Sex with a stranger after six years out of the dating game

Action usually comes when desire overcomes fear. The balance was tilting. It had become necessary to go further than I had done for so long; it was time to put my mouth on someone else’s mouth. In the last six years of almost nothing, there had only been one thing: one encounter with a guy I knew from my theater. He was the one who showed me what Tinder was, and I downloaded it hoping to see him there. I did, and we matched. That’s what I thought the app was for – to check if people you already knew were into you. We used to ask our friends to do it, but the robots had taken over.

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After he and I paired up and spent the night together, I had hoped we could have a little more than that night, but he wasn’t interested. Maybe if I had kept slipping, this rejection wouldn’t have sent me back another three years without sexual contact or a date. Instead, I would quit the app.

My profile hadn’t been deleted, so when I opened it, I saw pictures of me who was three years old. It was like watching a distant relative. My style, my body, my hair had changed. It was harder to tell how profound these changes were. In these photos, I saw a person who was terribly unsure of their own attractiveness. I always felt that way, no matter what size my pants were.

So when I created a new dating profile, I tried to make it look like the kind of person I wanted to be. A selfie at the gym, a photo of me with my new highlights, one of me on stage. I tried to project confidence, optimism and sensuality, whether I really felt it or not.

I didn’t know exactly who I wanted to respond to this self-advertisement. Learning to imagine better things hadn’t extended to imagining love, so there was no type of person in mind. Above all, I wanted to see if I could break my trepidation and fall into someone’s arms.

After swiping for a few weeks, I paired up with a man who was willing to do a colossal job, at least via Tinder messaging, to ease all my in-person dating anxieties.

He was handsome, had abs, and was new in town. He lived alone in an upscale neighborhood, and he invited me to meet him near his apartment. I answered without obligation. I did not mismatch. A week later, he tried again. Nothing he said was scary, but his intentions were clear. In all the talk about being alone forever, I had, of course, meant that I might never have sex again either.

Now I was trying to be different from the person who had given up on dating for so many years. The problem was that after so long without a connection, I was again as nervous as a virgin.

Now I thought, “What if I could just flip the switch and be a sexual person again? That would be… something. It still seemed highly unlikely. However, there was someone who wanted to meet and who seemed attractive to me. I wanted to try and see this opportunity through. Finally, I agreed to meet him.

Then I canceled, losing my nerve at the last minute. Then, a few days later, he asked again.

That’s how I ended up in the nail salon that freezing night in late April. It was near his home. That morning, I had told my boyfriend Tinder that I would be in his neighborhood – maybe we could see each other? He accepted. As the day turned into night, I had not canceled. I was always expanding the definition of what you might call a “plan”.

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Once again, he showed remarkable tolerance towards my tasteless requests. Let me know! he sent a message. Until about half an hour before our meeting, I said nothing to him. I traveled to the salon, wearing my new dress and my new Cole Haans high heels. There was a birthday party for a friend a short drive away, which gave me a reasonable excuse to be there, in addition to a date: I’d be coming to East Village on a Friday night for a manicure on my way at a party, don’t hook up with a random internet guy. Uh. Very stable behavior.

This subterfuge around my own feelings had led me to curl up in the living room bathroom like a cornered ferret, my fingernails now a luminous candy pink. I opened Tinder on my phone to make the next small decision, looking at her profile one more time. He was there, chest exposed.

My fingers were beautifully polished ice cubes. They were shaking as I typed. Hey. I am near your home. Would like
do you like meeting around a glass of wine?

I figured if he hadn’t answered me by the time I paid my bill, I’d go to the party. His response came almost immediately. Yes, he wanted to meet.

Edited excerpt from The lone hunter (Scribe) by Aimée Lutkin, on sale March 1.

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About Jimmie P. Ricks

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