I met him at an event I was hosting. The growing crowds and reactions told me I was doing well. It was welcome respite from the morning’s fight, a common occurrence in the horror story I was living inside.
I was aware of him through the whole day, even as I juggled conversations and thoughts, feeling the headiness of a juggler who knows she’s good at it. He stayed in the corner of my vision, never intrusive, his questions informing the direction of my talk and my secret thrill at being understood powering me on. Then he stopped mid-question and said, “Sorry, I feel like I’m monopolizing your time.” That’s when I realised I wasn’t humming a solo.
When the event ended, I turned my back, willing myself down from the day’s high, steeling myself to return to hell. I turned again when I thought everyone had left. He hadn’t. He was moving to the exit, very deliberately not looking at me. He paused and said, “I feel like an Irish coffee. Do you feel like having Irish coffee?” That is the moment I want to pause. It contains so many layers. The climax of the day’s dance with words and looks. The culmination of things felt and not yet named. The promise of…well, just promise.
I saw him recently, our first interaction in many years. He’s married and a father. He looks happy. Still does. They all do.
It doesn’t bring me comfort or insight to think about how things are meant to be. I focus on the thought that something nice existed for one proming moment. That someone saw the possibility of attraction in my wit, my ideas and my personality rather than in what I could do for them or how I could make them look. It’s nice.
Are you wondering what happened back then? I told him, “No. I have to get back to my boyfriend.” And I went back to a man who hit me, abused me and told me it was all my fault. I didn’t succumb to temptation. I did The Right Thing. I always do because I never want to look back in regret. The thing is, I don’t know if doing the right thing and avoiding regret have anything to do with each other.
I heard someone describe three other people’s interaction as ‘ritualised’. It made me think of the forced inanities that people thrust on each other, the scripts that we impose on each other and that we find ourselves following. The delighted welcomes, the whine exchanges, the mutual enabling of vices – aren’t these the traits of many long-running relationships? Some of us find security in it; some find it oppressive. Either way, there is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, and performed according to set order, which Wikipedia tells me is the very definition of ‘ritual’.
Do some of us exist in RITUALISED RELATIONSHIPS then?
I have had a startling revelation that will revolutionize the way we look at relationships and well, men!
Everyone knows Bad Boys are bad news. Meh, that’s last century’s news. And yet – or possibly exactly for that reason – we are drawn to them and spend a considerable bit of our prime chasing illusions of acquaintanceship with them. But of course the Bad Boy breaks our heart. That’s what he’s supposed to do. Then we sigh and move on….to another Bad Boy.
The cycle, seemingly fatalistic has one way out – or so we are told. As maturity (or possibly too much heartache) sets in, we shed our illusions of wild, fast, furious, exciting love and pledge our troth to another kind of man altogether. Enter the Good Boy.
From a love-lifetime of having experienced Bad Boys, we automatically conclude that we know his exact opposite completely. NOT TRUE!
The Good Boy is not necessarily Prince Charming, either. He doesn’t get romance and tenderness any more instinctively than the Bad Boy. The Good Boy‘s connection to mama will be elevated to monumental proportions (in that there will be a shrine to mama) while in the case of the Bad Boy, it was only an excuse for his bad behavior.
What’s worse, I’m discovering, there is a price to be paid, a fee if you will, for life’s lessons. So after going through the Bad Boys, you come to the Good Boy expecting to be healed and kissed and made alright.
Instead you come up against a formidable presence that requires your clearing up your messes before you step onto his carpet, so to speak. There’s no sympathy forthcoming (and I’m about to believe this is the version of sulking that Good Boys prefer). It’s time to play hardball (again!) and negotiate.
These aren’t ruthless. Of course not, these are Good Boys after all. But there is negotiation nevertheless. And there’s the overwhelming sense of guilt and foolishness hanging over your own head for your past mistakes. Obviously you’re coming to the table with a weak hand.
I’m thinking the whole thing is a set-up. The Bad Boy is nothing more than marketing spiel to get our defenses dulled and weakened in time for the Good Boy to close in and finalize a deal that’s sweet to him.
GAH!!! Good or bad, a man may never be what he seems.
Ever had this pop up on your screen?
Scroll back to check.
Look at how many people ‘liked’.
Hover uncertainly over ‘View Comments’, then decide not to.
Visit profile page to see when this happened & what happened after.
Hover over ‘Like’ and decide against because it’ll mean notifications for the next 2 weeks. Not sure if this needs to be shoved into the face every day.
You may have broken up ages ago. You may have had closure & moved on to things that are themselves ancient history now.
You may not be in love anymore. You may never have been in love, even back then.
You may be in a relationship yourself. Or single and thankful for it.
It doesn’t matter. This will make you stop dead in your tracks and cause the breath to catch in your throat even if it is for the teensiest fraction of a second. No one saw the expression on your face. Not even a telltale blush or flush or gasp. But a tiny plop sounded inside you and you heard it. I know you did.
Every relationship, no matter how brief, how shallow, however fleeting is an opportunity, a little dirt track that could lead somewhere. It could take you to great sex, a wonderful friendship, that much-needed ego massage, fun for a weekend or a vacation or happily ever after (whatever that means to you). It’s a path that you considered once, when it opened up before you. Maybe you even took a few steps down that road. Even if you walked back or away, the road was there at some point of time for you. The message you just saw above, which made you stop in your tracks signifies that road has shut down permanently. Houseful, we have no more room, we don’t want any more, thank you very much. You may have a thousand other options but losing even one, especially one that you did consider once upon a time, will leave its mark on you.
Then there is this thing that women have about Plan B. I say women, since I’ve never really heard a man use the phrase. Perhaps men do it too, only they call it different things or (characteristic to men), they don’t think about it. But it exists. My best friend once told me,
“If you’re still looking, you’re not really committed.”
I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. There’s no question in my mind about who the most important person in my life, right now. But that doesn’t mean other people who were once important, cease to exist altogether. Friends who’ve been married and happily, steadily, comfortably so, report the same feeling.
It’s a strange blend of nostalgia, comparisons, smugness & wistfulness, laced with just a hint of pinprick pain. There ought to be a word for it. I suppose the Portugeuse ‘Saudade‘ comes closer than any other word but it doesn’t completely describe it.
I know this and I even know the train of words that went through your head right after you saw it. Maybe you even said most of them.
Good for them.
Isn’t it kind of early?
I’m happy they found happiness with somebody.
How did they meet?
When is the wedding?
(Add sarcastic/bored/snide tone if your relationship with them was rocky)
And all of them were true. But they don’t negate that inexplicable place in your throat where you’re not able to swallow, that funny leap in your stomach that’s got nothing to do with what you ate and the words that come out of your mouth, sounding at odds with what you’re feeling inside.
I know. We all do.
Phil Collins tells me that,
A friend’s mother imparts the following wisdom on men and marriage,
“Don’t expect any kind of sense for about 3 years. After that they kind of settle down.”
PATIENCE is a virtue, apparently a prized one for a woman. Me? I never met a man who didn’t make me, within hours, want to bang my head on the wall. Irrespective of how much I liked him. I think men are like that. Born to annoy.
How does thou annoy me? Let’s count. (In no particular order of priority, they’re all equally irksome)
- Juvenile jokes (toilet humour, anyone?)
- Bad taste in clothes, furniture, colors, everything!
- Complete cluelessness about the concept of ‘Conversation’
- Hormone surges (okay, cross that, it isn’t always a problem)
- EEEEEEGO (with a huge, big, monstrous, mammoth of an E)
- Mixed-up priorities (“Let’s go watch the match now!”, “Why do you need to shop again?”)
- The gall to comment on my taste (“Haha, your brown lipstick looks like you’ve eaten mud!”)
Phewwww..*Deeeeep breath* I think I’m forgetting. I’ve never been high on patience anyway. Some day, some day, some day I’ll learn to tolerate a man being a man. And not keep looking into those starry-eyes and asking,
“Okay, have we grown-up as yet?”
A famous couplet by W.H. Auden goes,
If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving be me.
I thought it was desperately romantic but also insightful. Even in the most compatible of relationships, there is a certain inequality. Of power, of responsibility, of initiative and yes, even of love. At any point of time, one person seems to be giving more, trying harder and the other is demanding more, needing more.
In an ideal world, these things ebb and flow and balance out over time. These equations are probably not static and shift over time as both partners grow. But as we all know, human relationships are anything but ideal. So should we live the idealistic dream of pursuing someone we can’t bear to be without, for whom we will do just about anything (and also bear the risk that they may not reciprocate, or worse, misuse our affections)? This after all, epitomizes living to the fullest, with and for the object of one’s passionate affections. Or should we take the practical path of looking for someone who is willing to meet our needs, supply all our demands and needs us so much, that they will do as we please? It’s the safer option, especially in today’s cut-throat times but it needs a careful rationing and rationalizing of emotion.
Quite simply, is your ideal relationship with someone who can’t live without you or with someone you can’t live without?
A version of this is on Yahoo! Real Beauty.
The recent India Today poll looks at the importance of financial independence, sexual satisfaction, romance and emotional security in a relationship. I’m most intrigued by inference that about half of urban India links sex & earning capacity while the other seems indifferent. That’s a neat but disturbing split right down the middle of this generation.
Most people now accept that it is important, almost necessary to be a double-income family in order to be able to even consider having all the benefits that urban life has to offer. We’re still struggling with the emotional upheavals caused by the changes in societal order but the need of the hour is to bring in the bucks and fast. So we’re all getting into the workplace as soon as we can and racing ahead at our best pace. But we haven’t quite figured out how that makes us feel about each other, have we? Does the average man feel emasculated by the equal or better earning power of his partner? Does the woman feel like the man is falling short of the deep-rooted standards of male superiority? And how does the relationship endure the burden of these frustrated expectations? I think the jury is still out on that one and where else would the confusion make its presence felt but in the bedroom?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
I’ve barely posted through the month of November. What with one thing or another with the domain problems and having to move back to good ol’ free WordPress, things got pushed aside. But the XX Factor Facebook page has been active, sure enough. And for those of you who didn’t catch the updates as they happened, here are the highlights once again:
- I was surprised at how accurate these felt even in the Indian context. Human relationships are universal, I suppose. 20 things couples should do before they move in together and another 20 they should not do after moving in together (via TheFrisky)
- What I want to know is – what qualifies as ‘new’? 10 basic rules for a new relationship (via YourTango)
- Of special interest to me since I made the first move with Mr.Everyday and I did at least two of the things on this list. 🙂 10 subtle ways to make the first move. (via TheFrisky)
- Flirting styles by the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 (via Lemondrop)
- 7 tips for dressing curves that are a must-read for the Indian-woman-sized figure. (via AllWomanStalk)
- A tricky question indeed: “Am I wrong for hooking up with my friend’s ex-?” (via TheFrisky)
- Pool Noodle girlfriend & other gross things guys do. Eww, dirty boys! (via TheFrisky)
- Much of this, common sense. But we all need reminding of THAT sometimes, don’t we?: How to fall in love with Mr.Good Enough. (via YourTango)
- We’ve read these a hundred times before. We know them off the tops of our heads. We rarely disagree with each other on these, no matter what our differences. But still ‘men’s mistakes’ always get us off…laughing!: The 10 stupidest mistakes men make with women. (via TheFrisky)
- An Indian (?) guy reading an Indian (?) author. HOT! (via HotGuysReadingBooks)
- 12 techno-relationship rules to live by. (via TheDailyBeast)
- A whole list of things that made me go ‘Awwww’ and which would make my boyfriend cringe if I ever actually mentioned them!: What do men really find romantic? (via ThirdAge)
- The best way to be with a funny woman. (via DoubleViking)
- 4 secrets every woman should know. (via TheRealCougarWoman)
- How to buy lingerie for a woman. (via ModernMan)
- 8 Harry Potter tools we want for our relationships. (via YourTango)
- The Dance Of The Pot – How did we ever turn into such a patriarchal, chauvinistic society? (via Devdutt)
- I was baffled by an invite I received recently which asked for ‘Smart Casual attire’. Read about setting a dress cold for your party. (via ManofTheHouse)
- Feminism turned on its *ahem* occasionally biased head. (viaWords&Pictures)
I really have been a listmaniac this month, haven’t I? 😀 I’m still waiting to hear what you think of my picks! Love? Hate? Snooze?