The last few weekends have been a bit disappointing, relationship-wise. Andrew met my parents, and the following weekend, it was our one year anniversary.
The first weekend, Andrew and I went to the Lake District, to stay with my parents. It was his first time meeting them.
I went round to his, late on Friday night. My brother and his girlfriend were going to be staying in my flat while I was away, so as well as running around like a headless chicken packing my bag after work, I was also finishing my last bit of decorating and trying to make the place as hospitable as possible.
When I got to Andrew’s, I let myself in and found him in the bath, which was pretty cute.
We went to bed, and got up at the crack of dawn, on Saturday morning. Our train to the Lake District was at 7.30am from Euston.
We were there by 10.30am, which was pretty good. My parents met us at the train station, and drove us back to their house. We chatted in the car about the European Elections and things.
When we got to their house, Andrew and I went up to our bedroom, and they made cups of tea.
One of the things I find a tiny bit annoying about Andrew is that he has the food and drink tastes of an eight-year-old. He doesn’t drink tea or coffee, only hot chocolate. He’s vegetarian, but also has very narrow range of foods he likes. He only likes cheddar, so often doesn’t like the vegetarian option in restaurants, if it involves more controversial cheese than cheddar.
So, when my parents offered him tea, he said he didn’t drink it. They asked what he would like instead, and he said something vaguely about squash. They didn’t have squash, but my Dad went out to the garage and dug out various bottles of things like elderflower cordial, but then Andrew just opted for water.
My Mum had made lemon drizzle cake and some Grasmere Gingerbread, which Andrew eyed very suspiciously before having a tiny piece.
The four of us sat in the living room and chatted, which was nice. We talked about Andrew’s job a bit, and where he’s from, as well as my parents updating me on various news. They seemed to really like Andrew, apart from noting how tired he seemed. (He’d been working long hours all week. Also, I’ve noticed that when he’s in an anxiety-provoking situation but says he’s not nervous, he comes across really tired. I think he copes with anxiety by zoning out a sleepy way.)
After a while, we discussed what we wanted to do during the weekend. We agreed we’d have a power-nap and shower, then we’d go for a walk into the village.
We went up to our room and got on the bed. Immediately, the thought of having sex somewhere that we shouldn’t was too much for Andrew to ignore, and things started to get heated.
We had really good sex and managed to fit quite a few different positions in. It was on two single beds pushed together, but we didn’t let that stop us.
Then, we had a brief power nap. If you only nap for 15-20 minutes, it can boost your energy levels. Any longer, and you progress from stage 1 to stage 2 sleep, and feel groggy when you wake up. I set my alarm for 20 minutes.
Andrew always, without fail, says he hasn’t slept, when actually, many nights, his snoring keeps me awake. During the nap, I slept for about 10 minutes, and he was snoring away the rest of the time.
“I didn’t sleep,” he said, when he woke up.
I played him a recording of his own snoring, which I had taken with my phone.
We had a quick shower, and then went down and had some lunch with my parents. After that, we went into the village together. There’s quite a few nice shops and things.
Andrew bought us all ice creams.
He’d forgotten his toothbrush and tried to buy one in the village. The chemist had closed at 1pm (a common theme in our weekends away). In the little supermarket, they only had children’s ones, so he came out with shark-shaped toothbrush.
There’s a park with outdoor gym equipment as well as the children’s playground, and we had a go on that, before walking home by the river and fields.
It generally felt like it was going well; my parents seemed to like him and I felt proud of him. However, it felt like he wasn’t completely present. He was on his phone all the time, checking the football scores. He was also texting friends the whole time, as some of them are going to see a cricket match together in a few weeks, so he was arranging that.
At one point, we were walking back along the fields, and I was talking to him about something. He smiled, and I thought he was smiling at what I said, but then he said, “sorry, I was just thinking about something one of my friend’s girlfriend’s said.”
“Oh. What was it?”
“That we can restart our ‘bromance’ when we see each other at the cricket.”
I don’t think that’s hilarious enough to distract someone from listening. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a therapist, but not being listened to really fucking pisses me off.
A friend of my parents – a little old lady on a bike – popped around to remind them that they were invited to a small concert that evening, with her grandson playing the piano. Apparently Andrew and I were welcome as well, and ‘there would be champagne’.
My Mum said it was fine if we didn’t want to go, but we said we would.
Shortly after we got back, we went back out again, to the concert. It turned out to be at a great big posh house that my Mum had ‘always wanted to go inside’. The owners were friends of the little old lady, (who is also a massive name is the academic literary world) and had a big room with a grand piano in. The grandson was doing a music degree and had his final exam coming up, so the concert was to help him rehearse for that.
We arrived at the big house my Mum had always wanted to go inside, and were offered posh snacks and champagne.
We stood and chatted slightly awkwardly with the other members of the small audience. When I said what my job was, I was whisked away to be introduced to someone else who was a therapist.
I had quite a nice, strange but interesting chat with the other therapist and a female vicar. It turned out the Other Therapist was a psychodynamic therapist, which I’m very much not. At first, we focused more on the similarities of our roles, but a bit later on, she said she disparaging things about CBT, and I did this face quite a lot:
Then, it was time for the concert. We all filed through, into the big living room. There was 12 of us, I think.
The Grandson came in wearing a really smart suit, and we all clapped. He played various pieces for just under an hour. The music was really good.
It was a bit surreal – it reminded me of a cross between seeing a professional musician perform classical music at an actual concert, but also, because there was only a few us and we were basically in someone’s living room, it also reminded me of when my cousins and brothers and I all did a ‘play’ for our parents at Christmas, and pretended to be evacuees.
I had suspected Andrew might not have got as lost in the music as I did, as he doesn’t even really listen to normal music, but he seemed OK afterwards, as we walked back.
When we got back to my parents’ house, Andrew and I sat on the sofa and chatted while my Mum cooked dinner and my Dad brought us drinks and things.
Andrew told me about how his ex-girlfriend, Girlfriend One, had a job that was related to classical music. When they got together with her friends and they all talked about classical music, he couldn’t join in.
I said that I didn’t mind hearing a bit of classical music, but it’s not what I’d throw on at home.
We talked more about Girlfriend One, and I said, “it makes me cross really, because she didn’t appreciate how lucky she was to have you. I feel like I’ve won the lottery with you.”
Then I quickly added, “…not like the jackpot, like all 6 numbers, but, you know… 5. Maybe even 5 numbers and the bonus ball!”
Then dinner was ready. We had a nice dinner, with plenty of wine. My Mum had made a cashew nut stir fry which she had seemed worried about, but it went well.
Over dinner there was a lot of telling Andrew about various famous stories from our archives, and filling him in on dramas with family and friends. One of the things I like about Andrew is that he loves hearing about gossip. He remembers the details of stories about strangers he’s never met, and asks for updates at later points.
After dinner, we tried to catch the end of the Eurovision Song Contest, but we’d missed too much to know what was happening, so Andrew and I went to bed.
For some reason, when we got into our bedroom, we started messing around taking it in terms to put each other in the recovery position. I can’t remember how it started. Maybe he was lying down pretending to be unwakeable, when I got back from cleaning my teeth, something like that.
I thought I remembered my first aid training quite well, but he poured lots of scorn on my technique and told me all the ways I was doing it wrong.
Eventually, we went to sleep.
In the morning, I got woken up by him pressing his erection into me. We started moving towards having sex.
Whereas the other times we’d had sex that weekend, he’d been quite dominating and bossy, which I often like, I felt this time I really wanted it to be more loving. I don’t know why, but that was what I needed.
Maybe I wanted to feel like he wanted sex because of his feelings for me, instead of him just waking up with boner, and me happening to be next to him.
Unfortunately, he was still in dominating and bossy mode, and when I tried to say what I wanted, he took it as sex banter.
We ended up having this conversation for ages:
“Tell me you want to have sex with me,”
“No! You tell me you want to have sex with me!”
After a while, he sort of got it, and was paying me some attention, but I realised I wasn’t in the mood to come, so I suggested we move on to the penetration.
Andrew is very paranoid about me getting pregnant by accident, ever since I mentioned in passing that if I got pregnant, I would keep the baby. Sometimes I find it a bit annoying or even insulting, the level of worry.
Sometimes, after sex, instead of enjoying the afterglow, he’s inspecting the condom to check it worked. Occasionally, at a certain time of the month, a bit of white fluid can come out of me during sex, and one time he had a total meltdown when he saw white outside the condom and thought it hadn’t worked.
I find it annoying, partly because the level of paranoia seems to vary depending on his mood. Sometimes he’s obsessively inspecting the used condom, other times he’s happy to put it in without a condom. And for someone who is so obsessive about contraception, he rarely buys the condoms.
I’m not trying to get pregnant, but I probably do want children in the future, with him. He has said the same. If I did get pregnant by mistake, it would be a huge thing, but I don’t feel like it would be a total disaster. I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m not going to be fertile forever. Even though it wouldn’t be ideal, I’m probably in the best position that I’ve ever been.
He’s said a few things about it recently that have made me think we’re not on the same page about it. One time we didn’t manage to have sex because the condoms were causing problems for his erection, and he said, “I wish I’d had a vasectomy.”
Another time, I can’t remember how it came up – I think I was telling him about a new study I’d heard about on the radio, which found that if people with HIV are taking their medication, they aren’t at risk of passing on the virus to their sexual partner.
We were talking about HIV in general, and he said, “it would be worse to get pregnant than to get HIV.”
I think he was joking but I thought it was a really stupid thing to say.
I find his attitude to possible pregnancy quite immature.
Anyway, when we were moving onto the penetration that morning, for some reason something about accidental pregnancy came up. I think he was having trouble with his erection for a moment, and I suggested putting it in briefly without a condom, as that always seems to work.
He said, “No, I’m terrified of you getting pregnant,” even though other times it hasn’t stopped him.
I felt annoyed, and that coupled with him not getting what I wanted it to be more loving, meant that, just as he was about to put his penis in, I thought, I don’t want to do this.
However, I felt like it was too late to say anything, and we were using the last condom of the box, and I didn’t want to waste it.
We had sex, and I just wasn’t into it at all. And then I felt upset that he wasn’t realising how different it was to usual.
After a few minutes, he did look at me and ask if I was OK, and then I said it didn’t feel right, just as the sex ended.
I told him how I felt straight afterwards and he was really mortified, and said I should have told him.
We had a really good talk about it, and he was very apologetic, and I took responsibility for not saying anything. In a way, he didn’t do anything wrong at all – how could he knew that I’d changed my mind about the sex?
Then we moved on to talking about the pregnancy thing. He apologised for saying getting pregnant is worse than HIV, and for his attitude making me feel bad in general.
It was difficult, because it was getting late in the morning, and I knew my parents would be wondering why we hadn’t come down for breakfast, but it also seemed really important to carry on the conversation about how we felt about having kids.
I think we’re basically on the same page – we think it sounds like a massive ball-ache to become a parent, but nevertheless, we kind of want to. However, I have an extra dose of hormones and 35 years of society telling me that being a mother is all I should want, which he has less of. Additionally, Andrew’s perfectionism means he thinks he shouldn’t embark on having children unless he’s 100% certain he can do it well, whereas I think if anyone is 100% certain they can do it well, they probably won’t.
I said I thought I wanted children about 65%, whereas he said it’s less than that for him.
It wasn’t the best conversation we’ve had, but I think it’s fine. He definitely isn’t against having children, and even said earlier on when we were dating that he wouldn’t have wanted to date someone who was much older than him, as it would rule out having children. Other times he’s said he’s thought about it and thinks I’d be a good Mum.
Anyway, we finally, slightly uneasily went down and had breakfast with my parents.
After that, we went running around the lake, which I always love doing when I’m up there.
Andrew runs more than I do, and is used to running further. Whereas I tend to do 5K runs, he does more like 10K. Neither of us had been running for ages.
I said I usually do intervals of running and walking when I haven’t done it for ages, which apparently is weirdly better for fitness than straight running. I asked if he minded running like that, as I knew he was probably still much fitter than me, but he said that was fine.
I’d never been running with anyone before. I’d always done it on my own. It was my ex-boyfriend, Matthew, who got me into running, but we always used to run separately. I’d never wanted to do with anyone else before. I was proud to show off the route I do in the Lake District as it’s so beautiful.
(That was taken on a different, more wintry day.)
So, we set off on our run. On my running app, it starts out with a 5 minute brisk walk to warm up.
After a couple of minutes, Andrew said it was too much walking and he started running. Then, throughout the whole run, he just ran on ahead and left me behind.
I was using my running app to tell me when to do my running and walking intervals.
Initially, I caught him up and said, “do you want to just go on your own?” but he said No.
Every so often, he’d wait, but then run off again as soon as I caught up.
I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it really upset me. I hadn’t been running for ages so I felt really unfit. Normally I listen to a podcast when I’m running, because it distracts me from the pain, but I didn’t have one because I’d thought we’d be running together.
After the shit morning we’d had with the weird sex I hadn’t wanted to have and then the talk about having children, I had really wanted the run to be something nice we’d do and reconnect. However, when I was just running on my own, weaving out of walkers, I felt really alone and miserable.
When we got back to the house, I was doing my stretches and said, “why did you have to leave me behind!”
He apologised and said he wanted to run faster because he wants to lose weight.
When we got into our bedroom I was tearful. I was surprised I felt so upset about him leaving me behind, but knew I also felt vulnerable anyway after the weird sex and everything else. Plus, although I love seeing my parents so much, these days it makes me feel a bit tense and sad because I worry so much about my Mum’s memory.
Also, I know it was probably more stressful for him and for my parents than for me, because they were meeting each other for the first time, whereas I already knew everyone.
However, sometimes Andrew is much less effusive than I am. I kept telling him positive things my Mum had said about him, so he’d feel at ease, but he didn’t say anything positive back about my parents.
Whereas lots of my friends and other boyfriends have been vocal about thinking my parents are really cool and liking them, he didn’t say anything at all, which made me feel a bit protective of my parents, and worried he didn’t like them.
I think it was just him being him – the same thing happened after I met his friends and family. I kept telling him how much I liked everyone and what I liked about them, but he didn’t say anything positive back about what they thought of me.
Eventually I directly asked and only then did he reel off some nice things people had said.
He gave me a hug when I was crying, and I tried to pull myself together quickly because I knew we had to have showers and then go out in time for the Sunday lunch we’d booked.
The four of us went out for a Sunday roast, which was fine. He was pleasant and everyone got on well.
After lunch, we went back and had some tea and cake in my parents’ garden. Whereas the previous day he’d been constantly on his phone checking the football scores, this time he was on his phone checking the cricket scores.
Also, I feel like if he’d been upset about something, I might have kept it in mind and checked in a bit later about how he was feeling, but it seemed like he’d forgotten I’d been upset earlier.
Eventually, we said our goodbyes and got the train home.
Overall, the trip was fine. My parents liked him, and eventually he said he liked them as well. However, I felt a bit disappointed that he was on his phone all the time and didn’t seem completely present. Then, the weird sex and the heavy conversation cast a bit of a shadow, and then he pissed me off by leaving me behind when we were running.
It certainly wasn’t a disaster, but it was a slight disappointment. I don’t think it means anything serious; he’s starting a new job soon and I think he’s been preoccupied a lot with that.
The following weekend it was our one year anniversary, and I had similar feelings of disappointment.