Seven years ago, in the year before I met the wonderful man I would fall in love with and go on to marry, I had a short but intense relationship with someone I had known as a friend of friends for some time. I’d suddenly and unexpectedly found myself becoming besotted with him after we suddenly and unexpectedly found ourselves sleeping together.
JC was very tall, very handsome and very intelligent. Like me, he was recently out of a long-term relationship, and we were both enjoying the sexual freedom that came from not being committed to anyone. I don’t remember exactly how we ended up in bed together the first time, but I do remember liking it very much and rather hoping that it might happen again, which it did – with some regularity.
While he could be very affectionate, he made it clear from the outset that he didn’t consider – or want – us to be anything more than friends with benefits. For much of the time we were carrying on our affair – relationship? Fling? I’m still not sure how to categorise it – I thought I was fine with that. I was certain I didn’t want to be in a committed relationship at that time, with him or anyone else.
Yet when we were out together and he went home with somebody else, or when I heard he’d slept with someone after the last time we’d met, I found myself minding more and more, while knowing that I had no right to. It began to make me miserable.
Winter came and, along with the cold, something that resembled common sense started to set in. I realised that I was besotted not so much with him, as the idea of him. I was enjoying la douleur exquise of wanting someone so unobtainable., and without even discussing it with him (you can’t really break up with someone you’re not actually going out with), I ended it with JC. Or so I thought.
Late one very cold night at a notoriously debauched supper club, I was just getting stuck into my starter when I began receiving text messages from JC that seemed to speak directly to the feelings I’d been experiencing but had not expressed. “You know what you mean to me," Egli ha detto. Did I? I wasn’t sure. “You know I want what you want” – well, this was news to me. But my heart raced and my pulse quickened and, rather than sit at the table texting, I went outside and gave him a call.
I was bitterly cold outside in just a T-shirt, and then it began to snow. Then JC told me, unprompted and as if reading my mind, that he loved me and didn’t want to be without me, but nor did he want to be in a relationship with me. The snow grew heavier and the wind blew it around in dramatic whorls, but I couldn’t bear to interrupt the moment to go back inside. I needed to hear what was being said, and a blizzard wasn’t going to prevent that.
Half an hour later, my very drunk dinner companions having barely registered my absence, I returned to the table red-nosed and blue-faced. My skin was simultaneously freezing and burning, and I’d lost all feeling in my extremities. But I had heard things I’d needed to hear, which made it all worthwhile. I had known love in a cold climate.
Shortly afterwards, by mutual agreement this time, JC and I did end things, acknowledging that there was nowhere for us, as a “we”, to go. We remain close friends to this day; although we have both gone on to long-term, more fulfilling relationships, I think he would agree that we had something special, whatever it was. On reflection, I’m not sure it was worth nearly contracting frostbite for. But what is life if we don’t sometimes do foolish things in order to know that we are loved?