I thought I’d say more about how I ended up still living with my ex-boyfriend, and what it’s been like.
It started as a temporary solution, due to extortionate London rent prices. We both have plans for moving out, but neither plan can be put into action yet. I’m buying a flat, which inexplicably takes longer than you could ever imagine. He is moving in to the spare room of his best friend and best friend’s wife, but they themselves are currently moving house.
Lots of people seem surprised we’ve been able to make it work, but if I didn’t think he was a decent human, and didn’t enjoy his company, I wouldn’t have gone out with him for 3 years in the first place. I always tend to stay friends with exes. If I like someone enough to let them put their penis in me, hundreds of times, I probably like them enough to want to have a pint with them, every now and then. And it feels like we’re genuinely friends now. There have been times when we’ve cheered each other up, when one of us has been upset about something unrelated to our relationship.
But I guess it helps that the breakup was mutual, to some extent. My version of events is that we broke up because of his anger problems. When we were together, it seemed like he was much, much angrier with me – he was pretty calm with everyone else (with some exceptions, every now and then). It seems like since I stopped being his girlfriend, I’ve moved into the category of people he is calm with. So we’re actually getting on better than we did together.
I don’t think he thinks we broke up because of his anger; his memory of angry incidents would always be a bit hazy, so he didn’t really think it was a problem. I think he thinks we broke up because we just weren’t well-matched enough.
So, every night for the past few months, we’ve taken it in turns – one of us has slept in the bedroom, and the other has slept on the sofabed in the living room. (There is officially a second bedroom in our flat, but it’s absolutely tiny and, until recently, was full of boxes and junk).
One of the things that has bothered me the most, is how our living room has gradually morphed into a bedroom. Under normal circumstances, I don’t really want anything to be on the dining table, except maybe today’s post or a solitary vase, or of course our dinner.
Initially, I thought it was fair enough that his deodorant and hairgel starting living on the table, as he slept in the living room slightly more often. However, over the months, by a process of coastal erosion, more and more of the table has disappeared under a sea of handfuls of change, sweet wrappers, earphones, packets of tissues, half-eaten packets of Fisherman’s Friends, football season tickets, unopened post and pens.
“It’s fine.” I say, every day, through gritted teeth, as I shift things around and try and claim back a few centimetres of table.
One thing that adds an extra layer of discomfort to the situation is the lack of functioning doors in our flat. The main bedroom has no door at all, which we failed to notice when we initially viewed the flat. The bedroom is up a staircase from the rest of the flat, as it’s in the loft, but still.
So when one of us is sleeping in the doorless bedroom, and one of us is sleeping on the sofabed, the only door in between us is the living room door. Which doesn’t close properly, because it doesn’t quite fit the frame, since they did a half-arsed job of re-decorating the flat.
The second bedroom, such as it is, has not so much a door, as a plastic and fabric thing you can pull across – the kind of thing you would get undressed for your smear test behind.
The great thing about living in this doorlessness, is the wonderful sense of danger it adds to any masturbation that anyone might want to engage in.
There have been the odd weeks and weekends when one of us has been away, visiting family, away with work or house-sitting for friends (when certain events I’ve written about took place, such as my first date with Daniel, and the 3 hour phone sex conversation).
My ex-boyfriend asked me NOT to tell him if I start dating again. I guess in a completely ideal world, I might have waited until we stopped living together, but to be honest, life has felt a bit bleak lately, and dating has been a bit of fun to keep me going.
However, it’s tricky. I kind of feel like I’m having an affair or living a double life, and I feel terrible for lying. We still talk a lot about wherever we’ve just been when we come home, so there’s no chance of skulking in from a date and quietly going to bed. When I come home, he’ll ask where I’ve been, and I say I’ve been with a friend. He’ll then ask all about how the friend is. I don’t think he’s suspicious or trying to catch me out, he’s genuinely interested in how my friends are. So I’ve started texting whichever friend I’m supposedly with, on my way home from dates, so I’ve got some material about how they are.
At one point I wondered if he kind of knew I was dating, or even if we were both secretly dating and not telling each other. But since then, conversations we’ve had about future relationships have made me think dating is not on his radar at the moment. As did him taking it quite badly, when a plumber came to fix our leaky shower, and I joked about the plumber fancying me.
Shit, if that’s how you feel about the plumber, you do not want to know what else I’ve been up to.
One Sunday morning, I was lying in bed texting a guy (the Embrace the Awkwardness one). I was just reading a message about how he’d like to ‘push his cock deep inside me and fuck me’. I was definitely on board with this proposal, but I think I even said a flustered “goodness me” out loud, even though I’d been egging him on all morning. Then I looked up and my ex-boyfriend appeared in the doorless doorway, asking me if I’d like a cup of tea.
Things changed a couple of weeks ago, and my ex-boyfriend moved out for a whole month, to house-sit for friends who’ve gone travelling, so I’ve had the flat to myself.
The first thing I did was re-occupy the dining table. All of his bits and pieces and pocket detritus got confined to a box and put in the storage space in the eaves.
Then I moved some furniture around. We moved into this flat this Spring. Apart from the anger, one problem we had was that he was a tiny bit controlling, but subtly.
He didn’t do much unpacking when we moved, but whenever I did it, he’d get annoyed with me for not doing it how he wanted. It was really bothering me that things weren’t unpacked, and that some of the furniture needed moving or even reassembling. I ended up waiting and only doing it when he was out, hoping he wouldn’t notice when he got back.
So, it felt symbolically empowering to take a bit of control back and rearrange the rooms.
Then, I invited the sender of the racy text around here for dinner.
I realised I needed to put away more of my ex-boyfriend’s things. Although the dinner guest knew I’d been living with an ex – it wasn’t a secret – it felt weird to invite him round to a flat that still, kind of, looked like a couple’s flat.
I didn’t want to have sex with him, with my ex-boyfriend’s slippers peeping out from under the bed. I didn’t want to have post-coital wee with my ex-boyfriend’s dressing-gown looking on disapprovingly from the back of the bathroom door.
So I packaged up the rest of my ex-boyfriend’s things and put them away too. By the day of the date, I’d pretty much done an ex-boyfriend-exorcism on the flat.
The date went really well (which I can’t wait to write more about!). He left the following afternoon.
The next day, I went to Portugal for a week to join my parents, who were having a Seasonal Affective Disorder-defying winter holiday. My ex-boyfriend inexplicably said he was going to come back and stay for a couple of nights while I was away, as there were things he wanted to watch on the Sky Box or something.
I realised it might seem a bit brutal for him to come back and see he’d been completely exorcised from the flat. I didn’t want to return the flat to its exact pre-exorcism state, but, before I left, I got his boxes back out of the eaves and texted to warn him I’d moved things around a bit.
As I got ready for my holiday, I had a dilemma about the bedding. When we were swapping beds every night, we didn’t worry about changing the sheets. Since we had rubbed our urinary tracts together until quite recently, it seemed excessive to worry about sharing sheets. However, I knew it was disgusting and unreasonable of me to let him sleep in our bed while I was away, on the same sheets that I’d just had sex with another man on.
However, those sheets were pretty much clean on. I had put fresh bedding on, in honour of my date. I couldn’t face changing it again, after only one night. That would be about 59 less nights than usual.
Fuck it. It’s probably fine. You can hardly tell.
Until the next morning, when I was about to rush out to Gatwick Airport, and I looked at the sheets again in broad daylight.
Which was how I came to be frantically rubbing encrusted DNA off my almost clean-on sheets, with a baby wipe, right before I scurried out to Portugal.