Updated: Nov 13, 2017
It’s morning. I’m sat in the kitchen and he - let’s call him Ken for comic value - has been in my toilet for over 20 minutes.
Despite telling Ken that I need to go to work, he has proceeded to eat my food and take a luxurious bathroom break in an obnoxiously relaxed fashion. I’m feeling a mixture of:
a) disgust – because – let’s face it, he’s most likely having a shit
b) concern he could have done an Elvis
c) awareness that I need to be at work in 10 minutes and somehow get him to leave my flat.
But not being a dick, I’ve got up, got dressed, made toast and excellent morning after small talk with Ken and am now politely waiting for him to get the fuck out of my flat.
After five more minutes he returns, instantly shutting the toilet door behind him in a move that confirms all of my worst fears, and sits down next to me with what I like to call the look. ‘The Look’. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it and sadly, I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The look is usually combined with a combination of throat clearing, hands clasped together, lack of eye contact, keys in hand and shoes on – ready to bolt for the nearest exit immediately. And of course, if you’re really lucky, it comes with the actual word ‘look’ as an opener.
You can really pick and mix as you like with these responses, but I’ve decided to categorise the variations of The Look into how much they annoy me. Mainly so we can call this get this article viral with a title like “4 stages of the morning after every woman knows” or something equally depressing.
STAGE 1 (Mild irritation i.e. pesky little fly in the face / dropping jam toast on floor / pulling a push door)
- “Look, let’s not make a big deal out of this, yeah?” - “Look, let’s not put a label on this, yeah?” - “Look, let’s just keep this casual, yeah?”
STAGE 2 (Medium irritation i.e. fly in the eye / trying to pick up said jam toast from floor and missing 3 + times / trying to pull a push door 3 + times) - “Look, I just want you to know I’m not looking for a girlfriend right now.” - “Look, I just want you to know I’m sleeping with other people.” - “Look, I’m just not really into texting all the time, you know?”
STAGE 3 (Advanced irritation i.e. fly in the mouth / realising dropped toast was final piece / walking into pull / push door)
- “Look, I still really like you as a friend.” - “Look, I know how girls get about this stuff.” - “Look, I’m just not in the right place for a relationship at the moment.”
STAGE 4 (Extreme irritation bordering on anger i.e. choking on fly / choking on shitty floor toast / having someone else point out to you that this is in fact a push door, not a pull door, after pull push door ordeal) - “Look, I’m just not sure that I’m the right guy for you.” - “Look, you’re really pretty, loads of men would want to be with you.” - “Look, I know you’re going to find loads of other, better guys than me.”
It’s hard to sum up my response to these last three in words, because visually, it is pretty accurately represented by be the -.- emoji. Imagine a thousand of them and you can start to understand the mood it evoked.
Although in reality, this guy’s name was not Ken, I just felt it was more appropriate, as it was exactly the kind of thing a schmoozy asshole called Ken would say (apologies to any cool Kens out there, you’re the exception that proves the rule, I’m sure). Ken ended his piece with a brief hand squeeze, a kiss on the cheek and a parting look of pity, saying: “Sorry, but I’ve really got to leave now.”
Me too, Ken. ME FUCKING TOO.
To give this experience some context, being single is something – KEN – I too, enjoy. Having gotten out of a very serious, long-term relationship fairly recently, this year I actually, really, truly, am not looking for a relationship.
Is it so hard to believe that after we have slept together, I might not want you to stay? I might not want to have this talk? I might just be telling the truth, in that, I would just like to go to work now?
Even writing this, I can imagine the response to it by some. It’s along the lines of: “She’s just saying that because she’s upset / embarrassed / rejected.” By wanting something more from sex, I’m playing into the assumption. By challenging it, I’m playing into the assumption. It’s a rigged game, ladies.
I’ve even had seemingly straightforward, fun, casual sex, without any appearance of The Look the morning after, only to bump into the guy a week later and receive heartfelt apologies at the fact he hasn’t been in touch, that he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend, despite absolutely no attempt on my part to get in touch with him either.
On the flip side of this, there have been guys who have pursued me after we’ve slept together, at which point (the correct point – Kens) I have told them that to me, it was a one-time thing. This is often met with comments that I am “scared” of my feelings for them. I can’t help but wonder what it must feel like to have such self-assurance that everyone you ever have sex with wants to be with you. What a comforting, delusional bubble of existence.
Ironically, assuming I love you is a sure fire way to make me never want to see you again. Perhaps this is Ken’s cunning plan, but after he didn’t see “I need to get to work in 10 minutes” as a polite nudge to leave, I think we can assume Ken is not a Machiavellian genius.
I write this in the hope for change. To all the Kens of the world, perhaps just ask how I feel about the situation before giving me The Look. There’s no contract here, we haven’t consummated a marriage, and so you don’t need to annul it. You can leave at your own free will, if you can fit your ego back out my door. There’s no need to remind me of the uphill battles women still face when it comes to our sexual liberty on your way out.
This is where I would like to insert my own version of The Look, having regretted not saying anything many times in the past. And perhaps, so that I don’t need to say it again in the future.
Look: I’m not saying I have never slept with someone and wanted something more. It’s not to say that I think sex is just physical, that it’s meaningless or not an intimate thing. And it’s definitely not to say that I’ve never been hurt, rejected or humiliated in sexual relationships.
It’s not to say I don’t want to fall in love. That I’m cold or broken inside. Love is lovely and if it were to come my way, I hope I would run into it like a beautiful, glimmering ocean, open-armed and surrounded by a shower of heart-shaped confetti.
Sex has been everything from magical, existential experiences to embarrassing, awkward fumbles. Heart-bursting to heart-breaking, sex can mean something different to any given person at any given time. But please, I just want to live in a world in which I am not continually rammed into a pre-made mould of your sexist stereotypes.
I’m not a character from a romcom, or a Cosmo article, or Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. I’m just like you, except I have a vagina, and scientifically proven longer, better orgasms. With this in mind, perhaps it’s possible I could just like sex for the act itself. Maybe I like it even more than you do.
Illustrations by Christopher Bragg