A cute 30ish couple in the early stages of romance were sitting next to Sean and me at the sushi bar last weekend. As their appetizer plates were being cleared away, the guy excused himself to go to the bathroom.
And then his cell phone — in the pocket of his jacket — started ringing. I could see the woman tense up, and I knew exactly what was going through her mind — who the heck’s calling him at 8:30 on a Saturday night?
She didn’t say anything to him when he came back, but she didn’t have to; the voicemail beeps were enough to alert for him that someone had called. He took the phone out of his pocket, glanced at the missed call number, and placed it back in his pocket without missing a beat. She smiled, a tense smile, the whole time.
It took less than a few minutes, but I could tell it planted the seed of something that will last a lot longer — relationship insecurity. Haven’t we all been there? Our sweetie gets a call or a text at an unusual hour and our mind starts wandering.
Or perhaps we do more than wander; we look.
Is it ever OK to look at your partner’s cellphone texts or computer emails? Is it ever OK to listen to your partner’s voicemails?
Without permission, of course.
People do it all the time — that’s how Elin caught Tiger and it’s how thousands of other couples did, too. And, that’s how I caught a former boyfriend, and it’s not something I’m particularly proud of.
What makes someone look at or listen to someone else’s private stuff? Curiosity, no doubt, which, according to the old saying “killed the cat.” Yeah, well, looking didn’t kill me, but it did kill the relationship. He didn’t dump me for looking — although that probably was in his right. In any event, he wasn’t too happy about it. But, by looking I suddenly knew too much, although, hey, it was certainly stuff I needed to know — he was cheating on me!
So I dumped him.
Do the ends justify the means?
Didn’t I become just as deceitful as he was by poking around where I had no right to poke?
Why did I look? Probably because I already knew on a subconscious level that something was wrong between us, as most of us do who look or listen. If you look, something — like trust — is missing or something — like insecurities — is present in your relationship. Maybe both.
I swore I’d never do that again because it revealed an ugly side of me that I just didn’t like. I didn’t want to be that person. And, I have kept my word to myself. But that doesn’t mean that my heart hasn’t skipped a beat when Sean’s phone rings at a weird time. Although I’d feel totally OK asking, “who’s that?” But I often don’t. Because I trust. And if somehow, some way I shouldn’t trust anymore, I feel pretty confident it will eventually be revealed without me having to go looking for it.
- Is it ever OK to look at someone else’s text messages or emails, or listen to someone else’s voicemails?
- Have you done it? Has someone done it to you?
Photo © Nevena Kozekova – Fotolia.com
This should probably go in the What Would Kat Do category, but since that page doesn’t allow comments (as if!), I decided to post it here.
A fan (and I still have problems with that; shall we just call him a reader) recently wrote to me, and after a few back and forths, he agreed to let me tell his story. It isn’t a happy one.
“Jay” is a 46-year-old man, fit (by his definition), kind (ditto), smart (ditto) and, self aware (and given the exchanges we’ve had I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that). Jay isn’t happy because his wife of 20-plus years — whom he loves and with whom he has kids with — is no longer interested in sex. The problem is, Jay is — very much so. In fact, he thinks about sex a lot, especially since it happens so infrequently. And he’s wondering at some point if women lose interest in sex entirely.
Good question, Jay. And the answer is … yes and no.
But, before I get ahead of myself. Let Jay put it in his own words:
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now a one thing I really appreciate is that you seem to be a woman who loves and enjoys sex.Boy , do I need to know that exists! It gives me hope that there are middle-aged women (and please don’t take that the wrong way) who still like sex.
The problem is, I’m a middle-aged man who enjoys sex, too — very much. But my wife doesn’t — although she did in our early years — and that has created a lot of stress in our marriage. I’m not ready to give up sex yet, but I can’t seem to get my wife to feel the same way. She’s just not interested in sex — in any variation— but I still am. And I’m attracted to her, even though she’s put on a few pounds; at 45, she looks good.
I asked her to go to couples counseling with me; she says we don’t need it (she suffers from depression, but doesn’t like the way meds make her feel). I asked her to talk to her doctor about it, but she says there’s nothing wrong with her. I’ve tried getting her to watch porn; intimate nights of just touch and cuddling; romancing with candlelight, soft music and her favorite food. I’ve done the “daddy porn” thing — cleaning the house, doing the laundry and taking the kids (11 and 14) out so she can have time alone. You name it, I’ve done it.
Not even a blowjob.
I’m not asking for crazy sex like the “rear door” (not that I’d mind); just the old missionary would be fine.
I don’t want to get a divorce, but short of having an affair , which I’m morally against, and pleasing myself (which I do, but it can only go so far), what can I do? It’s making me feel a little crazy. And very, very frustrated.
Signed: A normal sexual man.
Thanks for writing. Wow— that’s one of the saddest stories I’ve heard in a long time. But, you know, not all that uncommon. A lot of women lose interest in sex, but I just don’t understand that! What’s with you gals?
I can tell you that an affair isn’t going to make things better; oh, sure, it will be fun and exciting, but it won’t help your marriage.
But rather than me tell you what to do, Jay, I’ll let my readers — who are infinitely wiser than I am — offer their advice.
Readers, what say you?
Sara, her new beau, and Sean and I had gone out to Rancho Nicasio to hear some music, eat and dance.
At one point I caught Sara watching Sean and me in a slow dance out of the corner of my eye.
“You guys are so cute together,” she whispered to me later at the table, when Sean went to the restroom. “When are you going to move in together?”
Good question, because I’m not sure we’re ever going to move in together. But certainly not now.
“I don’t know, Sara; not before The Kid’s out of the house. Plus, his kid’s at home, too, remember.”
“Oh, kids, schmids —That’s so old-fashioned. They know you two are sleeping together, right? So, what’s the difference?”
I know, I know — I’m divorced. If marriage really mattered to me …
No one goes into marriage expecting to divorce. But, marriage does matter, if you’re planning to have kids.
Marriage is under attack lately, perhaps rightly so given the insane expectations people place on it. Fewer people than ever before think it’s necessary. Let’s face it, marriage certainly isn’t for everyone. And people often get married for all the wrong reasons, and sometimes couples marry because they’ve been living together for a while and it seems like the next logical thing to do.
Often, it isn’t.
Couples who live together before marrying tend to argue more and communicate less. If they eventually marry, they divorce more often than those who don’t. Plus, they get fat, and that alone is reason to make me say, no way!
But it you’re going to have kids, it makes no sense to live together without getting married first. Shacking up is marriage lite, with all the daily annoyances and relatively predictable roles of marriage without the commitment. And if you think it’s any easier to split if things aren’t going great, well, just look at Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry.
And once you have kids — who’ve gone through the trauma of a divorce — it’s all the more reason to tread very carefully on mixing families. Yes, it sure would be nice to go to sleep and wake up next to Sean more often, and to feel more like a family (although we sure do like our “space”). But I’m aware of the message we’d be sending our kids, and it isn’t the message I want to send.
There are like 5 million or so couples shacking up nowadays, and a lot of them are probably like Sean and me — single moms and dads. So I’m pretty sure we’re the minority. But, I’m OK with that. Plus, there’s none of the real or pseudo “step” or “half” things going on — stepmom, stepdad, half-brother, etc. Or worse — “mom’s live-in lover.”
I’ll bet that’s why we’re still so cute together after all these years.
- Is it OK to live together if you and/or your boy/girlfriend have kids?
- Do you think it’s any easier to split if you’re living together with kids than if you were married?
- Did you live with a parent’s boy/girlfriend? How’d that work out?
Photo © Gorilla – Fotolia.com