Waking up with the older woman, there’s a sourness in the air. I feel vaguely disgruntled that I’ve come all this way and paid all this money and given myself to someone for nothing. If I had a bed post, I’d carve her notch lightly – just a shadow in the wood, a whisper, something you could easily forget.
All morning she irritates me. She makes bad coffee and sniffs constantly and it takes her so long to do her hair and make-up that we end up having breakfast at 12.30. Being hungry is a running theme for the weekend; the night before we had dinner after 10. That fact alone would be enough for me to never see her again. If I’m not going to come, I’d at least like a delicious breakfast.
When I tell my friends about what happened though I feel ashamed. How base, how vulgar to end a budding romance for something as shallow as sex. Sex is fleeting. Respect, trust, kindness: these are the things that last.
I rush to justify my decision. “It wasn’t just that,” I say, “there were other things too.” Things like she doesn’t want kids or she works too hard or she won’t backpack because she can only stay in nice hotels. “I need someone who can rough it,” I say, having not roughed it myself in over 5 years.
These are all just excuses though. The bottom line is, I didn’t fancy her enough but I ignored my feelings in the hope that attraction could grow. If I was really attracted to her – body, mind and soul – no amount of bad sex could have turned me off. I would have spent my life showing her how to love me.
For a long time, I’ve had the advice of my friends ringing in my ears: that beauty isn’t everything, that sometimes desire can grow as you get to know someone. And maybe that’s true, for some people some of the time, but most people do fancy their partner from the start. I knew I didn’t fancy her but I soldiered on because she was lovely and maybe desire would come. I was wrong. No one ever rips their clothes off for lovely.
I’ve been trying to put aside physical attraction, to unlock the lusts of the mind rather than of the flesh but it’s not working. Even if desire is fleeting, the memory of it is sustaining. Waking up with someone in later life and remembering with a blush how you’d spend all night loving their back and thighs and hands and bosoms and neck and ears and knees and ankles – that’s what I’m after.
I won’t shame myself anymore for what I want: not just a fine mind or a warm heart but a deep physical desire too. I’m not in the market to marry a friend. I don’t want to love the way someone looks because I love them. I want to love the way someone looks and love them. One day, I want to look at my wife and remember how much I wanted her, how much I hopefully will want her still.
No more compromising, no more friends: it’s time to turn up the heat.