Liza Bennet looks back on the first dates with the man she’s married to and how it all helped her through some dark times.
This post is more about the marriage and the honesty and less about the sex. But there’s a little sex.
We met at a party, both young 20-somethings, both recent transplants. We saw each other across the semi-crowded room, and he started the conversation first. I thought he was cute and that he had nice biceps. Much of the night was spent in flirty, friendly banter. He asked for my number.
Like I said, we were young 20-somethings. He played the “wait X number of days” before calling game. But he was honest about it at least, and won points with me for calling a day early. That was the only lame-ass dating game he ever played. We made plans for the following weekend. I was thrilled because I’d only been on two dates in the prior year, neither of which led to a second. One would have, but I couldn’t do it, for reasons about to become very clear.
Something quite terrible had happened in my family a little over a year before D and I met and I was in therapy. One date never happened because it was supposed to be on the night of the terrible thing. We never did manage to connect again because I just couldn’t. The second date was about a year later, a setup my aunt organized. He was 10 years older and filthy fucking rich. We didn’t hit it off. The third date was with a lawyer shortly before I met D. He tried to kiss me at the door and I shook his hand. Ouch.
So I was very excited to go out with a guy who I knew was fun. I was a bit late for our first date (usually bad form) because I’d been at my group therapy session. When he asked what held me up I made a split second decision to be totally honest. I knew there was something electric between us, and I took the risk that he would understand. Standing in front of a busy club in L.A. I told him I was in therapy. I also told him why. He said he was glad I did.
All we did that first night was kiss, but it was a legendary first kiss. I remember everything about it–the exact stretch of La Brea Blvd. where we leaned against his parked car, the way his lips felt against mine, and the “wow” that escaped my lips as we pulled apart.
The next night we saw each other again, standard second date fare of dinner and a movie. We went back to my apartment and made out for hours on the sofa. I even remember what I wore on both dates. I remember hands in pants and under shirts, but I don’t think any actual clothing was removed.
Two nights later he invited me to his apartment for dinner and a sleepover. The sleepover part was negotiated because…wait for it…he lived in the 818 and I lived and worked in L.A. proper. This was pre-Swingers. I really didn’t know any better.
So on our third date D made dinner for me (Japanese soba), convinced me to watch some random TV show called The X-Files, and then told me that we didn’t have to do anything if I didn’t want to. Helloo! Were you not on our last two dates?
We spent the rest of the night in bed together, all but naked, beginning the exploration of each others’ bodies. We talked through our sexual histories and traded experiences. We were pretty well matched, although I’d had a couple more long-term relationships than he had. None had ended happily, even though all included amazing sex. For me at least. I can’t speak for him, but I know at least one of his girlfriends was awesome.
I remember refusing to take off my panties. I did let his fingers inside them, and inside me. But for whatever reason I decided that sliver of cloth needed to remain on because I didn’t trust myself not to go crazy with him, if he’d let me. You see, once the game was on it was ON. Until my unfortunate sexual decline I was never afraid to ask for what I wanted, and I’m pretty sure I was never denied. But I wasn’t ready for that. Not with D. Not yet.
I can remember those first few dates with exquisite clarity. Strangely, I can’t really remember the first time we had sex. Because it wasn’t that great. In fact, the first few times weren’t so great, but I can’t remember exactly why. Maybe it was because we were using condoms. Maybe it was because we had roommates. Maybe it was because I was still recovering from trauma.
Or maybe it was because he takes a long damn time to come and I didn’t know how to work with that.
But we stuck with each other. And slowly we began to understand each others’ needs and desires. I don’t know if new couples do this today. How many people have two or three fair to middling sexual experiences with the same person and keep going? What are they missing out on when they don’t?
Pretty soon it got better. And then it got a lot better. And because we couldn’t see each more than a few times a week due to his geographic undesirability, we usually spent a lot of our time together naked. In between we chatted late into the night on this thing called the telephone. It had wires then.
But we spent more time together. And he became my best friend as well as my lover. And he protected me from myself when the nightmares were too horrible.
That’s how we started. Much of what we built at the beginning of our relationship continues to be the rock-hard foundation of it today.
Originally appeared at Always Each Other.