The patterns of late in my relationship with Buckeyes Boy were unhealthy. Somehow we went from dominant and submissive in the bedroom to dominant and submissive outside of the bedroom. I was getting tired of being so deferential to him all the time…of catering to his every need when my basic needs were barely being met…of paying for everything when he had been at work for over a month now.
Then, just when I felt like I was going to lose it around him and go off on all that had been weighing on me, he would say something that would make me feel like maybe we could get past this.
Buckeyes Boy [after finding all these things I had gotten him]: I’ve never met anyone as thoughtful as you. I make some comments in passing about how my razor bumps are irritating and that I use hand sanitizer at work, and the next thing I know, you get me a whole facial cleansing system and a packet of hand sanitizers.
Me: You’re welcome, baby. That’s what I do for the people I love.
Buckeyes Boy: But, I don’t think you realize how few people do that. Thank you for being so patient with me with all the changes from the new job. I know this hasn’t been easy on you, but I really appreciate everything. [We kiss.]
Our relationship was (thankfully) not abusive, but I started to recognize the honeymoon stage that followed our fights. One night, he was saying that I was jealous and controlling, and the next night he would tell me how wonderful I was. A part of me wondered if the pendulum would stop swinging back and forth and if we could just…be.
In late November 2009, I was talking to my friend, AP, about the latest round of ups and downs with Buckeyes Boy.
Me: I give us a 50/50 chance of making it through New Year’s.
AP: Really? He adores you. I think you guys will work it out. He just needs to get into a routine at work first. But, at least you know you are ready!
Me: For what? [Pause.] Marriage?
Me [laughing out loud]: I don’t know. I’m willing to stick it out with Buckeyes Boy because I love him and because of how good we were in the beginning. But, if you tell me I’m single again, I don’t think I’m going to be in a rush to get into another relationship. You know me…when did I ever talk about getting married before Buckeyes Boy?
AP [laughing]: Umm…never! When you told us that you guys were planning your wedding, I almost got whiplash! I thought the aliens had gotten you. [We both crack up.]
Me: Exactly. I know I want to be a mom. I don’t know that I want to be a wife. I’ll ride things out with Buckeyes Boy, but if we break up, I’m not sure if I see just looking for one guy to be with forever. I don’t know if that’s my thing.
Buckeyes Boy came home that evening and was up sick most of the night. I tried to do what I could to make him feel more comfortable, but some things just need to run their course. He had off the following day and gave me the heads up that two friends were having parties. As was the norm, he didn’t invite me to join him so I decided to make my own plans.
I figured that he would sleep in since he was sick most of the night, but he headed out in the morning to meet his sister for coffee. When he returned, the Ohio State-Michigan game was on, but he went back to bed since he wasn’t feeling well. (The fact that he wasn’t interested in the game as a former Buckeyes football player confused me, though.) I got him some ginger ale and some over-the-counter stuff and tucked him in.
As Buckeyes Boy and I were talking in bed, the topic of porn came up. He knew the actresses that I enjoyed, but I didn’t know whom he liked.
Me: When you are by yourself, who do you fantasize about?
Buckeyes Boy: Well, no one really.
Me: There’s not a porn star or an actress that you think about or like to watch when you are getting off?
Buckeyes Boy: I just don’t really do that.
Me: You don’t masturbate? [He nods.] I’m calling bull shit on that one.
Buckeyes Boy: Why would I do that when I can just go to a club and leave with a girl?
Me [biting my tongue from asking him why he was an almost 32-year-old man acting like he was still in college]: Really? Well, I thought you had said that you were a relationship guy.
Buckeyes Boy: I am. But when I’m not in a relationship, I’m gonna go out to take care of that. What guy wouldn’t do it that way?
Me: So…after you left Toronto [and the girl he was dating up there] and before we met, that’s what you did?
Buckeyes Boy: Yeah.
Me [as my eyes get really wide]: You sooo didn’t tell me that! You made it sound like you were all about relationships! Dare I ask if you used condoms with these women?
Buckeyes Boy: Of course.
Me: All the time? [He nods.] You definitely spun the whole, “I’m a relationship guy,” to your advantage. You made it sound like you hadn’t been with anyone since you left Toronto.
Buckeyes Boy: What if I go on your blog and read about the guys that you were with before we started dating?
Me: Go on it! You were the only person I slept with since I broke up with Lawyer Boy last Thanksgiving! I’ve had one one-night stand in a decade! I just wish you had told me this back in September.
Buckeyes Boy: What did you expect? Any guy who is good-looking enough to go into a bar and get a girl is going to do exactly the same thing!
As we rolled over to take a nap, I felt unsettled. I didn’t even bring up how he told me he had been tested for HIV when he arrived in DC and whether or not that was a lie. I just knew I needed to get tested again.
I woke up before Buckeyes Boy did, and there ended up being a change in my plans for the evening. I wasn’t going to Virginia, but rather, having dinner with my friend, Tina, in Adams Morgan. As it turned out, Buckeyes Boy’s parties that night were in Adams Morgan and U Street. Even though he had been sick a lot over the past 24 hours, he was still going to try to go out.
Me: Well, your stuff should be starting around the time that my stuff ends. If you want to grab a drink or meet up since we’ll both be in the same area, let me know. I could just come by for the first hour or so and then I’d leave you all so I can work on my thesis. Or, if you decide not to go out and you need anything, just call me. I should be home by 10 at the latest, but I can leave early if you need me to.
Buckeyes Boy: Okay. I’ll let you know.
I hadn’t heard from Buckeyes Boy when I was out with Tina so I headed home just before 10. I assumed that he had decided not to go out or else I would’ve heard from him. My assumptions were proven wrong, though, when I got off the elevator on my floor. The air was filled with the aroma of Buckeyes Boy’s cologne.
“I just missed him!” I thought to myself. “That fucker didn’t even call me!”
Sure enough, I went inside, and he was gone. I called Tina with tears streaming down my eyes.
“This is ridiculous! I take care of his ass all night and now he’s out with friends who don’t know that I even exist and he doesn’t even let me come along for a drink?!?”
“You need to sit down and talk to him,” Tina said.
I agreed with her, but I also wondered if talking to him would even register. He always belittled my attempts to talk about our relationship problems, or he would deflect the conversation to make me feel like I was in the wrong, jealous and insecure.
As the clock went from 10pm to 2am, I got progressively more upset. I thought about telling him to pack his stuff up, call his sister, and get out of my place. I thought about leaving his stuff outside my apartment door. But, I realized that he would be coming home after a night of drinking and that wasn’t the right time to get into a relationship discussion or end things so abruptly.
When Buckeyes Boy got back, he was buzzed and clearly had no idea that I might be mad at him. I just kissed him hello and went back to bed. In the morning, he was Mr. Friendly as he got ready for work, thanking me for taking care of him and telling me how much fun he had the previous evening.
Buckeyes Boy: I don’t think I can go out tonight since the event will be a late one, but maybe Monday night? [I nod my head.] I know that you wanted to go out before I leave for Georgia, and I definitely want to do that.
We walked out of the apartment building, and after I kissed him and went on my way with Nutter, I found myself rolling my eyes. In contrast with the past month, I wasn’t sad anymore. As I continued around Rock Creek Parkway, I tried to figure out why. My call with AP had me thinking:
I’ve been putting my goal on hold for Buckeyes Boy. And, I had to ask myself if he was worth doing that for.
“What goal?” you might be asking.
Being a Mom. I had told myself in 2008 that if two things happened in 2009 (I moved into a 2-bedroom apartment, and my health was stable), I would start the process to adopt an older child in 2010. Both of those important pieces were in place, but now, with Buckeyes Boy on the scene, I was putting his needs and goals before mine.
I decided to ride it out with Buckeyes Boy for six more weeks to see if he stepped up. If things didn’t markedly change by the time 2010 rolled around (and yes, I knew that I needed to play a role in standing up for myself), then the Ball in Times Square wasn’t the only thing that would be dropped.