it may not be so slippery after all

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Still together, still happy, constantly pinching ourselves. Not living any closer to each other, maintaining separate households, but managing to meet up at least twice a week, occasionally on our own although more often with young ‘uns in tow. We managed to have a couple of holidays abroad – Paris in spring, Kiev in August and Sofia to come. Bristol again this weekend after dropping tiddlers off at their grandmother’s.

We’re together as often as we can without neglecting our dependents and it’s neither too much nor too little time that we spend in each other’s company.

I may have it all I find – a happy love life, a good enough job, a home, children who love me, a faithful dog and a few friends. Everything is in balance.

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semiversary

It’s been six months.  We’re still hot for each other.  Things have changed slightly though and we see each other twice a week, sometimes three, young children are nearly always around, although occasionally we get to go to the theatre or do grown up things on our own but more and more we now try and integrate the children on both sides  into each other’s weekends.

He told me it’s hard being a full-time dad.  I’ll bet it is.  It’s relentless, the washing, the cooking, the feeding, the tears, refereeing sibling rivalry, packing school lunches, going to work after walking sleepy children to school breakfast clubs, checking trains to pick up from after-school clubs on time, having to find out about 11-plus exams, helping them cope with anxieties over the changes to their routines – going to work is probably a walk in the park.  Wondering how the heck I got here on my own. I don’t know the half of it as I’ve never ever had to be a full time single parent myself.

And of course sometimes it’s downright depressing and he says he gets really angry at the ex. I can only imagine that must be hard because blaming someone else is not what he does normally.  I’m on his side totally. I am amazed when he makes excuses for her unreliability.

The one chink of positivity is that now he calls the shots as far as how he wants to parent.  He can be the role model for his children and besides the stability and normality that he gives them he can also show them what it’s like to try new things. There’s strength in being able to ask for help or even hire help. I agree with him that  to be a sane and normal father he deserves some time out occasionally.  But setting all these thints up takes time and patience.

I’m full of admiration for this man and his optimism. I’d be an idiot not to stick around.

Setting boundaries re Julius

After the disastrous holiday with Julius, I hoped never to have to see him again and so was quite daunted when his email appeared in my inbox a few days ago asking for a face to face if I wanted him to return some DVDs I had lent him.  Of course I’d rather give those DVDs up as lost than have to meet up with him, but conscious that he had also lent me a set of his own, I offered to send these to him if he would only provide me with his postal details.  Fortunately I never heard from him again, which is a tremendous relief.  This may be due to the fact that he has not survived his hospital visit (he had probably hoped to play the sympathy card by telling me he was an hour away from being admitted for an investigation in his most recent email) but I did not rise to the bait.  Hopefully I’ll never find out and I rather suspect he is healthily being a nuisance to some other unsuspecting woman.

Trying to unpick what put me off him completely, I have to return to the first date when he was already pushing for an intimacy which I hadn’t felt ready for.  At the time I was sufficiently strong in myself to say no.  As we exchanged messages and I found myself being attracted to him, there was continued pressure for intimacy from him, even after the second date.  I must admit that I was by that stage feeling apprehensive about it – that should have been sufficient warning bells, but perhaps I was flattered by his situation, his obvious interest in me – he was an intellectual and it appealed to my vanity that someone learnèd should be interested in me.  So the second date ended with him in my bed.  It wasn’t fantastic, but I did not want to be thought of as shallow or callous – he had been honest about his erectile dysfunction and I felt I had been and needed to be considerate towards him on that front.

The next red flag appeared when I told him about some of the fantasy/sci-fi stories I had discovered whilst exploring this genre which is more his domain.  One of them was by a woman writing under a male pseudonym, Love is the plan the plan is death – this is a short story which I had found fascinating and told J about.  Well, he wasn’t interested in looking it up.  And so a missed opportunity to engage in discussion.  It also made me realise that he tended not to have a very balanced view about the sexes and despite another heads up from me of another recent fantasy/dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel, also by a female writer, he had not appeared interested.  I couldn’t help wondering at this point if he was unsympathetic to the feminist viewpoint or at worst a misogynist.  You might excuse his age for some of his unenlightened attitudes – some might mistake these for chivalry, but believe me it is fairly tiresome to have someone insist on walking on one side of the pavement (and just ridiculous that he would rush to the edge when we had to change direction) or holding one’s hand when crossing the road.  I am not a child and whilst yes I might be shorter and physically weaker, I do have road safety awareness!

Added to the suspicions I was having, I began to notice that my preferences were disregarded and when I had expressed a desire to do something different to his own I was the one who had to compromise.  Initially I had been happy to acquiesce to my lover but as there was no quid pro quo, his shine began to dull.  In addition, I found his lack of respect for my personal space insensitive – he thought nothing of tapping my arm/knee/hand with the end of his pen or whatever object he happened to be holding when we were facing each other in conversation, to make a point or in an absent-minded fashion.  I’m sure most people would find that kind of familiarity annoying too.

By the time the holiday came round, I had managed to avoid seeing him for a couple of weeks prior and regained my self-esteem. Initially I tried to be cheerful and neutral but his continued lack of empathy and neediness just grated on me.  When the holiday ended and we agreed to remain friends, I knew that I would only keep future contact minimal.  He had written a final email to apologise for his bad temper during the holiday but in the same breath chastise me for not wanting to continue a platonic relationship with him, bringing up the fact that I remained friendly with most of my exes.  I did not feel the need to respond to this part of his email judging that it would only result in a to and fro of blame-casting.  Moreover, his touchy-feeliness creeped me out: his constant need for touch – I’d felt pawed towards the end of the relationship and right up to the last time I saw him when he had insisted on more than just the handshake I would have been more comfortable with, had felt as though I was begrudging when he hugged me.  Now why would I put myself in that awkward situation again?

And so ends finally I hope the unhappy chapter of my infatuation over Julius and any further encounters I might have with him.  The one advantage of meeting someone from a dating app is that in real life our paths would never have crossed and so lessen the likelihood of stumbling over each other without prior arrangement.

What Is This Thing With Alexander?

Monday evening came and saw Alexander and me enjoying dinner at Barrafina’s on Adelaide St before crossing the Thames and going on to the National Theatre. It was a short play and we came home to mine by half ten. There was time for some tea afterwhich we went upstairs for bed and more.  He had to leave early in the morning but we still had time to indulge in a little more intimacy before he had a shower, returned me my shirt I’d inadvertently left at his last week and finally, most deliciously, he had kissed me goodbye until Thursday, before he closed the door and descended the stairs and went out the front door.

The previous evening we’d talked frankly about his home circumstances – the depression his wife suffers and how that affects her ability to cope with their children; the involvement of the borough they lived in to ensure that the children’s needs are met, the meetings with council staff to weigh up and consider the instruments for satisfying such outcomes. He clearly has a lot to contend with.  I’d suggested to him that he could just go home at the end of our date if it was easier to negotiate travel, etc for such a meeting the following morning.  He had given me so complete a look of anguish that I felt a mixture of guilt and satisfaction for proposing it.

He also told me about his past girlfriends and how he had always been attracted to strong and independent women. I observed that it didn’t seem as though the women he married had those characteristics. He said that when he first met her, his current wife had come across as such and it was only later on that he realised she was particularly needy and emotionally unstable. Like most marriages they had had good times, she was sexually adventurous and he had been attracted to that – they had enjoyed holidays in Europe at naturist sites.  He blamed his own optimism and hope that things would turn a corner for not leaving earlier.  When the atmosphere at home had reached a certain level of toxicity that saw some physical violence, he had realised then that it was time to walk away.  He had been unfoundedly fearful of outcomes which had actually borne an opposing result – he was more at ease, regained his confidence and ability to parent singly, met and tentatively formed friendships with other women, rediscovered his sexuality, and so on – as such none of the fears that had held him back from walking away had come to fruition.

Before he met his current wife he had been seeing someone based in Europe and the few occasions they’d met had been alluring and exciting until it all went wrong somehow.  I guess the more at arm’s length someone is kept, the greater the danger of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

For now we are on the same page –  this is clearly an arrangement that suits us both – we have dependents and commitments that keep us on our toes, maybe even test our stress levels at times, such that the intimacy and dates we have with each other offer release and a break from reality. That I can be content with. For now this is good enough.

an uncomplicated coupling

Not giddy about my dates anymore, I detect a change in myself.  There’s a degree of selfishness in that I am no longer prepared to compromise.  These are lessons learnt since the holiday that shouldn’t.

I’m now dating someone closer to my age – Alexander, whom I might see as often as twice a week, midweek only though, usually on Mondays and Thursdays since I am happy to keep my weekends to myself and my family.  And he too.

We had a date last night at the BFI – did he tear up a couple of times during the film?  I didn’t refer to it but was secretly pleased – a man who can get emotional at poignant mother and daughter moments has got to be a keeper.  Shame about the young under tens with whom he comes, and a potentially mentally unbalanced missus he’s currently divorcing.  He’s still attached to his own domesticity and not a threat to my independence. Apart from that, he’s really good company and I like to think I offer him some RnR.

After dinner I went back to his place which is really out in the boondocks – we arrived after what seemed an interminably long train ride!  There I made friends with his adorable Señorita Donna Gato.    She was light footed and a soft purry mass of sleek ebony.  At one point in the night I felt her warm feline body by my feet.   She was unperturbed by our occasional exuberant friskiness and returned with the dawn like a rumbling taxicab awaiting her passengers.   After a couple more romps, we took turns to shower and had some coffee before leaving to catch the train back to the real world.

It has been a while since I rode on a commuter train and it was filled with men in suits.  The few women on it were also suited but wearing comfortable trainers which looked incongruous but I suspect these would be exchanged for high heels once they were in their offices.  I forgot to look out for the Battersea power station which had been clad in scaffolding and tarpaulin a few months back, but which must now have shed its ugly duckling down to reveal something modern and exciting perhaps.  I hope there’ll be another visit to Chez Alexander’s when I shall keep my eyes peeled for the new development.

When I got home I received a text from A to let me know that I had left a few articles of clothing behind and a promise from him to return them when we next meet up this Thursday.   I like our uncomplicated coupling besides the social evenings we have together.   And although it’s very early days, I rather think this very nice man will do quite nicely for now.