sex diaries

The Researcher Trying to Get Her Hookup to Love Her Back

Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher

This week, a researcher struggles with what, and whom, she is looking for: 38, single, heterosexual, Baltimore.


8:44 a.m. Working from home today. I’m a postdoc researcher, and I’m working on a presentation. Browsing Twitter, I see a photo of Bernie Sanders raising a fist amid a crowd of supporters, incidentally in front of a XXX Movie Arcade sign: Videos! Toys! Lotions! I text the photo to Chris — a financial analyst who lives in D.C. We met 10 years ago in an online philosophy discussion forum. I had a thing for him, but at the time he had a girlfriend and lived on the opposite side of the country. We’ve fooled around a few times in the past.

“All hail socialism and XXX movies,” Chris texts back. We discuss plans for my visit on Saturday.

11:22 a.m. I also sent the photo to Derek, who responds, “He is horny just like you!” I met Derek in the park not long after I moved to Baltimore. He was dressed in costume and rehearsing a scene from Much Ado About Nothing: “Suffer love! A good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.” He was playing Benedick, one of my favorite Shakespeare characters, as I told him during their break. Turns out we were neighbors. I began to frequent his puzzle and game nights.

Recently, I ran into him in the park doing dress rehearsal again and stopped to say hi. As I continued on my run, I realized I was attracted to him. It was weird because I’d never thought of him that way before, but suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I told him a couple of days later, and we made out. It was hot. But when I saw him next, he told me he didn’t want to ruin the friendship. I was disappointed. We fucked a couple of times not too long after that, though.

1:24 p.m. Texting with Derek about our status. He says the fucking was fun but doesn’t think we are a good boyfriend-girlfriend match. I don’t understand why. I tell him he’s the only person in my life who I could imagine fucking me as described in a Henry Miller novel. But I don’t want to make him uncomfortable. I know how it can be when someone is attracted to you and you’re not into it.

“We could do friend fucking,” he says.

I am surprised and excited to hear this. “But we should be careful,” I say. “Maybe we can discuss more in person.”

4:01 p.m. Derek and I plan to meet for dinner later. Now I’m not really sure what I want. He wants the kind  of arrangement where I can text and say, “I’m coming over for game night. Do you want to fuck after?” It seems a little clinical. I was thinking something a bit more spontaneous, passionate.But if he does  start wanting me, would I stop wanting him?

6:00 p.m. I meet Derek on the corner and we walk to the café. He offers me a flower plucked from a bush. He does a lot of talking over dinner. He mentions that I date a lot. He doesn’t want to risk the friendship. He wants to have many things laid out and clarified.

I find I don’t have much to say. It seems simple to me. It’s not something I have to think hard about. I’m just doing what feels right.

7:15 p.m. A torrential downpour erupts on the walk home. Derek grabs my hand and we take shelter on someone’s porch. “Kind of romantic, isn’t it?” he says. We stand there for a few moments, holding hands. I’m hoping he’ll kiss me. But he doesn’t, so I kiss him. Then I back up. I want him to kiss me. And he does. No tongue. Just soft kisses on the lips.

I’ve never enjoyed kissing anyone more. I’m in love with him. I’ve been afraid to come out and say it, since it seems he’s not ready for that. Maybe I didn’t know if it was real or fantasy. Will I wake up tomorrow and the infatuation be gone? Who knows. But I love kissing him, and I want to do more of it.


2:12 p.m. Writing Derek a love letter. Probably a stupid idea, but I’m a romantic. I prepare myself for another broken heart. I text Chris about it, who tells me it will just scare Derek off. “He gave me a flower, though,” I say. I just want Derek to know the depth of my feelings. He seems to be worried about the fact that I date a lot. Or so he says.

8:44 p.m. Party at Derek’s. I sneak away for a minute to put my letter in his bedroom. I keep my distance from him during the party. I want to give him space. Also, maybe there is something incompatible about the two of us?

12:50 a.m. I say goodbye to Derek and a new friend, Amber, on the sidewalk. Amber and I exchange numbers and discuss hanging out next weekend. She asks to have a word with Derek as I depart.

1:13 a.m. “Was she flirting with you?!?!??” I text Derek on my way home.


10:20 a.m. Just arrived in D.C. on the bus. I’m going to see the Tintoretto exhibit at the National Gallery of Art and having dinner with Chris after.

Derek replies to last night’s text: “I thought maybe, but it turned out to be a crazy story. I got your letter. Let me process what you have written. It’s a lovely letter. I have been on the move since I got up. And I’m with my family all day.”

11:04 a.m. In the gift shop at the National Gallery. Chris texts, asking what happened with the letter. “He’s processing it,” I say. “I knew he was an android,” says Chris.

4:25 p.m. I meet Chris. I’m always a little nervous when I see him in person. We know each other well but mostly interact over text, so it’s still a novelty to see him.

10:07 p.m. Walking to the Metro after a pleasant night of dinner and drinks and witty conversation. Chris and I make out a little outside the FBI building, but I don’t feel the same passion I do with Derek. There’s nothing like kissing someone you have a crush on.


4:14 p.m. Back in Baltimore. Derek calls while I’m in ceramics class. We plan to meet at my place later.

8:32 p.m. I offer Derek some wine. We talk on the couch. He isn’t there yet with the feelings I expressed in the letter, but he admired the bold move. I’m not his usual type, he says. He likes athletic girls with tattoos, but that could change.

9:02 p.m.  After some kissing we move to the bed. “I’ve wanted to feel your dick inside me,” I say as he climbs on top of me. I don’t usually talk like that. I haven’t been this turned on in a long time. “Oh yeah,” he says over and over as he’s fucking me. I love how he squeezes and spanks my ass. I come hard as he takes me from behind. He finishes on my face.

Is it the best sex I’ve ever had?

He doesn’t think he’d be a good boyfriend right now because he is poor. That doesn’t bother me, I say. I tell him Henry Miller had lots of women while he was poor and unsuccessful. “He must’ve had game,” Derek says.

11:17 p.m. Derek kisses me before he leaves. Mouth slightly open, arms firmly around me. He has a sort of raw masculinity about him, and yet his kisses are soft and sweet. This drives me wild.


8:22 a.m. My sex drive is crazy today. I masturbate before biking to work.

9:29 a.m. At a work meeting. Everyone is talking about boring science stuff. Meanwhile, I am reliving my encounter with Derek. I look around the table and imagine what each person is like in bed. Who here is having hot sex?

2:26 p.m. I couldn’t focus at work. Now I’m in bed touching myself and imagining Derek penetrating me. I recite “oh yeah” under my breath as I come to a climax.

3:39 p.m. Whatever happens in the future, I’m happy about what happened with Derek. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced better kissing or better sex.

8:05 a.m. I’m bored with my research. Sitting in a freezing windowless office under fluorescent lights, banging out analysis code and manuscripts that a few dozen people might read — is this the path to happiness and success? My office mate and fellow postdoc seems to think so. I’m fulfilling the destiny of my upper-middle-class suburban upbringing. But there’s something sterile about this academic work. I crave more life. I’m a bohemian. I like weird people. I fantasize about becoming an artist, a writer.

8:32 a.m. I send a funny picture to Derek. He says, “Who is that?” I explain, and that’s it. No further response.

I feel ignored and unappreciated. Derek is not in love with me. Maybe I’m not the type he falls for? Maybe he can’t love? Maybe he thinks his aloofness is alluring, but I find it frustrating and boring.

I don’t know how to respond to his nonresponse. I guess I should forget it and move on. But I still want to fuck him.

4:53 p.m. Derek texts an invitation to a puzzle night tomorrow at his house.

5:36 p.m. I send a photo to Derek showing my legs on the lounge chair, poolside. “Nice!” he says.

7:43 p.m. I tell Chris I might lose interest in Derek soon. The sex was great, but emotionally it’s not very satisfying. We’ll still be friends, I imagine.


10:00 a.m. At a negotiation-skills workshop today. Probably a lot of bullshit exercises and worksheets.

1:54 p.m. Derek texts.

Derek: How about we do some puzzles tonight … and then some fucking.

Me: Oh wow really? Okay …

Maybe I’m changing my mind about him.

Me: I invited Amber … maybe you can fuck her and I’ll watch and then you can do me.

Derek: Whoa.

Me: Now I’m aroused and I’m sitting in this boring negotiation workshop.

Derek: You’re a wild girl. I like that.

8:15 p.m. We’re at Derek’s building the puzzle. Amber and I piece together the reflecting pool in Salvador Dalí’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Derek told me she’s been having a hard time with love lately, so I don’t ask her to join us in bed.

10:25 p.m. Derek walks me home. I put on Beethoven’s Ninth. We start to get it on. My cat jumps on the bed, so I distract him with his stuffed cat doll. He likes to “cuddle” with it.
11:18 p.m. “That was surreal,” Derek says. “We were fucking, and the cat was fucking his doll.” It wasn’t as good as last time for me. I couldn’t come for some reason. Derek dresses to go. I’m still naked as I see him out and kiss him good-bye.

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The Researcher Trying to Get Her Hookup to Love Her Back