For a relationship that started in a dim room as he kissed another woman over her sleeping head, we knew it was never going to be easy… I have to admit, I stole the line from a letter the dude wrote me last week. I’m still to read the rest of the letter, because he’s been editing and re-editing it for the last one week. He’s as wary of showing it to me as I was about letting him read my last column. Even though I feigned nonchalance, I was attuned to every change in his body language as he read it. I noticed when he leaned closer, when he scrolled back up to reread a portion and I definitely noticed the furrow between his eyebrows as he frowned thoughtfully at a line I finally decided was too private to put into print. It can’t be easy for him—knowing that his most intimate moments might be made public, week after week.
Our relationship has never been an easy one. He’s egoistic and I’m temperamental. On the outside he lives a very public life. On the inside, he’s a million-piece jigsaw puzzle. He rarely volunteers information about himself, even to his few friends. I’m the exact opposite. All my friends know what’s going on in my life. Our few mutual friends are hard pressed to understand our relationship. Some days, we don’t either. Even as I write this, I’m pretending not to have seen his message that starts with, ‘I love you, but you baffle me…’
Which is pretty much the cul-de-sac in most open relationships. What are the rules? Are there any rules? Yes. I try to keep it simple. I have two deal-breakers: no getting together with my friends and no lying. He doesn’t have rules, but he uses the ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ approach. Although the rules are straightforward, I know that he struggles sometimes. He’s not used to giving explanations. Sometimes, the fight is written all over his face: 40 years of living life without justifications versus satisfying my need to know it all. Sometimes I win, sometimes his ego does. It’s not easy for me either. Most days, I find the idea of him with other women largely unremarkable. But every once in a while, there comes a day when I want to rip the sheets off his bed because I want to erase every other girl who might have been there. My confidence takes a hit on the nights when I’m lying next to him and all he does is hug me. No matter how many other men might want me, on the days he doesn’t, I feel unattractive and un-sexy.
Last night, we had sex after exactly eight days. Between crazy work and travel schedules, a week had somehow slid past and my body was craving his. In my hurry to get to his body, I ripped his T-shirt. In the middle of some very intense foreplay, I slid out of bed and searched his iPod for the song we first kissed to. I really wanted him to remember. He didn’t. Although the rational part of me knew that it was just one of those clichéd battle-of-the-sexes moments that make for mediocre stand-up comedy, I also felt crushed. Because in that moment, I didn’t feel special.
Although I don’t tell him often enough, the dude is a very generous lover. Very little is taboo in our bed. If I want it, he makes sure it happens. In the past 18 months, he’s learnt his way about my body. He knows what works me up in a frenzy and he knows where and when to press, rub and bite me. But last night was new. Even as I arched my body to meet him, he refused to take the hint. He brought me to the brink, again and again, but stopped just seconds before I found my release. As I fell into bed, about the fifth time after his fingers abruptly withdrew, I couldn’t help but compare our relationship to this almost-but-not-quite situation. Were we destined to be an incomplete twosome? Would he always withhold something that I desperately craved? The thought depressed me.
Three minutes later, the games ended and he finished what he’d started. By the end of the night, I felt like a boneless mass of nerves. Within a few seconds, he was asleep. I was about to slip out of bed and go to the balcony when in his sleep he pulled me close and pinned me down with his legs. Considering that I hadn’t slept on his side of the bed in over a year, I didn’t think he’d remember that I tended to wander around the house when I did. Did it matter that he didn’t remember our first kiss song? No. And the friends who don’t get our relationship? They’ll lose interest any day now.