Dangerous Liaisons

I believe in karma and the Golden Rule. I believe that the dirty (and good) shit you do to others will come back on you two fold (at least). I believe that you should at least try to do unto others what you would like for them to do unto you.

This philosophy is turning me into a hermit.

I got used to being single. Before TLA, it was more than two years before I was in any sort of situation that could be defined as a relationship, especially since I didn’t keep anyone around past 90 days. That meant as a woman of consenting age, I was free to do whatever and whomever I pleased (though surprisingly, I never took advantage of the “whom” as much as I should have. I’m just not wired that way.) If Babe (an on-again, off-again suitor of many years) called and wanted to watch DVDs all weekend, so be it. And if he wanted to crash at the house for a night or many in a row? No problem. We were “friends” (not quite platonic, not quite sexual); he was welcome to the right side of the bed (closest to the door) almost whenever he wanted it. And if I got home late from work/the gym and got a call to take a make-up-less stroll at midnight on Eastern Parkway with a suitor? Great! A last minute invite to dinner or drinks at a cozy, dim-lit bar after work? Sure. Why not? Who doesn’t enjoy good conversation with a fine, good-smelling man? Go hang out at party and flirt all night, chatting up any cutie I found attractive and interesting? Yes, yes, yes! Flirting with tall, wide-shouldered potential suitors I already knew? Won-der-ful (you gotta say it like Bill Bellamy in Love Jones).

I had an entire social life based on meeting and hanging out with men, flirting with them shamelessly, and toying with the underlying expectation on both parts that someday, maybe we’d at the very least hook up. It was a great harmless game filled with a careful balance of sexual tension, playful banter, ego stroking, and dangling carrots of possibilities that kept things mutually entertaining and interesting.

Now before you mistake me for some sort of coquette (look it up), I never accepted a drink or a dinner from any guy that I had no interest in; I wouldn’t even chat on the phone with a guy I wasn’t digging cause I didn’t want to send mixed signals. But I chatted frequently because as as an unattached woman, I enjoyed my options. There were a fair share of gentleman who were on my “What If” list (and a whole ‘nother in my Save For Later box) and our entire interactions were based on the idea that maybe oneday, someday we’d hook up.

Now that oneday, someday is indefinitely on hold, I just can’t muster up the witticisms to play the game. And my sudden lack of banter and overall interest (even when I try, my heart isn’t in it) is the bat-signal equivalent of alerting every potential suitor in Gotham that I’m off the market. And for the men who don’t give a shit if I’m boo-ed up or not, I’ve decided that flirting and bantering and encouraging of sexual tension is just bad for my situation. It’s a slippery slope to tangled sheets for a reckless thundercat that I’m sexually attracted to, to spit hot fire in my ear 24/7. The sheets part won’t happen overnight, of course. It could take months, maybe years, but a woman gives an inch, a focused man will eventually take a mile. I play with fire long enough, I get burnt. I play in dirt, I get dirty. Get my clichéd point?

So now a large, enjoyable chunk of my social life is virtually over—at least as long as TLA’s around. I like this dude and I’m trying to do right by him, give this situation my full effort so that it doesn’t work out down the line, it won’t be because I gave a good man a half-assed effort. Yes, I’m bored witless staying home all the time (it helps that I work till 9 most nights), but frankly, I haven’t learned how to handle the temptation just yet—and I have a history of dabbling while dating.

Let me explain:

Far and long ago, I had a boyfriend. I lived in New York. He lived in Maryland. We were good. (See the similarities, yet?) And then I met a man I was very attracted to. He was fine as hell, and funny, and looked directly in my eyes as he spoke moreso into me then just to me. My monogamous sensors went crazy at this clear threat, and I was compelled to do my girlfriendly duty and blurt out at some time during our first meeting, “I have a boyfriend, you know!?” There it was on the table. I’d let him know I was not on the market.

He responded, “It gets cold in New York.” He smiled, a perfectly imperfect thing that made my heart thump-thump, and then agreed to be “just” my friend.

We were the greatest of pals. Hung out every weekend at the movies and restaurants around SoHo, and other parts of he city because he was determined to introduce me around his marvelous city. We talked on the phone most nights always about nothing, just shooting the shi*t the way buddies do. And because I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I told my boyfriend all about my newfound New York friend. Of course, he wasn’t too happy to hear about it, but I assured him constantly, “there’s nothing going on.” It was the God’s honest truth.

And for seven or eight months it stayed that way. No kissing, generally no touching unless we were on a dance floor, and not even a hug at the end of the night when he’d walk me to my door, and stand all up in my personal space and say “good night, [complete government name].” He’d smile that perfectly imperfect smile, I’d temporarily die from an unfulfilled longing, and I’d bolt away from him, trying to remain that good girlfriend I’m promised myself– and my BF back home–that I’d be.

One night at a club, He backed me up against a railing and kissed me. And because I’d already slid on the slippery slope that night, I kissed him back. Then later, grabbed him and kissed him again. But at the end of the party when he asked me, “[Full government name] do you want me to go home with you? I will if you want me… to.” I remembered that I was someone’s girlfriend—not his. And just because I slipped down the slope didn’t mean I had to tumble down the whole damn mountain.

“No, I’m good.” I didn’t mean it, but I acted like I did. I only said it because it was the right thing to say.

He smiled.

Thump thump went the traitor I call my heart.

He said, “Okay,” but what he meant was ‘I’ll accept that for now, but I’ll be trying again later.’

If later was in 60 seconds, I was f*cked. Literally and figuratively. I turned and actually ran for a cab before I changed my mind.

When I got home, just as I’d done the night I’d met him, I stayed up until daybreak thinking about my boyfriend… and thinking about Him, listening to Donnell Jones “Where I Wanna Be.”

I tried to stay away from him. But I called him before the weekend was over (um, the next day) and we didn’t talk about The Incident. This was good. If we pretended the whole thing never happened, we could go on as usual as friends, “just” friends. We could blame the liquor for that indiscretion, although I think we’d had two drinks combined the whole night. That wasn’t the point.

I refused to see him though I didn’t tell him about my vow. And to his credit, he didn’t ask me to hang out for awhile. And I didn’t call as much, and neither did he. I thought about him though. Constantly. I went to visit my boyfriend one weekend, and drove to his apartment blasting Luther’s “If Only For One Night (“I won’t tell a soul, no one has to know…”) I pleaded more than sang along.

I took the train back to New York at the end of a long weekend and played on repeat Frankie Beverly and Mase’s “The Morning After.” (“I know you think this is right, but what happens after tonight?”) Same general theme, but Frankie made me think of the consequences. That kept my mind pure for a week or so.

But then I saw him again and I needed more than that. By then, I didn’t give a damn about the consequences. I selfishly wanted that man. I switched to Mint Condition, “What Kind of Man Would I Be?” (“If we lay down tonight, it just won’t justify throwing love aside.”) It appealed to my sense of decency. It was all I had left.

That worked—for another month.

I broke up with my boyfriend eventually.

And I dealt with Him, Mr. Ex, off and on for the next five years.

I can’t do that to TLA.

—Amelda

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