Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Beware the virtual friend

Another person I've asked about open relationships is Aaron. Aaron is stretched out on my massage table and I'm giving him a massage. He has a cold and is feeling shitty, so he's at my mercy. He snuffles and blows his nose while explaining how when they first met Polly was the one with play partners and Aaron felt insecure and had to be persuaded. Now Polly is busy with her career and Aaron is the one who wants to play - and not just play but have romances and relationships on the side.

I ask him how things are going with Polly. There was definitely something wrong when they came (separately) to my birthday breakfast a few weeks ago. "Not good," he says. "We're great sexually and intellectually but I need romance. Polly wouldn't say I'm at all romantic but I am really, just not with her. I need to find someone to feel like that about." I ask if having an open relationship is why they might split up and he says no.

Polly and Aaron have been together for a couple of years. I thought they were one of the most solid of my friends' relationships but a few days ago my newsfeed told me that Aaron is now single. God, don't you hate the way Facebook does that? Me and Virgil have not changed our Facebook statuses to announce our relationship, although I've had moments when I've wanted to and thought it would be nice, like a public avowal of commitment blah... Now I remember why it is an awful idea.

The Facebook page of one of Virgil's Facebook friends, which he flicks closed as I glanced at his laptop screen in bed on Saturday morning, draws a surge of gloom and jealousy. We are about to watch the leaders' debate together. I glimpse a brightly coloured professional shot of a vivaciously attractive woman and think he is flirting with someone. Even if he isn't, I tell myself, this is exactly what he will be doing in the not-too-distant future. Virgil has thousands of Facebook friends. He uses it for his business and for networking, and he knows a lot of performers and pretty girls through his work too. I meet no hot people in my line of work. It's not fair.

We start to watch the debate. I lie stiff and silent as a board. A small cloud gathers over my side of the bed. Virgil's far too sensitive sometimes. "What's up?" he asks, "I don't feel that we're together in this anymore."

I sigh. I say nothing. Then I say "It's nothing," in a very feeble way. I say, "Let's get up and have some breakfast. We haven't time to watch this now." Agh! he says, and goes into the kitchen to cook.

I won't make eye contact. I think I'll keep this bad mood to myself and learn stoicism, but I'm utterly incapable. I wish I were somewhere else, but we live together. Eventually over breakfast I have to tell him what happened. It's embarrassing. I've never been so paranoid and jealous before.

He says it's so and so... - a performer I've heard of. I think he says that I've met her but I can't remember. It's her birthday and he's writing her a birthday message. He says it's ok to feel like that, that it's not stupid or wrong. I feel a bit better, but not much.

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