by LS Harteveld
I once had a normal relationship. We were college sweethearts, and when it ended, we had become brother and sister. We were the best of friends and trusted each other with our lives. But today I realized, that the transparency and the openness that characterized the good part of our relationship, was not at all how we started out.
When our feelings for each other started, we were both involved. He had been seeing the same girl for five years, and me the same guy for three. Or maybe four-and-a-half and two-and-a-half would be more accurate. Because we beat around the bush for half a year, before we finally succumbed.
There was a week or so overlap on his side, but I considered that a formality. That’s one of my main traps; I always feel him breaking up will be just a formality.
But in 1993 my assessment had been accurate, and he broke up with her. Just like I had done with my boyfriend. Not necessarily because I thought this new man would be the love of my life- although at fourteen years he would come closer than anybody else – but because I didn’t want to be in a relationship with my then-boyfriend anymore.
Had not wanted to be there for over a year.
But a previous breakup had proven to be unsustainable because I had doubted my decision. He had been a good man, and I’d felt sorry for him. When I fell in love with the guy who would later become Mr. Fourteen Years, I still didn’t take this as evidence I was in the wrong relationship. And I considered myself mentally unstable, and unfit to make decisions until the crush had faded. When it didn’t, I broke up anyway.
Crazy and all.
I didn’t want to make the new thing public, especially because I didn’t expect this new guy to last. We were attending the same university, and shared the same group of friends, and I didn’t want to be known as someone who had casual sex. Even though in hindsight I think any twenty year old coming out of a three year relationship has actually deserved her casual sex, but okay.
I chose not to tell. And it kept my options open with other men. There was nothing to win from telling. So I didn’t.
After our first summer break I stopped being secretive about it. Sometimes people asked why I had not been open before. It had annoyed them. Because they had wanted to know, and I had lied or refused to answer.
I think I said something along the lines of:
“I wanted to see how it worked out, before I came out.”
But now I realize it didn’t have anything to do with that.
Fear of getting a reputation?
The real reason I didn’t tell my peers I was seeing him, was the plain and simple:
Because it turned me on.
And the secrecy surrounding our early beginnings, glued us together for the fourteen years to come.
Currently I am in another relationship that is a secret, with a man I call Big. I don’t have to rationalize why we keep it a secret because there are multiple valid reasons. I actually failed to see that this was serving me. That it was my preferred way of having a relationship, and that I would probably make up reasons to keep it a secret, rather than coming out with it.
Not because I wouldn’t be thrilled to dive in, and get to know everything there is to know about him.
Not because I wouldn’t want to melt together, heart, body and finances, the whole shebang.
Not because it could blow up in our face, and we could prove to be a terrible match.
The reason I resist ever having a normal relationship again is that there is a fair chance we would be a real team, and form an unbreakable, fully transparent union for the rest of our lives. And I will do anything within my power, including lying, manipulating, arguing and unleashing the most unreasonable side of myself, to make sure that never happens.
An unexamined life is not worth living