“Whenever there’s a man involved, you have to be very clear,” said my gay husband Poodle as he sipped his eleventh vodka Red Bull and stared over my shoulder at a male model preening his plumage across the room at the Soho Club. “Straight up tell him he can’t bang other girls anymore. Otherwise, he’ll think he can.” I squinted at my watch: 1:30 am. “Christ!” I said. “I need to call Goody and tell him to clamber off the skanky ho he’s surely mounting as we speak!” Thankfully, Poodle vetoed that plan.
The sober reality is, having “The Talk” is always awkward and easily put off. The romantic in you wants to believe he’s yours and yours alone–and that there’s no need to even discuss monogamy. Sure, your cynical side assumes he may be getting it elsewhere… but who wants to waste a perfectly good evening by actually hearing about it? We were two months into our relationship and halfway through dinner at Park Avenue Winter when I finally got up the nerve to ask Goody whether or not he was hooking up with other women. “Of course not,” he said, giving me a smile and a wink. “That’s disgusting.” He tried to change the subject, but I was still tripping over the wink. Who winks? (Okay, the wink was kind of cute. Cryptic, but cute.) The tongue-in-cheek tone, however, I could have done without, especially given that he was on his way to Miami the following day. That’s the problem with dating Manhattanites–they habitually go down to warm up (their cocks?) in such hotbeds of sexual activity as Miami and Cabo. And Vegas…c’mon, it’s Vegas, baby! New York boys love to party, and whenever there’s cash and bottles floating around, enterprising temptresses are sure to follow. I’m not judging–hell, I’ve danced on my share of tables. But the shoe’s on the other foot when you’re trying to make a relationship work…and it’s a toe-pincher.
In one of my longest relationships to date, cheating wasn’t technically an issue, but his grasp on monogamy was questionable at best. A die-hard salsa enthusiast, my Latin boyfriend may not have been fucking other women, but “salsa” seemed to be code for grinding up on girls so aggressively that I often feared one would wind up pregnant. Worse still was the fact that we worked together–it was hard to recover professionally when Monday morning meetings would commence with the whispered apology, “I’m sorry my boyfriend humped your leg this weekend.”
Ever the gentleman, Goody never displays any interest in other women in front of me. In fact, with the exception of once telling me he thought Pink would be fun in bed (which I did find disturbing; to me she reads sweaty, drunk piglet) he’s never even commented on other girls. Even when I screamed, “Holy shit, she’s hot!” as Halle Berry sashayed on stage at the Golden Globes, he refrained from chiming in. But good manners and the aforementioned wink of promised fidelity aren’t enough to keep me from having the occasional jealous outburst. Just the other week, I held up a bobby pin I’d found on his bed-side table with a triumphant “Gotcha!”… before realizing that it actually belonged to me.
I agree with Poodle that you can’t just assume you and your new love interest are coming into the relationship with the same expectations–after all, you’re two different people with different relationship histories and experiences. Sooner or later, hard as it is, you have to spell some things out. I know how much it can suck, but you can’t lose your optimism (“jaded harpy” is not a good look). To that end, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve been left unattended in Goody’s apartment on multiple occasions and haven’t so much as opened a medicine cabinet. Maybe I do trust him… no wink necessary.