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Learning New Intimacies

Written by Q. Malee

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Photo by Cindy Leah

The other day I had my first experience of casual sexual intimacy that was truly casual, although I would love/have loved for it to become something else – or to have such promise – because after hours of being with her and talking, I thought “Oh! This could be something more. I could see something more. This is a brilliant and beautiful woman, and I want more of her. I would spend my days between her thighs, tracing her tattoos with my lips, and my nights drinking wine and planning on having a tribe of smart, creative, opinionated and passionate little ones in the alternative queer feminist universes we created…”

But.. I am/was trying very hard to fight the “lesbian U-HAUL” inclination.

 “U-HAUL lesbian” refers to the stereotype that lesbians tend to move in together after very quickly and very early on in dating someone. This is often attribute to the joke: “What does a lesbian bring on her second date? / A UHAUL (In the US context, U-HAUL trucks are popular trucks that you rent for moving) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-Haul_lesbian

After several hours of talking and getting to know each other with easy, lovely chemistry, we found ourselves in the same bed later in the evening, having discussed everything under the sun except for the question of what we wanted and needed from each other. I learned later that neither of us had gone into the evening with the intention of hooking up, but here we were… 

Coming out of a long-term monogamous relationship, I had been used to sex with a person whose body and desires I knew intimately (and vice versa). I knew and understood the silences, the moans, how they react to caresses on their neck, and they knew just the right amount of pressure I needed on THAT spot. Now, here I was trying not to ask for a manual, and at the same time trying to just be in this undefined moment. I  yearned for her touch, and then I yearned for some more of it, but I wasn’t sure how to ask. We had just met, although I shared too much, I was too vulnerable, too open. I am learning to be ok with desire that doesn’t feel fulfilled. That I need to know and be reassured that I’m sexy, I’m desired. I am learning to enjoy new situations of intimacies for what they are. 

Our time time together that night was not linear, it was not uninterrupted, neither of us orgasmed and I tried to keep in mind what all the sex educators on Instagram say to do — “do not focus on the orgasm”, “orgasms aren’t everything”, “orgasms are not the goal”. Yet the questions were/are on auto-shuffle and on auto-replay. Maybe I didn’t do enough, didn’t do enough of the right things, didn’t read things right. Even leading up to the moment, I was unsure if I should come to bed dressed, and then get undressed or if that was too presumptuous. To change into my sexy underwear or not? I was unsure how she would take the look of me in sexy underwear. Would she like it? Or would it seem like I’m trying too hard? The lace lingerie and thong set have remained in its bag for another moment, another day. 

I am relearning. I am relearning intimacy and what it means for me. I am relearning intimacy and what it means for me, who I share it with, how it might feel different this time around. How it might mean there are no kisses goodbye, no lingering hugs, just friendly “have a good day” because the moment of intimacy you shared had shifted. 

These new intimacies are also made up of small moments of pleasure – waking up together, smelling like sex, gently pulling up the blanket so that her shoulders aren’t cold, breasts as resting places. The small talk when skins are touching, becoming reacquainted, until the moment ends. 

Learning new intimacies is hard work. Being ok with having bursts and spurts, going back to “school”. Being reminded not to “overthink it” and thus swallowing words of contestation.  Perhaps navigating these new intimacies is about being ok with untied strings, unlabeled encounters, moments that are pleasurable, albeit random and leave faint memories that quickly dissipate when the sheets are changed.

1 COMMENT

  1. From my White male perspective, I found your article very interesting. I live in Kenya and I know several Kenyan women that have had sexual experiences with other women. The problem here, as in most of Africa, is that bi or gay men and women are so concerned about the family and social back lash of being “out of the closet” as to not be open out it. I hope that changes some day.

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