I was reading this whilst on the toilet at the International Hostel in Santa Fe at 5 am, and the version I just read (which I think you just edited) included the part about petting the cat. That’s the part that nearly caused me to fall off the pot in hysterical laughter. I almost choked, because everyone else here is still fast asleep, and I didn’t want a crash in the can to bring folks running.

That was effing FUNNY. What a dichotomy. Part of what tickled me so much about this story was that- especially given that I have a long history of dating a similarly mixed bag- it made me appreciate very deeply what I do have. Those minor complaints- and boy are they minor- get raised to the level of OMG YOU REALLY ANNOY ME- and the truth is that by comparison to those whom we find threatening, dangerous, outright nut cases et.al. they are absolutely nothing.

The free-form circus that is late-in-life dating is for so many of us women a chance to take a dim view of the available smorgasbord, or to also pick among the pickings those tidbits that are genuinely worthwhile. As I read your before-edit story, I considered that my BF, whom I know pretty well, who dumped me no less than ten times in ten years without warning or provocation but who now lives in my basement- is not a particularly affectionate man. I crave touch. But here’s what your article forced me to looked at: had he done the same thing as your nut case, petted me constantly, I’d have done precisely the same thing. Sink my teeth into his hand. As with all things, there is a limit. There is always a lesson in this kind of thing. I like to be touched, but not THAT much. At that point you’re little more than a petting zoo with the job to purr in deep appreciation.

Nope.

The fundamentals that make the BF worth sticking with are solid. I don’t have to worry about a caches of ammo being carried into the downstairs bedroom. And I also don’t have to worry about a great many other things. He has his quirks, as do I, but his fundamentals are solid. We agreed back in May that were happier together than apart, and after a decade of to and fro (largely created by his job and a high level of indecision on his part) he has settled into togetherness. These days we’re just sorting out those bumps and idiosyncrasies that are inevitable with coupling. However he will be moving out when he gets another new job, and finds another place. Frankly, thank god. Not that I don’t like or appreciate him. More than we both prefer living alone. That makes the weekly get together celebratory, joyful, fun, intense and wonderful. I just prefer alone time. We both do.

What you described with this guy brought up an old term: “kept woman.” I haven’t heard or used that terms for decades, but as I recall, the notion is that you are “kept on the side,” like a mistress. Used for certain purposes, but not the primary relationship. You have value, but only on occasion. You have a job to do- decorate an arm, make him look good etc., but the rest of the time you stay in your place until requested to trot out on command. In return, you get ….something. I guess that depends on the relationship. Perhaps your apartment is paid for, food gas, whatever. It’s an old, quaint term, and most certainly there are plenty of women who accept these conditions as way to survive. I doubt this was your arrangement with Mr. Special Forces but for some reason I was reminded of same.

As I wrote before, it’s a laff riot. This BF is the love of my life even though I don’t much care for constant companionship. I’m convinced that the role of dating is, if nothing else, the opportunity to explore our boundaries both internal and external, to gather stories, and to look hard at what makes us tick. This guy demands anal sex, that guy needs constant petting, this guy is Silent Sam, that guy’s feet stink so badly that all the houseplants turn yellow. I’m sure they all have stories about us, too.

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Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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