Love in Limestone: Baby, it’s code outside

Photo by Susan W.

Dirty Deeds Entry

The day is unremarkable. It’s a day of cooking, and cleaning, and creating calm of the chaos from the week prior. But then… a song. And suddenly, the kitchen becomes my car on the highway at dawn during summer mornings that might as well be a lifetime ago.

This tune triggers a tremor in my heart. My pulse quickens. A surge. A sigh. A flash. A… hot flash. A hot throwback to weekends in a different city, in a different house, in a different bed over a series of weekends my body refuses to forget.

2 a.m. arrival. 6 a.m. departure. A routine; a dance. Passion, desire, thirst, lust. Two lovers entangled in the sheets, far from reality. Far from the glaring eyes of the inevitable. Knowing time was running out; knowing the night was threatening to become day. Knowing we couldn’t keep up this way. But finding ourselves becoming one, despite it all.

And each morning as I drove that stretch of asphalt home, this song would fill my speakers, becoming an anthem as I’d watch the sun French kiss the horizon.

Slowly, the song fades. My car returns to being my kitchen. Dishes in the sink. Laundry in the washer.

Deep breath. Slow your heart, young lady. And don’t forget to check the thermostat, I remind myself. It’s hot in here.

“But, I should tell you… I have a girlfriend.”

“I know this may be weird, but I’m kinda still married.”

“No, we’re not really together together.”

Listen, asshole. Only with pirates is the code more of a guideline. In the land of the real, I’d like to believe most of us women follow the tune of the code as though Moses brought it down from a mountain, inscribed on two stone tablets. Thou shalt not get down with another woman’s man.

Is it not bad enough that we females are already pitted against one another for looks, for brains, for jobs, for parenting, for fashion, for style and the foreseeable future? Why are we now thrust into a position where we’re pitted against one another for our own men?

For me, the most shocking part of dabbling in dating this year has become the responses from married, or at the very least, taken men. And the responsibility I feel when it happens.

I get that it’s 2018. Sometimes that guy is with that girl, and she’s agreed that he can link up with that other girl they both met at the pub. And sometimes they’re doing it together, or separate, or whichever else. Basically, this is all part of the uptick in the freedom of our sexuality (about damn time) – no longer do societal taboos play a role in our bedroom fantasies and liberties. Oh – you’re in an open relationship? Cool. Not my bag, but good for you. Polyamorous? Groovy. Do your thing.

BUT: cheat on your spouse? That’s not even a line in the sand.

That’s a barbed-wire-ten-foot-tall-surrounded-by-gators wall that should shock you harder and far longer than knowing Pete Davidson is still sleeping with Ariana Grande.

Ladies, it isn’t your job to keep your man on a leash (Although, the fact that so many married men, or at the very least, committed, men run astray just reaffirms why we walk our pets on a leash in the first place…). And I assure you, if it is your man who requires one, it won’t be because women like myself gave him permission.

But I find it nearly unbelievable how many unsolicited messages and advances for sex I’ve received from dudes who are in committed relationships.

If you know anything about how online dating works, it typically goes as follows:

You (rather shallowly) flip through a variety of pictures with short bios. You can decide if the person appears to be a match, and either swipe, click, or otherwise digitally lick the screen of the profile, sending an online signal that you’re interested in said other person.

Should the two of you ‘match,’ then the bull is let out of the pen, and the rodeo of messaging is begins. If at any point you need to corral the conversation, a simple ‘unmatch’ will suffice. In most cases.

But what do we do when we’re about two thirds of the way into a connection with someone who gets us, sees us, says all the right words; wooing us into their the web of charm and charisma, where we suddenly drop our guards in favour of moving the chat to a more intimate form of exchange – such as text messaging – just to get the, “I’m so glad we’re doing this. I should tell you though …”?

Your heart stops for a minute. They’re married? What the hell? They’re in a common law relationship? They’re living with their partner?

Screw the labels. What they are is unavailable. And suddenly you’ve been put in the hot seat. You think ‘What happens when buddy’s woman goes trolling through his messages and it’s yours she sees show up?’

I’d like to believe I’m not the only woman who responds with various forms of “quit talking to me.” My favourite thus far has been saying something to the like of “do better,” as though my admonishment of said individual is enough to have them draw back a clear thought and re-evaluate by saying ‘I am being a dick.’

Further to that, a quick online search asking the web why men continue to use online dating sites, despite having a partner at home, produced hundreds of results within milliseconds. Nancy Nichols even has an entire blog dedicated to detecting the signs as to whether or not the person you’re speaking to is, in fact, in a relationship. There are even accounts of undercover sheroes who are reporting back on the unfaithful husbands and boyfriends they’ve chatted up and consoled. (I guess I’m not alone in my plight.)

But why do we have to wonder, or decipher at all, to determine someone isn’t actually single?

There’s no good answer. Psychologists have various forms of reasoning, from childhood trauma, to men just being intrigued by the ‘dirty mistress’ motif, or even more simply: bored.

So if we can’t stop it, can’t avoid it, does that mean dating is off the table?

It becomes like all things – don’t let a few bad apples spoil the basket. Try turning those few fermented grapes into a glass of wine, and get out there again. And try again. Live by the adage that they are not your fault. Their relationship isn’t yours to save. Or solve. You did your part. You didn’t become part of the problem. You walked. Keep walking.

To date, I’ve met at least a half dozen men who eventually confessed that they were in fact unavailable. And while I was initially disappointed (waste of my goddamn time, but more so empathy for their spouse), ultimately, I’m glad their confessions came long before I considered taking any step forward with them.

Or made it any further than choking on a whiskey sour during the revelation and sputtering, “You’re kidding. Does she know you’re here? Go home.” No one has permission to make me the other woman. No one.

So it’s back to the drawing board for many of us. We can coerce ourselves into summoning up the courage to open Ok Cupid again and see what adventures may be awaiting this time. Or you could be like me, keeping the profiles open in the background while keeping one trained eye on the pseudo reconciliation heating up on the stove.

Either way. Happy dating, all.

Oh – and while I have you – follow the code, ladies. It’s far more than a guideline.

~ Lilly ~

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