I’M on a date.
My friends have convinced me this is the best remedy for the heartache from my break-up.
“You’ve gotta get under someone to get over someone,” a mate had insisted as I cried into the glass of wine she’d poured me a few nights earlier.
I’ve arrived at a dimly lit bar in the city embarrassingly late. My date has been waiting half an hour but is reassuringly forgiving and warm.
She’s almost nothing like I expected. Beguiling, with long, dark hair tucked into a beanie and a mischievous smile; she looks exactly like her profile pics, but her personality is in stark contrast to the messages we’ve been exchanging the past week.
She’s loud and boisterous and speaks at a frenetic pace that’s at times hard to keep up with. It takes me a moment to readjust from the measured texts I’ve become accustomed to receiving from her.
We drink margaritas and eat vegan dumplings (she’s a carnivore, but adorably offers to forgo meat with me in a show of support).
Pretty soon, we’re making out under the red glow of the lanterns dangling above us in our corner of the bar. I know where this is heading.
“Where shall we go now?” she asks, smiling slyly, as though having intuited my answer.
An hour later, we’re walking through my apartment door. This is where it all comes apart …
From the moment things get going, it’s clear we’re moving at different speeds. I’m a sailboat cautiously coasting into shore, and she’s a freight train racing to her end destination.
We become engaged in a clumsy sexual power struggle; both vying for the role of pace setter. At one point, I attempt to pull her in for a kiss as she’s throwing her head in the opposite direction and we clash; her hair entangling itself around my nose piercing as she jerks away.
This could literally be a comedic sex scene in a Farrelly brothers movie.
“This is so awkward!” she exclaims.
“It’s only awkward because you’re saying it’s awkward,” I contend, unironically detangling her hair from my face to check my right nostril is still intact.
“No, it’s just awkward,” she insists.
I excuse myself to the bathroom in an attempt to regather and return to the bedroom to find her fully dressed, grabbing her wallet and keys off my nightstand.
“I’m gonna get going,” she mutters, averting eye contact and hurrying out the door.
Thankfully, she doesn’t text or call, and neither do I. I just want to forget we ever met.
But fate has other plans …
A few weeks later, I agree to accompany a friend to a queer event in the city.
We’ve barely walked through the door when I glance across the room and see her: the woman I had terrible sex with. The bar is way too small to go the entire night without running into one another, so I decide to just face my humiliation head on, and approach her.
“How random seeing you here! You look good,” I say, before beelining it to the other side of the dancefloor.
She really does look good. Too good, even. Am I …? Could I be … am I still attracted to her? The woman I had the most awkward sex of my life with??!
As the night goes on, I find myself graduating to her side of the dancefloor.
“Are you crazy?!” my friend whispers into my ear, as we begin mingling with my bad sex fling and her friends.
“You do remember how awful it was with her, don’t you?!” she persists.
But my inner sex nerd wants to know; does sexual chemistry necessitate instant red-hot sparks in the sheets, or can it also be forged by fanning the warm embers of attraction until they catch fire?
Back at her apartment some hours later, I’m about to find out.
This time, we recline on her sofa and talk first. We both admit how cringe-worthy the last encounter was, and even laugh over the details.
It suddenly occurs to me I’m not the only one who had bad sex; she’s experiencing the same frustration and embarrassment as I am. We’re more exposed now than we were completely naked together, weeks ago in my apartment.
What ensues is sex without ego or inhibitions. It’s sex that’s admittedly still awkward at times, but for the most part, good. Great, even.
I stay the night and we exchange numbers and agree to meet again.
We reconvene a few days later for an evening of dancing, laughing, and getting to know one another as people outside the walls of our bedrooms; and I find myself feeling less guarded.
The sex that follows is spectacular. But maybe it’s because I no longer see it as just sex. Or a Band-Aid for a fractured heart. Maybe it’s because in the space and time that’s passed between that initial awkward encounter, I’ve not only healed, but allowed myself to be open to the possibility of feeling something again.
And perhaps that’s what great sex is all about. Not physical chemistry, or instant red-hot sparks, but vulnerability and connection. Even if that means getting your nose piercing caught in someone’s hair and stumbling through a bit of good old-fashioned humiliation to get there.
Follow Nadia Bokody on Instagram and YouTube for more sex, relationship and mental health content.
This article was originally published on News.com.au and has been republished here with permission.
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