I Hate Thinking That My Boyfriend Has Had Sex With Anyone But Me
No one really thinks about what it means to be selfish.
Kindergarten taught us it was selfish not to share our Crayolas with Maddy. But as we grow older and enter the murky realm of serious relationships, sharing brings on a whole new meaning.
Twenty something years later and I’d gladly take the shirt right off my back if I had to. But I’d sooner die than listen to someone I love tell me about that experience that meant the world to them. You know, the one that doesn’t involve me. Now, I’m not talking about innocent puppy love anecdotes – I welcome those as gracefully as the next person – especially when my Facebook stalking indicates that the ex in question poses no real threat (2 kids, dental hygienist, you get the idea). However, the “experience” I’m referring to is one that involves having to vividly envision Person You Love fucking someone else. Recently.
The thought is all-consuming. You can’t sleep. You can’t pour your morning coffee steadily. You become involuntarily fixated, obsessed and paralyzed by a stinging truth: someone else has already been in your shoes. Or rather, your bed.
Although this person has made an admirable effort to stay out of your life, you can’t help but let the paranoia settle and simmer into your conscience: they’re out to get you and your man. Hide your kids. Hide your wife. The mere mention of their name breeds a new form of passive aggression that surprises and sickens even you. “What is she up to nowadays? Oh. Wow. Well, hopefully she finds her way.”
We don’t like to admit it, but that’s how we work. Once our webs intertwine with someone else’s, we begin to claim ownership, despite our hardest efforts not to. We forget that we too have held on tightly to the special memories that have shaped our past. It’s not that we aren’t glad our significant others had amazing experiences, it’s that we have a hard time swallowing a very key and obvious point: our significant others were O.K. before us. In fact, they were marvelous. And to add insult to injury, here’s what that implies: Our significant others will be O.K. and marvelous after us.
In other words, you are not as indispensable as you think you are. No one is. Not in relationships where self-identity is valued, anyway. So what does that make you? Replaceable. And humans, as Beyoncé proved for ten straight weeks, want nothing more than to feel irreplaceable. And we don’t just want to hear that we’re important, we want to know that we’re the most important. We want proof. We want it written. Not on paper, but on stone! With blood, dammit. We’re selfish like that.
Our selfishness all comes down to our inability to accept that perfect strangers were able capture the attention of our lovers, and that they too shared secrets in the dark. It is an insufferable thought, but it helps to remember that one day we may very well be that experience someone else is going to have to hear about. Your name and everything that is attached with you will inevitably ignite an eruption of anger, insecurity and paranoia in someone else. It’s a vicious cycle, and sometimes you’re ahead. But other times, you’re pouring over your keyboard on a Friday night stalking his ex-girlfriend on Twitter.
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Will it feel the same when you tell me you love me over the phone? Will the peacefulness of those words still floor me from thousands of miles away?
I was conflicted. It felt like one eye was trying to look away while the other soaked it up. I felt the heat rise in my face. This was wrong. But it didn’t feel wrong.
Any nervous flyer knows the progression of descending panic: bile, sweaty palms, social awkwardness and self-induced sedation.
I know how it feels when the weight of darkness crashes down onto your chest in the middle of the night, and how you wish things would stop spinning because the axis seems tilted now. I know, love, I know.