How To Be My Rebound Boyfriend
“I’m not ready to really commit,” I tell you. “Me too,” you say, “I just got out of something serious.” What does that mean, “just”? A month or two years, it always feels like “just” until we fall in love again.
But this isn’t love, this is comfort, so we stand our ground at “just” and recreate their presence with old habits. You playfully bite my nose, which I know you did with her; I grab the hair on your upper neck, which always made him smile. But as hard as we try, the puzzle pieces don’t quite fit. Your idiosyncrasies I’m sure she found adorable fall flat. My head doesn’t effortlessly find that perfect indentation in your shoulder. And worst of all, your kiss leaves a stale, unpalatable aftertaste. While we should be reveling in the excitement of each other’s foreign attributes, we’re desperately grasping for the familiar.
What we lack in compatibility you make up for wholeheartedly with physical reassurance. Your hand always rests comfortably on my thigh from the drivers seat, and you publicly draw me into passionate kisses with reckless abandon. You play “perfect boyfriend” to a tee, because monogamy is what you do best. And I let myself get swallowed whole by your smothering affection, relishing that familiar feeling. There are even times when you desperately search my eyes for something more, and look just long enough that it tricks me into thinking this could be real.
But ultimately, our connection is completely aesthetic. You ask me about my day but not about my dreams, because we made an unspoken pact to skip the emotional baggage. Really we’re just two strangers, biding our time with some haphazard knockoff of relationships that we used to know.
You will never be him, and I will never be her. And that’s fine, I remind myself. I just got out of something serious anyways.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.