I lightly scratched my nails down her back. She winced and asked me to stop. I’ve never had that reaction to my touch before.

I asked her why. She said she didn’t like it. Obviously. My physical response to her words was dramatic. My heart fell into my stomach, my skin prickled, a gasp caught in my throat. I tried to hide my surprise; disappointment; hurt.

I said I didn’t know how to touch her. I told her that scared me. I made it her problem when it was mine. I know that now, but I did not see it then. I was everything I’d always tried to avoid; a selfish lover.

I’m good at responding to feedback. I’m good adjusting my behaviour in response to moans, groans and indifference. I am not good at responding to direct shut down. I’ve never encountered it before.

Have I been blissfully unaware of my sexual inadequacies with previous partners who were too shy to tell me what I did that they didn’t like? Maybe I’m really no good at listening.


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