Okay, okay, I think we’re finally close enough as friends- let me talk to you about sexual rejection.
Allow me to clarify. When I say sexual rejection, I am not referring to the concept of consent. There is never a time where saying “no” in a sexual context should ever be wrong or vilified. Regardless of circumstance, your boundaries when it comes to your body is something that deserves to be fully respected. Bottom line, cut and dry.
No, I am referring to when someone claims that they do not want to have sex with YOU, specifically. There is something about you and your body- you know, that collection of flesh and bones that serves as a home to the very essence of you- that just…doesn’t do it for them?! Sorry, babe. Nothing I can do about it. You’re just not for me.
Oof, it’s a tough blow to face. Although some of you reading this may have never been sexually rejected before. To which I say, what kind of ecstasy does it feel like to be you? How does it feel to approach a woman at a bar, toss your long braided rats-tail over your shoulder and watch her cream her knickers as you ask if she’d like to get out of here and back to your family caravan for the best fingering of her life? Teach me your ways, oh heavenly one.
I once was like you. Young and foolish, I thought my wondrous breasts and I would always be enough to please and delight the sexual suitor of my choice. Love? That was another beast entirely. But I probably assumed being rejected in this manner was the sort of thing that only happened to bus drivers and parking meter attendants- certainly not a juicy piece of ass like myself (HA). But alas. I’m not Harry Styles or Eartha Kitt, so I have now been forced to taste sexual rejection and all its festering, bitter fruit. These are the sort of experiences that most people would probably consider too personally humiliating to share on a public forum, but what can I say? I need to monetize the pain for that sweet, sweet content, baby.
Unfortunately, one of my worst sexual rejection experiences did not come at the hands of a random stranger at a bar. It came at the hands of my long-term boyfriend who I loved very much.
Ergh, I know. If you’re going to cringe, cringe now. There is a whole lot more where that came from.
PART ONE: THE INCIDENT:
It was May. I was studying at uni interstate, living alone in the big city and trying to feel free, rather than lonely, as I kept on making too much pasta for one person to eat.
After a recent trip to the doctor, I had returned home with a new form of medication that contained high levels of estrogen, the female sex hormone. The box had a picture of a blue woman on it who looked like she was passed out- no doubt exhausted from the effort of being THIS MUCH of a woman. The next two weeks or so, I took the daily dose as recommended, not really expecting to feel any noticeable change.
And then it came. The horn avalanche. I was waking up every morning with a lady boner so strong it felt like it should have been sticking out of my pants. Suddenly, I was feeling horny everywhere- travelling on the train (the VIBRATIONS, man), studying in the library, eating a low-calorie snack. I felt like I was on the verge of quitting university, travelling to an island populated solely with Amazonian women and spending our days nuzzling into each other’s thighs, while listening to Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album on repeat.
It was affecting my concentration and making me feel all the more alone. I barely knew anyone in Melbourne- my classmates and I weren’t even on a first name basis. As well as heightening my sex drive, the hormones were also causing my moods go a-wall, feeling glorious one minute and cripplingly sad the next. It made the day-to-day highs and lows of adapting to this new reality seem all the more difficult, and sometimes I had no idea how I was meant to be coping.
At the time, I had a regular sexual partner- the aforementioned boyfriend, who was back in our home state, living his everyday life with a girlfriend who wasn’t physically present. The long distance was hard. I struggled to convey to him how surprisingly difficult the transition was, and the reality of how alone I was day-to-day. I keep fantasising about tragically dying in my one-bedroom apartment and no one finding my cold, lifeless body for weeks- like the petrified students in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
But with the funds and time commitments of a full-time student, I didn’t have the money to fly back home to see said boyfriend whenever I wanted. And he was basically allergic to being an adult, so fat chance. He took up a bunch of projects to fill up the days (and preferably avoid responsibility at all costs), so any chance of our relationship surviving was basically down to me. Despite the disparity in what our days looked like, it was my job to ring, to wait up late for him, to presumably do the missing for the both of us. It was like another responsibility on top of my hectic workload, and I felt like if I didn’t do it right, the whole thing would crumble. And I didn’t want to lose that lifeline. Missing him gave me a warm, private feeling that I could carry around in my chest, like a golden souvenir from home.
Erm…yes. At the risk of giving spoilers, I should probably pause this thrilling narrative for a moment to let you in on a little secret that will greatly inform the story from here on in- this boyfriend was shit. A massive shit. Shit squared. Quadrupled shit. Shit that had been warmed up in the microwave and served as an overpriced chunky chocolate soufflé. But past Eve isn’t quite aware of what she’s smelling yet, so please…be kind to her. She’ll be free from him soon.
But right now, our girl’s alone and horny as heck, so we have some ground to cover.
After yet another evening of pounding sexual frustration, I was suddenly hit by a strange and powerful impulse. Just like the Grinch, I got an idea- a wonderful, magical, TERRIBLE idea. I was going to dress up. YES, THIS WAS IT. The most productive and logical way to spend my evening. I was going to turn myself into a human sex-bot, a black widow with a powerful vengeance against celibacy. Through the power of pain-staking effort and lacy underthings, I would transform into the ultimate sexual being, irresistible to everyone, INCLUDING MYSELF, DAMMIT. I was like Doctor Frankenstein, manically cackling at the monster of pure sin I was about to create. I had finally snapped, driven mad with horniess. Before common sense could politely offer one or two suggestions to this flawless, foolproof plan, IT HAD BEGUN.
I scrubbed my body from head to toe and moisturised everywhere, particularly in-between the boobs. I filled in my eyebrows with architectural precision. I utilised at least 4 to 5 shades of taupe eyeshadow to achieve that effortless sunken shadow that suggests only the finest of dick-handling abilities. Oh yes- I was going to try my darndest to resemble an attractive human woman. The survival of my vagina’s sexual happiness depended on it.
I wasn’t even sure what my intentions were at this point, but halfway through this endeavor, I sent the boyfriend a message to schedule a VERY important, non-specific phone meeting. He was off participating in *insert unimportant, artsy activity here*, and was not immediately available.
I blow dried my hair pin-straight, tossed it over my shoulders and looked in the mirror. It had only taken shy of 3 hours, but my master creation was finally complete. My lips were plump and pouty, my breasts pressed together in sheer, lacy lingerie, my ass pert on either side of its black G-string. Not a blemish in fucking sight. I was ready.
I flopped down on the couch. Checked my phone lock screen. 8:38pm. It had been an hour, still no sign from the boyfriend. CURSES. What was he waiting for? Didn’t he know that he basically had humanity’s closest answer to a sensual goddess patiently waiting for him on the other side of the phone?! I tapped into the front facing camera, checking to see that the illusion translated. If anything, it looked better on screen- smoothed out some of the edges, tightened the pores. Brilliant. I tossed the phone aside, staring up at the ceiling. God, I feel horny. Picked the phone up again. 8:42pm. For fuck’s sake.
Another hour later, the phone rang. He sounded irritable, just arrived home from *insert unimportant, artsy activity here*. As we began to talk, I instantly started to clam up. Oh no, I didn’t think about this bit! What do I say?! How does one lead into this? This isn’t me. I’m not cut out to be a powerful sexy robot woman. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
Turns out I shouldn’t have worried because, despite his poor mood, the boyfriend proceeded to talk about himself for the better part of another hour. I listened, affirming, asking relevant questions- not really sure when to intervene his daily rundown with the news that I was a now a fully horned-up hooker from outer space. But the time was quickly racking up, and I was getting goose bumps from sitting around in barely more than a G-string. Was I actually going to say anything at all?
“Anyway, it’s been a long day, I should probably be heading to bed…”
“Oh, hang on…I still haven’t told you what I wanted to talk about.”
Massive groan from the other end of the phone. Some general back and forth proceeded about how annoying it was that I always waited until the end of the call to bring up something important. I didn’t know how to start. What did I even want here? The tone was clearly all wrong, but I had to. All this effort couldn’t go to waste. My vagina was desperate.
“Jesus Christ, Eve..why do you always do this? Come on, just tell me what it is you want to talk about.”
A hesitant pause. Some awkward shuffling around the question. This was it- something, ANYTHING had to come out.
“Um, sooooo…do you want to have a wank with me?”
The resulting conversation was a bit of a blur.
I genuinely find it hard to remember much of its contents because my brain seems to be determined to block it out, lest it stop me from ever getting out of bed again. But the overall message was lethal. I’ll try and convey it the best I can.
In essence, the answer was a definite and unforgiving “no, thank you.” What began as a mildly reasonable and utterly taken aback “too tired tonight” rapidly flipped into a more passive aggressive “I’m not in the mood right now”. And before long, we were flying full speed ahead into a heated list of reasons why he was not sexually attracted to me at all, let alone enough to be able to enjoy himself from a distance. The only one of these reasons that my brain has deemed harmless enough to retain was that I “laugh too much”. A statement that is probably true, but seemed inscrutably bizarre in this context.
I sat there in my lacy black thong, my legs gradually getting number from the cold. My heart keep dropping with every passing minute. l screwed up my face like a toddler being approached with a large spoonful of broccoli to stop myself from crying out with hurt. But towards the end of the conversation, I started openly sobbing. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Halfway through, I knew I couldn’t tell him I was all dolled up, sitting half naked in my living room with my hair perfectly blow dried and armpits shaven. It was too humiliating to admit how much I tried. I didn’t necessarily think he’d say yes, but I certainly hadn’t anticipated this much of a no.
I can’t remember how the phone call ended. I think I just eventually conceded that he was tired, and it was probably time for bed. After all, it had been a big day for him…and I was taking up his time. I said goodnight. He hung up.
And then I was alone again.
Tears still dribbling down my cheeks, I took my phone out and took a selfie of my crying face, which I immediately deleted the next morning. It was too depressing to keep, but in the moment, I wanted to sadistically document the destruction of the artificial beauty I had spent hours constructing. From memory, I looked childishly pathetic, long mascara-coated eyelashes wet with tears, perfectly lined nude lips quivering with sadness. In my sheer, lacy bralette, I looked like a stripper who had just been told she had a terminal illness halfway through a shift, but was forced to stay on the floor, giving patrons miserable lap dances.
Crying while wearing any form of dress-up or costume is always deeply degrading. You sob harder as you remember the glow of excitement from a few hours prior when you stood in the mirror, music pumping, admiring the transformation into this shiny, new person. You posed, feeling like the most badass, intrepid bitch this town has ever known. But now, said bitch has shrunk into the ghost of a little girl bawling at her own birthday party, the humiliation of her tears making her howl louder, as the other guests watch on uncomfortably.
I felt so stupid for spending hours trying to polish myself into the “sexiest”, most desirable version of me to service what had clearly been a delusion. It was idiotic to feel horny, to think I looked good. I looked down at my body, holding it like a baby, rubbing my wet, powdery cheek against my shoulder. This, this beloved collection of fleshy folds and curves, was all that I had, and it still wasn’t good enough to get me what I wanted. Needless to say, it was a low point. Normally, I am vigilant to not let other people’s opinions define my worth. But in that moment, I decided the only person that mattered was on the other end of the phone, and if he didn’t want me, I didn’t either.
PART 2: WHY MEEEEE?
In some kind of demented, unfortunate lottery of assholes, I’ve had the pleasure of feeling some form of sexual rejection at the end of all my long-term, adult relationships. Whether it was unknowingly having sex before that awful moment of “I need to tell you something” or not being available for sex in the way my partner wanted directly beforehand- I’ve seen and done it all, folks. I have traversed genders, sailed seas of savagery. My desire (or lack of) has often been used against me, for better or worse. The sting of humiliation with the former can be particularly cruel if you actually enjoyed the sex (you can’t save face by claiming poor performance, CURSES).
You could say that I have always been the unwitting dog who is taken out by its owners for the greatest day of its life before being driven to the vet to get put down. Except that you don’t fuck the dog or let it pay for dinner one last time.
When the occasion does come, the moment of letdown is palpable (especially if there’s still jizz running down your left leg). It’s a dark feeling that can leave you deeply vulnerable. Even if the sex beforehand has been consensual, I’ve often struggled with feeling violated, like my sexuality had been used against me by someone I trusted. In that moment, it can feel like your body, the sacred home and vessel which you have tendered, watered, and cared for, has suddenly become disposable- rejected like an unlovable pile of blob. This can be particularly hard when it’s a vessel that you work hard to accept and love, even if it’s been mistreated in the past (either by others or by you). Bad experiences can make it easy to think that rejection is inevitable, and feeling good about yourself is merely a hapless, temporary delusion before the natural conclusion of “no thanks, you’re not really for me”.
Fuck that. I don’t want to be controlled by the petty whims of rejection- to live as a miserable object that only holds value if someone feels generous enough to validate it with their genitals. For more than one reason, penises should not be put in charge of anything. Especially not something as valuable as self-esteem. I think about Kate Makkai’s spoken word poem “Pretty” and the images of women drifting home from the bar, downtrodden at the idea that not enough strangers had found them “suitably fuckable” that night.
Most of the time, painful rejection tends to be a reflection on other things we’re craving in our lives. It hits harder when there is less to fall back on- not enough footholds to grab onto for safety. At the end of season one of Fleabag, the title character finally breaks, admitting that she sees no purpose for her body after it gets old and sexless. It feels like it’s all she has left amidst the mess of her life.
Sex can be used as an antidote as much as alcohol, chocolate or drugs, something to fill the wide, innocuous emptiness in our stomachs. Come and put a little love here in my void, as queen Fiona would say. When I rang my boyfriend that night, sure I might have been horny out of my mind on medication and sexually deprived for months. But at my core, I wanted to be affirmed, to be wanted and missed. Like Fleabag, I wanted to feel present in my body in a way only sex can make you feel, the jolt to the system that confirms your existence- you’re alive. I yearned for intimacy, to feel close to him in a way we couldn’t be physically. Ultimately, the need for sex was irrelevant. I was being deprived of love and acceptance in our relationship, so I had convinced myself that being sexual- you know, that thing that couples are meant to do together- was the quickest way to get there.
A rejection at the wrong time can be damning. When he said “no”, I did not hear, “Hey, I’m not really in the mood tonight.” I heard “You are not worthy of love”, and its implication drained me.
Rejection can often seem like confirmation of our deepest fears. It can make one person’s opinion feel like all or nothing, ride or die- particularly when it’s linked to something as personal as your sexuality. But in reality, it’s something that should not control your life. A great way of avoiding rejection of any kind is, wha-hey, not doing anything ever again and staying inside with all the blinds closed (hello quarantine). I am very guilty of sabotaging new experiences by closing myself off, fearful of experiencing more of the crippling rejection I’ve felt before. But it is those painful, growing moments that allow me to have better judgement and understand that constant rejection, sexual or otherwise, does not have a place in my future relationships.
In hindsight, I think that’s the reason why I took that now-deleted photo, crumpled and tearful in my lacy lingerie (apart from the DRAMA OF IT ALL). I wanted to remember the feeling of handing over your self-worth to someone else, gift-wrapped on a silver platter. I allowed that boyfriend to be the judge, jury and executioner, while I moped around in uncomfortable underwear waiting for his inevitably depressing verdict.
Maybe it was just the additional estrogen running rampant through my body, but in that moment, I seemed determined to ignore the obvious truth hanging in the air: you don’t need to convince the people who like you to like you. They just do.
So cut the cord. I want to be liberated when it comes to sex, fully present in the moment- something that can’t happen if the potential blow of rejection seems nigh at every turn. Don’t know about you, but I want to be able to enjoy an orgasm without being concerned that I’m going to be launched from the building by a giant, novelty spring afterwards. You can’t control when you’ll be served a cold slice of rejection, but through inevitable natural growth (and cherishing yourself as you rightly deserve), you will get better at handling the blow. The harsh sting will still be felt, but your recovery time will get improve.
Rejection may be a heinous bitch, but it is also a compass, steering you away from further heartache and towards something better. It definitely has for me. The good people will stay, the human trash will fade, and you will be free to continue tending to your wondrous, sensual vessel as it continues learning how to fully thrive.
“PRO” TIP: Contrary to the opinion of the boyfriend in this post, laugh as much as you want during sex- seriously. The people who don’t are fucking psychos, Mary.
Love Eve X