This is the first in a recurring column about modern romance, dating, and more.
If I had to guess I’d say I’ve sent close to 150 nude photo and/or videos this year. I have received probably half that amount of dick pics. I have many of them saved, to be honest. I’m not sure why. Well ,sometimes I know why. Some of them have been magnificent or unbelievable – or both. Some of the videos I’ve received, that I’ve asked for, are nice and I enjoy, and some are strange. A lot of them are made in very unattractive, grungy bathrooms with men squatting in an uncomfortable looking way, but who am I to judge?
I send photos and videos that I think are hot: photos that I think I look sexual and lust-worthy in, photos that I think show my best attribute, and videos that do the same. I like to think that these men send photos that they think they look great in, as well. I try to give the appropriate feedback because I figure they must have some semblance of self-consciousness, too. Perhaps they do not, I won’t ever really know.
Every time I open my camera gallery on my phone, I have to scroll up and around all of the naked photos of me and the men I’ve saved. When I want to show my mom a photo of the latest wedding I was in, I have to quickly take the phone back from her, scared she’ll accidentally scroll too far. I could delete them, but I don’t. I reuse them with different men. It’s easy. They have no idea when and where I am when I’m talking to them. It may not be as sexy to know that I’m sitting in a cubicle at a job I hate, fully clothed, sexting them to try to divert my mind from how broke I am/tired I am/hungry I am/etc. These photos live on long after our conversations or the first time they were taken. Two of my favorite photos were taken years ago for an ex that left me for my roommate, a breach of trust that I still haven’t gotten over. But at least I have these photos.
I’ve been thrown away a lot this year. This is the phrase and thought that I can’t get out of my head. It feels distinctly like I’ve been disposed of. I know there are reasons and they are not all my fault and these men weren’t good enough and blah blah blah, but it’s the feeling of being disposable that’s been killing me lately.
Peter, the sugar daddy, threw me away after we had sex. Everything was amazing, conversation was great, he wanted to talk all the time, he thought I was great. We had a 5 hour phone date, a 3 hour coffee date, and lots of talking in between before he came over for sex. He brought a check, not made out to my name because he wasn’t sure what my last name was. We had sex. He came quickly. I clothed and got ready for work afterward. I assumed everything was fine and then he started not talking as much. Not texting. He said he was just having problems at home and it wasn’t my fault, I was great. He canceled and postponed two more times when we were supposed to hang out. And then we finally nailed down a time to meet so I could at least give him back the Simpsons DVDs that he left me. He had to pencil me in because he had a lunch date before we met. I asked how it went, knowing it was another sugar baby, and he told me it went really great. We left that day and he told me I just wasn’t a good fit for him. Now I know what you’re thinking. Actually, I’m sure you’re thinking a lot of things, most of them about me being paid for sex, but I also know I shouldn’t be mad because I got $1,000 for basically nothing. This is true. But what I didn’t factor in was the fact that it would feel immensely like rejection. And even more so like it was my body, my sex, that wasn’t good enough, the two things that I pride myself on being ok and more than ok with. But the timeline made it hard to ignore.
Then there was Cliff. Cliff is a beautiful man. The most beautiful man I’ve ever even entertained the thought of dating. He lives 3 hours away. We started a long distance relationship, talking, texting, video chatting all the time. He has a child. He has very little self-esteem and lots of depression. It felt nice being someone’s escape, nice being a pick-me-up for someone. I guess there are much deeper ways to examine this and my role in life, but I’ll do that later during an insomnia episode. Anyway, things went well for about 2 months. He was coming to visit finally! It was going to be great. And then he wasn’t going to come visit. I said one thing wrong. I said I was disappointed that he wasn’t going to get to come. He said he had a child and I was selfish and he never wanted to talk to me again. He blocked my number. Deleted me from his life. Just. Like. That. It was kind of like a whirlwind. I didn’t know what to think. I knew I was upset, but I had no idea what had happened. All I knew was that once again, someone found it easy to get rid of me with no repercussions.
Then there was George. Oh man, I really liked George. Any of my friends would tell you. He’s the first person I have ever dated that I didn’t find on an app, but rather met him organically. I met him outside of a bar when I was on a bad date with someone from an app. He told me to come and drink with him after the bad date as he was staying right down the street. And I did. That first night he asked where I had met the guy, and I was honest. I told him he was a sugar daddy. He wasn’t scared away and that opened the door for us to talk about everything in the world. We stayed in a hotel because he was in the process of buying a condo downtown. A little bit about George: he’s 38 and he has GREAT hair. Like amazing, fuck me hair. He also has other nice…attributes, but that’s neither here nor there. He stayed with me a few more times after this and texted me randomly. We would stay up talking for hours. He told me that he died when he was 17 because he overdosed. He told me how he fucked up multiple times with DUIs and drugs and how he hadn’t graduated high school but had his MBA now, how he had been married and shouldn’t have ever done that. How he had been engaged and she had called it off earlier in the year. Even writing about this makes me want to reach out to him. There was a sense of openness between us that I don’t usually feel. He was opening up to me and didn’t feel comfortable doing it, but did it anyway. The last time I saw him we drank a bottle of Chateau Montelena 2004 Cab at 1 am and sat on his porch while I made him listen to shitty pop music. Two weeks later he moved into his condo. He texted me the day he moved in that this wasn’t going to work, that we both knew it, and we both just wanted different things, were in different places. I asked him for more information about what it was that we wanted that was different, but I received no follow-up. He was done. I was cut off. Thrown away.
I guess the most recent would be Andrew. Andrew had potential. He is a dom. I am a sub. He wants to live these roles but also have a relationship with the normal aspects of boyfriend/girlfriend, as well. I should say, this is what I want at this point in my life. He was perfect and he was sure that I was going to be perfect, too. We talked non-stop for over a week and then finally had a date. It was magical. He brought 2 of my favorite California Cabernets over and we ordered $100 in delivery Italian food and watched The Matrix because I’d never seen it. I was very happy with him, I had a good feeling. He talked to me for about a week after and then…just like that, he was gone. I don’t know why. But I do know that he doesn’t miss me, because he knows where to find me.
One thing these men all have in common are the photos on their phones. If I died and there was a weird video montage where people contributed from their phones, all these men would have photos of me in a black, lace nighty, one with me holding my boobs, and one of a freshly waxed vagina, among others, of course. These just happen to be my favorites. I wonder often if even after they’re done with me, if they’re done with my photos, with my body, too. And if not, does that make me feel better or worse? What makes me less of a crazy person?
I know men don’t usually delete photos. I have a best friend who got into a very real fight with her boyfriend about his “folder” of ex photos. I see both sides, and to be honest, I would like to think I’m the girl that girlfriends get pissed about.
There’s a question on an OkCupid questionnaire that asks: is there at least one photo of you naked on the Internet? I’ve never answered this question because I don’t know what they mean by on the Internet. Like, in someone’s email, in my own email? Sure. On a website? I don’t think so, but then again, I’m not careful. I exchange photos without really even knowing the person. My photos are actually probably being used to catfish someone as we speak. The conservative congressman this week cited revenge porn as the likely reason his naked body showed up on Twitter. I think revenge porn is wrong, of course, but I also don’t know why anyone presumes any privacy or security. Sure, I’d be really embarrassed for my parents or family to see photos of me winding up on their screens. But at no point would I be surprised. These are photos. They don’t disappear like the men. I have photos dating back to the 1900s that I inherited from my grandmother. No one knows who is in these photos, but you best believe we haven’t tossed them because…because…because they’re of someone. It would be rude. Maybe that’s why men keep old nudes. They don’t want to be rude.
These men who have thrown me away recently swirl in my head, over and over again. I do the thing where I think about what I could’ve/should’ve done differently. It’s vicious and really bad for my mental health but here we are. I was listening to a podcast one night while I was working through my trash cycle, and he was talking about animal extinction. I had never thought about the fact that there was definitely a time before anyone identified extinction or what it meant exactly. He explained that before this time, civilizations and people just assumed that the animals moved to far away lands. They didn’t really understand, but they didn’t really have the means to prove this or prove it wrong.
I like this idea. Instead of being disposable, I’m just going to try to believe that the species moved to a far away land that I can’t follow. Obviously not the real person, but their feelings towards me and the person I was attracted to. That person is extinct, I just don’t understand it yet. I will one day.
Becky is your friend, girlfriend, wife, and mistress. She plays and writes in Chicago. You may have seen her in The Establishment, Vol 1: Brooklyn, The Washington Post and others. She gets around.