Spent last night at The Dandy’s place. Dandette didn’t get in the way much, so that was good. It’s frustrating because at my place it feels like I have no privacy because the walls are paper thin and my downstairs neighbours are vindictive assholes who probably write down every single sound they hear from me in a revenge book or something. The Dandy’s place is gloriously quiet from a neighbour perspective – it’s in a high rise, so the walls between the apartments are concrete. But his goddamned ex-girlfriend is his roommate and she has boundary issues so her attempts at showing she’s okay with our relationship sometimes take the form of, like…spying on us and issuing verbal high-fives? Thus, The Dandy and I have no place where we can fuck and I’ll feel 100% comfortable.
But as I said, this time around she chose not to comment on anything she could hear us doing. So yay.
The Dandy is very sweet. As yesterday was the first of the month, I redoubled my efforts at finding a new apartment (by the end of the month I figure everything good has been snapped up). I perhaps naively thought that if I sat down and focused real hard on my online search and then called up a shitload of places in a row, I could get viewings for later that day or maybe the next day. But I kept getting answering machines or the ad I saw was old and the place was taken or blah blah blah. I do have two viewings booked for Tuesday night and The Dandy says he can probably come with me, so that’s exciting! He’s really good at figuring out how best to arrange a place and/or make the best of a weird layout so I need him in my corner.
Anyway. Focusing that hard, plus dealing with people, exhausts me, and also I just hate all the other stress of wondering where I’m gonna live and how I’ll afford it and all that. When I got to The Dandy’s I was okay but after half an hour or so my adrenaline buzz began to wear off, I guess. He was just finishing loading the dishwasher when I said “I am in dire need of spooning” and told him I seemed to be having some kind of emotional crash from the apartment hunt. He stopped the housework immediately and took me to his bed and snuggled me and massaged the knot I always get next to my shoulderblade and I had a little cry and then felt better.
One thing about The Dandy – I think I’ve mentioned it before – is that he’s the kind of person who mostly just listens to me when I rant. I prefer more feedback. So, like…when I was intermittently crying I said something like “I feel like any woman who’s not always calm and collected is labeled a ‘psycho bitch’ and I worry that I seem unstable when I act like I am now. But really this is just a stress-cry and once I let this all out I’ll be back to normal.” The Dandy just kept on holding me and rubbing my back, and that’s not terrible, but what I wanted was for him also to say “You’re not a psycho bitch” and/or “guys who throw that label around are assholes” and/or “I don’t think you’re unstable.”
I mean the thing is my ex-husband used his resounding silence as a means of controlling me. I didn’t realize it at the time. But if I talked about wanting to do a thing he didn’t especially like me doing, he’d go all cold and tight-lipped and silent. He wouldn’t actually say he didn’t want me to do the thing. In fact if I anxiously said “…Is that okay?” he’d say yes – in a clipped, icy tone that still totally seemed like he was pissed at me, so I opted not to do the thing.
Now, granted, as I told The Dandy I was afraid of being labeled “psycho” etc., he kept on hugging and petting me. His body didn’t go all cold and still and distant as my ex’s probably would have (I don’t recall a time that he pulled this “silent treatment” bullshit while we were cuddling so I don’t know). So it’s probably fine. But I’d still have preferred that he’d gone the “Oh don’t be silly you’re just a human being having human feelings” type of route.
I talked to my friend Dom about this and he said that to him, reassurances like that sound condescending. His girlfriend likes that stuff and has said so, so he does it. But it doesn’t come naturally to him. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that reassurance of that kind is condescending. But maybe that’s what it is with The Dandy – what seems obvious and natural to say to me doesn’t feel natural to him.
The Dandy is also silent when I talk about any of my various forays into sex work (and when I mention other partners), and when I’ve asked “are you okay with all this?” he just kinda shrugs and smiles. He doesn’t seem coldly pissed off like my ex did but it still unnerves me a bit. Although maybe he really is fine with it but just has no advice to give. When I was ranting about guys on that pay site not texting me back, he did discuss it with me and offer some theories. So yes. This is very different from my ex husband.
I’ll say this, though: it was much, much more obvious to me that The Pedant really was fine with my sex work and with me being poly and all of that. He would actively engage me in discussion about that stuff, and had lots of advice and whatnot. He once painted my toenails for me because I was supposed to see a foot fetish guy later, for Pete’s sake (and The Pedant is not into feet and hates the smell of nail polish – he got nothing out of the interaction except me being grateful for the help). He absolutely made me feel as though he supported me in all areas of my life.
I miss brainstorming sex work strategies with The Pedant.
The Dandy makes a lot of money. I’m not sure how much exactly, but like…a lot. Definitely six figures, I should think. And he has all these arcane hobbies and is able to throw shitloads of cash at them. I’m jealous of his money (so. Very. Jealous.) but I love hearing about his hobbies. I love hearing about all the weird factoids he knows, in general.
One of his hobbies is collecting fountain pens. He has almost fifty of them in a special case; he showed me yesterday (it came up because I pointed out what I thought was a collection of colognes on a shelf in his bedroom. Not colognes: ink. The size of the boxes and the graphics on the boxes did look kinda perfumey, though). I must have been really well calmed-down from my anxiety crash earlier because I was more focused than usual and found myself really interested in these pens. The best part is The Dandy doesn’t halfass anything: I knew he didn’t just have a pen collection because they were pretty. He would know everything about them. So I could ask him any questions that came into my mind at all and he would field them. “What’s this pen made out of? What’s the ink made out of? Was ink made of different stuff back in the day? What’s the most expensive kind of ink, and why?” and on and on.
The pens were mostly made of celluloid, btw. And there are different kinds of celluloid, and one kind off-gases camphor so you can tell if a pen is legit the kind it’s claimed to be by sniffing the inside of the cap.
I worry sometimes that I won’t be enough of an intellectual challenge for The Dandy because, while I know obscure bits and pieces about a lot of different subjects, he seems to know all my trivia already plus a billion terrabytes more. On the other hand, maybe he’s not looking for an intellectual challenge from me. Maybe it’s enough that I’m the kind of person who will eagerly engage with him for almost an hour over a pen collection.
The Dandy said something to me, a while back, along the lines that saying “I love you” jinxes a relationship. I’ve been feeling really close to him lately and somewhat tempted to drop the L-bomb but obviously not if he’s going to recoil in horror because he thinks I’ve doomed us. So as we were lying in bed last night (after a whole bunch of sex) I asked “Do you really think saying ‘I love you’ jinxes things?” He said no, not really (I’m not sure if I believe him; he had not sounded like he was kidding at the time) and asked me if I think it’s a jinx. I said that oddly, that’s not one of my paranoia things; I haven’t had any kind of pattern where relationships fell to shit after we exchanged I-love-yous. I have however had a few relationships fall to shit not long after I began tentatively trusting that things would go long-term, so that’s my big jinxy thing: allowing myself to believe that a partner will be a permanent fixture in my life rather than just “living in the now” or whatever. The Dandy squeezed my arm in sympathy when I said that.
“So…is there a reason you’re asking this right now?” The Dandy said. Under other circumstances I might have used that as a segue to actually tell him I loved him. But his tone was so knowing and nudge-nudge, wink-wink-y that it annoyed me.
In the past few years I’ve had two relationships (The Bunny and The Pedant) where I said “I love you” and they didn’t say it back and we went on to date for a year or more after the incident. A year or more of me having put those words out there (several times, in The Pedant’s case) and being met with a pat or a smile or an awkward deflection in return. And at the time I was willing to rationalize this: he treats me pretty well, I feel loved, maybe he feels the same thing I feel for him but he just doesn’t label it the same, we don’t have to break up over this, blah blah blah. But now I feel like I was kind of debasing myself by sticking around and I don’t want to do that again, which means I’m not gonna tell anyone I love them until I’m as sure as can be that I’ll get it back, and if I don’t get it back…I may have to bail.
And now here’s The Dandy asking me why I’m bringing up the subject of exchanging I-love-yous, all smarmy and knowing n shit, and just…ugh. If he’s that sure that I love him, why doesn’t he just say it first? And if he’s not at the point of wanting to say it, why the fuck is he prompting me to say it?
I told him I brought the subject up as a philosophical discussion, and then I cuddled up to him and went to sleep.