Who I Am With You Isn’t Who I Am With Him

M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher

I wrote a story a few months ago called “Looking Glass”, in which a woman looks forwards to having sex with the guy she’s seeing, not just because she wants to fuck him (though she does), but because

“sex is her looking glass. It lets her see who a person is, (or rather who they are with her). It lets her see who she is with them. She wants that view more than she wants to get off. She wants to see if they fit.”

At the time I wrote the story, I made a mental note to circle back to the idea that sex can be a mirror, not just for you or your partner, but for who you are together. Identity and personality are pet topics on this blog, so I’m not going to waste time saying that personalities are fluid. Anyone with a secret Twitter account can tell you that Secret Twitter You is just as authentically “you” as Dinner with Gran You. It’s just not the “you” your gran is used to seeing…probably.

Instead, I want to look at how that fluidity plays out in sexual dynamics. Most of us slide up and down a sexual scale. Even people who identify very strongly as one thing (submissive, dominant, vanilla, etc.) tend to play that thing out differently with different lovers. Part of what makes for sexual chemistry between any two people is how well you intuit each other, and that’s different case by case.

That’s why I’ve always been curious about what sex would be like with different people. Like the protagonist in “Looking Glass”, my anticipation in the build up to my first time with someone new is rooted in curiosity—who will I be with them, who will they be with me, and what will be together? In other words, what will we bring out in each other?

Ages ago, I was seeing two very different men. Let’s call them A and B. My dynamic with A was emotionally and sexually intense. We went dancing and did a great deal of staring intensely into each other’s eyes. The sex was fucking hot.

My dynamic with B was different. Mostly, he and I laughed. We went to diners and dive bars and told rambling stories. The sex was also amazing, but in a super playful, peaches and cream kind of way.

One day, B and I went to an event and met up with A and his date. Everything was great, so much so that I didn’t give the meeting a second thought until the next time I saw A when he commented that he’d had no idea I was such a goofball.

Here’s how that conversation played out in semi-fictional dialogue.

A: Hey, M?

Me: What’s up?

A: So….

Me: ….yes?

A: Do I keep you from being you?

Me: (blank stare)  No. Why?

A: Because you seemed so relaxed with B the other day. I mean, I’ve never seen you so relaxed and goofy and I was kind of wondering if I was keeping you from that because, you know, I’m not relaxed. Or goofy.

Me: Aw, babe…. (sits on his lap and gently bites his neck) Who I am with you isn’t who I am with him. I’m goofy and relaxed with B because B and I are goofy and relaxed together. I’m pouncier with you because that’s how we are. One isn’t more me than the other. It’s all me. You’re just seeing what naturally comes out with you.

A: (melts because he loves having his neck bit) Okay, so…what you’re saying is…it’s all good.

Me: (straddles him) It’s all good.

The conversation ended there and all was (extremely) good – because that’s how it worked naturally for A and I. Had that conversation happened with B instead of A, I probably wouldn’t have nibbled on him and gone straight to sex because that’s not how it was with us. We’d have had a good conversation, probably gotten philosophical, and then had slow, lazy sex before watching The Matrix and eating take-out.

In either case, the set of impulses I had with A were just as authentic as the ones I’d have had with B, they were just very different. That’s why the first time with a new partner is exciting, even if it isn’t magical right off the bat. It’s not just about chemistry. It’s about curiosity and mutual potential; how we connect, and how defined that connection is.  Do we share one wavelength, or do we slide over the scale together?

All of those questions hum along, fueling attraction, chemistry, and sex. And the answers, as variable and context dependent as they are, form a hell of a good mirror for anyone, so long as they are authentically engaged. It’s why relationships fascinate me in all of their brilliant, curious, mind-blowing, toxic, soul-deep, casual variations.  It’s one of the biggest reasons I love sex…aside from the obvious.


Unrelated PSA:

For months now, I’ve been working on a collection that I’m very excited about. I’m lucky enough to be working with an amazing editor, but life is getting busier and I need to clear more time for it, so, for the next little bit, the blog will be moving to a slightly less regular posting schedule. It’s definitely not going anywhere. There will just be a slightly longer gap between posts.

In the meantime, feel free to dig into the archives and cringe at what a catastrophe of a baby blogger I was. It’s the blogging equivalent of refrigerator art –  precious, precious stuff. 😀


    1. Thank you, Emmanuelle! Here’s to our many personalities, and the joy of allowing them to inform our writing. And, on a personal note, thank you for your unfailing and generous support. You are, quite simply, wonderful. xx

  1. You mention curiosity when it comes to new partners and I think that is a strong motivator for me too. I wonder what he will kiss like, I wonder what he tastes likes, what noises he will make… those things are intoxicating to me


  2. I adore this – you’ve written before about inhabiting different “yous” in different parts of your life. I loved and identified with it so much.
    Wonderful stuff Miss Malin x x x 💖

    1. Thank you, Ms. Rayne! I can’t seem to stop gnawing on this bone – there’s so much meat on it (is that filthy?) I’m really, really happy you liked it 😊💗 xxx

  3. This is a great piece! I so relate to it in many ways.

    I’ve had the same two lovers for the past three years. One I call the CEO and the other the “Diver”. The CEO calls himself my “White Bread’ lover because it’s very vanilla yet our connection is deep and cerebral. We talk about deeper things and he is more interested in my emotional well being. I’m not kinky with him..there’s just no desire to be. But I can get cranky and bitchy around him. He seems to thrive on how spunky I can be.

    Where the diver is about passion, lustful sex, toys, rope etc… I feel more like an animal with him. He’s a cuddlier, which I love. More vocal and experimental.

    They both know about my writing and blog and are very supportive yet never read it! LOL

    I consider them my base camp and if I could roll them into one lover I’d be ecstatic.

    They both have me totally present when with them and now thanks to your writing it’s very clear what I’ve been feeling all these years! It’s ok that I’m different with each one! It’s about our unique connection that drives us. Thank you!

    ~ Vista

    1. Thank you, Vista! That’s it, exactly – it’s all about the connection. What a wonderful thing to have two lovers who are so very different, but who both tap into such deeply authentic parts of you. That’s just a huge joy, right there.

  4. A while back I was having a conversation with Mr C regarding what I was like with different lovers, in different relationships. He was perplexed initially because I identify completely as a submissive (teetering on slave) with him but have never had another relationship where I was like that. He was getting quite anxious about it, until he realized one very important thing. What I am like in other relationships has no bearing on what I am like in our relationship. I had always been nothing but a good submissive with him and that was all that mattered.

    1. Thank you, Stella. You hit on something important – that what a person is in one relationship has no bearing on their other relationships. In my first few non-monogamous relationships, that was difficult to wrap my head around. When I eventually internalized the fact that my relationships exist independent of each other, everything got simpler. It’s a lovely thing, and allows for focused devotion in whatever form that devotion takes.

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