The first time he called me “baby” during sex I was equal parts surprised and irritated. We were hardly in the pet-name stage of our not-even-a-relationship, (I’m pretty sure I had eaten leftovers from the night we had met for lunch that day), and it seemed like it was abuse of the once-endearing term.
Luckily for me, in this instance he was saying it like one would say “ohh yeah”, or “**ck yeah” during the act- more like a reflexive noise than an expression of affection. Sure, I thought it was strange, but it was 8 o’clock in the morning, I was still wearing half of my outfit from the night before, I was, at least mildly, still inebriated and the light bleeding into his Williamsburg apartment was so intoxicatingly bright that I didn’t have much time to hyper-analyze his bedroom behavior. I counted silently to keep my head from spinning and before I knew it he was rolling back onto his pillow and I was too busy focused on my dehydration and troubling lack of shame to fixate on the expletives he uttered in the heat of the moment.
To set the scene, (or really just to rid you of the complete notion that I’m a drunken slut), this is not the first time that we met. Yes, we had met a few nights before in a dark and dancey club, but we had actually met for matcha lattes, eaten pizza and watched a documentary on Robert Mapplethorpe, (which I wouldn’t recommend for a first date but then again who am I to speak on the courtship behavior of millennials) all before I decided to spend the night.
After we had spoken that first night I knew I’d sleep with him. There were too many reasons I had wanted to, and our connection was something we openly weren’t able to deny.
So I’m lying there underneath his banana plant’s jungle-like leaves somewhere in between “holy shit I’m too hungover to move” and “holy shit we just had sex”, and I allowed myself to completely forget about his brief exclamation of affection.
Cut to a few days later, and we’re in my apartment when we decide to do that adult thing that adults do when they’re very attracted to each other…. We’re having this amazing time and things are going really well and then, again, the closer he gets to his climax the more he says it.
“Baby”, he calls me, with no context or added verbiage to reduce the implication of affection behind it.
This time, I have a lot less alcohol fogging my brain, and I don’t know how to react. I remember feeling violated, not sexually, but emotionally. I remember being clear-headed and thinking “this bastard has no business calling me that unless he means it”.
Because here’s the reality- I’ve had a good amount of sex this past year, riding the heels of my major breakup, and since this breakup no one, not ONE person has called me “baby”. And that’s how I’ve liked it.
Sex, at least for me, isn’t an emotional experience. All that crap about how it should be a shared expression of love between two people who love each other very much- yeah, sorry Betty Crocker but welcome to 2017.
For me, sex is physical, primal even. I often choose to have sex based on physical urges more so than as an emotional response to feelings or affections toward someone. Yes, truthfully I haven’t liked any of the guys I’ve chosen to go out with this past year, but even still, I see the act of sex as something almost solely physical, and I will place a greater emphasis on things like conversation over morning coffee or cuddling while watching Hulu as an emotional response to fondness toward someone.
That was, at least, until this guy really penetrated my belief system on this and, as always, choice of words intentional.
“Get the fuck out of me” I spat breathily the second he was done finishing.
“Why would you say that”, he asked, sounding so deeply perturbed I considered retracting it.
I said nothing and went out on my fire escape to smoke a cigarette naked.
After I took a few seconds to reflect on my feelings, I knew just why I had said it. I wanted him to get out of me, to leave me alone and give me space and take a step back, because of how much I liked it.
My delusional mind got off, (and my mind wasn’t all that did) on that muttered term of endearment, and that scared the shit out of me more so I was ready to deal with.
We then capped off the evening by tangling ourselves into what could only be described as a nearly-acrobatic cuddle and passed out watching Parks and Recreation on Hulu.
The next morning we got coffee and talked. The following day we texted about jokes we had, and conversations we were still invested in.
During the next few days, somewhere in between the pad-thai, back massages, half-watched documentaries and variety of long-lasting kisses we had sex again. And again. And then again a few times on top of that.
Each time, he continued to call me “baby”, and a few times this discourse of affection continued for a few moments after we had finished too.
With each roll in the hay becoming increasingly more intimate, I heard the tone behind each of his “baby”s change. Each time it seemed to be weighted more heavily and with each day that passed or kiss that was shared, it was like the merit behind it changed too.
I craved this exclamation from him. I found myself dragging him into the bedroom with food hot on our plates just to hear it, and found that this behavior would repeat itself the next morning so that I could hear it again then too.
This alone was causing me to feel an implied closeness like I never had felt before with a guy I had dated here in NY. I, of course, didn’t retort with pet-names and chose not to bring it up, but I would silently revel in the effect his bedroom behavior had on me.
So, with this example of the closeness illustrated, it’s easy to see how the “problem” with sex isn’t having it.
The issue that we millenials experience with sex, or the “problem” with having it isn’t that the sex itself is accompanied by delusions of grander or fairytales of a relationship, it’s actually the behavior associated with the acts of sex that cause us to develop perhaps preemptive feelings, or that can lead to misunderstandings with the insinuation of what the hookup means.
While I have no insightful close-out on how we can deal with situations like these in the future, I can say that fostering an environment of intimacy during sex, (even if it’s during sex exclusively) is something you should put some thought into.
Maybe even 1179 words of thought.