'Great Sex' & Toxic Relationships


“When he looked at you, he was the only person who understood you, sipped you, and swallowed… he could turn himself off like a switch and I stood in the dark, waiting.”

- Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler


Here I am. Waiting in the dark. Waiting for him to arrive - all the versions of him who have floated through my life. I close my eyes and I can see them all flash by.

Freshers’ week, Camel cigarettes, mystery, the unexpected, unsuspecting. The beginnings of secrecy, before I realised that secrecy secretly meant shame.

Next, the musician. Stone cold eyes, late night texts, hands held on tour buses, and gazes held under the cloak of darkness; doors wedged open signalling ‘come in, I want you, I need you’, but never entered.

Then the peak of it all: the boss, the height, the match that struck fire. The four year brevity, because when I allowed myself to breathe out, he was already lost to the world. The sex, a force; the time I waited in my car for him; the time he wanted me, the time he needed me. Singular.

And the pattern continues. The Northern soul unreachable for years, before I caught a taste and developed a habit. Drinks and more drinks and outrageous flirtations. Crawling into bed at 5am and feeling his arms wrap around my body haphazardly. Me not wanting to push him away for fear of never being held again.


Is this great sex? How do we define it - intensity, passion, control, power? A fleeting moment, a fluttering of the lips? Should it last or does it burn quick?


I had always assumed that I was having it. It was volatile and inexplicable and undeniable - like a moment I had to step into and claim for myself. It felt like empowerment, because I thought I was in control. I was asking for it - sometimes I was begging for it. I chose whether I stayed or whether I left. And I always returned. Maybe when I was 21 I could have blamed it on naivety. I was greener than green back then, but 7 years on, I suppose I can’t really put it all down to that anymore.

I like to trick myself, because it feels easier than admitting I was wrong. That I willingly entered into a state of toxicity over and over again under the pretense of it equating to ‘great sex’, when really I was just too scared, too insecure, too self-destructive to face up to the truth.

I return to this space because after years of training, I believe that it’s the only space I have the right to be in. ‘I am not good enough’ is a mantra that runs deep in my veins. I begin relationships knowing what I need, and push it aside to offer up what someone else wants.

Have you ever been so lost in someone, that you can hardly find your way back home to yourself? I thought that was great sex; but now I think it was just sex that got caught up in greatness.

I’m working on finding that greatness elsewhere (perhaps me? Yes, you). I am beginning to recognise that great sex isn’t based on intensity alone. It’s a layer built on top of the real and raw intimacy that comes with being truly and deeply connected.

I’ll start with myself, and see how I get on.