Although we’re now already halfway through January 2016, we have some unfinished business from 2015 that needs to be put to rest once and for all, so that we can all learn our lessons and move on. I’m talking, of course, about the saga of the Walking Red Flag.
Yes, we had an amazing first two weeks together, with incredible sex and lots of Neruda read aloud and retranslated. In addition to the sex and poetry, we drank plenty of Spanish red wine. All of which I provided, of course. After the first night when he took me for the nice dinner at the tapas place, the WRF invariably showed up empty handed. I didn’t care, or told myself I didn’t, because he made me feel so good.
The WRF made me feel fantastic when we were together, but when we weren’t together, his communication pattern varied from frequent to silent. Those first two weeks were the only time he consistently showed up when he said he would, or at least in the neighborhood of when he said he would. The WRF operated with a classic push-pull dynamic – he’d pull me close to him, then push me away. We were having conversations via text and then on the phone no one should be having a month or less into dating, about his lack of communication and tendency to disappear. He told me that he was embarrassed because of his “less than stellar situation” and that he “didn’t want to be a nuisance.”
Was this fear of being a nuisance even real, or was it just an excuse so that he could pursue simultaneous new relationships without a car, job or place of his own, but charm and balls the size of Texas?
When I was in the fleeting throes of new man-great sex-being read aloud to-joy the first couple weeks, my classic dampleglee friend Chloe sent me several worrisome articles about “Love Bombers.” Was the WRF one of these Love Bombers, a narcissist or worse just reeling me in to inevitably let me down, and perhaps even take me down along with my joy and hope? While it pains me to admit it, I was stupid enough to discuss this possibility with the WRF. (For future reference, ladies and gentlemen, narcissists and sociopaths don’t generally cop to being narcissists or sociopaths when you ask.)
Every time I would think that the WRF’s communication was too shitty or his reliability too precarious for me to continue seeing him, he would redeem himself, usually (read: always) in bed. The sex just got better and better. All my fears that I’d never have sex as fulfilling as I did in Madrid in 1998 – with that Senegalese guy I stayed with for three weeks who ended up stealing $150 from me and being a coke dealer – evaporated. A few hours with the WRF could add years to my life, erase wrinkles from my face, and make my eyes shine like I was high on sex crack.
The entire time I was seeing the WRF, I continued to plug away on Tinder, going on dates with new guys often two or more nights a week when we weren’t together. He only had so much time available for me, and had his little girls on alternating weekends. I told myself I was being smart because I was:
- Keeping myself from getting too attached to the WRF.
- Continuing to explore my options to find a man who could be a more appropriate potential partner.
The WRF and I were open with each other that we were both seeing other people. I would have been crazy not to considering that I’m looking for a partner and the WRF wasn’t even legally divorced yet, much less gainfully employed. The night we met, he told me he was “volume dating.” At the time I thought it was funny and appreciated his honesty. I was unsuccessfully trying to implement The Four-Man Plan my friend had told me about two years ago. I thought Tinder would make it easier, but it was still almost impossible to find four men worth keeping in rotation. I kept going on first dates on the nights I didn’t see the WRF, but almost no second dates.
I didn’t really want to know the specifics of what he was doing when we weren’t together, but one day it came up, and he told me that yes, he was seeing someone else regularly. When I asked when they’d met, he said the night before our first date. He’d even mentioned his date the night when we were at dinner. At the time I liked how open he was, but I had no idea that they’d kept seeing each other this entire time. When I asked if they were having sex, he said no, which I found extremely hard to believe, especially considering how he’d charmed me out of my panties in record time.
“Not to be rude,” I said, “but I’m curious how you’ve managed to date someone else this entire time with no money.”
“I find creative, inexpensive things for us to do,” the WRF replied. Like the glow-stick photo project at the beach he’d suggested for our first date (which we still hadn’t gotten around to doing, though the glow sticks sat in a crumpled brown paper bag on my floor). He hadn’t had to bother to keep coming up with inexpensive (read: free), creative things for us to do because I’d made everything so easy for him, no effort required on his part other than showing up, which was itself becoming a battle.
I felt hurt, even though I had no rational reason to. Emotionally, I’d grown close to the WRF despite knowing intellectually it could never work out.