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Cold Spaghetti

I’ve had this conversation many times, as I’m sure is true for many of us.

A man recently told me with the straightest of faces and utmost of gusto that a woman’s value is based on purity. That she becomes less valuable with sexual experience and even less so with children.

This in response to my opinion that asking about body count is childish, antiquated, and unnecessary. Mostly because I don’t believe it has any defining quality. Imagine falling in love (or starting to) with someone, learning about their sexual history afterwards, and suddenly changing your opinion about them just because their “magic number” exceeds some arbitrary threshold of propriety. It’s ridiculous, and so is writing them off from the jump if that happens to be something you learn earlier on.

Sex is something that can hurt an individual much more than it hurts their future partners. Choosing to engage with someone sexually puts you at risks I think we’re all aware of, but what doesn’t add up for me is the reputational damage it can do for women and why that’s never quite the same for men.

“A woman’s body is more sacred than a man’s,” Greg told me. “You can carry life.”

Let’s be real and admit that the conversation isn’t even about all that.

It’s the idea of access. A basic psychological principle.

The clubs with the longest lines are the ones you want to get into the most. The rarest sneakers are the ones you pay the most to buy. Bottom line: the most exclusive is usually the most desirable. When you do finally get whatever it is you’re seeking, it’s like you’re getting a reward. It makes you feel like there’s something special about you or what you have that others can’t attain or replicate. And who wouldn’t want that when there are 8 billion people on the planet? Competition is innate, and even if only socially, certain capital goes a long way when it comes to survival.

I’ve been told before that I’m too friendly or approachable - and that really used to make my blood boil. …until I realized how true it might be upon learning that Greg had entangled me in his own twisted charade.

Greg is (or appears to be) a certain kind of gentleman that you don’t encounter very often. He has a stillness and gentleness about him that somehow complements his charm and strength. The kind of person whose presence makes them more attractive than what you may see at first sight.

We never became serious, or even went on an actual date. Chalk it up to the classic scheduling dilemma. The day we finally made soft plans to spend time together, he told me he’d better stay in for a movie and hot chocolate with his daughters. Perfectly reasonable! Admirable even!


Come to find out, he’d spent that night with my home girl, Bria. AND - he and Bria had been trying to define their relationship after a month and a half of romantic interactions wherein he also told her he wasn’t dealing with anyone else from our collectively shared job.

Wholleeee time, he’s telling her to stop hanging around her male friends. How she’s making him look silly by “entertaining” other guys who aren’t on his level while his homeboys were there to witness. He’d neevvverrrrr talked to any of the girls at work. When my name came up in particular, he said I wasn’t even his type.

Funny how he hadn’t kept that same energy taking a fork out of my hand as I was eating to be the one to feed me dessert. Or casually introducing me to his father (“my future in-law”) when he came to visit for lunch.

The more I compared notes with Bria, the more frustrated I became finding that at least three other men who’d been pursuing me were pursuing her at the same time.

And I hate that.

I hate that giving people the benefit of the doubt, trying to see the good, or operating with an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ philosophy backfires. How it boils down to naivety and evidence against optimism.

These men are playing a giant game of spaghetti, throwing the same thing out and just seeing where it sticks. And honestly, being legitimately interested in someone like that just sucks you into feeling like a token in some kind of sick lottery.

I found myself questioning my own hypocrisy when sitting to reflect on why this hurt me. The thing about Greg was the lying, cut and dry. But the others? Single people get to do single things. Maybe it shouldn’t matter that these guys had multiple interests. And as far as the mess of it all, maybe they didn’t know Bria and I were as close as we are. Was this just about my own exclusivity complex? Wanting to feel special? Does the purity standard for women manifest in this way for men?

Perhaps...but it's not that simple.

The line is where we start missing the humanity of it all. People are not night clubs or retro Jordans; objects to be bought, bartered, auctioned, or appraised. Predatorily robotic tactics shouldn’t be the default mode, but we’re so afraid of rejection, and even sometimes connection, that the seduce and scheme mantra has evolved into a cultural comfort zone.

It’s play or be played when it shouldn’t have to be.


Circling back, there is something honorable about modesty and temperance, but moreso as it relates to one’s own personhood. Those who respect themselves command respect from others, but it’s important to understand that chastity and self-respect are not the same thing. Respecting myself means I align my actions with my desires with my values, and I lean into my rights as an individual to make my own choices and enjoy the fullest extent of my freedoms so long as that doesn’t hurt me or anyone else.

Sexual partnership is a personal and intrinsic decision, and I think the reason celibacy and restraint can be so impactful is not because abstinence somehow helps others, but because it gives you an opportunity to recenter and recharge without that level of energy exchange or intimate co-dependency with someone outside yourself. The more noise you strip away from the outside, the more you can dial in with what’s inside.

Somewhere in my fictional happy place, we can all do what we want without second-guessing or stopping ourselves for no other reason aside from the anticipation of disappointment. Where we’re not worried that the people we entrust are covertly ill-intentioned. Everyone is genuine, and we are unilaterally appreciated for who we are, even if that means we’re not exactly what someone else needs or wants us to be.

But here we are on planet Earth.

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