We met on Match.com after my husband told me his mistress in Arizona had a one-way ticket to Ohio and I had to get out.
So, I got out. It seemed preferable to clinging like a barnacle to a sinking ship.
This was in 2006, before Tinder, or Grindr, or Bumble. There was Match, Plenty of Fish, and Adult Friend Finder. Guess which one I decided to sign up for first.
AFF was the wild, wild West of internet dating (I use that term loosely). And for an entire summer, I lost my mind a little bit while I clicked and chatted, hooked up and moved on with lightning speed.
My best friend at the time decided to try out AFF too, and we exchanged horror stories on a regular basis. Since we couldn’t remember the guys’ names (yes, it was that bad), we gave them our own code names. There was Biscuit Lips, The Penguin, Ronnie the Fawn, The Pirate.
One guy heavily implied that he was a CIA operative calling me from China.
One guy boasted to my friend that he had a Sleep Number bed — that was supposed to be a big turn on.
One guy, I’m convinced, worked for the Mossad.
One guy stole my watch.
Match.com was where “normal” people turned to find love. As in, actual dates, at restaurants, with no expectation that sexy time would immediately follow.
My boyfriend is polite, funny, smart, a good dad, and a literal Boy Scout. He also voted for Donald Trump. Twice.
My boyfriend never got a code name, which meant he was a keeper. He had one ex-wife, young kids that he saw regularly, and a job. Really, what more could I ask for?
Before the pandemic, our differences didn’t seem that huge. Sure, when we idly toured open houses, I was the one who immediately asked, “How close is the nearest hospital?” while he rolled his eyes and checked out the garage.
I knew he was a Republican, but we never really had reason to discuss politics and it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Our lives were pretty good. We had job security, and we each owned our own home.
And then Trump happened. To be fair, we were on a break during the 2016 election (let’s just say I’m not the easiest person to live with) and only got back together in the fall of 2019 — just in time for 2020’s festivities.
And then my boyfriend lost his job.
The arguments about masking began almost immediately. What seemed like common sense to me was some sort of draconian government crackdown to my boyfriend, akin to both Stalin’s Five Year Plans and Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
While I spiral into a panic attack when I can’t remember if I washed my hands immediately after returning home from the store, he continues to blithely enjoy a weekly (or twice weekly, or thrice weekly) beer at his favorite bar.
We’re not kids. He’s high risk, even if he refuses to admit it.
“I don’t understand,” became my go-to phrase. I don’t understand why you won’t wear a mask. I don’t understand why you won’t stop going to bars.
Of course, the underlying sentiment is always, “I don’t understand why you don’t love me enough to wear a mask and stop going to bars.”
We live in different towns and don’t see each other on weekends anymore since the variants have exploded. My mom is 91 years old and I don’t intend to be the thing that finally kills her. My boyfriend recently found another job in middle management.
“Are there any women working there?” I asked after his first day.
I heard a smile in his voice. “Why, are you jealous?”
“No,” I said, because I’m nothing if not brutally honest. “It would just be nice if you met someone who shares your interests, which are apparently drinking and right-wing conspiracy theories.”
I told him a few weeks ago during a tearful breakdown that I don’t feel like he’s on my side. That I want to be with somebody who’s on my team.
Because that’s what America has become. Us versus Them. Good versus Bad. Two teams, and no way to cross the space in between.
My boyfriend is still around because, unfortunately, I think he really loves me. But I won’t be upset if he finds someone new. I want us to be happy.