To finally be in a relationship after a year and a half of almost-zero romance is turning out to be way more difficult than I thought it would be. Apparently there are elements of a relationship that I’d forgotten. No wonder I’ve always felt it’s easier to be back with one of my exes than to start with someone new. The whole getting-to-know-someone process is long, complicated, and often tiresome; especially if you include expectations and speculations. And let’s not forget skeletons knocking from inside the proverbial closet.
When you’re starting a relationship, you’re generally curious about the other person. In my case, it’s more like an obsession, an intense desire to know everything including habits, childhood experiences, phobias, fantasies, and, the coup de grace: past relationships and ex-boyfriends. Information is power. Plus, there’s a lot you can learn from history.
Unfortunately, not a lot of men are willing to expose their past to the extent that I wish them to. Of course I should’ve known better. People are strange when it comes to their deep, dark secrets. I’ve known one of my closest friends for close to ten years and he still wouldn’t tell me who the first person he slept with was.
The same goes for my current boyfriend. Although he claims that he’s told me everything, I suspect ‘everything’ is not what he claims it to be. It’s a little hard on my ego for me to accept that because, as I said, information is power. Therefore without it I feel somewhat vulnerable. I also find it rather offensive because there isn’t anything that he can tell me that would alter how I feel about him. The fact that he doesn’t trust me enough to share everything – while demanding it from me – makes it a doubly-annoying blow.
“I was a jerk.” He said. “I hurt a lot of people along the course of my life and it’s not something I feel comfortable discussing with you. Besides, I’ve told you everything you need to know.”
And I was supposed to accept that?
“What’s wrong with telling me everything?” I told him. “I tell you everything about me.”
“I just don’t want to.”
I frowned and reached for a cigarette. From the way this conversation is going, I need some smoke to match the figurative one he’s blowing.
“You don’t want to?” I echoed.
“I’m not comfortable with it.” He said like it was the end of the discussion.
“Do you think I feel comfortable telling you everything about me? Still, I did because I want you to know me and I want to know you.” I pushed on.
He was silent, sort of just stared at me with a patronizing smile as if I were a spoiled and insolent little brat. I resisted the urge to stomp off to the other room and prove he was right. Instead, I took a long drag from my cigarette before exhaling slowly, trying to marshal my thoughts and arrange my next words.
“Well?” I said.
That didn’t come out quite as I expected it to. It made me sound whiny and pathetic.
He continued to hold on to his annoying smile while he said with a condescending sigh. “You wouldn’t understand.”
I squinted and sucked in my cheeks. Reaching across him, I stubbed my cigarette out in the ashtray on the bedside table and laid down with my back to him, facing the wall. If he’s going to treat me like a kid, I’m going to act like one.
He put a hand on my shoulder and I shrugged it off. He tried to hug me from behind and pushed him away. He kept trying and I kept resisting. I know it was immature and unnecessary, but he pushed my buttons; all the wrong ones. He finally gave up and rolled over to the other side of the bed, leaving me to simmer with my troubled thoughts.
After he left the next morning, I still couldn’t stop thinking about it. In fact, it was all I could think about while I showered and got dressed for another brunch appointment with friends at Cali Deli. Was I just being selfish or oversensitive? How important are secrets and how deep can you go digging for them? In a relationship, in order to have a present and future, must the past be forgotten?
That was four days ago. I haven’t seen him since our last conversation. We’ve only been communicating by mobile phone, mostly text messages. After what happened last time he doesn’t seem as eager to come over and spend the night as he used to be, which explains why it’s well after midnight and I’m still awake and alone, typing away on my notebook, eating fruits and yogurt, still not finding the answer to my questions.
I decide to call BB in case he’s still awake. I feel like I need to talk to someone about this. Luckily he picks up his phone on the second ring.
“Well, I don’t generally want to know that much about the person I’m in a relationship with,” He explains.
“Why is that?” I want to know.
“Mostly it’s because I don’t want them to ask too many questions about my past as well.” He replies with a laugh. “Besides, even though they often ask questions most people are seldom prepared for the answer. What if their feelings toward me change when I give them a completely honest and honestly complete answer?”
“My feelings won’t change.” I respond a bit defensively.
“No, your feelings won’t. Then again, you’re not exactly most people, are you?” He says.
I do realize that some people have more to hide than others, which makes it harder for them to reveal their past. It might come from fear of judgment or prejudice or a need to project a certain image in front of others, but for whichever reason it is done, it’s very understandable and human.
“Could it be that people see a new relationship as a chance to start over with a clean slate?” I question further. “Hence they do not like to be reminded of their past, especially parts of which they feel embarrassed or guilty about?”
BB’s silent for a moment before saying, “Of course, Micha. God knows they are things I hope my boyfriend will never find out about me, just as there are certain things I’d rather not know about him.”
To be honest, I used to think that when I’d have a relationship I would know everything about my partner and that he’d know everything about me. I thought we’d share everything and that there’d be no more secrets between us. However, past and present relationships have taught me that it may not be the case, nor will it ever be.
Sometimes I wish it could be easier. When I was younger and more innocent – or naïve – I believed that love would conquer everything. I thought love in the present would change whatever kind of past into a better future. I still hope for it now.
I suppose I have to accept the fact that there will always be something about the people I love that I don’t know. Maybe I should just live with that. Still, having that knowledge or even accepting it doesn’t change how much it sometimes hurts.