This week, a man compulsively fantasizing about other women while avoiding having sex with his partner: 38, in a relationship, Brooklyn.
8 a.m. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever woken up without an erection. It’s just there. But today, maybe for the first time ever, it isn’t. Did I get up early and go to the bathroom? Did it fade over time this morning? I also cannot remember the last time Nathalie and I had sex. We’ve lived together for three years.
9 a.m. I can hear the automatic coffeemaker click on downstairs. For the first time since I was 14 I don’t have a job to go to. I’m an artist, and every day I’m working on one project or another but I have no deadlines or exhibits to speak of right now. I am extremely lucky that I sold a business this year right before lockdown. My hand slips under the covers and I grab my cock while I do the guy version of Kegels. I can get it up. All good here.
1 p.m. I FaceTime with my friend Steph, who is younger than me and going through leukemia. I would do absolutely anything for her. But there’s nothing to do.
3 p.m. I jerk off in the shower as a formality. It’s good to work it out. I grew up in the youth-group, religious kind of way and so I never got into porn. I didn’t even jerk off for the first time until I was away at college. I was 20 and it was in the shower of the dorm. I think about Marissa, this cute blonde woman I met at a bar back in 2012. We were in a cab to her place within an hour of meeting. She said, “We’re not having sex.” So I went down on her for like an hour straight until she begged me to fuck her. I came up for air and she just grabbed me and put me inside of her. That’s an excellent masturbation format: Woman sees me, woman wants me, woman begs me.
8 p.m. Nathalie goes to bed and I get a DM from my internet girlfriend, whom I’ve never met. We met on Instagram. I miss who I am when I’m flirting. I have some wine and we watch the same movie. I like having someone to talk to.
8 a.m. Again I wake up limp. I miss my morning erection. In my 20s I went through this period where I started dating “older” women. Meaning people who are my age now. I keep thinking about a certain morning I had with Tiffany, how she’d wake me up and then go down on me … Okay. I’m hard now. Thank God. Still, it’s weird that I’m in bed thinking about someone I slept with ten years ago and not just having sex with the person next to me.
3 p.m. Therapy day! Usually Nathalie leaves so I can Zoom in peace. She likes that I take therapy seriously. This summer we had a really rough patch and staying together was contingent on me going to therapy. Things were good when we first got together — we moved in quickly, a few months into the relationship — but then things started to change a bit. This rough patch over the summer entailed me retreating from her, and generally acting moody and self-destructive; I was pulling away and she wasn’t exactly trying to pull me back. Today she has a call so she goes downstairs. (We live in a very modest and small duplex, nothing fancy at all, despite having stairs!) I run the dishwasher for some background noise.
4 p.m. My therapist asks if I want to transition to group instead of working with him because I am taking therapy so well, in his opinion. I decline. Is it weird that I take this as a compliment? We are working on my “enmeshment.” Over and over in my life my mother told me, “If it weren’t for you I don’t know what I would do.” She would come to me with her personal problems, complain about my dad. Their fights often got violent, so I trained myself to hide my emotions so as not to cause a stir. I’m terrified of getting married, having kids and then discovering that I can’t have an argument without it getting violent. It comes from years of hearing, “Don’t ever grow up to make someone as miserable as your father makes me.”
8 p.m. I shower late and touch myself thinking about Marissa. Then I realize I’ve jerked off about her way more times than we ever slept together. Once a week for eight years … That’s a lot.
10 p.m. She’s in my DMs again — my internet girlfriend. She wants to know if I’d like to have her number.
9:30 a.m. Can I just say that as a person who does not watch pornography that porn websites are really weird? I’m trying them out. Nathalie has an early meeting and so I try one of the websites. From a content perspective the titles are out of control. I feel about 300 years old. How many people are searching “step family” on this website?
I click on one that says, “Finally banged my best friend.” That was actually quite sweet. Then, I look up “party” and I see all these maskless people having unprotected sex in groups. Can you imagine being indoors with people again?
1:44 p.m. My therapist emails me a PDF about abuse and trauma so I can learn about the cycle where a “victim” can get re-traumatized by an “abuser,” a “non-protective person” or a “hero/messiah.” I wonder if this will help me.
4 p.m. I spend the afternoon catching up with friends and doing a lot of thinking, especially on my next moves with work.
9 p.m. My internet girlfriend drops the following hints: (1) She has COVID antibodies, and (2) she keeps coming up with restaurants near her that she thinks I will like. She sends me a playlist of songs that a cool 20-something would know. All the songs are about being young and horny and free.
11 a.m. I’m going out of town for a work-related trip today, just an hour upstate, so I get a rapid COVID test. They take my blood pressure at the same time and the doc says, “Your blood pressure is super high. Have you been feeling okay?” I gesture vaguely at the pandemic and New York City. Who doesn’t have high blood pressure these days?
12 p.m. I have a beer with lunch. Why not? I’ve been doing that lately. Part of me feels like I’m on vacation. The test comes back COVID-negative, and I have a clear STI screening so … I decide to invite my internet girlfriend to meet me at a hotel on my way upstate.
7 p.m. We’re doing it. I’m having dinner with my internet girlfriend. I got a hotel near where she lives in Jersey and had her drive over. I like who I am on a date. My stories are fresh. She hasn’t heard them a million times. She’s only ten years younger, and I remember what I was like at her age. I’m not where I wanted to be at 38, but I am far ahead of where I was a year ago. I’m polite but not needy. It starts raining, so our outdoor dining is going to have to come to a close. I invite her up for a drink. When we’re alone in the elevator I take her mask off and we kiss. She says, “Hmm. That was nice.”
11 p.m. She’s coming for the fifth time and I still have my pants on. She grabs my head for a kiss. I grip both of her nipples and she grinds her pelvis beneath me. We are sharing a fantasy. I’m a grown-ass man, treating her right and sharing this fantasy, this hotel and this room-service Champagne. We lounge in robes.
12 a.m. She is going down on me and it is an absolute experience. I can’t remember the last time I got a straight-up blow job. I put pillows behind my head and sit up so I can watch. She works me over and makes eye contact before I come super hard.
8 a.m. She didn’t stay over, but I did wake up with a fantastic erection. I feel … good today? I don’t feel guilty for sneaking around. (1) It is what it is, and (2) the Steph situation keeps making me think: What if I get sick next year and this is the last fun I ever have? This also isn’t my first affair. I can compartmentalize sex with other people. I haven’t done it a lot but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
12 p.m. I’m about to order a beer at lunch and then I start tabulating. I had a drink at lunch yesterday, a drink when I got to the hotel, then I got a beer while I waited for my date. How many days this year have I had a drink at lunch and then just kept going? I decide to just take the day off from drinking.
1 p.m. I do a little home workout in my hotel room. It gets my heart rate up. Then I drive to my next destination upstate for the work meeting.
8 p.m. Drive home to Brooklyn. It doesn’t feel weird when I see Nathalie. Like I said, I can compartmentalize these things.
8 a.m. I wake up extremely sweaty and with a nice piece of wood down there.
12 p.m. I’m texting with my internet girlfriend. SHE. IS. ALWAYS. ON. HER. PHONE. It’s like being on a date with the internet. As much as I text, Nathalie doesn’t seem to notice. She knows I’m always texting with friends and trying to connect with people so nothing about my behavior seems odd.
8 p.m. I’m still texting with her as Natalie decides to go to bed early as usual. I keep so much from Nathalie because I trained myself to be so blank as a child. I need a rich inner life to make up for it. But really it is a function of enmeshment where I’m just avoiding my true feelings. I’m scared of becoming my dad if I choose a straight relationship.
10 a.m. It is almost time for therapy again. I go to get another COVID test first, since I’ve been out and about. “Wow,” the doctor says. “Your blood pressure is way down. What’s your secret?” I stopped drinking, for a day, and actually got some “exercise.”
12 p.m. Nathalie tells me that I haven’t been myself in months. I notice part of me pulls away. But why? She cares about me. I think it all comes back to my mother. What happened took place a long time ago but it still leaves a bruise. If you’re smart you’ll avoid that spot for a little while. I’ve been avoiding it long enough. I tell her I hear her and I’m going to really start working on things.
2 p.m. I take a nap. Two hours later, I wake up with such a blessed erection.
8 p.m. Nathalie goes to bed super early and I go back to texting. I’m not sure if things will ever really change, but I hope they do.