The decision to cohabit with my now ex-boyfriend Jeff was prompted by a fight over my period.
Jeff and I came back to my place after dinner to find my male roommate and some of his buddies sitting on the couch. He was angry because he just got laid off. He was drunk. In general he was a big a**hole.
“Wash your dishes,” my roommate shouted as I walked in the door.
“I haven’t been home,” I replied. “I will.”
I looked at Jeff, my incredibly shy boyfriend, hoping he would stick up for me. He put his head down.
My roommate proceeded with his attack.
“And get your disgusting period stained underwear out of the laundry room,” he yelled.
I am never usually at a loss for words. But the mention of a pair of period stained underwear in front of a crowd of men really humiliated me. For the record, I had washed them and left them to dry in the laundry room. A room appropriate for such activities.
I felt my face get hot. That’s when Jeff sprung to action. I saw his jaw tense.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Jeff shouted at my roommate. “She’s a woman, she bleeds, man!”
Jeff grabbed my hand.
“We’re leaving here now,” he said, escorting me out of the apartment.
I never heard Jeff raise his voice before and I never loved him more for doing it. It turned out my shy boyfriend had some throw-down factor when it came to his woman. That was all I needed to know. We decided to move in together that evening.
Since then, I’ve seen a man’s reaction to my period as a litmus test. I know it sounds strange, but the way a guy acts about my menstrual cycle tells me a lot about what kind of guy he is and how he feels about womanhood.
A few years ago, I was on my third date with David.* We were in the middle of brunch at a French Bistro when Aunt Flo came for a very unexpected visit.
“I have to run to the drug store,” I told him.
He looked confused, but didn’t ask any questions. When I returned with a box of tampons and went to the bathroom again, I think he solved the equation. But David didn’t say anything. He just pretended like it didn’t happen, which in turn made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I know we didn’t know each other that well, but a joke or a smile or at least an acknowledgement from him would have been much appreciated. It was a metaphor for the rest of our six-month relationship. David never really said much about what he thought about anything. So when I told him I was falling in love with him, I was surprised to discover that he wasn’t feeling the same way.
Recently, I started dating Dan* who invited me to spend the night at his place.
“I want to spend the night, but I have my period,” I told Dan.
“That’s great news!” he exclaimed.
“Really? Why?” I asked slightly thrown off by his reaction. I had never seen a man so excited that I was bleeding.
“It’s always a relief for a guy to hear that,” he said. “No bun in the oven.”
In the middle of the night, I woke up and discovered a blood stain on his white sheets. I was mortified. I woke him up.
“Something bad happened,” I said.
“Are you OK?” he asked. I pointed to the blood stain.
“Do you have a stain stick or some Oxyclean?” I asked panicked.
“Don’t worry about that. It’s not a big deal. We’ll deal with it in the morning.”
Dan* reached his arms out and wrapped them around me. He kissed me on the cheek.
“Now go back to sleep and stop worrying,” he said.
Good man, I thought as I drifted off.
*Name has been changed