Last night I saw my friend the therapist, except that now he is doing less counselling and more collaborating with someone on a script writing project. I guess it could be that he is keen to see me so soon after the last date, which was a week ago, because I might provide him with some novel ideas. This may be hubris on my part.
So we had dinner at an Italian restaurant in Belsize Park, an area I was fairly familiar with. The cinema is a favourite, part of the Everyman chain with sofa seating and waiter service. I had been there with him before but last night neither of us fancied Magic Mike XXL (!) and he had booked the table at the restaurant. It was still light when we both walked up at the same time towards it. The glass doors had all been flung open and the diners were practically sitting in the pavement area.
During the meal he told me how he had completely given up on dating having realised finally how much more trouble it was and difficult to do. His awkward relationship with his mother is the reason he cites for the way he reacts, not just to women but in any relationship, whether professional or social. He recalls his past relationships and how naively he had embarked on each one of them. I ask him about his thoughts on threesomes and open marriages and the way his eyes grew into saucers was an indication, perhaps an exaggeration, of how alarming the idea of juggling all those emotional triggers must seem to him. I felt a silly misplaced pride for my ability to navigate these waters.
The question of why we do the things we do is constantly raised and for some of them there might be a simple obvious answer, for others less so. The explanation for that period of my having mad crazy sex earlier in the year might have something to do with my craving for attention. The reason I stopped was because I was able to appreciate that I had reached my limit. I compromise by modifying my need for attention. We talk about long term relationships and expectations and I acknowledge that I have an issue with commitment and obligation. It clarifies why I feel emotionally safe dating someone in an open marriage – I already know from the outset that my single status is not threatened; bigamy is still illegal the last time I checked. Talking this through with him I glimpse a little of the wider problem but continue to skirt round it because we both know that we hide things we’re not able to handle even (or especially!) from ourselves.
There are questions I want to ask my lovers which I don’t because the answers can only be gleaned over time. Sometimes we can’t be honest with the people who matter to us because of fear or insecurity … but hang around long enough and the situation becomes clearer. This usually requires a lot of patience and tolerance and sometimes I just blurt out my questions and walk away when I don’t like what I hear.