In which I do not sleep with twenty women in 193 days.
"The best way to get over one woman is to get under another," said the barber who was cutting my hair.
(My partner had been a hair stylist; she'd cut my hair exclusively for more than five years. Finding a barber was just one of the many inconveniences of being suddenly single.)
This is how guys sometimes talk to each other, in our private places, like trendy downtown barbershops. And maybe the trendy downtown barber was right. Maybe, as he said, my partner was a cunt and I needed to just throw myself into sleeping with as many women as possible.
Certainly, I had nothing else going on. I felt so rootless, as if everything I'd believed was true was a lie. I needed some direction, and if pop culture and our ideals of masculinity were to be believed, sleeping with a ton of women was a worthwhile direction to follow.
So I downloaded Tinder, and Bumble. I built profiles and started conversations. And I went out and drank and tried to be social and meet people organically, too. And by people I mean potential one-night stands.
The thing is that I've never been a one-night stand guy, no matter how hard I've tried. I need a connection, and even if it's a casual thing I wind up manufacturing an unwarranted intimacy and messing everything up.
I met a lot of nice people who would have slept with me or dated me or somewhere in between. I pushed them all away.
I wondered what was wrong with me. I had a goal to reach, damn it. Clock was ticking.
Other men--those hockey players I looked up to, my partner's father who'd slept with hundreds of women, my buddy the Pick-Up Artist--they would be using this time wisely, coldly, having bountiful, unemotional sex with as many partners as they could swipe.
They would fuck the pain away, drown the memory of their partner in a sea of new anonymous women. That's what guys are supposed to do, right?
What was wrong with me that I couldn't do the same?
I talked about this stuff with a therapist, once. I told him how I measured my self worth by the number of women I'd slept with, and how I always seemed to come up lacking.
He asked me to think about the men I really, truly admired, and asked me if they fit that mold, and if I thought any less of them if they didn't.
I thought about my dad. My brother. My friend Matt. Devoted family men, all of them, imbued with a strength and decency. I don't know how many women they've slept with, and I can't see how it would change my respect for them if I did know, if they'd slept with one woman or a thousand.
I try to remind myself of this, of them.
Long story short, I didn't sleep with anyone. I still haven't. I guess it's partly the antidepressants, but it's partly that I'm not in any rush anymore.
I'm sick of hurting people to pad some useless stat. I'm sick of giving up on good opportunities because I want to see what else is out there.
I'm sick of trying to be a man who sees a woman as a number.