I first met him outside a bar in Bilbao La Vieja in 2016. He was an older dude, maybe late fifties. He was nice and said he could get me a gig teaching dance once a month in a social centre. I taught there for 6 months.
We messaged every now and again. I proofread a speech for him that he was giving in English at a university.
I asked him for help with getting into radio in Bilbao. Is this course worth the money? Are there any places I can apply to? Do you know anyone?
He suggested we go to the beach to talk about it. I was mildly apprehensive about going in the car with a guy I didn’t really know. I don’t like to depend on other people for transport, especially men. I feel trapped, as if it all goes tits up (like they make a sexual advance and you say no, you’ll be left high and dry). I thought that, maybe because of the age difference between us (around 25 years), he might feel a fatherly affection towards me.
The beach we went to was a nudist beach. I don’t tend to go to them so much as in my experience they tend to be full of naked men. After being masturbated at several times, I don’t feel comfortable around naked men.
I deliberately didn’t wear make up or nice clothes. Some people call this “uglification”, when women behave like this (like when I chopped off their hair and felt more “comfortable”) to try to ward off unwanted advances.
He stripped down as soon as we got there. I really didn’t feel 100%comfortable but I tried to be cool about it. I’m foreign, maybe that’s normal here? Maybe I’m just a big ole square.
Despite my apprehensions, the day went smoothly, without any sexual advances.
That was 6 months ago.
Then, this week, there was the big all day drinking fest of Santo Tomas. He was messaging me, asking where I was to go for a drink etc. I hadn’t been feeling well so I had been chilling at home all day, then went out for dinner with a female friend. We then met up with my best male friend, and the three of us went for a few drinks.
I bumped into my older friend other on Barrenkale, my little group and my older friend’s little group. He was visibly very drunk and the first thing he did was put his hand on my arse. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt (I was wearing a long coat, maybe he made a mistake?) and moved away.
-That guy I saw you with the other day is your boyfriend, isn’t he?
-No. I wanted him to be but he said no.
(One convenient thing about having a boyfriend is that you have an instant excuse to politely decline unwanted advances. I didn’t want to lie)
–Dame un beso (Give me a kiss)
–Por qué? (“Why?” he asked me, over and over)
–Porque no quiero. (Because I don’t want to)
“Por qué no podemos follar de vez en cuando?”, “Why can’t we fuck every now and again?” he asked me over and over. I rejected him politely, over and over again. “Because I fall in love with people I have sex with”. His response was always: “But why?”.
My male friend, my wing man, my work husband, saw what was happening and called to me: “Sarah, we’re going now, come on”, giving me an excuse to leave the situation. He gives me faith in malekind.
At the time, I laughed it off, but the next day, I felt deeply saddened by what had happened. Why does “friendship” with women to many, many men, mean sex? Why can’t colleagues do favours for each other and there be professional boundaries without someone putting an unwanted hand on someone else’s butt?
This is basically why women find it so hard to advance in all fields. Grades are a small part of a successful career. It’s all about making contacts. Men hold the majority of the positions of power, and they form networks, they help each other out, then they “help” women, but in return for future sexual contact… Women learn to keep men at arms length at all times, or else get accused of “inviting” the sexual advance, or using their “wiles” to manipulate.
I used to be “pretty”. I used to have long hair, do make up, heels, have lots of clothes. But I just got sick of it. Conforming to beauty standards, being “hot”, using my sexual power to manipulate men. Of course, at the time, I didn’t realise that that was what was happening. All I knew was that people were nicer to me when I dressed up, and I loved it. But it is a fleeting and precarious type of power, and leads to all sorts of (sexual) favours expected in return.
The next day, I received a message from my older friend, not of apology, but again propositioning me for sex. I didn’t reply.
I went out after work with my work husband, planning on having a few drinks and then meeting up with a guy I’ve just started getting to know who seems to be a total muffin. He just seems so honest and genuine, intelligent, interesting to talk to, makes me laugh a lot, tells dark stories, is better at me at darts but chill about it…
It turned out that this guy had missed his transport connection and wouldn’t be able to meet, seeing as a close friend of his was in town, and he had work the next day etc, but luckily (or unluckily for him?), we bumped into each other anyway. I was merry, chatted on a bit, didn’t leave him to hang out with his friends… Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I walked him to his door (it was on my way to get a taxi, and I always get taxis home if I’m too drunk to cycle as I can’t be arsed to get attacked on my walk home alone. Even if it’s just a grab grope, it ruins my mood for weeks).
Emboldened by alcohol, I kissed him goodnight, properly. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to want to kiss me back that much so I pulled away… His body language wasn’t a “yes”, and if there’s no clear “yes”, then it’s a “no”.
I didn’t ask him “why” repeatedly. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone in for the kiss, but I think it’s important that women initiate stuff like that… Blurred lines, although an undoubtedly catchy song, is not something that applies to me. If I like you, if I want a physical relationship with you, you *will* know about it. And if you reject my proposition, I’ll wave you on your merry way, without any hurt feelings or resentment. I am aware that I am a strong flavour, and not everyone’s cup of tea.
The next day, I had to run some errands, and I saw my older friend walking down the street on the other side. I pretended like I hadn’t seen him. I was tired and had to do some last minute Christmas food shopping. This was the first year where I was doing my own Christmas dinner, the third Christmas after my mum’s death. I had bigger fish to fry.
It seems to me that maybe some men like to hang out with younger people in order to keep feeling young, and this logically overspills into the sexual, ya que el roce hace el cariño. I wonder if when we are “equal” (in the economic sense), will rich older women do this? Are some of them doing it right now? If I was in that type of situation, would I want that type of relationship?
I know several women my age who are in stable, loving relationships with guys that are 20 (or more) years older than them. They seem so happy. I don’t judge what works for other people.
I wonder if my older friend genuinely likes me, feels attracted to me, or just wants to use me to feel younger. But, seeing as I don’t get that sexual attraction chemical reaction with him, there’s no point in hypothesising. I am not the fountain of youth, my time is precious, and what I really yearn for is to invest my time in deep, loving, long term relationships, in my friendships and romantic relationships.