“He got what he wanted.” But so did I.

I’ve been told I love too much, too hard — too passionate. Vulnerable. And maybe this is true. I give second, third, and fourth chances to those who don’t deserve them. I look for a soulmate in men who don’t even think about tomorrow. Though, for the past five months, I have stayed single for the first time in eight years. It’s weird; it’s uncomfortable. I hate it more than not.

One thing is obvious to me: I’m going about love all wrong. The young-love, soulmate motif isn’t working for me. It did for my parents who fall more in love every day, but even as a product of a Disney romance, this ease of the heart isn’t in my deck of cards. Call me reckless, call me a quitter. But I’m doing things differently.

I haven’t been one to date around or partake in casual sex. My first year of dating boys was very high-school, full of brief stints with guys in my classes. This was followed by three serious, long-term relationships. I didn’t sleep around in college, didn’t wake up in someone else’s bed. But now I think there may be something to this phenomenon that I’ve missed, like there is something to this lack of attachment that brings one closer to the whole “soulmate” goal, like jumping through flaming hoops to earn what lies beyond them.

Recently, after my first hookup, I felt strong. I felt powerful. He didn’t take advantage of me, he didn’t trick me into doing something I didn’t want to do. I walked home with my head high, heels clicking on the sidewalk under the glow of streetlights.

With so much regret I could feel it from behind a screen, a friend told me, “I hate to say this, but he got what he wanted.” But so did I.

There’s this ideology that men want sex and they will do anything to get it, that women are vulnerable and fall to the whims of men. The damsel in distress. But we cannot forget that sex is a human craving, an animalistic thought. I am living in a time and place in which women can take control of their own sexuality and display that in ways they previously could not. We have reclaimed our bodies and our role in intimacy.

I felt powerful because I felt feminine.

Walking out of that man’s room, down the steps of his apartment to my own, I knew I acted on my own terms. He did not own me. He did not manipulate me into giving a part of myself to him that I had saved for someone else.

He did not take all of me because I only let him have a piece. My body is not all of me. My body is not everything I have to give. That, that everything, is what I’m saving for those people with whom I fall in love. Like what my mom saved for my dad and my dad for my mom. That everything can’t be found between my legs or in my mouth — it’s intangible. That everything is the purest part of me.