A college-student contributor friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:
I came into college and out of my first relationship ready to be single and to enjoy my new-found singledom with as many new people as possible. Generally, things went pretty well for me. I really enjoyed the free time afforded me by not being in a relationship, and I had some extremely enjoyable casual encounters. A few months in, I found myself involved with a guy who I was interested in both as a fling and as a person. Thus, I entered my first non-relationship, more than a one-night stand.
I felt pretty ready to navigate the friends-with-benefits waters: I didn’t want to date him, but I enjoyed his company, had practice negotiating sex with non-boyfriends, and was really enticed by the possibility of getting some with some degree of regularity. As time went by, it became increasingly clear that he was pretty startlingly anti-birth control, or at least anti-birth control that he needed to have anything to do with.
I managed to hang in there and put off P.I.V. for weeks — meanwhile, his excuse of “I’m allergic to latex” morphed into “non-latex condoms don’t fit me” to “I won’t come inside you” to “female condoms are gross” before he started pressuring me to go on the pill. Which I can’t. Because I’m allergic to manufactured estrogen. Despite this guy’s douchebaggery — yes, reader, I did dump him eventually — I managed to walk away from this non-relationship with a few crucial lessons under my belt.
1. Sex ed is powerful. My past experience of real, comprehensive, and sensitive sex ed armed me with an arsenal of options to throw at him. I knew the stats behind pulling out — especially as they relate to inebriated, douchebaggy college students. I was well acquainted with every barrier method and each of their pros and cons. And, most importantly, I knew not to just “pull and pray.”
2. Any man who’s willing to say “female condoms are gross” without trying them might very well be sitting on some serious feelings about female anatomy itself being pretty gross. At least this one seemed to be.
3. Google is powerful. Okay, Mr. “I’m too big for a PVC condom.” No, you aren’t.
4. Patterns of excuses given without any attempt to find a solution = one giant suspicious red flag. I was putting more effort into this issue with a simple Google search than he ever seemed to. And that, for sure, is something I should have paid attention to.
5. Just because a guy is progressive and talks a big talk about sexuality doesn’t mean he’s gonna be all that sensitive. Prior to this, I had thought that screening for verbal sexuality-sensitivity was the perfect way to screen adventurous and understanding partners. Goodbye notions of litmus test infallibility.
6. “Don’t you trust me to not come inside of you?” = NOT trustworthy.
7. Hormones are persuasive buggers. Had he made even half of his oh-so-helpful suggestions over dinner or an innocent game of badminton, I would likely have rolled my eyes and left him on the spot. However, in the sweaty and dimly lit context of my bed at 3 a.m., my amped up libido and incredible desire for a predictable lay made his arguments seem significantly less annoying.
8. Tenacity is satisfying. Alright, so I could (should) have dumped his sorry ass earlier. Womp. To repeatedly field his pressuring and negate his increasingly weak excuses, though, actually felt awesome. I was in control, even if I was miffed with his juvenile refusal to take responsibility.
9. I deserve way better than this. I had really good boundaries in my romantic relationships (I am communicative to a fault about my expectations). I had really great boundaries with entirely casual acquaintances (“You’ll either be putting on that condom or waving goodbye to the promise of the awesome blowjob heading your way”). I think I needed to be really, awfully embroiled in the F.W.B. gray area in order to wake up and realize that I had both the right and the need to assert my boundaries and expectations, and to walk away when they were pushed or not met.
10. It can — and should — go way better than this. This guy’s incredible stupidity made the next, respectful, fun, and easygoing guy seem that much better. Moreover, it made me that much more sensitive to early signs of sexual doucheyness, birth-control related and otherwise. Ultimately, now that I know I possess the artillery to deal with this situation, it’s great to know that with the right guy, I don’t have to.