My last vanilla ex was my longest term relationship. I talk about him quite a bit on twitter.
He is a wonderful man: attractive, smart, attentive, sweet. He is my closest friend.
Relationship-wise, he puts most self identified submissive men to shame with his behaviour. We had known each other via a common circle of friends for some time before we dated. On our second date, he brought me a gift of towels because I had been to his place and had commented on his amazingly soft and gorgeous bath towels. I never thought a thing of the comment I made: An observation in passing, idle chat. And yet there he was with this gift.
His habit of listening, paying attention, and acting on what he saw and heard because he thought it would make me happy was a fundamental cornerstone of our relationship. I would find books that I mentioned under my pillow a week after we talked about it, he would ask my mother for my favourite recipes so that he could make them for me, he would pay attention and deliver on things that he knew would make me happy. It was the stuff of romance, the actions of a man in love, and I was lucky to be on the receiving end of it. Even now, he brings me home made treats that he knows I will like, rings me up to tell me there is a television show on that I would enjoy, invites me over to eat amazing cooking experiments that he is trying out.
Today we went for lunch, and we breached a barrier that we never have: He told me he’d been on a date.
This might seem like a small thing, but it wasn’t. Since we split up, we haven’t talked at all about our personal lives, our relationships. It seemed like a thing that was off limits. For me it was because I ended it with him, and talk of seeing other men seemed a step too far into the hurt that I’d caused. For him, I suspect there was a hope that we might reconcile for some time, so if he dated, he didn’t want to mention it and destroy that possibility.
Today when he blurted it out over lunch, a little awkward and shy, along with a tentative happiness for him, I felt a kind of relief. It’s not about her or how it will go with them, it’s about the simple fact that he shared it with me at all. It feels like a step that we should have taken a long time ago, but didn’t, or couldn’t, or something. Having said that, I am a selfish person, so I also felt a pre-emptive sense of loss over the attention that I have enjoyed from him for so long.
So today we stepped over a line that we should have stepped over a long time ago. Then we had more wine. We wandered some shops. We sat on a balcony overlooking the street and people-watched. He cajoled me into trying on some brightly patterned skinny jeans that he tried to convince me to buy. We bought some frozen Japanese food from an Asian shop. He nodded approvingly over a new dress that I bought.
I am lucky to have him in my life.
And so, life goes on.
Edited to add: Today, a day after I wrote the above, he arrived on my doorstep to deliver the brightly patterned skinny jeans that I tried on and didn’t buy. He drove back down to the shop and back (45 minutes each way) to get them, and then offered them up as a gift. Just because he thought they were awesome on me, and I should have them. Seriously: Some woman should snap him up.