o do you have a pic of him?” I eagerly asked my friend Kate, who’d let slip that she’d started sharing her bed at night with someone other than her cat. “Sure,” she replied, handing me her phone. “Isn’t he great?!” And by ‘he’, she meant ‘it’, because in its proud, engorged, cropped-in glory was her partner’s penis. “Oh wow, it’s … lovely!” I exclaimed. (Really, how enthusiastic should you be about a stranger’s genitals?) “So how’s it actually going?” I pressed. “Well this is going great, but it’s just sex. There’s not much else to say.” And with that, the conversation closed. I could now pick Kate’s partner’s penis out of a police line-up, however, I knew nothing about the emotional or practical set-up of their relationship.
In the past, my friendship group’s default mode of discussing dates had been TMI, with a side order of OMG and some complimentary FML thrown in. We poked and prodded into each other’s love lives as if we were doing a Pap test on each relationship. Staying silent during our group sex-life autopsies meant one of only two things: either you were sleeping with an ex and didn’t want anyone to know or you were in a dry spell and simply weren’t seeing anyone naked. In the years I’ve spent working on