How a Kiss Outside of My Relationship Helped Me See a Way Out
In a relationship, there's a constant tug-of-war between reality and idealization. Absolute honesty is often the goal for new couples, but the complicated nuances of life inevitably strike with scenarios requiring little white lies or instances of withholding information. With the aid of time and conflict, dominos eventually fall into the spectrum of deception.
These factors can whirlwind around one of the most painful acts—physical intimacy with another person.
Action versus intention
Many queer relationships rebranded the concept of love and marriage altogether by separating the physical from the emotional. At least, that is what I thought until my partner didn't care to distinguish between action and intention.
"It was no big deal," I told Brian. "It meant nothing."
My defense lacked originality but not truth.
"It was my birthday party and in front of all my close friends!" he screamed back.
"He was about your height and skinny," Brian said when I inquired about my mystery kiss.
It was easy to glamorize the breakup like this rather than admit we were struggling to be together daily.
I pointed out that if this was true, he must know that's not my type—I preferred taller and more muscular. Didn't that prove vodka was steering the wheel? Innocent because of shots, your Honor!
"You can't use alcohol in court as a defense," Brian countered. I had forgotten about his legal job that paid for our—now only his—apartment.
Despite my friends assuring me I deserved it, I just couldn't agree. A three-year relationship shouldn't be terminated over an evening. That's 1,095 days trumped by a few seconds. But it was easy to glamorize the breakup like this rather than admit we were struggling to be together daily.
Brian and I disrespected each other in all sorts of ways. Arguments about me forgetting to close a cabinet or him taking me to a restaurant that didn't offer vegan options often turned into screaming matches.
"You're just like my sister! You need help!" he once shouted, comparing me to a diagnosed schizophrenic. Not to be outdone, I've criticized his COVID-19 weight gain as if he did it on purpose to annoy me.
I don't remember most of the reasons behind our arguments—which happened around the clock, daily—but I remember every insult sniped at each other. During fights, we immediately aimed for the heart or head, without pausing to consider less fatal blows.
Shouldn't a pattern of intentionally trying to hurt your partner be more of a cause for concern than a PG-rated smooch? Brian, like countless others, drew the line at any form of physical intimacy with another person, ignoring the trail of toxicity that came before. I didn't realize what an unhappy partnership I was in until I was forced out of it.
I didn't realize what an unhappy partnership I was in until I was forced out of it.
I regretted embarrassing Brian on his birthday, but it didn't mortify me the way it should have. When he asked how I would feel if the roles had been reversed, I didn't know how to explain my carelessness in his extracurricular activities. You can care for someone, consider them a vital being in your life, and follow the step-and-repeat of love without actually being in love. The immeasurability of feelings doesn't negate a spectrum, and we forced the chemistry of what could have been a great friendship into a combustive partnership, one we didn't know when to quit.
Taking all the red flags along the way as hostages, Brian and I had considered being together a long time as a reason to keep going. Perhaps my subconscious intervened when passion was fueled by complacency and familiarity. An affair is not always a reason to break up, especially not a drunken kiss, but it's worth using it as an opportunity to reexamine the relationship. Actions and intentions are often intertwined, even when you don't understand the why.
Maybe the same unexplainable instinct that prompted me into that stray kiss prevented me from returning to Brian. Perhaps I'd just learned better. In any case, it was taking a leap of faith in myself that rescued me from living in an endless loop of drama. Entrusting that same blind faith in feelings and gut instincts will likely save you.