Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

If I wanted to cuddle, I'd be home with my dog
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The Independent Online

The past couple of months have been a bit of sexual dry spell. My last few dates - for one reason or another - didn't get past first base. So when a girlfriend invited me to drinks at The Pelican in Notting Hill, I was ready for adventure, and dressed to kill in snug jeans, snug top and Alexander McQueen stilettos.

Nigel, a tall and handsome production company owner, caught my eye immediately. Over several beers, we discussed our mutual love of old horror films. He also listened sympathetically when I told him about the faulty heating unit in my flat. When the bar closed, he suggested that I could go back to his house since he had a big fireplace. I agreed, hoping that this was a euphemism.

We sipped red wine by the fire and were kissing within five minutes when he suggested we head for the bedroom. Clothes went flying, and seven energetic minutes later he was finished - before I had begun. Smiling sweetly, I suggested we try another position to help me attain satisfaction. He recoiled in horror. "Nice girls don't do those things. My attitude with orgasms is, if they happen, they happen. Maybe it's just not meant to be."

Easy for him to say. Still, I smiled sweetly. "But, don't you want me to have one too?"

"Well, of course, as long as it's not too much work," he laughed. Failing to see the humour, I started to explain the potential pitfalls of the missionary position before he cut me off and told me that "none of my other girlfriends" ever had a problem with it (not that he'd ever actually asked them), so I "might be a bit abnormal". He continued: "Anyway, what about whoever it was who said that it's better to give than to receive?" I picked my shirt up. "That was Jesus, and somehow I don't think he had this situation in mind."

I was stunned. This was the smooth operator who flaunted his private-school education and took pains to open every door for me - so why were his sexual manners so appalling?

I headed to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of water. I may not be the Debrett's of dating, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a little mutual pleasure and respect, even from a casual fling. Otherwise, I might as well have spent the evening with my vibrator.

I thought back to dinner with my friend Victoria, when she was telling me about a guy who fell asleep on top of her. Her theory is that time we spend with a guy before jumping into bed is inversely proportional to our expectations of the encounter. I realise that she may be right: if I were emotionally invested I may have forgiven the fact that he seemed strangely repressed.

I don't see why the ethic of reciprocity should not exist inside the bedroom. In my mind, selfish in bed equals selfish in life - a definite date-breaker.

Decision made, I headed back to the bedroom. "Look," I said as I shrugged into my red bra that I had laced up so optimistically only a few hours earlier. "I'm going to go home. I'm frustrated, and I can't sleep."

"You need to calm down," he said, looking a bit like the cat who got the cream. "How about if we just hold each other?"

I declined. If I wanted to cuddle, I would have stayed home with my dog. I wanted to be hanging from the ceiling.

I stumbled down the stairs as the dawn was breaking before realising that I had no money and would have to further stumble several blocks in my 4in heels to find a cash point. But despite the fact my feet were bleeding, I knew I had made the right decision. I felt proud that I stood up for myself, especially when he texted me a few hours later: "RU COLD? AM DRINKING TEA BY THE FIRE ... WANT 2 COME OVER? XXX"