My relationship with Brad devolved to a schizophrenic sort where it was hot and romantic while together but cold and silent while apart. The days of staying up late texting to share music or get to know each other were gone. Instead, I was left clinging to shreds of affection from Brad and growing more resentful with every comparison to my husband’s relationship with Amy. Him and I were in constant disagreements about whether to open up to other people. He finally relented to me reactivating our swinger’s profile. Despite this half-hearted concession, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the world of swinging. Having had a taste of a poly-lite relationship, I wanted another go at one, but this time with a partner who was more experienced and ready. Finding that on a swinger’s website would be like finding a rare gem in the vast empty sea. I felt like a prisoner in my open relationship and the irony tasted like burnt copper in my mouth.
Finally, my breaking point came.
It was one of those rare moments where Brad and I were texting live. Our conversation went from light to heavy as I told him I wasn’t feeling like my needs were being met with our situation. He said he understood but felt that he couldn’t meet them. Although it stung to hear, I still had a small nugget of optimism that there was a miscommunication. I rationalized to myself that maybe he thought the word “needs” was too ambiguous or overwhelming of a word. I reasoned that maybe he translated “needs” into “falling in love”. I didn’t want love with him as much as I wanted to explore a lighter version of emotional intimacy. In fact, I was still very scared of opening myself up to loving another person other than my husband. Suddenly it was clear that all I needed to do was clarify what he thought I meant by “needs”. Optimism flooded my heart once again. With one last hopeful reach, I asked him what he thought my needs were.
My fingers traced impatiently over my iPhone while waiting for his reply. When I heard the distinctive ping, I felt like a schoolgirl again. My heart was a nervous flutter as I opened his message.
His response read:
“I believe your needs are…
I blinked several times while trying to process his text. My imaginary conversation of explaining how I didn’t want love slipped away with any remaining hope. Yes. Of course those were my needs. In fact, they are my basic human needs for a friendship! Brad was telling me he couldn’t give me affection, communication, or reassurance?
The floor dropped out from under me. Intense feelings of vulnerability and panic froze my inner child. The sensations that I felt in my body were like drowning. My lungs filled up with the dark emotional waters that I had been so furiously trying to tread. I could kick no longer and I slipped downward into the murky pit of anger, rage, insecurity, injustice, envy, and jealousy. On the outside, my facial expression went blank as my heart tried to disconnect from Brad.
I was in protection mode when I very coldly typed my reply, “Thank you for letting me know. I cannot be with someone who cannot meet my basic human needs. Goodbye Brad.” Part of me knew that this decision was not just affecting myself. As I clicked send, I knew I had to face my husband in the morning and the thought chilled me.
I felt guilty, but I also felt free.