The pandemic was about seven months in. At that time, Paul and I had been together happily for almost 1.5 years when he broke the news—he was not happy and wanted to break up. I was perplexed because, at that time, I thought we were fine. Everything in our relationship was fine. We respected each other, we valued the same things, we made each other laugh. We had rarely had a fight, and we could talk and talk for hours over everything.
Before we broke up, he did mention to me a few times, in serious discussions, that he had not gotten what he wanted—sex wise. Up until then, we had had sex at the very least once a week if not more. I asked him how much sex a couple should have? He said to me in a deadpan way, “I want to do it every day.” I was appaled. Things were running inside my head; he couldn’t be serious, he just didn’t like having sex with me. Or he didn’t want to.
“So you’re saying that you’re dissatisfied? You’re not happy with what we have now?” I said. He sighed. “It’s not also because of the quantity. I have this….feeling of discontent. I’m not 30 years old yet, and I want to do more with other people. With more people. I don’t think I will feel fulfilled if I stay longer in this relationship where I know I won’t be able to try things out with someone else.”
Before that night, I told him that I wanted a long-term, monogamous, committed relationship. Married or not, it didn’t matter to me. But I needed that stability in my life. And I told him that there was a deadline to this; I couldn’t stay forever not knowing if this relationship was rock-solid.
He packed up and left that same night; he thought it was weird to sleep together on the same bed when we practically had broken up. I was left numb; couldn’t move, couldn’t cry. What did I do wrong?
Paul insisted that we should still be friends. I told him that I wasn’t the type who stays friends with my ex(es). If we’re through, we’re through. There would be no keep in touch after, no going back together. I had blocked my exes, and he would be treated the same.
Why? He asked. He persuaded me that he had been keeping contact with his exes, and he preferred it that way. He liked the friendship that we had together, and he wanted to be able to have it still. Nuh-uh. I told him he couldn’t just have a piece of me every now and then. It would be all or nothing. I let him leave without saying goodbye because I didn’t know how to.
We kept in contact for a few days after that because we needed to settle a few things. He still had some of his things at our/my place that he needed to take because I would leave the city, go back to my hometown at the end of the month after the rent was finished. He tried texting me a few times to talk about things outside of business. I tried my best to be polite.
About one week and a half later, everything was almost done. I packed my stuff. We had settled our shared bills. There was still a thing or two of his stuff lying around which I determined to send back to him as soon as possible.
He texted, saying that he needed to talk. One last time. I asked him why. He said he had something urgent he needed to say. I invited him to come that evening.
“I’ve tried it,” Paul said.
“Meeting other people. But it doesn’t work. I couldn’t find anyone else like you.”
I stared at him blankly.
“The conversations I had with other women were empty. I don’t think I can build something entirely new with a stranger and get at best half the things I have with you. Everything reminds me of you. I even unconsciously blurted out our lingo when I talked to someone else. I know it is not going to work.”
I stayed quiet. He sighed then continued.
“I really want to get back together with you. I think now I’m ready to commit to you. I will do what you want: long-term, monogamous, committed relationship, the whole shebang. But I have a few terms: we have to go out more often: get out of the house, traveling as much as possible under the current circumstances. I also want us to do more and different things sex-wise. I want to try out new things with you.”
Indeed we haven’t gone out much because of the pandemic. And the fact that we stuck with each other under the same roof for seven months took a toll on us. Especially on Paul.
I finally broke into tears. I yelled at him telling him he’s a jerk for leaving me all of a sudden just like that. I was then able to express how I felt, after the breakup. Paul smiled and asked, “Why do you only do this now? Where was all this before?” I said, “It took me a while to digest my feelings.” He looked relieved and then hugged me. I didn’t turn him down.
Sex is, of course, an important part of our relationship. But until that moment, I didn’t realize just how much it means to Paul. Obviously, it means so much more to him than to me. We did talk about sex before: if we’re satisfied, if we get what we want or what we need. We even talked about our past experiences. But there was always amiss, hovering in our relationship. The conversations were never properly concluded.
As much as I’d like to think that I’m a feminist and a proponent of gender equality, I was a traditionalist in bed. I used to just let Paul direct; be the submissive girl like what society expects me to be. But that’s not what he wanted. He wants an equal partnership in bed.
“I want you to teach me. I want to make it work,” I said. Paul nodded and held me tighter.
Now I’ve learned to change my mindset. Sex is not what defines our relationship, but it is crucial. Both Paul and I need to learn how to make it better in terms of quality, and it has to start with learning how to communicate better.