All I could do, during our routine discussion of our jobs and our interests, was nod my head at the right times and laugh when it seemed appropriate.
The guy seemed nice enough, but I was so preoccupied with my big secret, I could hardly decide whether or not I liked him. As he walked me to my car, he placed one hand on the small of my back. He thought I was cold, even though it was a hot night. I turned my head, got into my car, and cried the entire way home.
And as I tested the waters for spilling the big secret, I became more and more anxious.“I get sick a lot,” I said. I texted him later in a desperate attempt to explain myself.“Basically, I have a condition that prevents me from having any sort of sex, and I’m still learning how to deal with it…
And the pain and humiliation of my first two attempts at sex made the prospect of any kind of intimacy (even self-exploration) extremely unappealing.
In fact, by the time I was diagnosed, I recoiled even when a man flirtatiously touched my arm or complimented me in a suggestive way.
Each match made me panic as I imagined explaining my situation to someone. I could hardly even listen to friend’s stories of sexual escapades without feeling like my stomach was going to fall out of my body.
All I could think about was the disappointment that I would cause and the disappointment that I would feel after yet another failed dating attempt.
I imagined what it would be like to tell this cute, blue-eyed stranger that no matter how loud he made me laugh or how attentively he listened to my childhood stories, I may never be able to have sex with him. I pushed the thought out of my head, erased the text, grabbed my keys, and walked out the door. As I parked my car, I could feel beads of sweat dotting the back of my neck.
When I met his eyes in the restaurant, my anxiety skyrocketed.
It doesn’t help that, since I last had a boyfriend, the line between dating and dating app–enabled casual sex has become very thin.
When I say I started dating, really it was just joining Tinder.
I was supposed to be at the restaurant in 30 minutes.