Hello everyone. I am reading a novel, and I came across this expression. Could you please let me know its meaning?

She had withdrawn from my arm. “Is there something I should know?”

I shook my head.

“Are you . . .” And I could tell she was looking for the right words but couldn’t find them: “Are you damaged? Am I not what you like?”

“For your nymphormation, I am not damaged. And as for that other thing—you’re so off track.” “Still, such a mistake.”

- André Aciman, Eight White Nights, Fifth Night

This is a novel published in the United States of America in 2010. This novel is narrated by the nameless male protagonist who meets Clara at a Christmas party in Manhattan. When the protagonist refuses to have sex with Clara tonight, Clara asks whether there is something she should know, whether he is "damaged".

In this part, I wonder what the underlined expression means.

What would it mean that he is "damaged"...? I looked up the dictionaries, but still couldn't find a meaning that might fit into this context, so I just wanted to ask you.

Thank you very much for your help.

Curious ReaderWhat would it mean that he is "damaged"...?

I didn't see it in the first few dictionaries I looked at, I guess because they think it is no more than a figurative expression To call someone damaged is to imply that something bad happened to them, often in childhood, that has left them unhappy and disfunctional. The full expression is "damaged goods". A person can be called damaged goods in the same vein.


Thank you very much for the explanation.

I had originally guessed that "damaged" might mean "do you perhaps have sexually transmitted disease," but I see I was wrong.

So it means "do you have bad memories about sex in your childhood?". She is asking about a possible mental suffering of his rather than a physical one relating sex.

I sincerely appreciate your help. Emotion: smile