Tag: relationships

feeling unsettled

I saw Jan the other night – he’d invited me to his local and I went because we hadn’t seen each other since the last time before he went away, halfway across the globe to attend a cousin’s wedding.

It was a strange evening – I was tired and his friends seemed aggressive in their bantering irascibility.  Back at his we spent a companionable couple of hours on the sofa before his lodger, an ex returns.  I kiss him goodnight just past midnight and drive home.  Neither of us slept well.  His sleep punctuated by surreal dreams – of weddings, not unusual as he has just returned from one.

I think sometimes that he is self absorbed – a little unaware of the needs of others around him. Is that why Carly and his other women fall to the wayside?  I’m still around, he must like me.  I like him but am wary, of giving too much away.

In contrast to this relationship with Jan is the one I have with Goran.  I love the wild sex with him and always have.  But he isn’t always accessible as he lives with his young family and jealous, alpha wife.  The sex was punishingly good last night, even though we had tried to keep our hands off each other for the first hour or so.   I flirt with the thought that we might be something more to each other than lovers but know that I want his marriage to succeed.  And because of this I keep my emotions in check.

This morning we went for some coffee at our local coffee bar.  I was feeling a little rough as we’d finished a bottle of cava between us and some red wine after that.  We kissed chastely outside and go our separate busy lives, until next week.

It bothers me that an ex thinks it is un-womanly my having so many lovers.  I am not ashamed of it.  I don’t draw attention to this lifestyle but the men I date are aware of it.  It bothers me to think that they might think badly of my character or morals but I don’t really aspire to that kind of virtue/morality.

I couldn’t fully focus on writing today as distracted by the men who send me messages, I am flattered by their attention, and break off from what I’m doing to reply to them.

Jan asked me up to his this Friday and I made arrangements to stay over at his.  We had a slight misunderstanding but it was cleared up in minutes – when we both openly spoke our minds.  I have been feeling a little over sensitive and vulnerable lately, my senses working overtime, occasionally picking up slights where none were intended.  I am grateful I have his warm friendship and feel a little guilty for thinking early in the week that he might have been self-absorbed.  No one is completely without virtue.

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Enough

Why don’t you come over to me one evening next week?  – Jan suggested in the car this morning, just before we kissed our goodbyes as I dropped him off at the station.  We might do something a little more exciting than sleep.

I asked him if he had felt like it during our date or in bed and he said he hadn’t been that interested.  I agreed that it didn’t occur to me that sex was on his mind. We both agreed that sex was not a requirement in a relationship but he said he knew that I was interested in it and he felt obliged to put out as it were, but age etc meant that he was physically limited.  He was only seven years older than me.  In sharp contrast to Goran who is seven years younger than me.

Just before we went to bed I’d had on one of my more risqué nighties, a silky red number that skimmed the tops of my thighs.  I suppose at the back of my mind I’d hoped that it might have tempted him, but alas, it didn’t work.  I wasn’t too disappointed but wondered if it meant that we were destined to be just very good friends.  We get on very well and I don’t feel too jealous when he tells me he might have had a few sexual encounters with other women.  Although I am ever so slightly satisfied to hear that these romps weren’t as earth shattering as either party had hoped.

I realise at the end of this week – a week which had begun with my diary filled with dates every evening of the week, only for most of them to be cancelled and a few replaced with ones with Jan – that perhaps I can be content with only seeing Jan, and Goran, and perhaps occasionally Sebastien and R.  Certainly with the latter duo, my relationship with each is completely platonic.  Lars had sent me an invitation to play but I had politely declined.  There is no one I want to give up my single status for and perhaps it is enough to sleep with one man and see a few others now and again.

across continents and being at home

How’s the dating?

It’s Jan’s turn to trot across the globe this time and we swap travel tales and tips, he sends me pictures of dishes he enjoyed on his exotic holiday.  He asked me how I was doing with the dating and it’s become a happy pattern now of seeing two or three different men in the week.  Even R has returned and become quite fun to hang out with.  We went to see that very quirky dystopian film The Lobster before going on to a restaurant and then a pub for more drinks.  Finally at about half eleven he walked me to the station and we kissed and hugged each other goodbye.  It was friendly and lovely and we promised to see each other again before he had to go away to dangerous destinations for work.

I told Jan about the Texan who entered my dating life a few weeks back.  But not in any great detail because apart from his sartorial elegance and Harvard background he is still very new and a little unknown.   We take our time between dates and I marvel at my own restraint – perhaps I’ve learnt to savour and enjoy the entire experience, the delicious anticipation, confident that my expectations will not be disappointed.

And of course there’s Goran over whom my heart still skips a beat occasionally.  But the fact that he belongs elsewhere has tempered my enthusiasm and I have sought to distract myself by reading the consolation of philosophy and other works by that  philosopher of the quotidian.  It has given me some comfort to know that my motives in seeing him remain selfless in so far as I don’t wish his marriage to end.  Whilst he remains married to another, we might continue our love affair in a bubble of indulgence each happy to please the other, fully appreciating the short time we have together and making the effort to delight and soothe.

don’t turn your nose up at online dating darling

I hate online dating

the above snapshot was taken from Dolly Alderton, 26 writing for the Sunday Times

She’d been watching too many movies clearly, those Before and After Sunrise type ones where you want to just grab Ethan Hawke, snog and shag him senseless into silence.

But who am I to make these pre-judgements?  The thing is I’ve not been patient enough to wait 5 years –  less than a month into being single and I’m hooked up with someone has been the story of my dating life.  Except in the last 1.5 years – which gives me another 3.5 to look for that someone in real life.  In the meantime I went on holiday with the first one from a dating website, optimistically called *****… Soulmates (!), and returned home NOT feeling like knowing him had been a huge mistake.  Thing is though, having had your heart broken and definitely approaching the end of days makes one a tad cautious.

Here’s a little preview of diary entries during that holiday –

It was promisingly sunny but bracing when we arrived and were met by our car hire rep.  I never quite got used to driving on the wrong side of the road, causing Jan to wince and chastise me for veering into the hard shoulder on the passenger side fairly frequently – it was mostly good humoured ribbing as he was equally incompetent.  I drove towards Stykkisholmur, stopping at Bogarnes to take in a heritage museum and hear Egil’s saga – he of warrior poet fame, slaying his first foe at the tender age of seven to the fulsome praise of his mother.

That evening the rain came down and tested our rain jackets.  We were recommended a pleasing diner at the tourist information centre by an enthusiastic young information guide (there are lots of good restaurants around here, well, ok not lots, but good …).  So we found Skirinn where we each had two large pints of the local brew with our first of many fish meals.  My inhibitions very much lowered after the strong beers, as we headed to the harbour and the lighthouse to take photos of the stunning sunset and rainbows when the rain cleared, I declared that I was ready to give my heart to the island.  I’m sure Jan must’ve thought me utterly reckless and almost as crazy as the rest of his women friends!

Our second full day, Jan at the wheel when we crossed over to the Westfjords with its breathtaking landscape saw us reaching for our phone cameras; he stopped the car every few minutes to take another scenic shot with his DSLR. We were headed towards Bolungarvik at the northern tip of the Westfjords opposite Hornstrandir peninsula.  En route we stopped off at the Dynjandi falls where the rest of the tourists on this wild bit of Iceland had also decided to congregate. It was still magical enough and we were able to have quite a few moments just taking in the booming majesty and spectacular beauty of the place.

Fresh off the ferry from Stykkisholmur earlier we’d paused at the side of the road and walked down the sides of a waterfall. I particularly revelled in the cushiony mossy banks.  If it hadn’t rained a few minutes before, I might have lain down on it.  But it was damp and the hovering midgies also a nuisance.

The mountains throughout the journey had rough black faces of lava rock, some were tiered with columnar basalts and some still had sheets of unmelted snow on them; the glaciers were only faintly visible, merging with clouds in the far far distance.  Some greenery was creeping up from the valleys, along fissures where water might have carved small rifts downwards.  It was beautiful and although most of the guidebooks said that we would encounter few people in these parts we did pass a number of cars on our journey – a sign of mounting tourism.

We arrived at the guesthouse – Einarshusid.  It was quaint and built at the turn of the last century. To be honest it wasn’t very inspiring initially not least because the washing facilities were shared but the hosts were charming and the place grew on us – we stayed there for three nights.

The next day we drove up to a bay at the end of the headland – the sands were a dark grey and there was a seal having a little swim in the deserted water.  We walked on the mossy grassy cliff top towards the end of a waterfall and I had a little drink.  It started to rain and the clouds descended rapidly as we drove away towards Isafjordur.  There we joined a ferry to Hesteryi, once a thriving settlement centred around a profitable whaling industry and then later when whale hunting was quota curtailed, herring.  But it lost even that trade when all the herring left the region, coincidentally at the same time as when telephone cables had been laid in the waters’ bed.  Now it is only visited by hikers, campers and the odd tourist like us.  There were two resident arctic foxes who gambolled up to us with quite docile expectation of feeding.  We all snapped away at them with our cameras and then it was time to get back on the ferry where the whales obliged us once more with their surface presence.

The hosts at the guesthouse were really a number of students on summer jobs but one of them, Alex, was particularly informative and helped us find amongst other attractions a lovely fish restaurant where we ate on our last night there.

It was called Tjorhusid (the Towerhouse) and we made friends with three other diners on the long tables who were seated next to us.  One was a young American from LA although he was born in Oahu, the other two a French couple from Brittany.  Jan was his convivial self and invited Kevin, the American for a post prandial drink but he declined.  We ended up in the basement of our guesthouse but no one else joined us.  Ennis, who was a Berliner had had a drink with us the previous evening, regaling us with her tales of driving woes.  She was making her way towards Akuryeri on her own and the previous evening we had been invited by two German couples to join them on their film night.  They had connected the TV in the bar to their laptop to play Fading Gigolo.  We watched it to the end that first evening and went to bed at around one in the morning.

When we woke up, Jan had been a little amorous but we were fairly chaste after that.  Goran has been messaging me on what’s app throughout this trip and I detected a little despondency in his tone on Sunday.  He asked and I confessed to him that Jan and I had had a little romp that morning and nothing since which was the truth.

We get to the middle of our holiday after an epic 5 hour journey weaving in and out of the fjords on smooth roads.   We play our music on our iPhones to each other and take turns with the driving.  Intent on arriving, a little anxious about the journey and destination, we missed a couple of sights.  We had eaten our packed lunches fairly late and didn’t feel like having a full meal so went for a walk on the beach and into the tiny interior before going back to the hotel bar for a drink.

I am enjoying this holiday a lot as both Jan and I quite like spending time reading on our own, not making any unreasonable demands on each other’s time. We’d had an honest sort of chat about our circumstances which helped tremendously to lay the boundaries for how we relate to each other.

I broke off from writing this halfway to entertain Jan on his PPE whimsy, Peston and Corbyn came up a few times and then we got distracted somehow and now I’m back to writing as he seems to be intent on a game on his phone.   I go off for a dip in the hotel hot pool, joined by a honeymooning couple from Kansas.  Jan sees us but disappeared back into the room.  I get out after the pool closes and find him on his phone, intent on the screen, lying on the bed.

We’d had a chat about what we want in our relationships with people and he is very much happy in his present state although still very much looking. A bit like me. We are all looking for something that will suit us.   What suits is not getting hurt after an adult lifetime spent with the wrong partners.   The next morning we’d had an unexpected romp – I was in a silly giggly mood.  The walls were uncompromisingly thin and we dared each other to remain silent in our enthusiasm.  He’d said the night before that sex was like sneezing but took it back after I challenged him post-coital.  We settle into an easy, comfortable pace and he says that I am nice to go on holiday with as I’m not at all mad, unlike some of his other women friends.  I laughed but felt inwardly quite pleased and then wished I might be thought a little mad after all.

The day of the journey down the F35 dawned blue and golden and the sights magnificent – glaciers in the far distance, moonscape in the foreground.  Sheep in threes – ewe and her two lambs were a fairly common sight, in the middle of the road licking the salt and then skittering off as we approached.  The road became rough and full of pot holes so we stopped off at hot springs at Hveravelir, and had some tea before pushing on to Gullfoss – the mother of all waterfalls.  The road thankfully improved as we reached the tourist trodden Golden Circle before getting to our final guesthouse.  Towards the grassy plains in the south we saw plenty of Icelandic horses.

Last full day – quietly seeing the main city, a visit to the penis museum and then some souvenir shopping before a drink at b5 to revive us.  I’d come across Halldor Laxness at one of the bookshops and am determined to find him at the library.  It was late – around 4pm but I managed to persuade Jan we should drive to the Black Sand Beach in Vik.  It would have been even more spectacular if it hadn’t been raining and so we spent a mere fifteen minutes there before picking up a couple of Russian hitchhikers on the way back.  The talk inevitably turned to Putin and the Russian economy, or laughable lack of it, according to them.

Things I liked about the holiday – listening to Jan’s music – Pink Floyd, Emiliana Torrini, June Tabor and a bit of his early band Valhalla – whilst on the road trip; also the breathtaking landscape and quiet desolation of most of the north west; and of course the final guesthouse just outside Hverargedi – a modern charm of simplicity, owned and run by an Icelandic sculptor.  She was an interesting character and Jan wished he could have chatted more with her, found out more about her etc.  I also found the last two nights refreshingly relaxing and would vote it the best place to stay.  The holiday could all have been a little cheaper but we’d had a fairly incident and drama free week.

Said goodbye yesterday and we returned to our ordinary lives.

And for your patience and reading to the end of the additional 1800 words, this is why I adore the music of the Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini –

Can you trust your therapist to be right?

Last night Sebastien took me to a posh fish restaurant in Piccadilly where we started with oysters and finished with affogatto for me and apple crumble for him with sea bass and salmon in between.   Defying convention I picked a red Granacha whose lightness despite it’s 2010 vintage complemented our meal.

This would be our last date this summer as he was going to Rome to finish off collaborating on a film script and I was leaving for my own travels.   The next time we’d see each other again would probably be at the end of September.  We’d had a number of dates over the month of July – going to the theatre, cinema or just having a meal together, like last night.  On those occasions we had skirted around the topic of dating and relationships despite it being of interest to the both of us.  Those earlier dates had ended frustratingly with us hurriedly kissing our goodbyes because it was far too late and with no time left to discuss these cogent matters.  And so we had made the date last night with the promise that we would begin the evening without anymore beating about.

So I started the ball rolling by asking him about his relationships.  He has yet to write the email to Natalya with whom he’d had an almost relationship but over whom he is still very much enthralled.   He had rather abruptly ended their very brief liaison, which had apparently not even been consummated because he had sensed her encroaching dominance.  Last night, in the retelling of the events he reached an insightful epiphany and revealed that perhaps by his abnegation of taking the lead, a vacuum had formed and N, taking this as her cue had moved in to fill it – so he couldn’t entirely blame her and perhaps that email to re-establish contact got closer to being written/sent.

His interest in the men in my life and how I started seeing them came next and very interestingly for me, gave me a clarity of my position in my relationship with Goran.  S noted that of all the topics I raised and touched on, none came as close as that of G in revealing how keen I was, how animated I became when talking about him, his background and my growing realisation tempered with self-doubt that he might be a little interested in me.  S tells me that all that G wanted was to get into my pants – which gave me plenty of pause. This morning I wondered that I didn’t tell S if G’s motivation might not have been matched by mine.   By the time we were on our pudding I told S that I was beginning to achieve a glimmer of understanding of what drove G to do the things he does – e.g. continue to see me and his ex-gf.   The key, taking all that he had told me about his open marriage lay in the fact that he was very much tied to his wife – certainly he was willing to dance to her tune whatever it may be – seeing me or anyone else was some small measure of his having a thing of his own, separate from the force of Madame G.

When we had finished our third course and was onto the next stage of the evening S, wearing his therapist hat gave me his opinion on the whole sorry saga – I was mistaken in my belief that Madame G called the shots – he was of the opinion that G, being the alpha male in the equation was looking out for no. 1 – with his Nordic origins and familial experience of an even-tempered society, he was attracted and compelled to remain attracted to the opposites which allowed him to experience those alien emotions of jealousy and anger and the violence to release the pressure, the drama of manipulative game playing along with the violent expressions of such humanity worthy of the longest running soaps known to mankind!

I came away from the evening reeling – from a combination of coming to terms with my own limitations and having to consider what I’m doing dating.  If S was on the money then it wouldn’t be long before G lost interest in me – for I have long past lost interest in the drama and trauma of he said she said.  Additionally, S had cautioned me not to take it as gospel that G might never leave his wife.

what is it all about?

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.

a quiet life

Is this what you call life after sex?

He arched an eyebrow at me.  I wondered that he might have the temerity to jibe.  We’d had rather a lot of sex last night and earlier this morning.  I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was the only one I was having sex with now that I’d kissed off the others.  I was still self-conscious about my mid-life body, stretched and flabby with quite a bit of wobble in all the wrong places.  But when he removed his glasses and we were in bed together, his appreciation of me very plain and priapically evident I could believe that I was quite hot.

We’d also started text chatting with each other almost all the time now and meeting up practically every Friday evening.  When he suggested another Friday date I asked him if this was a regular thing now and he’d said it could be if I fancied it.  I was hesitant initially – because of course when expectations are raised disappointment inevitably follows.   I discover that the optimistically shameless hussy still lurks as I make an assignation with him midweek after 10pm.   I would not fall in love with him even as I enjoy his body.  He belongs in an open marriage and I belong to myself.

My life as a single woman now revolves around the choices I make about whom I see and date.  The other evening Jan came round and we pored over the map of Iceland, planning routes and booking ferry crossings, guesthouses, etc..  We’d gone to bed tired –  I’d fallen asleep in his arms, which was lovely but not sexy, for some reason.    We’d woken up in the morning together and then fallen into discussing Jung and dreams and being content in ourselves rather than looking for someone on whom to hang our happiness.  He echoed my sentiment that sex was not everything in a relationship.  Which caused me to wonder if he considered that we were in a relationship …  He must suspect that I see other men, although he is smoothly diplomatic and never intrusive about how I spend my time, even when I quiz him about his dates, both virtual and in the real world.   When he bemoaned the fact that we’d spent another sexless night together I rather indignantly replied that he’d not made any overtures or intimated that he might be inclined towards a romp.   We had already showered and got dressed by then and were kissing our goodbyes.  Not quite virginal kisses but very warmly and the dog had got a tad jealous again.  I went back upstairs to strip the bed and wash the bedlinen despite our chaste night together.  At the end of the week Goran was coming round for his regular date.   He had already sent me a morning text and it has become something I look forward to now.

On relationships

Back in November/December last year when I was still hopeful of meeting the One, when the idea of polyamory was as alien as living on Mars, I recorded this in my diary:-

The fact is that dating many is really quite fun.  I can’t see myself settling down with any of these new dates or anyone for that matter.   It’s possible that I might find romance and love again but there’s no one at the moment who fulfils all my requirements.  Until then I dally and tarry with the ones who might do just for now.

With these I meet up, chat and share the odd evening together.   Of course it’s always fun going on dates and I allow, even indulge myself a fantasy that he might be the one as I prepare to see any one of my current beaux.  I still hedge my bets and don’t quite end things with 2 others and there is a possible 3rd in the wings as this is the time of year when everyone has already made plans, myself included of how we’re to spend the holidays – so as of the present I’ve yet to meet the next one.

My current favourite is a small bespectacled bald nerdy fellow who makes me laugh but seems the most emotionally balanced and kisses really well.  He doesn’t rush things, said that he would prefer not to enter into a physical relationship from the outset for fear that it clouded our reasoning and would rather that we take our time getting to know each other.  We have agreed to be honest about our intentions and he knows that I am keeping my options open and dating others.  He has said that he, on the other hand cannot juggle more than one relationship at a time and is not seeing anyone else.  I too am sceptical about the fate of this relationship because he does not have a good track record – the longest he has ever been with anyone was only 4 months!  But he admitted to being a late starter.

The one who is energetic has moved things up a gear and suggested a more intimate dating activity involving a massage.  I am not so naive to believe that a massage is all that it is.  I don’t feel ready to indulge beyond a massage myself and it will surely be a test of how much I like him enough to go further.

Looking back I do laugh at myself – the late starter bolted at the beginning of the year but has recently got in touch.  When I think of him I am reminded of wary animals in the wild that edge cautiously and circle whatever temptation may be on offer, ready to flee at the slightest threat.  The massage with the adventurer rapidly turned into something more intimate and it was I who fled the scene.

Last week Jan and I attempted to plan a holiday together but the dates have now been moved into the summer due to our separate domestic arrangements.  We made a loose date over the bank holiday weekend to continue discussions.    Max and I in the meantime have slowed down our dates to once a week and spend less time texting or emailing each other – the novelty of getting to know one another has worn off and perhaps the drifting away has begun.  Most of my relationships seem to follow this pattern – a heady start, cooling off and drifting apart followed by a re-acquaintance and friendship.  Where’s the elusive One?  It’s almost sine qua non that he must accept my continued friendships with past lovers.  Lars has an open relationship with his partner where they encourage each other to meet new people all the time.  Our relationship is purely sexual and I believe his partner does not feel threatened or jealous by it.  What is jealousy but a fear that someone else would take our place?  I used to have to coach myself against this negative emotion – it requires a great deal of self-belief and confidence in ourselves and our partners to overcome it – in any event, it’s a useless feeling and I’m less affected by it now even though it still lurks.

Playing at being “the other woman”

I hated her when I discovered my husband had a girlfriend – a slip of a thing closer in age to our daughter than to him.  I used to plot murder and other dark deeds, but in the end my therapist persuaded me that living a good life would be my best revenge. So I went against my divorce lawyer’s advice and left the matrimonial home – it probably cost me financially  but I achieved a peace of mind I had lost when the trollop crept into our lives. It’s taken fifteen years for things to come full circle.
A few days ago, I became “the other woman” to the long term girlfriend of one of my lovers.  I think  Douglas rather enjoys the thrill of sneaking around.  When I first met him he said that he was single and then after a few more dates it transpired that his love life was rather  more complicated – he had been married for about fifteen years, his wife the only person he had ever had sex with and then the marriage, which was mainly an intellectual meeting of minds, less one of physical pleasure, unravelled when she began an affair with someone at work, a man who was able to give her the attention she needed.  He had left and begun dating and sleeping with every woman he met online, making up for all the lost years not sowing wild oats until eventually he was seeing a woman he’d met when on a business trip.  What started as a casual affair became a regular long term liaison, meeting when she was in London or he in her city.  He had tried to hint that he was still dating others but it had pained her to hear it and so he became complicit in her fantasy that they were in an exclusive relationship.
The other night when D came round he revealed that this girlfriend was now putting pressure on him to divorce his wife and marry her, either for him to move to be with her or she was quite willing to move down to London.

He went up to Cambridge to visit her one weekend and mid-visit sent me a text to say that the situation was now quite desperate, with her not being able to bear letting him return to London unless he promised to divorce his wife.  We were supposed to have met up for a date that evening, but in the circumstances he was unable to without worrying that she might hurt herself.  I murmured my sympathies, assured him that he was doing the right thing staying in Cambridge and then thought nothing more of it.

In fact, I had been a little relieved at not having to entertain Douglas.  When we had arranged to see each other the last few times I had found him getting more extreme in his demands.  Early on when we first met I had been full of adventurous zeal so that when he asked me I’d told him that I was up for trying anything at least once and believed I could be quite filthy.  The sex became kinkier and kinkier until recently I was beginning to dread rather than look forward to his visits.  I was going to tell him that I was at my limit of what I was willing to try and it did make me consider that question I’d been avoiding all the while – what did I really want?
Later that day, he rang to apologise again.
So sorry. I can only speak for a bit as her sister has come over and I popped out to get some milk and tea things.
I felt like a real bit on the side then and it amused me because this was so far from the reality of the situation.  I had only been dating Douglas this spring and although I found him attractive, kind and intelligent, I was under no illusion that this was only a fling for him – his domestic situation was such a car crash of unresolved drama I could not even imagine being part of his world.  The sex had been fun though occasionally dark, and I could just as easily do without it.
He texted me again at teatime. No doubt he had managed to sneak out under some other pretext.
Hope you managed to find a replacement and won’t be too lonely tonight?
It so happened that Liam was back from his break in Portugal with the lads and eager to meet up for some female company. I assured Douglas that I wasn’t short of male company but even if I’d been alone I would have coped. Some imp made me text him an invitation to join us for a threesome. I was certain though that this would not have happened.
When Liam came round we spent a good hour and a half simply catching up on news, finishing a bottle of tempranillo he’d brought back from his holiday. My heart wasn’t really into having him stay the night however, and pleading family engagements that I couldn’t avoid the following morning, he took my hint and left around two in the morning.   We had a comfortable relationship, Liam and I; he was the one I’d been seeing since last November/December and we were fairly honest with each other.  We made a date to meet up again mid week before he left and I wondered how Douglas was getting on with his girlfriend.

 

It wasn’t the way I’d like to conduct a relationship, sneaking around and being the reason for anyone’s unsettled feelings – having been there before, the one with the trust issues, I knew that it wasn’t entirely the fault of the other woman.  In all my liaisons I can honestly say that I had not actually sought out any of these men.  It was true that some of them I’d got quite fond of, D being one of these despite his kinky nature.  Now with the realisation that he wasn’t so constant in his dealings, my brain cautioned my heart to be wary. Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed at how the relationship had turned out.  What was I hoping to find?

of the ‘L’ word and other related stuff

I hadn’t heard from Max since our date on Tuesday evening. We were at a comedic rendition of Leonard Cohen songs by Arthur Smith – if it was possible to get laughs out of the morose, maudlin and moody numbers on dementia and heartache, Arthur and his Smithereens certainly managed it, interspersed with stories about Arthur’s mother and his dog. During the show M had his arm around my shoulders, his hand occasionally stroking the back of my neck.  It felt friendly, familiar and comforting.  He was eating a praline bar of chocolate with a glass of water and I had two glasses of an Argentinian Malbec.  Earlier we had met in St James’ Square and walked through the Waterstones’ in Piccadilly, up to Soho, spotting Saul Campbell en route (it was actually Max who recognised him), and stopping for a bite to eat at a Thai cafe called Rosa’s.  It was  simple delicious fare and I remember the glass teapot my lemongrass tea came in.

Our meal ended, we had a little time to squander and took our time to get to the theatre.  We passed several sex shops but didn’t find anything which might suit us.  On the way to catch the tube back after the show, we entered one which belonged to the husband of a woman I used to play tennis with.  Max told me that he had been there a long time ago.  We talked quite frankly about our past experiences with pornography and he told me that pages of favourite magazines he used to wank over would get stuck together thus necessitating buying more.  With the advent of online pornography freely supplied by everyone globally he had hardly needed to get anymore – we wondered who would still come to the shop to buy from the vast array on display.

After that we got on the tube and returned to mine. We talked about this and that and chatted quite easily as was the pattern now until he asked me to marry him. His actual words were – will you marry me?  I didn’t reply because I thought I had misheard him.  It had come at the tail end of an anecdote as though to illustrate a point.  And then he went on to say something else and the moment was forgotten and I didn’t have to say anything about it. Later I might have mentioned or tried to steer the conversation back to that but not quite managed it. I had also failed to remember the context in which it was uttered.  No doubt it was meant in jest.  He too claimed to have forgotten the entire incident and said that my non-response was an indication that I was trying to frame an acceptable refusal which had been so devastating that he had erased the whole thing from his memory.

After he left the next day I heard very little from him, compared to the previous week when we had texted, emailed or called each other up all through the day right up to bedtime – a tad obsessive.  And then the almost silence of the past two or three days.  This morning though, he rang me at nearly midday.  After exchanging pleasantries very briefly he came straight to the point.  His tone was accusatory – he said that I had used the ‘L’ word.  I was appalled and disbelieving.  When was that?  Was he sure?  And when?  And it took him until this morning to realise this?  All these questions I hurled at him as my line of defence.  But truly I couldn’t remember uttering the offensive term.   What did I actually say?

You said … um … you told me that you could see yourself falling in love with me. 

Is that all?  That’s not so bad is it? 

To a commitment phobe like me, those are alarming words.  He insisted.

You did ask me to marry you. Even if you promptly forgot you had proposed.  Even I failed to see how reminding him of that was relevant or helpful to the situation.

So we were both being out of character … 

Eventually we managed to assure ourselves that neither of us was expecting an exclusive relationship with each other and despite the fact that I was growing quite fond of him, I didn’t expect him to stop dating other women just as I wouldn’t expect him to object to my other lovers.  In any event we agreed that it was quite a good thing that we put the brakes on and slowed down the momentum of obsessive contact with each other.

We also talked about holding grudges – Max claimed that he had an unhealthy ability to hang on to slights but agreed that letting go of them could be seen as taking the moral high ground and taking that view might encourage him to relinquish habits which have grown out of rancour.  We then made finer arrangements vis a vis our impending dates next week – in one of them he had also invited one of his old friends and his date.

A pattern is emerging now where I seem to be sharing my time consistently and fairly with four of my favourite men – Max, Jan, Lars and Goran.  This week I have dates with two past lovers – R and Liam.  There will be a lot to catch up on! Lars had also suggested a date next week but I’m not sure how I can fit him in.  It might have to be another midnight tryst.