One of my first memories is of a woman, who was very close to me, telling me “your penis is for all the ladies.”
I rejected this macho mentality my entire life. Despite a lot of encouragement from those around me to be a player, I spent the majority of my teenage years and early adulthood in long-term relationships. One of three and a half years (from 14-18 years old) and another of eight years, starting at 18 and ending at the age of 26…
So this story really starts there. I spent two to three years being more selfish than I’d like to admit. Going on Tinder dates and having more random sexual encounters than I’d ever had. I was interested in having sex, not with connecting with their human side. Maybe I was trying to prove something to myself? Maybe it was that voice in the back of my mind saying, “Your penis is for all the ladies”?
I started having deeper conversations with friends about their dating experiences. The more I listened to their stories the more I looked within myself and questioned my own selfishness. This is what I’ve learned so far:
LESSON #1: ASK BEFORE YOU KISS
I tried to kiss a friend of mine. We knew each other for years, and we were consistently hanging late at night. I sensed a vibe and I ‘went for it’. She rejected me. I joked about being the sexy latin gardener as I had helped her with some gardening earlier that day. We laughed it off, kept talking and I left her house. About a week later she sent me a very upset text. The sentiment of which was ‘All this time you only wanted to fuck me’. In the beginning I failed to see the greater picture, I defended myself because I knew that this was not true. I knew her for years and while I always found her attractive, that wasn’t the reason I enjoyed spending time with her.
After some time and contemplation, I realized the most important takeaway from the situation. My inner dialogue went like this…I made her feel uncomfortable. How can I avoid that? I’m going to ask people before I kiss them.
At the time I thought that was enough…
LESSON #2: HOW FAR DO YOU WANNA TAKE IT?
I was with a friend that I adore. We have had a sexual history. We kissed. Everything seemed fine and things turned sexual. While I was going down on her I felt she was uncomfortable so I stopped and asked her, “Are you ok? Do you wanna do this?” To which she responded, “Actually can we just cuddle today?” I said “Of course.” I’ve come to understand that the idea of solely relying on “social cues” is not enough.
We are taught that we gotta “go for it” and hope for the best. And that if they don’t want us then they’ll reject us, they will say no. But these teachings are wrong, selfish, and they failed me. The truth is there’s nothing sexier than communication.
Most men (myself included) are taught from an early age that, when it comes to sexual partners, the higher the number the more powerful, respected, and masculine we are. This creates a precedent for us that leads to lies, lack of communication, and pressure.
It’s our responsibility to break this wheel. As men we should listen to other’s stories; not shame them if they are virgins or have slept with only a few people. Not praise them when their “numbers” are high. Not shame them if they want to get out of the toxic ways that have affected them and others in the past. If you were lucky enough to never have to deal with this growing up, or if you already went through your journey of cleanse, help others, talk about the importance of communication and all the amazing benefits of it. Teach from a perspective of love and respect, not one of fear.
THIS IS PART OF OUR NEW PERSONAL ESSAY SERIES
email submissions to email@example.com
story / Mikel Corrente
artwork / Anneke Lada