I live with FM, who I dated briefly, fought with constantly, and . . . for reasons we cannot quite fathom, has become one of my dearest friends.

We are secretly seeing each other, while openly dating other people. Ish.

We genuinely love each other. We are intensely attracted to each other. We know we don’t have  a future together. We are also becoming best friends.

And we’re sleeping together in every meaning of the word.

It’s a secret, obviously. It’s a secret we are keeping from everyone. To us, it makes sense: we’re very safe, we love sex, we’re exploring and pushing boundaries together. Also, we often fall asleep together in his room, in his bed, with his arms tightly around me.

And yet, we’re not dating each other. We are not. It’s not a joke. It’s not a lie. It’s not some artificial construct to protect one of us from getting hurt.  We’re really not dating each other.

The difference between dating and not dating is very narrow: we are not affectionate in public. Rarely affectionate, although I suppose it has happened. We are very physically comfortable, but we’re careful to maintain the reality that we are just friends, very close friends, perhaps close friends who have dated, but we are just friends.

Except we’re not.

It’s become regular but not routine for me to lay in bed with him after a night out for us to talk and debrief. Every night that has happened, we’ve ended up having sex.  Last Friday, I went out alone, getting hit on by a gorgeous fashion designer and former model, who then texted me, wanting to come over. I told him I couldn’t (I wouldn’t have anyway, but the excuse was great) because I had a date.  And I did. Although at that point, FM was out with a date, but I knew he’d be home at some point. When he was, we adjourned to his room to talk, and then ended up kissing, and then ended up having sex, and then ended up really getting into interesting boundary pushing . . . talking the whole way through, and it was amazing.

The next day, we slept really late, and I eventually got up to do some things around the house, then I left for a four hour meeting. We met back up and then joined YF and C for an epic night of fun, including an improv comedy show where FM volunteered me for something (I declined) and was called out by the comedians for volunteering his girlfriend. Which he was. He leaned over and kissed me on the jaw, as if to say, yeah, they’re right . . . sorry.

We barhopped and I watched him chat up various attractive women. He is sort of ugly sexy and indescribably hot. Not handsome him with and not think, eh, I could see it. He’s a rock star in his world — a hipster nerd — and that affects every way he moves.  He also very much  in a traditional way, but he’s really really hot. There is no woman in the world you could see him with and not understand how they were together.  And then, when he is that persona, it’s just an unstoppable unrelenting force of nature.  I saw him in full-on rock star mode, and I loved seeing him work his magic. It’s impressive. Having been the target of an onslaught after I met him, he’s intense and intriguing. I mean, I am not easy to date, and I was enthralled. I just had this memory of our first kiss at a night club, tucked into a banquette, when I leaned into him and kissed him. It was inevitable. It had been inevitable for weeks, but that kiss was electric.

They all still are.  I love kissing him, and yet, when we’re not in that mode, it doesn’t occur to me.

Anyway, I was bored and YF and C were drunk, so I was going to go elsewhere alone or home in a cab. We ended up walking 10 blocks or something (related: I now have a stress fracture) to a different part of downtown, to more of our crowd, until close, where FM inadvertently blocked me from talking to men I might have liked, then we shared a cab with YF and C and then went home.

We, of course, had sex. And it was good, but different from the night before. He whispered to me that it was making love, which it was. It was tender and affectionate and lovely. We talked about our future and his past. He often teases me about PR, who I am and am not dating. He told me on Friday night, PR would never do this. He asked me the week before if I were cheating on PR with him — no, I am not.

As we fell asleep, we started talking and he told me some of his deepest secrets. He snuggled up behind me, and held me in the dark, and told me about a secret sadness and heartbreak. He doesn’t remember, or says he doesn’t remember, what he told me. He might not remember. But the next morning, after he got up and I hugged him tightly and told him I loved him.

Which I do.

The week before (and yes, I am jumping all over in time and space), he blackout drunkenly asked me to marry him (I said no) and asked me to be his girlfriend (I said no). We do love each other, but we know we don’t have a future together.  We are not well-suited for each other, and yet, we’re in this incredibly healthy dysfunctional relationship.  We love and respect each other. We get along well, but we know we’re not meant to be, and that’s okay. It really is.

He asks me at times, will we still be together when we’re in other relationships? Or says “my next girlfriend is going to have to be comfortable with my being with you.” Though I cannot imagine how it could work, he wants for us to still be together in the future like this: having sex, hanging out, spending hours togther, talking intensely, etc.

But it’s a foolish thing to want.

It’s unsustainable, this gravitational pull. It is, by nature, unstable. We are together, for now.  But just for now. We love each other, but this relationship is not forever.

It’s hard to explain exactly why but we’re quite similar in a lot of ways, I think. We are both very intense, but we have different energies. At times, in public especially, if he has been drinking especially, he can become quite confrontational. Never violent. Never even verbally abusive. Never aggressive. But confrontational. And, at times, we’ve fought. And, at times, he has hurt me deeply, whether he meant to or not.

In part, it’s me.  I am super-intense, apparently, and when I flip on that light, it can be a lot to handle. In part, it’s that there are parts of me that are unlikable to most people. Most normal people anyway. If you’re like me, then you don’t even notice — I can be a snob, I am opinionated, I can be imperious, I can be wildly enthusiastic about things you don’t care about. And if you don’t like those things about me, you essentially don’t really like me.  Not the me of me.  I am attractive enough, smart, funny, and engaging, so the surface stuff is great. But the me of me has edges and angles and intensity. And if you don’t love those parts, you don’t love me. I went through this with TNG and I’ve gone through it with FM. There are times when he wants me to be a better version of myself and confronts me about it. Often in public, and I then hate him. Because I am comfortable being who I am.  I am comfortable living in my world.  I am, in fact, quite happy with me and the core essence me of me.

We spoke on Monday night, I think, about our nervousness about living together, how we could handle that much intensity in 1100 sq ft, but we’ve done really well because we do turn it off or tamp it down. Our relationship at home is a little different than our relationship out, and our relationship during the day is different than our relationship at night. We draw firm lines, which makes it easier to ensure we don’t cross lines.  And in general, we don’t.

We joked Sunday night, naked, spent, wrapped around each other at about 3 am, that if my deal closes, he’d date me (as I’d be rich) and said, I will tell people, I was with her when she was poor.  Our lives are in turmoil. They have been. He’s not exactly living here by choice. My life is better because he’s in it, and when he told me late Sunday night on the sofa that he’d be moving out in a few weeks, I was geniunely sad.  I mean, this is not forever, but I love having him with me.

We talk incessantly about everything. His favorite thing to say is: “okay, let’s talk about that…” in the words of his therapist. We talk, we talk, we talk.

We are comfortable with the relationship that we have with each other in public and in private.  We live our lives publicly. He’s sort of famous — very well known in his realm — who travels for conferences and speeches and is known for his work and his brain. And he’s brilliant.

In some ways, had we met at a different time in our lives, we might have fallen in love.  We talk about whether we will. We worry about it.

I look at his face in the dark in the bed we share in the room we share and I do love him.  But I know it’s for now. Not my love for him, that is here and disconnected from our relationship, but I see his face and I kiss him and we tell each other that we love each other.  Because we do.

We just understand that this, right here, in our bed, in our room, in our place, this is temporary. His face above mine in the dark.

I am writing this on Tuesday night after the state of the union. FM is off on his own, barhopping. I got a text from him: “Do Not Freak! I am drunk. Hi!!!” He’s drunk, obviously, and over the course of 10 minutes, our conversation went off the rails. It’s tense because he wants me to know he’s okay, and he also wants me to know that he may not be coming home.

That is obviously okay, but we’re both being a little weird about it. I am trying super-cool about it. He’s with someone right now, obviously, as he gave me a “don’t wait up” text. Again, it’s okay, but any moving on he does changes things between us.

I am not comfortable sleeping with him if he is sleeping with random people, no matter how safe everyone is. I am just not comfortable with that.

And yet, I have, for the first time in my life, slept with more than one guy in a month. I am a grown woman, and my choices are my own, but it’s risky.

Seeing PR right now, when I do know everyone has been recently tested and we’re all okay, is still dangerous. Going from FM’s bed back to PR’s is weird and uncomfortable for me. It’s weird for him, too, I think.

Part of it has to do with the connection between PR and FM (they operate in the same industry and they had each heard of each other long before they met), part of it is because FM knows I genuinely like PR, and part of it is that I live two very different lives with each of them.

In general, things with FM make sense, but there are tensions and weirdness. Tuesday morning, he woke me at 5 am, convinced I was awake as he was stressed and tossing and turning. I returned to my own bed, and we each slept alone. Tonight, he sort of made a play, and then very deliberately went to bed alone and closed his bedroom door. Before he had gone to bed, he let me know he was hurt that I had mentioned to him that he’d awoken me to send me to my own bed (which wasn’t, to him, accurate . . . he thought he was keeping me awake and had no idea he’d awoken me) and he did not ask me to leave, but the implication was clear: “Are you okay? I can’t sleep. . .” I left, we both slept, and it was fine.

But now, we may be done-done, which would be okay.  This morning, we were talking. I was already at work on the sofa, he was standing in boxers leaning against the doorway behind me, and it was politics and lightness and how he’d slept, and it was nice. Also, a hot man in boxers, always good.

We do have some tensions and they erupt a few times a week, but our promise to each other is that we talk, and talk, and talk. And eventually, we figure out where we went off the rails.

The healthiest part of our dysfunctional relationship is that we embrace we will still love each other, even after we’re done. We know it’s for now, not forever, and as long as we keep talking about it, we can work through the transition.  We’ve done it before. We will do it again.