There is a lot of talk about whether or not a person can be faithful to one. You see some people married for 65 plus years, like my Nunni and Pop Pop were before they both passed. Heck they were so intertwined they passed within months of each other. On the other hand, there are some people who can’t seem to stay loyal to one partner. It’s blamed on a character flaw by some. Others call them sex addicts. I don’t know. Or then sometimes people cheat, but then they are cheated on. Disney tells us the Prince and the Princess live happily ever after. Really though, it’s more complicated.
When I was younger, I was pretty much wired like a woman when it came to relationships. There were committed couples around me. My parents have been married 40 plus years, and my aunts and uncles are all going strong. I had the understanding love wasn’t always perfect but you tried your best. We are crazy in my family in other ways, but we don’t divorce. Instead we test the law of science by getting struck by lighting and working as lab test subjects. Oh, and we also test the legal system, both as counsel and defendant. But no divorce here. In a relationship you were in it to win it, end of story.
In high school, I remember it was the first time I realized things could get a tad complicated. Enter Bobby Parker. I was what was termed as a good girl. As in, National Honor Society plus a zillion other resume builders, career oriented and solely volunteer plus a part time minimum wage paying job at the supermarket. Bobby on the other hand was a pot head who was slowly making his way to other drugs. We had always been friends, and I found him bright and easy to talk to.
Well Bobby had a girlfriend three towns over who had a rep for being easy. The dudes said she could “chug it like a champ.” Bobby would give me rides home from school more often than not, and would fight anyone who said anything bad about me. His friends gave him smack for talking to me, but he kept on doing it. Bobby’s girlfriend found out about me through a jealous friend in that druggie circle. Although we never met, word on the street was she wasn’t happy with me. Yeah, I liked Bobby and Bobby liked me. But she was still his girlfriend. Basically, he got his intellectual/emotional fix from talking to me and his physical fix by having trashy (probably unprotected) teen sex in the back seat of his Caddy. Years later, he has kicked drugs and is married. He barely keeps in contact, and I understand and appreciate the boundary. Maybe these days he is getting all his needs fulfilled. But he had a physical relationship with one of us and an emotional relationship with the other. So yeah, love can be complicated.
That summer, I worked as a lifeguard and saw married man after married man try to proposition me to the steam room like I was some cheap trick. It never worked. Some of it was dignity, but then there was the fact my mother was my boss, too. They all confessed they loved their wives but were bored. It’s nature. Men are physical creatures where as women are emotional creatures. Hell, there is even adultery in nature. It served a purpose in continuing the species in time of famine. The men of the species would copulate with every woman in the little nest or whatnot. And then when the babies were born, the men would all guard them. That’s the nature explanation. My mom says it’s because some men are assholes who go crazy when they get out of their cage. Who knows?
That’s why The Seven Year Itch was such a hit. Idiot’s wife goes away with kid. Idiot plays for a few days with the hot neighbor. Idiot goes back to join the wifey. Happily ever after…..kindof.
When I got to college, I wanted a boyfriend because I never had one. Most of the guys just wanted to lose their virginity if they hadn’t already. Guys peak sexually at 18-22. So it was of course going to happen, the horn dog. I dated a little my first year. Every time I had a boyfriend type, he would turn out to be a horn dog and just cheat. It was amazing how these guys could just cheat without thinking about it. Yeah, I had been the other woman in the Bobby Parker teen triangle. It fucked with my head I will admit. But I knew he was somebody else’s guy. Sure, the married dudes approached me for hand jobs in the steam room. I didn’t give them. They were married. It seemed no one had a moral compass but myself.
I finally started dating one dude I really liked. He was a bit older than I was. A trust fund kid, he had an awesome apartment with a bachelor bar. We hit it off, and he wanted all the benefits and then some change of being Mr. April Brucker without the title. It hurt. But he explained he was quite a bit older, and knew I would change my mind. I tried dating dudes my age, but never connected with them the way I connected with Prince Semi-Charming. When Prince Semi-Charming would find out, he would throw a hissy fit. Yet it was alright for him to see other women. Once I even decided to put an end to the madness and asked, “Would it be alright if I called you my boyfriend? I am here an awful lot.”
Prince Semi-Charming replied, “April, that is a great way to scare a guy off.” Months later, in a drunken fit, I told him how I felt before throwing up on his carpet. He rejected me. That was the end of the end. I was done. However, Prince Semi-Charming was only beginning. As soon as I met my fiancé he stepped up his game and tried harder than ever to win me back. Once, he made a joke about a ventriloquist giving him a blow job, and my fiancé nearly killed him right then and there. Of course the madness with the fiancé ended, and Prince Semi-Charming rode back into the picture calling me night and day. Nevermind he had a girlfriend that would eventually become his wife. I was done, completely done. He even sent me an inappropriate message his wedding day. No wonder his wife hates me.
These days, he sees me every once in a while. For the most part, we actually get along better now that we aren’t so entwined in our codependent cycle. But as I said his wife hates me. Every once in a while, when I see him, he will bring up the fact that we dated, typically in front of a group of people who don’t know that we did. Usually he does this when I am in an up mood or there is a joke about a relationship someone tells. Part of me thinks he might not be happy with his wife, who is a bit of a battle axe. The other part of me thinks he’s goofy. Then there is a part of me that thinks yeah, he’s happy. But he still has feelings for me. He loves us both. His wife hates the site of me, but he loves us both. For the record, I don’t seek him out and we havent spoken in almost a year and a half. Probably for the best.
Of course, the break up with the fiancé was messy as I have described. During the relationship there was a lot of jealous, destructive behavior on both ends. I flipped out at an ex of his he was intriguing with, and wasn’t proud. Of course, I began to suspect he was sleeping with a stripper ex who a decent amount of money in the lotto. It pissed me off because I had been loyal. Things ended like an explosion in a nuclear waste plant. He began sleeping with another ex of his who was working as a hair dresser of some sort. She was developing a serious heroin problem, and slowly was getting worse and worse as were her decisions. Hence her letting my ex in her life. In addition to her heroin habit draining her wallet, she was also paying my ex’s bills.
I still remember finding this out when my ex messaged me in order to get me back. Yeah, he had cheated. I had been awful. It was a terrible relationship but we loved each other. I confronted him about sleeping with the druggie hair dresser. To which my ex replied, “Yeah, but I don’t want her back. After being with you, I can’t go back to something that ugly for real.”
Now this is where it gets crazy. When I wouldn’t take him back he flipped out. I got the different mailing address. Yet this hair dresser chick would send me nasty emails and say terrible things about me. Bitch, do you know what your man is saying about you? Do you know he called you ugly? And doesn’t it feel a little weird and pathetic to have a dude fucking you, yet he is stalking his ex night and day? Only a tad dysfunctional, don’t you think? Of course, I can’t say I was any better. I tried dating and would purge my guts on my dates scaring any potential, decent boyfriends off. But hey, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. There was no way either of us was going to be loyal to anyone when we were still spending all of our energy sparring with each other.
Leaving that relationship felt like getting released from jail. That is when I decided to have fun. I partied in any day that ended in a “y.” I dated several trust fund playboy types living off family money. Others were ex-cons, recently released from jail and hadn’t had a lady in a while and were willing to just give me a whirl. Dates were fun, care free, and dirty jokes and booze flowed like water. I was having so much fun part of me never wanted a boyfriend again. I suddenly began to understand why people wanted open relationships, to swing, and every other kind of committed or not lifestyle. Suddenly I began to wonder if monogamy ever worked, or people just forced themselves into it because it was what they were supposed to do.
Then there were those who wanted more, and I told them they couldn’t give it. I always ended up hurting them. Once, two dudes got into a fight over me because one said he was okay with fun and then wasn’t when he saw me with someone else. Sure, I felt like a sadist. Yet I wasn’t the liar. He was. He said he was okay with fun. However, maybe he was until he suddenly morphed into a human. Maybe we all are until we morph into humans. I don’t know.
During that period in my life, before things got too crazy, I ended up at a swinger’s party by accident. I just knew it was a couples get together in the erotic fashion, and it was a chance to perform ventriloquism and get paid. As the evening went on, I found out it was a swingers event. Several women in the room gave their husband’s permission to sleep with me as long as we didn’t get attached. It sounded like an awesome idea actually. That is, until the surprise orgy erupted. Clothes came off, and these were some ugly bodies. Yes, clothes were designed for these people-especially these people. I tried to leave but they kept sucking me back into the orgy, forcibly pulling my hands. Was this what hell was like? Being sucked into an orgy of ugly people? I did not know. Either way, I determined perhaps not only the swinger lifestyle was not for me but maybe, just maybe, things were getting a tad too crazy.
So I tried to do the whole boyfriend thing again. At first it was nice. Having a guy around was nice. We had nice dinners. We had nice times. He was nice when he met my mom. Nice. Yet, underneath I didn’t feel right in the relationship. I tried my hardest to be a good girlfriend, but always failed. Either I would just end up fighting with him, or wouldn’t pick up the phone when he called because I just couldn’t. Soon, I began to look elsewhere to satisfy myself. Yes, I turned into a cheater. That thing I had hated in college. The loyal, moral compass was gone. I couldn’t help myself, and I cheated constantly. The relationship ended, and it felt like a relief. Finally, I didn’t have to be inauthentic anymore, and once again I could leave jail. I wish I understood why I behaved the way I did, and I still feel like a bad person. I avoid him when I can, which is often. Still, I came to the conclusion maybe I am not wired to be monogamous. And maybe this is why some people cheat. It’s not about being a dirt bag. It’s about nature being a bitch, and us getting hang ups about it.
Of course, I have also looked into the whole open relationship thing since then. It is semi-commonplace in the gay world, and they manage to make it work. Other friends of mine, where one partner is bi, also have this arrangement. I have one friend couple that it works very well in. The husband is a priest in the Church of Satan, and his wife is a practicing member. They sleep with their “side pieces” and respect the primary partner. In a strange way, their union is more honest and pure than many of my married friends-gay and straight. They know who is hooking up with who. It took me a while to wind my head around the fact that there was no jealousy, only understanding in their arrangement. Yet every once in a while, a third party does come in who tries to ruin things between them. Their bond prevails, but it’s a wonder neither has been shot.
I have also seen an open relationship erupt into flames. Once a guy I know was in a polyamorous arrangement with a dungeon mistress and her husband. He fell in love with the dungeon mistress, and her husband nearly killed him in a jealous rage. The two left her house, and moved in together. That is when they brought in a third girl working as a stripper. The dungeon mistress and the stripper got a relationship going, and then kicked out my boy. Needless to say he turned into a jealous stalker type. Too much drama.
Of course sometimes it is more open on one end than it is the other. Once, a married dude assured me he had an open relationship. We hung out and had fun. I wanted to see him again, that is, until I got a call from his wife biting my head off. She told me she wanted to shoot me. I told her that her husband said they had an open relationship. She informed me again she would shoot me if she ever saw me. Needless to say, I don’t think she got the memo about their arrangement. So much for that.
Yet also, I think sometimes people might be jungle cats in one part of their life, but be loyal in another. One is my friend Nishu, who was such a playboy back in the day. He only dated fetish models until he met his lady Jill. Not only has he been a good boyfriend, but he has been loyal and giving to the point where it is amazing. My brother Wendell’s friend Biff from college had a bedroom door that was basically revolving until he met his wife Lydia. Not only is he a loyal husband, but they just had their first child and he is all about being a dad. Even my fellow jungle kitten friend Nina is talking about getting serious with the new man she is with. No, she is not sleeping with throngs of men like she used to in the old days. Note, maybe all couldn’t commit to a relationship, but they were loving family members and awesome friends. So maybe it there, they just had to find the right person if you will.
Still, what constitutes cheating? Is a husband looking at porn after being a good guy and father grounds for divorce? If a guy needs to go to a strip club the night of his bachelor party, is he truly not ready to be married? If things get emotional and deep with a male/female friendship to the point where there is an attraction that isnt acted on, is that cheating as well? Again, this is when it all gets complicated.
Once I was discussing how open relationships might be the wave of the future with my mom and sister Skipper. Of course, Skipper was starting to get serious with Boomer and this was the last thing she wanted to hear. My mom stopped me. She said, “That will never work. Women will be jealous, men will continue to be possessive. People will continue to die.”
Monogamy or polyamory? What is the answer. Jury is still out.