Separately, Happily Together Ever After

Maybe I'm just not cut out for living with a person day after day

Photograph by Getty Images

Two years ago, I started dating someone really wonderful. If you know me in real life, you are already sickened and disgusted by my in-love behavior. I’d hate me, too.

But really. When I look at him, I get all butterfly-y. I want to hear about every detail about his day, even the part where he had yet another salad for lunch. He’s nice to me, to my friends and to his mother. He hangs my Christmas lights, even though he abhors Christmas. He feigns affection for my completely unlikeable dog. (I am serious. This is the kind of dog only a mother could love, and yet he’ll scratch that creature under the chin, and my insane dog with his giant underbite looks at this guy like he hung the moon.)

Which he may as well have, as crazy as I am about him.

So, great. Everything’s great.

So why am I so confused?

It’s been two years, and we’re grownups, at least technically. And I feel this kind of … pressure from people. A few people asked me if we got engaged this Christmas. I can steadfastly confirm that we did not.

It seems like the world wants us to move forward with this thing, as if the part where we are really happy with each other, and happy with the status quo, is not enough. And the worst part is, I find myself being influenced by it.

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And here’s the thing. I’ve been married before, to someone I initially really liked a lot. And the years ticked by, and we seemed to like each other less and less. Eventually, my then-husband and I ate dinner separately, did our laundry separately, saw movies separately. It was like I had a really nice roommate who I didn’t have to deal with a lot. A really nice platonic roommate.

Now, was that the fault of us just not being right for each other, or was it because everything became humdrum? Am I just not cut out for living with a person day after day? I’m an only child and an only grandchild on one side of the family, and I spent quite a lot of time by myself, growing up. I like it that way. I used to get really irritated by my ex-husband’s constant presence.

The way things are now, I see my current boyfriend (“Boyfriend” seems so silly when you’re almost 50. My manfriend?) all throughout the weekend, then a few nights during the week. When we don’t see each other, I get pedicures and watch “Long Island Medium” (Shut up. It’s an excellent show!) and get together with my friends and garden and just generally enjoy the crap out of my life.

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The nights I see my manfriend, I shower and put on my Taylor Swift perfume (OK, shut up AGAIN. It smells really good!) and I wear something cute and the whole thing is kind of an event. And once I spot him, the butterfly-y feeling comes right back again.

Would it be so weird if we just kept doing this, till we’re, like, 90? Can’t I keep my place and he keeps his, and we see each other when we want and be there for each other when life’s miseries crop up? Wisdom teeth removals, nights we need someone to hear that we’re furious at the cable company, times I need a jar opened? We can be there for those things, and give each other space the other times. Why is that not enough?

And yet, I have my doubts. Does it mean we aren’t really right for each other if we’re not stampeding down the aisle already, or looking for a place together? Does it mean something’s wrong with the relationship, or with us? Am I just being a nutbar because my marriage didn’t work out?

Or is this just who I am, and what I want, and it’s OK that we just want to conduct this relationship as we see fit, and ignore everyone’s expectations?

I know so few happily married people. I don’t want to become miserable just because it looks weird for us to, you know, date for the rest of time.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow lived separately. And look how well that turned out!


Tags: dating

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