Any relationship is an investment. You put in energy, time, emotion, stress, effort and finances, you may give up parts of your dreams and life plans for it, but, in return, it can come to satisfy you in ways you have pre-determined you want to be satisfied, and also in ways you couldn’t have imagined. And, perhaps, in ways that make up for your sacrifices, and yield returns greater (in your estimation) than those you put in.
As in any investment, you need to be able to monitor the market over time, to see how your money is doing. In relationship terms, that’s knowing what’s going on with your partner. If they’re not telling you, then it’s as if you’re investing blindly. You’re getting advice from no one—accountant, analyst, financial advisor—and you’re almost bound to lose it all. You can’t navigate the ocean blindly without a map, barometer, sextant, periscope, you name it, and expect to reach your destination undeterred or unmolested.
I needed to obtain something, anything, to give me insight. Her emails, texts, journal entries—they became my indices. They were my way of viewing the market, and how she was turning around and spending my funds. They were all I had.
You’ll just have to believe me that I had no intention of gaming the system to make myself rich at someone else’s expense—i.e. to use insider information (which is what it was) against her to emotionally manipulate or blackmail her and tip the partnership in my favor. I understood that it’s a marketplace; it’s going to do what it’s going to do, based on outside pressures—government intervention, overseas investment, local investment, random fluctuations based upon the general volatile nature of the thing. There was nothing I could do to stop it.
I just needed to know when to cut my losses and jump ship. And this was how I was going to figure it out.
Invasion of privacy? Yeah. Done without her knowledge? Obviously. Did it serve to fracture our relationship entirely? Potentially. Could I come out looking like the villain here? Absolutely. But, again, all relationships are investments, it’s just a matter of how good an investment it is for you, and vice versa. And how honest your partner is actually being with you is a big indicator, and determines your concept of that. If she’d been my advisor, there would have been no need. I was certainly willing to be hers, if it had been a free and honest marketplace. Which it wasn’t. By her doing things that made her untrustworthy with my capital (i.e., what one invests into a relationship), and then keeping me in the dark about it, as it stood, without that info, I was a chump. A rube. A soon-to-be loser. And broke.
She had my cash, and she was doing whatever she wanted with it.
It wasn’t personal, it was business.
The messages I read on her phone between her and her d-bag bestie were the worst of the lot, and entirely different in tone than the ones to the ethical non-monogamist guy friend she used to screw, the ex she was still partially in love with, her sister, her mom and her local friends. It was like she would regress into a senseless, texting tween with him, and the things they would say were almost out of some kind of futuristic, fantastic conception of the world that they were old enough to know would never come to be.
I said I’d reprint some of them here, but I realized I was getting too pissed off reading them again, so I decided not to. But they were pretty shocking to see. It was like a series of carpet bombs being dropped on our relationship, all at once. And, like actual impacts, they just fucked everything up around them. And who started to appear as a result, but those little Taliban and Khmer Rouge guerrilla-thoughts of terror with their radical, wayward ideologies, trying to take things over.
Who are like impossible to exterminate, by the way. If the history of warfare has shown us anything. Until they take hold of the central government and just strangle it from within, more or less destroying themselves in the process. Fuckers.
So, emotional shock aside, I knew it was time now to defund the whole endeavor before it ever reached that point.
But the nullifying process isn’t so easy as one might think; divesting emotional capital from a relationship takes far more than just: ‘Overnight a cashier’s check back to me, you slimy crook, or I’m going to the Feds with all you’ve done’. Part of me still wanted to play the market, with her as my advisor. Because she’d made me some decent cash at points. Even the losses had been fun sometimes.
Fortunately, my Stockholm Syndrome didn’t last for too long. Not letting her know what I knew, I decided to casually and outright asked her over a text if she’d ever cheated on me. It was her last chance to redeem herself, and come out of this a human being who admits to making mistakes, who can sincerely apologize and is willing to make amends with the people she’s screwed, and then turn over a new leaf.
Sorry, screwed over. A true skank like this never had to make amends with the people she actually screwed. Because it was love ‘em and leave ‘em married, miserable or wanting more, until the next time she was in Istanbul or Grenoble in the French Alps, or wherever, which wouldn’t be for another year and half, or possibly ever. And if it was a local transaction, it was bound to be with some SNAG, and with that lot, as maybe I’ve already pointed out, there are no attachments on intimacy. It’s like they’re all working in porno, for all the meaningful, emotional gestures of love that get conveyed between them.
But, she didn’t. She lied to me outright that she hadn’t slept with anyone (the ex-boyfriend Scott, it was, in this case—did I not say “honorless dickbag”?). Which made firing her a whole lot easier.
But not before sending back to her every single text she’d had with Jussie that showed her freaking out and, in fact, admitting to it, just to show her that unequivocally, undeniably, without being able to blink her eyes and nod her head while staring at the ground or move the goalposts or tone-police me anymore, I knew she’d been embezzling. Which was better than going to the Feds.
And how did I have those texts in my possession? I fucking photographed them. Did I not mention that already? Show me a line I’m not supposed to cross, and if, on the other side of that line stands someone who has and will continue to take advantage of me while deliberately keeping me in the dark, I’ll step over that line and backhand them with all the things I shouldn’t have been doing on my side, but was. Because, in the end, you either have to be so far removed from your victims that they can’t get near you, or so pathologically, supervillainishly clever as to not leave a single physical, superficial or emotional trace of your crime, otherwise the victimized, because they possess basic deduction and observation skills, are going to find out. Which I did.
That’s my money, bitch!
* * *
So, what did I learn, in the end? Nothing all that profound, really. That there’s this certain culture of people—one in many of the adopted, artificial cultures in America—who live a certain way, with its own set of rules, its adopted language, behaviors and self-righteousness, and use it to make themselves feel like they belong somewhere in this scary world. And I lived among them, for a time. Jane Goodall, eat your heart out.
It did fuck with my head, though. I was Winston Smith in 1984, in a way. When you live in a fascist state yet don’t live by that state’s dictates, you experience fear of loss, paranoia, moments of self-doubt and identity loss, and actually begin to form aspects of a slave mentality. They were all really minor, in my case. But, still, moments.
Now, I was willing to compromise from the start, because all relationships are a compromise and not a double standard (i.e., not being able to be the self-centered, hedonistic, junk-food-eating, videogame-playing, Netflix-bingeing, promiscuous-sex-having entity you want to, because the other person doesn’t, and you obviously want more from them, too), but any number of manipulative techniques and informal fallacies of reasoning by the NAG kept my compromises insufficient, so I would look to compromise more. Because I’d wanted to make it work; I’d wanted to make serious cash off of this partnership, you know? But that’s how they get you.
And maintaining those dynamics as that of broker to investor, of the knowledgeable to the neophyte, was solidified around the closed-door freakout. She’d somehow learned to articulate that freakout in such a way that it made me not only question my own actions, which were obviously the cause, but also make it seem like there was something wrong with me for not being able to…identify when I should be freaking out about something? And wasn’t. And it made me want to help her, all of which shifted the dynamics in her favor. And how did I help her the best? By learning how to not make her freak out.
She was basically holding my relationship-capital hostage.
One thing I’ve seen, time and again, is when a group of NAG’s or SNAG’s starts to internally freak out, they love to lower the power spotlight on the one person not freaking out, and talk about all the things that person should be doing to “feel more into their bodies” and not: “Whoa, I am feeling some real negative energy from you right now, just take a deep breathe, find your center, and let it flow into the earth”—that they, themselves have been trained to do when experiencing freakout—making it seem as if the calm one is somehow to blame. But all the calm one is is a fucking mirror.
And looking in that mirror freaks them out even more.
Which is how I wound up joining that men’s group in the first place. I was the healthy one in a support group room full of lifelong invalids—a frog in an aquarium of late-blooming tadpoles—and all they could do, to make themselves feel not so invalidated or scared or inferior, was to collectively point out how different I was for being healthy, and that there must be something disingenuous about it.
So, I acquiesced.
Better than hungry rats eating my face. Or so it mildly began to feel like, near the end. Until I realized the cages were built by late-blooming tadpoles. Using just their mouths and anal fins.
What you want to hear from your partner is: “This is who I am, and this is what I’ve learned from dating people. I know it’s not perfect, but I promise to do my best.” Not: “This is what I’ve learned about dating people from a bunch of books I’ve read and classes I’ve been to and seminars and conversations and community gatherings based on all the dating I’ve done on the past and failed at because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And it’s fucking right.
“And I don’t really know who I am.”
In short—well, pretty long, actually—I knew the relationship likely wasn’t going to pan out, about eight or nine months into it. From then on, I was ready to walk away at any time, despite the investment. I just waited around to see if she actually had the ability to change into a decent, honest, unpretentious human being. Which she didn’t.
So, what, you may ask, actually compelled me to stick around for as long as I did, and kept me exposing myself to such market volatility, the exorbitant fees on my personal independence and attacks on my self-knowledge, past decisions and present lifestyle choices?
Well……she was hot. Tall, slender and fit, with solid American G cups the shape and feel of a young boy’s fantasy. And long, wavy brown hair, like you’d imagine seeing on some Norse goddess clobbering heretical Viking ass in the Prose Edda or something.
Don’t think those Vikings didn’t die with hard-ons and orgasm grimaces on their faces after being penetrated by the deity’s spear. That’s all I’m saying.
What, are you going to blame me for that? Please. Join a men’s group.
No, a real men’s group.