There’s a man lying on my lap dressed in mitts, eye mask, gag and collar: all leather. I stroke his hair and his taut, lean belly and wonder what I’m doing here. He whimpers. His thighs are strong and dusted with hair; I absent-mindedly sip some red wine as I run my spare hand up and down. I’m watching a Bill Bailey stand-up DVD. He can’t see it, but doesn’t seem too bothered.
There’s a brief period in lockdown where single people who live alone are allowed to meet indoors. I meet Gabe on Hinge, we eat fried egg rolls at a greasy spoon and arrange a second date.
He is whip-smart, posher than me and incredibly good looking in a Home Counties, windswept hair sort of way. A Hugh Grant for the modern age. Between first and second date, our messages hash it out. He’s experienced – far more than I am – in BDSM, kink and fetish. It takes a while to coax it out, but puppy play seems to be what works for him. He’s not interested in fucking, or any sort of physical release even.
This is new for me. I’m on the back foot when it comes to sexual acts for pleasure without orgasm, at least when it comes to men. Clearly, I’m well-versed in it for myself. But a man who doesn’t want to come? I’m cautious.
We talk gender. He likes to be known as Gabriella sometimes, doesn’t always feel comfortable as Gabe. We use he/him unless we’re being sexual, in which case I switch to she/her. The boundaries are blurred, almost from the start. He calls me ‘sir’ in texts. I’m not sure I want to communicate with him outside of face-to-face time, but I don’t actually know how to tell him this.
My previous relationship has knocked me for six. I am a shell of the person I used to be. Flint built me up, then knocked me back down continually, until I was too scared to initiate communication for fear of rejection. I am scared of being gaslit and lied to. But it doesn’t feel like an appropriate topic of conversation with this new person, who seems to actually like me.
Gabe is younger than me by about nine years. This also makes me uncomfortable; I have an issue with notable age gaps, despite my habit of dating men six or seven years older than me. More likely: because of my habit of dating men six or seven years older than me.
But when he’s sprawled half on me, half on my sofa, things feel close to natural. There’s no pain for pleasure, no pressure to be ‘on’, and very little sexual touching. Gabe is wearing a chastity device, which I am fascinated by. Pre-cum leaks through to his boxers, and he is groaning with contentment. RIght now, this is what I need. Minimal pressure, minimal work, just wine, comedy and a hot man in my lap.
After this night, I don’t see Gabe again. I try to establish boundaries, which he repeatedly ignores until I’m forced to be very blunt with him.
Lockdown continues. I am very, very alone.