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Knowing how male spermatozoa swim upstream in search of female ova doesn’t tell you how long to wait for someone to call after a first date or whether you should wait at all.It doesn’t suggest how many times to forgive a partner who cheats, what to do if your partner hits you or verbally abuses you, or when to move in together, and if possible, get married, and when, if necessary, to pack your bags and leave.
Fast forward a couple of years and, amazingly, we’re now comfortable enough with this person to take a shit with the door open, wear their clothes without asking, and eat the last piece of pie without finding out first if they were saving it. Gordon(This essay first appeared at Sapience Magazine, December 2005.)1“If he makes even one mistake,” Darren said, “I’m telling you right now, he’s out.”Over brunch, Darren had just finished catching me up on the relationship he’d recently ended.We were now envisioning the prospect of a future lover.If the next man needs to use our relationship to figure out how to be honest, then he can go learn somewhere else.”I thought about my relationship with my partner, the mistakes I’d made even that morning, and the ones I would probably make by the end of the day.Sometimes, when I was in a particularly cynical mood, my long-term relationship of twelve years felt defined by the mistakes — with the occasional reprieve of companionship and sex thrown in.
“I’m tired of being taken advantage of,” he continued. Gary was constantly flirting, always letting his phone go to voicemail when we were out together.