Things with Henri are going splendidly. We haven’t been apart since we got together. This has been great, but I’m starting to realize how different my life is now that I’m not single. It’s not a bad different, but there are changes all around, like:
- My sheets have guy hair in them, and I’m doing laundry much more often.
- There are two toothbrushes in the bathroom.
- I’ve been spending more money on eating out or cooking for two, updating my sad underwear collection, taking the metro three times as often, and planning weekend getaways.
It’s a reminder that my last serious relationship was over three years ago. Also, I haven’t even had a roommate for about a year, so I’ve suddenly become aware of a whole single girl side of my life that is easy and comfortable but a bit sad and shameful too. (See: spending Sundays in bed watching bad French television, drinking some wine, tweezing hair in weird places.) Slowly, la vie en couple is coming back to me and I’m re-learning how to live it. I do wonder: are there differences between everyday boyfriend-girlfriend life in France and in the U.S.?I’m not so sure there are, other than we eat croissants or pain au chocolat in bed for breakfast far too often and we make out in public even more frequently. But, I do have to say, this relationship is different than anything else I’ve ever experienced. Some of this has to do with Henri being French, but it could also just be him—he’s wired completely differently. He can’t be in bed with me without holding my hand or kissing random places on my body. We’ll be walking down the street and he’ll stop abruptly, and say, “Wait, there’s something I have to do,” and before I can worriedly ask him “What?” his tongue is in my mouth.
The most satisfying thing for both of us, however, is when he anticipates what I’m going to say, or if we know what the other is thinking. He gets the most accomplished look on his face whenever he says, “I knew you were going to say that! I know you. I knew it!” which in turn makes me really satisfied. (Although I do have to ask myself sometimes, Does this guy really know me? How well can a person know you in less than a month? Aw, who cares, f**k it.)
I’ve never been with a guy who has been so open about his feelings and so appreciative of me as a “sexy woman” (both in body and mind). It certainly makes things easier at the beginning of a relationship, when so often you’re both hiding things about yourselves, or you’re worried that something’s going downhill when really he’s just having a crappy day. With Henri, I pretty much know 24/7 where he is and how he’s feeling.
Early on into things, he gave me one rule: “Never lie to me. Never. That’s the only thing I’ll ask you to do.” He said it with serious intensity, and it caused my heart to ache a bit because I sensed he’d probably once been destroyed by a girl who lied to him. Being honest is how relationships should be, but let’s be real here—it’s not what you always do; it’s something I’ve often done innocently. Not that there’s much you can say in a situation like that, when someone you’re dating says, “Don’t lie ever.” But when I told him seriously that I’d respect his rule, I genuinely wanted to abide by it but worried that it could cause trouble.
Take, for example, the second day of your period when you act like a complete bitch, cry because you hate your body, and are convinced your life is going to waste. When this happened, Henri immediately sensed that something was bothering me. “Please talk to me,” he insisted. “Tell me what’s on your mind.” And so in the spirit of being completely honest, I broke one of those supposed “relationship rules” where you don’t whine about being fat. I came out with it: “I hate my body. I’ve gained so much weight. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror.” And instead of him glossing over it by saying I wasn’t, he offered constructive suggestions: “We can find physical activities to do together (besides sex), you can get up early and go running because you’re not obligated to entertain me in your apartment, we can drink less.” OK, and he did take the time to tell me how beautiful I am. Which, let’s face it, helped quite a bit.
So, um, when am I going to wake up from this dream? This can’t really be happening. Pinch me?