Dandette was out tonight and The Dandy agreed to dedicate some time to hanging out with me. We ordered Greek food and he got me off a couple of times while we waited for it to arrive (with plans for him to put his penis in me after dinner). After orgasming that second time, I told The Dandy that for me, sex is the barometer of how healthy a relationship is – and we haven’t been having a lot lately and it’s worrisome. I said in fairness I’m not saying this to complain that he hasn’t initiated; it’s that I haven’t wanted it, either, and I’m not sure why and it bothers me. And I can’t parse out how much of it is discomfort at Dandette maybe overhearing us vs. how much is maybe me having issues with The Dandy himself that are getting in the way. I asked him if he was having issues with me that were making him not much feel like fucking. He said nah, it’s mostly the thing of not wanting Dandette to overhear us. He’s a little uncomfortable with it and he knows I’m really uncomfortable with it so…
I also asked The Dandy about his “date” with Dandette the previous night; had the outing been a date for him, too, or was that just what she was calling it? The Dandy said he considered it a date. I said “well, but you said pretty recently that you never really wanted to get back together with her at all and things weren’t working out with her, so I feel like there’s kind of a mixed message here…?” and he shrugged and said that she’s saner lately (meds are working) and therefore more fun to hang out with.
Food came, and as I ate a tremendously huge and sad thought suddenly came together for me. I didn’t want to ruin what was meant to be a “date night” for The Dandy and I, but I also couldn’t put the thought aside and act cheerful and normal, so fuck it, I told him what was on my mind: “It occurs to me that Dandette sexually assaulted me on The Night of Drunken Horrors – not to mention coerced us into that weird puppet sex – and left me traumatized and not trusting her or wanting to be around her. She did these things to me and you claim to love me but didn’t give her any kind of talking to to let her know it wasn’t okay, and you continue paying for her rent, her food, her cigarettes; she has all her expenses paid for and a room of her own, a level of privacy I don’t get to have – and she gets to date you. And I’m here just trying to be a good partner to you. As far as I know I’ve never done anything terrible to you. I have my shit mostly together and I pay rent. But I have to live with a person who makes me uncomfortable and watch her totally get a free ride and watch you date her.”
By the look on The Dandy’s face he understood, at least a little bit, why I was upset. “Well,” he said, “it’s not like she and I kiss or have sex or anything.”
“And you think that makes a difference why? And you think she won’t eventually notice this and confront you about it why? And you feel this isn’t leading her on why? …For the record, I wouldn’t want you being platonic pals with someone who’d sexually assaulted me, either. I mean, it’s not like this was a thing that happened years ago and she and I talked it through and worked everything out and it’s okay. It happened like three weeks ago and I am not at all okay with it. But you went on a date with her yesterday because she’s fun to hang out with. God, if someone hurt you it would put me off them completely. But here we are.”
I think it was at this point that The Dandy said “I can’t live in perpetual awkwardness.” Maybe I’d said some more things to him before that, along the lines that I really really want him to oust her from the apartment and we’ll just live here together alone. I’m having a hard time remembering the order of things, now. But at any rate, what The Dandy meant with the awkwardness thing was that he was keeping up some minimal charade that he and Dandette are dating (and possibly avoiding calling her out when she does shitty things) because if he didn’t, she’d have a tearful meltdown and things in the house would be shitty for a while.
“But it already is awkward,” I said. “You’re living with someone who makes you uncomfortable on a regular basis. And she makes me uncomfortable, too, so you’ll be feeling awkwardness from me. And if you really can’t bring yourself to ask her to move out, and I get sick of the situation and leave, she’ll still be here, making you uncomfortable. Just you and her, forever. On the other hand, if you have the scary conversation with Dandette asking her to leave, and you stick by that decision no matter what, things get really awkward temporarily and after that you don’t have to deal with any of that discomfort anymore. At all. It’ll just be us here, peaceful and drama-free.” I feel like The Dandy made an epiphany-face when I said that.
I told The Dandy that I think he’s been living with discomfort for so long (ie walking on eggshells because of Dandette’s mental illness) that he can’t remember what it’s like without it (hence he doesn’t feel as big a drive to get rid of Dandette as I do; he’s lost track of how much he’s had to compress himself to make room for her). The Dandy said that the only time he didn’t live in an uncomfortable situation was when he first moved out of his parents’ place and got his own apartment, but he was alone then and being alone kinda sucked (he means being single sucked, not that he was longing to live with roommates). I reminded him that if he kicks Dandette out he won’t be alone; he’ll have me. But only if he acts fairly quickly because I don’t know how long I can hold out here.
At some points during our big discussion, The Dandy did that thing where he goes silent and closes his eyes with a pained expression. At other points, though, he opened up and talked to me. So he wasn’t locking up on me entirely or feeling angry about anything I was saying, he just didn’t know what to say to some things, or I’d given him some stuff he needed to think about.
Some other scattered important moments from the discussion:
“So hey remember how I’ve told you it’s important to me to have my feelings validated?”
“I know I’m giving you a lot to process, here, but when I talk about feeling traumatized by Dandette’s actions on Drunken Horror night and you’re just totally silent…I mean I guess I’m used to Ex, who would gaslight me by acting like whatever I was upset about was no big deal and I was being stupid…it’s not clear to me that you even recognize that Dandette did anything bad.”
“I do. The puppet sex and physically moving your robe aside like that were definitely unacceptable things to do.”
(We had sex later and I think him validating me like this was the reason I was able to get in the mood).
We got off on a tangent about families somehow and I was talking about a thing I read in a relationship/self-help type book. It said that if you try to imagine a romantic relationship between your most influential parent and your partner’s most influential parent, that’s probably about what your relationship with your partner looks like. Which is interesting, but I didn’t know who my most influential parent is, or even really what “most influential parent” is supposed to mean.
Me: …Actually, my biggest influence is probably my mom, I guess. When Ex and I got married, I wasn’t on speaking terms with my parents. Ex observed that although I hated my dad for the things he did to me, I seemed to hate my mom more because she just stood there and let him do them. And he’s right, I did hate her more. My dad just did shitty things to me; my mom didn’t protect me, from him or anyone, and even made excuses for people who did bad things to me. It impacted my personality tremendously. I assumed it was my job to be everyone else’s punching bag; that my feelings didn’t matter, I didn’t deserve to be helped or protected, it was fine to let everyone else just ohhhhh shit that’s what this whole situation is bringing up for me.”
Dandy: [facial expression of total comprehension and agreement]
Me: I mean Dandette did these things and you never said anything about it, you never punished her or called her out in any way or even told me that you felt she shouldn’t have acted like that with me, and it’s dredging up this huge, huge baggage I have that it’s apparently okay to treat me badly.
We talked about learned helplessness and how it bugs me that Dandette hasn’t taken any steps to get more work. I got her a couple of model gigs, and any time I’m on the phone with someone who’s booking me and Dandette realizes it, she’s piping up like a toddler in the background: “Me too! Tell them I can come pose, too!” but she’s not doing any legwork herself. There’s a local Facebook group where people advertise their life model sessions; Dandette could join that and message people asking to pose for them (she even has experience now! She can give references!), but she hasn’t. Also when I told her I’ve sold my artsy stuff at a particular Christmas craft fair in the past, she was like “Oh! Oh! I wanna do that this year! Can you email them and ask about getting me a table?” Well, 1) this was a public craft fair where anyone willing to pay the table fee could be a vendor, not the invitation-only, passwords-needed-at-the-door sex party from the movie Eyes Wide Shut and 2) I couldn’t actually remember the name of the craft fair. Dandette could Google the thing and write to the chick just as easily as I could. But she didn’t.
The Dandy agreed that it was frustrating, and added that he felt she just thought of him as an endless pool of money she could take from any time she wanted. He said he’s been thinking for a while of transferring money right into her bank account each month for her personal expenses (cigarettes, energy drinks, dinner with friends, etc) and once the money’s gone, it’s gone; this way she’ll learn how to budget. I suggested that he do something to prompt her to start adulting better, anyway. Like she’s really never gonna want to leave here if she’s completely taken care of – she won’t even remember how to take care of herself. Maybe The Dandy could do the money transfer thing at first but give her a couple months’ grace period and be like “as of this deadline, I’m gonna expect you to be making enough money that you can pay for your own cigarettes and entertainment” and push her to start getting more film work (she used to make props for tv and movies) or model work. And then once she’s doing that, she might feel more ready to branch out into more adulting…and there won’t be such a stark contrast in lifestyle between living with The Dandy vs living elsewhere, so if he does nudge her out of the nest maybe she won’t be as reluctant to go.
The Dandy told me that he hasn’t tried all that hard to get us a three-bedroom apartment because he kind of figured things with Dandette weren’t working out and if that was the case there was no need to take on a bigger, more expensive place.
I asked “When you say things ‘weren’t working out’ do you mean you thought she would volunteer to leave, or that you would in fact have the big icky talk asking her to?”
He said the latter. So even before I got all up his ass (this time around…) about kicking her out, he was kinda-sorta-maybe gearing up to do it himself.
I told The Dandy that I have some stamina left to deal with shit here – Dandette and I seem to have reached an uneasy truce where she doesn’t try to hug or touch or compliment me and I largely avoid her, and moving is a pain in the ass anyway – but that another Drunken Night of Horrors could easily get me pissed off and wanting to leave again. I’ve wanted to leave a few times already. And to be perfectly honest if I get to the point of wanting it badly enough that I actually do take steps to secure another place to go to, my relationship with The Dandy is over. There will be no salvaging us even if he kicked Dandette out forcefully and permanently on the spot; by then it’ll be too late, I’ll hate him for having let things get to that point. I love him and I don’t want to lose him but there’s only so much I can take, so basically he needs to do something about Dandette sooner rather than later.
I told The Dandy that I’ve been fantasizing soooo hard about us living in our current place without Dandette, and even come up with a game plan for how we’d function without her around to do most of the cooking and cleaning. Then got to talking about other things for a bit but a few exchanges later The Dandy was like “…So what’s this plan you have?” which I found encouraging.
Also the plan involved me only paying The Dandy $500 for my portion of the rent (for context, the apartment is $1600 – actually more like $1800 if you include the storage space we rent in the basement, which I have a bunch of stuff in so I benefit from it too) and he seemed perfectly fine with this.
I happened across an old paint sample of The Dandy’s – he wants to paint his room green, but hasn’t because it’s pretty packed with furniture so it would be a logistical nightmare; also I share the room with him now and I don’t especially like the colour he wants. I playfully mocked the shade of green again but added that hey, once he has his own room it’s his to do whatever with so go nuts. The colour I want in my living space is still a light, blue-toned gray, though, and I can’t wait. I think it’ll look amazing.
He said that if Dandette were to move out of here, maybe it would be easiest if he took her room instead of me – her room is dark red and he likes the red, so no need to do any painting.
Our room is a fair bit larger than Dandette’s and has a full bathroom attached. It’s quite a nice setup. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that The Dandy would be willing to give it to me – and probably for just $500/month, too. *Drools*
I mean it’s easy for him to say that while Dandette is still living here. Who knows if he’ll ever have the balls to oust her, or how he’ll feel about me having the bigger room to myself once it’s actually a possibility. It’s still a fun daydream, though.