I narrowed my eyes. Was he telling the truth? He made direct eye contact with me as he spoke and settled comfortably into his chair. It didn’t feel like he was lying.
I found myself smiling.
What a funny turn of events. I was now happy with my new boyfriend sleeping in the same bed as another woman, as long as they weren’t having sex.
Why are you smiling?
It’s just funny how things have turned out.
I didn’t mean things to be this way. I never could have predicted this.
I nodded silently, feeling the familiar surge of emotion rise to my throat. As the tears welled, I looked up quickly to the ceiling. Tears were an automatic reaction. There was no need for them. I had already come to terms with this situation months ago. I didn’t want the tears. I wasn’t sad.
In the words of Ross Gellar, I was fiiiine. But, honestly, I was.
It had all started online.
After years of bad relationships and disappointing sex, I had decided to get specific. I would find a guy who had the same kinks as me, so we could have an exclusive but no-strings-attached hot sex arrangement. That was the plan.
I had a busy life, dreams to focus on and no time for love or bad sex. This would tick all my boxes at once.
And so a few months later, there I was talking to a complete stranger, in a beautifully lit and private Mayfair London bar. I couldn’t believe everything had worked out so well. This guy was perfect. He had paid for everything, ordered my food, and now we were having a heated debate about kinks.
Could it get any better? It turned out, the answer to that question was no. In fact, things took a turn for the worse. After one too many impulsive weekend breaks, beach getaways and expensive hotels, I realised two things.
Number one: I was falling in love. Number two: my new love was hiding something. On the night of our first sharing platter together (cheese and cold meats washed down with strong cocktails), the truth came out.
Watching his eyes shine with emotion, I dared to ask the question.
Are you in a relationship? I whispered.
I knew the answer before it arrived. A nod and bow of the head told me everything. A knot formed in my stomach instantly and before I could do anything to stop them, the tears flowed. My fun had come to an end. Learning he wasn’t married didn’t bring any kind of relief to me. Sure, it stopped me walking out of the cocktail bar, there and then. But, it was based on a strange principle. So, it’s OK to cheat if you haven’t proposed to your girlfriend yet? Why did my morals make him having a girlfriend so much better than him having a wife?
It was twisted.
But, then so was everything. My frivolous, super indulgent but super temporary lifestyle had come to an end. My glimpse of how the other half lived had ended. And more importantly, so had my first experience of fun love.
Up until that moment in the cocktail bar, everything had been fun. It had been the first time I’d fallen in love easily without drama, argument or tears. I had always believed love had to come with pain. But, the last few months had taught me otherwise.
Now, I was faced with two choices. Be selfless and never see my new love again. Or be selfish and continue, knowing he had a girlfriend. Now, my Dad cheated on my Mum, so this was not an easy decision to make.
My brain told me to leave
But if pressed it would change it’s mind. And my heart said stay, but also leave. Great. No one could help me with this one, not even my own organs. I felt frustrated at being forced to make such a rubbish decision.
After two weeks of thinking, I sent the text. I told him to unpause our relationship, to begin again. And wow we did.
Holidays increased, our parties become more intense and our times together more passionate. We were sacrificing a lot, and now we both knew it. But, each time the party ended I was left lying awake in a hotel bed questioning my morals. With the champagne bottles all empty, the ringing silence of the room and the sobering light of the morning ready to stream through the curtains, I was left with one thought.
Did they sleep together in bed?
Or did they have a strict line down the middle? Did they sleep in full sleeve pyjamas away from each other? Or did their naked skin touch? Did his arm wrap around her body out of habit? Did they breathe together in unison, deeply asleep and peaceful? Their shared familiarity and effortless intimacy was something I would never have. And I had to live with that.
So, as the hotel room silence descended and the clock told me it was 4am, I was left with the aching loneliness of knowing I was second best again. Alone in bed. Only good for a party or a weekend getaway, not a lifetime commitment. Never the bride, always the bridesmaid. But, who was I to feel sorry for myself? It was all on me.
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