I made a decision that may sound counterintuitive given the context, but I have decided to acknowledge that I am in a relationship with the Bon Vivant and, more importantly, to act accordingly, and I believe sincerely that this will significantly simplify my life.
In short, this means I have decided to stop seeing other people or entertaining other options.
We finally had a relationship discussion, drunkenly, on Sunday, in which we acknowledged we are taking things slowly despite the fact that we love each other and had just spent about 12 hours in bed. Actively.
Our relationship discussion:
We are sexually monogamous and love each other and we are taking everything slowly because he is “a disaster” and “there’s a lot” he doesn’t like about me and we have always known this is real and serious and other drunken bar things I am slowly remembering, including the fact he didn’t want to spend two consecutive nights with me because we should take “baby steps” and if he spent two consecutive nights with me then he wouldn’t want to see me for like a week instead of just seeing me tomorrow. [Heh. As fucking if.] He told me he canceled all of his plans for Sunday to be with me, pissing off a lot of people in the process. [Which is actually true, but I didn’t realize it was because he wanted to be with me as much as he didn’t want to do what he had scheduled. Which is rather foolish upon reflection. BV is a man who only does what he wants.]
What I remember very clearly is his need to know that we are monogamous, especially as we had just spent 12 hours having unprotected sex. I know that I am clean thanks to a recent test, and, apparently, I am the only person he has been with. In four months.
[I find this shocking, really, and I have no idea what it means. He is an extremely engaging man — smart, funny, entertaining as hell, handsome, beautiful smile, and just really attractive in every way — and his life, at the moment, is one long party surrounded by others whose lives are one long party. How is that man not randomly sleeping with people?! He’s obviously getting hit on all the time. I see people watch him as he moves through a bar or restaurant. He is noticeable. I have watched men make obvious passes at him and women bask in his gaze. It’s adorable that he’s just got this spotlight as he moves through his world and people pay attention. How is that man not sleeping with random people? And yet, I believe him when he says he is not. I believed him when he said his ex was spending the night at his place and they weren’t having sex. Because I know him. He’s just not sexually driven, and it’s sort of why I was shocked that he was so direct on Saturday night, ending our conversation with: “so, we should fuck.” Which is actually something I’ve said to him when he’s been like, yeah, that’s not going to happen tonight.]
I remember clearly that he said with frustration “why do you always think that when I am not with you I am out … doing something else?!!!!”
[Amusingly, when I later called him from my place after arriving safely home, he was clearly out.]
Of course, what he means is why do you think I am out with other women when I am not with you. My answer, had the question not been rhetorical, would have been because we’ve not agreed that we are not seeing other people, so I would assume that until we have that discussion we are both free agents and should behave accordingly.
But, what I have realized thanks to this discussion is that, apparently, I have been wrong. I still think he’s probably dating people, but when he walked through his calendar from the past week as we tried to figure out where his keys and his jacket were, all of his activities were with guy friends or if there were women around they were the wives and girlfriends of his guy friends. There was a woman who slept on his sofa on Wednesday — the downside to having a place downtown is that drunk people crash with you — but he made clear over our late lunch “this is not someone I am sleeping with or dating” and she slept on the sofa. [I took his statement at the time, and a little bit still, that she was not someone he’s seeing, but that’s rather uncharitable to him.] There was an older woman in a photo with him he doesn’t really remember as it was all random silliness at the chic hotel bar at which we are both regulars. He shows me. He shows me his texts. He is keeping no secrets.
Essentially, and I could be wrong here, we are in a relationship that is exclusive, but I am not his girlfriend. I do not have girlfriend expectations or obligations or rights. Earlier, he mentioned he wants to take a vacation — ahead of his vacation next month — and I listened as a marginally interested observer, rather than as someone who would assume he meant we should take a vacation.
He was hurt when I told him I had “slept with two people in 2011 … you and my ex-boyfriend.” He needed to know he was the only man in my bed and I would have to assume that he assumes he is the only man in my life. Despite the fact we absolutely do not want to say those words or have that conversation.
That conversation conveys rights. That conversation changes things.
He’s right that we are not ready. We aren’t.
But we know we have been in this since early September, since he picked me up on a late Sunday afternoon at the same bar at which we were having this argument.
He has been absent for long periods of time, dropping in and out of my life, and yet, he has always behaved as though we are together and has found it inexplicable when I have not.
It is one of the things he finds most irritating about me. I try to make the point to him that I have left nothing at his place, no sign that I was there, and he looks at me as if I am insane. And I look at him as if he is insane because it took me WEEKS to get my damned dress back or to get him the stupid calendar I got for him.
So, I have decided that he’s right. We are in this, taking it very slowly and figuring things out as we go. The reality is that we are figuring things out long-term. This is not and has never been casual for him. Were it casual, we would have been making different decisions the whole time. We haven’t been.
He tells me everything, even when it hurts us. We have code and shorthand. We play games together and with other people. We are often engaged in performance art for our own amusement, and yet, we both seem perfectly comfortable when people comment that we are a beautiful couple or that they buy-in when he answers the “how long have you two been together” question with “we’ve been married for 18 years.”
[Despite the fact my darling BV is 10 years younger than me chronologically, we actually look the same age… thanks to his greying hair/lifestyle and my excellent moisturizer/genes, we both look about 36.]
The entire time we were together in public on Sunday, everyone assumed we were a couple, and I have no idea why. I don’t know what vibe transforms two people on a date or two people who are friends into two people who are in a serious relationship. Neither of us corrected anyone, of course, because we are in a relationship.
We are not cuddly in public and he expressed a long detailed opinion about how wildly inappropriate it is to make out with someone in public at a bar [as a couple next to us were] and how we would never do that. I made a silly joke about what we would do in a bathroom, and he agreed, but he was educating me about how to be his girl.
We specifically went to that bar because I mentioned I had so many friends who were there and he wanted to go to meet my friends. When I introduced him, they understood that he was my guy and treated him accordingly. It was awesome, actually, to see him accorded so much respect from my guy friends. My friend S who I see at least weekly at the chic hotel bar where we all hang out regularly made sure he leaned over to BV, shook his hand, and repeated his name loudly in this loud, packed bar. It was a nod to me and a sign of respect to BV, and conveyed to us both “this is Plan’s guy.” S did not introduce us to the woman he was with, which conveyed to us, “she is temporary.”
Everyone reacted that way. When I said, I’d like to introduce you to “Bon” they instantly looked at me and at him and realized (and occasionally said aloud “oh, this is not just a friend”). No, the Bon Vivant is not just my friend.
All of my friends had the same reaction to him: “he’s a great guy!” Yes. “He’s really handsome!” Yes. “He’s so much fun!” Yes. He is all of those things.
He was also drug-free for almost 20 hours that we were together, until toward the end, when he clearly needed to focus. He asked to borrow my keys, as he’d lost his, and I slipped them to him. He came back more alert, of course.
I will be describing in ridiculous detail everything that happened in those 20 hours at some point, but we connected in ways we’d never connected before, he betrayed an unexpected jealous streak, and we had sex that was absolutely mind-blowing over and over and over, surprising us both. (He felt the need to say around 2 the next afternoon, as we were still in bed, but resting, you know, I didn’t take anything [to enhance his performance], which made me laugh that I wouldn’t have thought he did. But his performance was incredible and the last time of the 10 or so times we had sex was so over the top intense and hot that neither of us could move. He described it as feeling like his whole body was on pins and needles and he promptly fell asleep for two hours, soundly.)
I am still confused about everything, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember if we left Sunday happily or not. I was still reeling when another friend confessed his crush on me and asked me out. And I told him he had terrible timing, as I am actually involved with the Bon Vivant. He said, he’s a great guy, and I really like him, but he’s not the guy for you.
But, as this friend continued to hit on me that night and again the next day, and as the other very handsome guy helped me find a cab and offered to buy me a drink outside of a different bar after I left in search of transportation home, I knew that I was done. I had no interest in leaving with anyone else, or talking with anyone else. All I wanted to do was go home and call BV to let him know I was home, as I’d promised. He picked up the call, though he was out. And I knew that this is, as he has always said, real and serious.
So, I decided to simplify everything. I deleted my profiles from online dating sites. I deleted the apps from my phone. I am going to begin behaving as if I am in a relationship. I am turning down dates with other men.
It already feels different. It doesn’t necessarily feel like I am with BV, but it feels as if I am no longer available. I will be holding myself differently, behaving differently, and knowing full well that I will act in a manner that respects the Bon Vivant and our relationship. (Which also means not randomly making out with PR on Friday, etc.)
I said something silly to BV on Sunday when I was going to invite him to PR’s show: “do you enjoy listening to live music?” As usual, he looked at me as though I am insane, and said, um, who the fuck doesn’t? He brought it up repeatedly throughout the night and it became a meme: “do you enjoy using soap?” “do you use a towel when you emerge from the bath or just shake?” He would lean over and ask me, “do you enjoy listening to live music?” And it’s funny, but I went on to tell him about PR’s band and their show and he said I should invite him, and then remind him … repeatedly. In my mind, the show was like in three weeks. Instead, it’s on Friday. Oops.
He is my guy, but I am still getting used to the idea. It’s far more likely I will take him to the Chef’s restaurant before I take him to one of PR’s shows. As I’d been at the Chef’s restaurant the night before with C and Hot Blonde for an event, he said quite firmly, I’ve never been and I’d like to, with you. We should go.
When he’s firm, which he is not often, I know to take him very seriously. Like when he said to me “I’d like you to get me a double [drink], . . . if you can” I knew he meant it. I knew I had to buy his drink if I could, which I could, barely. It was a sign of respect to him, and I take those things seriously.
I should do everything else with respect for him, too. I have not been treating him as I should for a long time. I have only noted the space between us and not the reality.
He remarked as we were in bed lingering before we got ready for lunch and again as we wandered around getting ready, I can’t believe I don’t have a hangover. It’s because you made me eat! I can’t believe how good I feel. He mentions a few times “thanks for saving me, as always.” We both know I always save him, but I have often been afraid that’s it. I save him, we hang out on occasion, but that’s it.
When I asked him for help, somewhat insincerely, it was because I wanted us to have that sort of relationship. I was in a crisis. I texted him. He called me immediately. He made me tell him when I demurred, answering his challenge, to tell him then or never mention it. Fine, I told him the problem, he couldn’t help me, but it damaged us a little. I know it did and so did he, because he didn’t understand why I asked him.
What I told him on Saturday was the truth: I told you because you mean so much to me that I included you on the very short list of people who I thought would be upset if I didn’t tell you. I did not expect you to help me, and I had already managed the crisis (mostly . . . and thanks to BFD, which I also told him, who I referred to him only by first name and not by status), but it was a sign of respect. He said he understood. And I think he did. I sat on his ottoman, opposite him, as he sat on his sofa, and we had this very serious conversation.
And, then, he said we should have sex. And we threw our clothes off so fast and ridiculously that, the next afternoon, we had to pick things up from every part of the living room.
When I look back at our messages from the week, I realize that this was inevitable, this conversation, this jump forward in our relationship. Friday, I texted him that I wanted to meet him for a drink. I knew I needed to have the conversation with him, explaining why I asked him for help.
He asked what time and the added later something sort of sexual, but I was viewing him sort of as a friend and joked with him but didn’t end up seeing him. Instead, late the next night I texted him “you out?”. He called in response and then we spent an hour not finding each other and getting increasingly annoyed. Both drunk.
But he’d been wanting to see me for weeks, making plans and then inevitably failing to follow through. It’s not a lack of desire, it’s just sort of his life as he’s floating through.
I kissed him when I saw him because he was so jealous and angry and then we immediately left as it was closing and walked to his building.
Our relationship has always been challenging and our conversation on Sunday will not make it much easier, except that I know now for certain that we are in a relationship. That it’s serious. And that we are monogamous. I know that he is taking everything that I do and how I behave towards him very personally and I need to be more respectful of him and what we have.