreme situations  (e.g. your best friend is dating some really skeevy, abusive guy; your sister’s an alcoholic, etc etc) that honesty is valued in relationship communication OR when you’re in a “serious relationship” (e.g. TELL him you really don’t like it when he leaves the toilet seat up! There’s probably something little he doesn’t like either that you could differently, too!). No one values honesty in the dating game. It just doesn’t work. It’s because people aren’t used to being real with others. They aren’t used to dealing with people’s real feelings or letting other people deal with theirs. Now, does this mean that we should all just avoid social practice in the future, just blurting out whatever we’re thinking, regardless? NO. But I DO think there is a place for open conversation at the BEGINNING of casual (and even going to remain casual) DATING scenarios. Otherwise, it’s just games as usual.

I have to agree with her. We say we want people to just tell us what they’re thinking/want… but, when faced with real honesty, we get uncomfortable. It seems too strong. We don’t know how to deal with it. Miss Feisty also made this point in the comments. Also in the comments, Moxie questioned whether I’d be “satisfied” if T-Bone had honestly told me he wasn’t interested. I think the assumption that other people can’t handle honesty is very telling – especially in this case. I think Moxie is coming from the place where women don’t accept blunt delivery, and overanalyze things to death when they don’t get the answer they want. Sure, some women do that, but to assume we’re all that way…? Plus – how better to learn to get over our shit than to have others be perfectly honest? A “no, I’m not interested” can only be misconstrued so many ways and so many times.

I have a lot more to say on this subject, but to avoid wandering off, I’d just say it ties into our own insecurities and vulnerability, and honesty can challenge those things. Thus – it seems “too strong” when it’s only straight-forward. If that makes any sense…

OK. 2nd?

2. Sex.

In a culture literally steeped in sex – wanting it, getting it, having it, watching it – we are still so goddamn uncomfortable with it. As much as we are saturated in it, we still have a really hard time with sex for sex’s sake. With the act of sex – untethered to a relationship, or dating, or an image, or status, or power.

We put SO MUCH pressure on the ACT of SEX. I mean, I told T-Bone straight-up that’s what I was interested in. I have no question that alone made some people uncomfy. See, as a woman? It’s difficult for me to want, or god forbid ask, for sex alone, with no strings. At best I am “coming on too strong” and at worse, I’m a “slut.”

It’s no better for the dudes. As a dude who’s interested in sex, society automatically assumes you’re some level of douche. You “use” women. You’re a perv. A “player.”

Just because I find you attractive enough to want to bang you doesn’t mean I don’t respect you or think you’re a good person or want to get to know you better. Whether I am a chick or a dude.

And yet… that doesn’t translate. As a society, sex has become something that is a commodity, that needs to be traded, sold, bargained for, played for… As a woman, you need to get something – as a man? You had better put in some work.

If you refuse to view it that way and you’d rather just embrace sex for sex? Because it’s fun and damn but ain’t she fly? Our culture doesn’t understand that.

Why? With all our talk about sex, all our bravado – when someone says “ok let’s do it already!”

……….woah. The pressure! Chill out woman! Back off, DB!

However. I think the pressure we put on sex comes down more than the context society tells us is necessary, but also, again, to our own insecurities.

Sex is messy and smelly and awkward and omg bodily fluids and naked bodies! It ties into a lot of our inherent concerns about our bodies, about if we’re “good enough,” about what other people think, how we’re viewed, what they’ll say about us later…

So, yeah. Basically? We need to get over our fear of confrontation and of sex, and deal with our own insecurities that tie into both. However – saying that’s easier said that done is putting it lightly. It’s pretty damn difficult.

I will come back to the subject of our insecurities in the coming weeks. I’ve thought a lot on it, in terms of why we put pressure on our relationships, our sex, and even our monogamy (no kidding.)…

Anyway. Not sure if all that made sense but…  I saved the best for last. I did indeed receive a reply from T-Bone hisself.


From: T-Bone
To: Me
Sent: Tuesday March 8, 8:17pm

that wasn’t lost on me either… and to be blunt myself, i’m expressly not looking for sex right now — with anyone, not singling you out. my 17 year old self is looking at me in horror, but for now i’m decompressing from my last relationship and don’t feel like going beyond hugs and kisses. it’s a new thing for me, and if it changes i’ll let you know. absolutely up for friendship in the meantime.


*sigh*. Oh, T-Bone. Thank you for restoring my faith that there are attractive, rational, adult, Grown Ass Men who Can Handle Their Shit out there in the world. This isn’t to say I really thought they didn’t exist – it’s just… in my experience, and my girlfriend’s experiences, they can be few and far between.

Although… apparently your pinkie is still broken and… “hugs and kisses”? That’s a lil like “unspoken feelings”… makes me throw up a lil in my mouth. Yes, I know that makes me weird.

*This* is the kind of A+ reply that I completely and utterly respect and admire. As some of my readers know, I am a HUGE advocate for taking some serious time after a breakup to deal with your shit and set down your baggage – and, in my initial post on T-Bone, I wondered if I should avoid him for this very reason.

Hats off, sir. I am beyond apologetic that I ever questioned your cajones.

In conclusion – see what I mean about accepting honesty and being able to discuss sex a bit more frankly? Yes, it’s intimidating and we easily assume that I scared the crap out of him. But, guess what, I didn’t. Now I don’t waste time stalking T-Bone at hippie bars, wondering why we’re not banging already, and he isn’t trying to walk the fine line between being my friend and keeping me at bay (by cockblocking himself with his bro).

PS I did respond to tell him how much I respect him for his decision, how I completely agree with it, etc – and that if he ever wanted company he had my number and I’d leave the sex drive at the door. He wrote back this morning with his number, and that I can bring the sex drive, but not to be surprised if he doesn’t take me up on it. Which made me chuckle.

The End.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 10:03 am

    Yey for T-Bone and honest men all over the planet.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and for your blunt comments on my own.

    • March 10, 2011 10:43 am

      Cheers to them!

      Thank you for not taking my blunt comments too hard! 😀

  2. March 10, 2011 10:12 am

    I’m new to your blog. Damn girl, you can write! Developing a bit of a girlcrush here. I think you’re spot on. I had a candid discussion with DG this week and we were both a little taken aback by the other’s honesty. Refreshing and simultaneously bizarre. I will post more on that later… Am still processing.

    • March 10, 2011 10:45 am

      Thanks, lady! Love me some girlcrush! 😉

      Yes – honesty is pretty amazing when we embrace it. It’s just really hard to do, because we’ll probably hear some things we don’t want to. It’s when we realize we can take what is positive from that and use it to make change in ourselves – and to leave the negative that we don’t need – that it really becomes welcome.

      Hey – I’ve had trouble accessing your blog – and I want to read about your exploits!

      • March 10, 2011 12:47 pm isn’t working for you? Silly blogger. WP might be the answer, then again it could be user error…what do I know, I’ve just worked in tech since god was a boy.

      • March 10, 2011 1:16 pm

        I’m not calling you a silly blogger. I’m calling silly. 😉

      • March 10, 2011 1:54 pm

        OK it works now! I think I had the wrong link… looking forward to reading about your adventures!

        You can call me a silly blogger any time! 😉

  3. March 10, 2011 10:24 am

    I can see now that my gut was right about T- Bone. He does seem like a decent guy who is just taking the time to get his shit together. Glad that you managed some kind of detente with him and that you both seem to have a sense of humor about the whole episode instead of bruised egos and hurt feelings.

    I suggest that you go for that beer and hang out with him a little, judging from his reaction about his 17 year old self kicking his ass in the mirror I don’t think he is going to stay retrospective for much longer, just a feeling I get.

    • March 10, 2011 10:48 am

      Yep – you were right on. And I never thought he was a bad guy, I was just disappointed when he wasn’t more direct… and then he was! Sometimes you just need someone else making the example that being honest really is ok… since, yeah, we live in a world where it often is not.

      We’ll definitely hang out – and I probably will back off. Now that I am more clear on where he’s at, I don’t want to interrupt that process. He should take all the time he needs – and think the fact that he knows this, and is open about it, is fan-fucking-tastic. So many people aren’t nearly as self-aware.

  4. March 10, 2011 12:40 pm

    Sorry. Calling bullshit.

    Here’s you being “straight-up balls-out honest”

    While this comes as no surprise (to, well, anyone at this point), I’m pretty interested in hanging out with you more. I’m not looking for a relationship, and I can appreciate your situation with being separated – I just want to have fun.

    Sorry. Straight up balls out honest would be saying, flat out, I find you really attractive and think we’d have a great time in bed, no strings attached.”

    You danced around it as much as he did. The only reason you have now taken the stance that he’s not a complete pussy is because he replied back to your passive aggressive message with an assurance that his lack of interest it had nothing to do with you. But before that? You were miffed he rejected you and got all in your head about what you did or didn’t do wrong. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to toss around phrases like “sack up” or “man up” or “cojones” then be honest yourself. Either you’re this no nonsense, shoot from the hip person or you’re not.

    See, as a woman? It’s difficult for me to want, or god forbid ask, for sex alone, with no strings. At best I am “coming on too strong” and at worse, I’m a “slut.”

    Oh please. Can we all just stop with this?

    • March 10, 2011 1:45 pm

      Oh yeah – the first e-mail I wasn’t direct. Sam Sharpe already called me out on that in my previous post, and I responded with why I wasn’t for the first go-round.

      I meant the second e-mail, when I did say “All I am looking for is to have fun and have some sex. That’s pretty much it.” I’d say that’s pretty direct – and I don’t see it as passive-aggressive at all. I said what I wanted, and I was fine with being friends. Because I was fine. with. being. friends. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.

      I wasn’t never miffed about his interest or lack thereof – again, I was miffed that his response was wishy-washy enough, I had a whole range of interpretations of it. That had nothing to do with how he felt about me.

      Also, again, I was never upset about being rejected. REALLY I WASN’T. No one has to believe me on that point, but it is the truth.

      I do think I am honest, I think I was honest, I think everything worked out perfectly. I am very content with this entire thing.

      And, I have to disagree with your last point. I absolutely believe that about women and sex. Maybe some people are cool with it, but as a society? We most definitely are not.

  5. March 10, 2011 12:42 pm

    Wow, I’m a bit surprised he emailed back and was totally frank. I guess his gonads didn’t need a kick, he already had the drive. 😉

    However, I think he’s still a bit confused. He said you can “bring your sex drive” but he can’t “make any guarantees”. Sounds like he’s still trying to lead you on. But at least he was honest for the most part. I don’t know, I can’t speak for everyone but it’s pretty hard for me to remain platonic with someone I want to have sex with really bad. :O If it were me, I’d have to sever all ties.

    • March 10, 2011 1:50 pm

      Yeah – I was pleasantly surprised too!

      I don’t think he’s leading me on – I think he’s saying I don’t need to worry about how I act, he’s ok with it but he’s sticking to his guns. Which I completely respect. I actually think he’ll be fine with it – and I won’t push him on this. I fully respect his need to have space, and I can most certainly back off.

      I don’t need sex with him bad enough to overstep the boundaries he’s clearly laid out. I probably would avoid getting shitfaced around him, but I don’t usually get that way around people I don’t know/in bars anyway (yes it happens, but rarely).

      Bottom line? It’s up to him to initiate anything beyond friends at this point. Period. And that’s totally cool.

    • March 12, 2011 10:49 am

      I have to agree with Feisty. He’s trying to leave the door open by dangling that carrot that he “can’t make any guarantees”.

      If I didn’t know better I’d say he has a better offer on the table and just wants to keep you around, ‘just in case’.

    • March 12, 2011 5:35 pm

      Hi Single Dad! 😀

      I see your point, but I am going to go with taking him at his word. I was never interested in a relationship with him for this very reason: i.e. it’s too soon after his divorce – which, as far as I can tell, is technically still a separation (even though they’re NOT getting back together). So, if he’s going to tell me he’s not ready to have sex, I’ll believe him.

      Plus, he actually doesn’t need to make me any guarantees. He doesn’t owe me that – I didn’t ask for it, nor do I want it. I asked him about “now” and he responded. If things change, he can tell me. Or not. Up to him – and, like I said, I am not invested enough to worry about it. Further, I can appreciate he’s in a weird place. I assume he probably changes his mind on a regular basis. Do I want to be kept in the loop on that, as he goes through the end of his marriage? Hell to the F no.

      Second, I actually don’t care if he’s interested in other chicks. He should be – he’s been married since he was a baby. When he’s ready (I am still going with taking him at his word), I think he should date around, explore, enjoy, etc!

      Sometimes I think we take “dating” way too seriously. We need everyone else to be SURE all the time – when that’s not how this works – especially early on. Instead, we should all just go with honesty and communicating. In the same vein, we also want the other person to *only* be interested in us, from a very early stage. That’s not realistic – I find other people more attractive, and I assume he does as well. That’s fine. I expect to be #1 priority for someone once they’ve gotten to know me, and it is all that I am, beyond my looks and even my ability in the bedroom, that keeps them around. Not the fact that I am the *most* attractive person they’ve ever met. It takes time for someone to decide you’re the “best offer” FOR THEM – it’s a beyond-surface-deep, personal thing.

  6. March 10, 2011 1:58 pm

    Well I think this turned out well. Yes it is easy to jump to conclusions but he was honest and stood for his decision to need space ( in the sack).

    And in regards to the above comment “calling bullshit” … Hmmm you might think women should stop thinking that asking for NSA sex might be interpretated as coming on too strong or being a slut but unfortunately that is today’s reality and experiences for most women. And the message Nikki sent was hardly confusing. “Just having fun” is pretty obvious.

    • March 10, 2011 5:09 pm

      Yep – I think it turned out well, too. Who knows, maybe T-Bone will make another appearance, but for now, I’m happy to “clink glasses” with him instead of knockin’ boots.

      I agree that yes, our reality IS that we’re judged for the NSA sex. So are men. And thanks for the vote of confidence – I thought I was pretty straightforward too. I think T-Bone got it, regardless! 😉

  7. March 11, 2011 4:46 am

    Hurray for T-Bone writing an email that we don’t have to interpret!

    • March 11, 2011 3:47 pm

      Hurray! 😀

  8. Esme permalink
    March 11, 2011 2:06 pm

    His comment about not leaving your sex drive at the door made me laugh…so there is hope!!
    I have told a number of guys that ‘I am just looking for a good time’, or ‘Let’s get together and see where the night takes us’. IT HAS NEVER BEEN MISINTERPRETED. And I don’t ever expect it to be. What the dudes do with that information is up to them. And I agree with you, Nikki…I have gotten various responses to that. As in ‘Fuck yes’, ‘Um, not really sure what to do with that info’, or ‘Ok whore’. I think it is still kind of taboo for us to be so upfront. But why lie about me wanting him to manhandle me? 😉

    • March 11, 2011 3:50 pm

      Perhaps there is hope… somewhere down the line… who knows but I’m no longer concerned.

      Yep – I don’t think it’s misinterpreted, either. It wasn’t here. He knew exactly what I was after. It just took him a bit to realize he could be straight-up with me about on.

      It’s definitely taboo. Maybe not to everyone… but in general? Heck yes. But, yeah, that shouldn’t keep us from moving forward. At the very least, it starts to open things up and make people more aware they can be honest.

  9. Simone permalink
    March 12, 2011 2:11 pm

    Yay! Love the writing as always, honey! So….to add a little extra to link your Sex & Honesty bullet points….. I think one of the main reasons that we can’t deal with “sex for itself” OR misinterpret women as sluts and men as douches is because THERE IS NO COMMUNICATION. When people DO have sex just for sex they…well…fuck it up. No pun intended. They don’t come through on the communication end, there isn’t a whole lot of respect going around (physical or for potential (or THE potential for) emotional – from either party) and, therefore, people’s feelings end up getting hurt (MEN and WOMEN), actions get confused, and we all go back to where we began: if you want sex just for sex…you’re kinda a dirtbag.

    I’m not saying it’s not possible to have sex for sex’s sake; we’ve all done it. I’ve had a couple very successful one night stands. But I think it worked b/c neither of us went into it with ANY notion that it would happen again. One of them I never even saw again (and seriously? that was some of the best sex I’ve ever had!). Having sex for sex’s sake with someone REPEATEDLY or with someone you KNOW and are (possibly or probably) FRIEND’S with? Totally different story that REQUIRES communication. THROUGHOUT. NOT just when you first both – totally horny – say “yo…let’s bang!” And, I think that’s the problem. There’s this weird stereotype that says because you’re “not havin’ a relationship” ALL talking about anything is unnecessary or (worse!) perceived as needy & TRYING TO GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP. What’s so wrong with makin’ it clear to a guy or gal you’re fucking that not only do you love their body but you don’t think their “brain” is so bad either. Or, at the very least, acknowledging that they have thoughts and feelings that you respect – as one human being to another.

    So…that’s my two cents about that, ya’ll. 🙂

    • March 12, 2011 5:40 pm

      Excellent addition, my dear!

      I especially like your point that we often misconstrue communication in a buck fuddy situation as “being needy” or looking for commitment, or complicating a simple thing. And this is SO not the case – communication is actually NECESSARY to ensure the physical relationship can continue, that everyone is still on the same page, emotions aren’t becoming involved, etc etc etc.

      Thanks for the addition! Can’t wait to feature you! 😉

  10. March 13, 2011 3:48 pm

    Wow, Nikki, you are always so good at getting a good conversation going and bringing up some really good points. We ARE uncomfortable as a society with honesty…especially when dating. That is the #1 thing I hated about dating, how dishonest, or not upfront, or wishy-washy men were when they weren’t interested, for example. Just be HONEST! I can say that I always was, when I wasn’t interested after a date or two. Why not just be upfront? It’s just silly. So I applaud you addressing this issue and I am glad T-Bone was honest afterwards, and honestly, his response was refreshing.

    • March 14, 2011 9:47 am

      Oh, absolutely. Honesty and open communication are difficult, to be sure, but they’ve got to be better than the alternative. I’ve really had it with people deciding that they can provide half-ass answers – and then expect the other person to figure things out. At the very least, it leaves the other person hanging… just in case… Which isn’t fair.

      Further, I think Simone makes a great point, too. Not only is it difficult (apparently) for us to be honest, we have trouble accepting honesty. If you are upfront and introduce open communication about what you want (etc) – it is often misconstrued as coming on too strong (regardless of what you want – be it sex, dating, a relationship). Instead of being able to have that honest convo, we think “oh, dear. I’m being put on the spot. Clearly this other person is WAY too invested.” Which also isn’t fair. And moronic.

      Thanks for your compliments! 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying!

  11. Scott Millman permalink
    August 28, 2011 3:53 pm

    T- Bone, get to know this person tottally,especially when things get tough,thats when you can tell what a person is made of for sure ,most are fake and want only what they want short term,if you want long term ,let her past the test of time,be freinds through thick and thin,trust me ,i have been through at least 12 woman ,1 marriage and 1 great son thank god for that blessing,now i am extrememly careful of what woman really want besides money and a big or good sex,there is just being able to hang out with no tension at all……normalness if you will.


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