I’m in a romantic relationship with a charming, handsome rock star. He has experienced successes as a musician, and has recently turned in years of touring, both nationally and internationally, for a quieter, more serene life. What he wants now is a job not on the front lines of music as an entertainer, but behind the scenes so he can focus on his immediate goals: marriage and eventual fatherhood. It sounds like every woman’s dream, being on the receiving end of such a man’s affection, but I don’t love him.
I worked in music and knew him for a year prior to agreeing to go out with him. I saw the way girls fawned over him, and promptly decided I wasn’t interested. We stayed in touch, as contacts and associates, and he’d occasionally text me drunk or with a snapshot of the mountains in Colorado or beach in Florida, but I kept our relationship casual, with no flirting on my end. I was aware of but paid little attention to the numerous women who entertained him. He was a rock star. Meanwhile, I fell in love and had my heart broken by someone close to home. It was struggling through this break up that he returned to the city we’re both from, and he texted me asking if I’d want to go out.
I texted back, “no.”
My phone chirped. “Okay, see you at five.”
I rolled my eyes. Rock stars. He showed up at my office at four fifty-five, persistent and happy as hell, asking if I was ready to go or if I’d have to go home to ready myself first. Although I meant it when I’d said no, I reasoned the night out was better than sitting on my couch again watching reruns of New Girl on Netflix and wondering if I too should find new male roommates on Craigslist. I thought about what my grandpa had told me drunk, countless years earlier: “best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.”
That night, countless women approached him at the restaurant and bar, squeezing their way past me into his line of vision, asking if they could take a photo or buy him a drink. He made no attempt to hide me, politely declining their requests and then introducing me, which attempts were met with a forced smile and eventual goodbye. It did make me feel special, to be with someone who was seen as such a hot commodity, but it didn’t make me value him as a human. The feeling was something purely egocentric and foreign, because I had always valued the quality of a person rather than their status.
Yet somehow our relationship progressed and before I knew it, we had agreed to see each other exclusively. He was elated, and I was miserable and still I didn’t know why other than I didn’t feel we connected on a spiritual or intellectual level. I met his producers, the guys who played in his band and even his family, and we had lovely times in each others’ company and in the company of others, but I knew all along I didn’t love him.
I’ve never lied to him. I’ve slept with two other men since we’ve been together and he knows. Both times, I called him to end the relationship prior to my cheating, and he simply says, “no, I’ll fight for you.” Once, in a desperate attempt to prove my actions were validated, I went through his phone while he slept. I expected to find that he was receiving sexy text messages at the very least, or going over past encounters in explicit detail at the very worst, but all I found was a few texts in which he’d mentioned his girlfriend once the woman got too flirty. That he was such a good person made me feel so terrible I cried. Each time I’ve told him I’ve cheated, he asks me to stop talking to the other men, and I oblige.
His birthday just passed. I put on my best heels, arranged a dinner with his closest friends, and played the part of lovely, doting girlfriend the entire night. At some point, his best friend pulled me aside and whispered: “he’s already bought a ring for you.” When he and I got back to his condo, we smoked Cuban cigars and drank Ace of Spades straight from the bottle. After he fell asleep, I went to the porch for a cigarette, tucked into my bra, and called the person I really feel for, who lives halfway across the country and has lived as much as I.
On nights we are apart I wonder if I am being too wistful, wishing for greener grass or if I am right in knowing this is fleeting, and increasingly trying to make him understand. I believe he deserves someone who loves him for him, not for what he can provide, but I too believe I deserve someone who understands me in all my wildness, who wants not to chain me but to run with me, who makes me see things in tangerine and azure instead of chrome and diamond.