A (a man) and B (a woman) have been “together” for a while now, maybe a year or so. They are not married to each other, neither do they live together. Both have full, satisfying, lives apart from the relationship with each other. Both have sufficient affection, sex, companionship elsewhere so that the relationship is not based on desperate needs.
Financially, A and B have set up a common pot, into which they contribute equally. One is bound to be better off financially than the other, but this doesn’t matter, for both take this financial equality in the relationship very seriously. Too bad if she can afford very expensive restaurants and he cannot – as in everything, they settle, cheerfully, for what both can afford.
For the same reason, A and B do not buy expensive gifts for each other (unless they are both so rich that this hardly matters).
A calls B (although there is no reason why B can’t call A). He says: “I have most of the day free tomorrow, until 6. Shall we go for a walk in the Park?” He doesn’t have to explain why he is not free after 6 – B knows that he is not playing games.
They meet at the entrance to the Park at 10. It is a wilderness park (say, Stanley Park right here in Vancouver), you may get wet, dirty or both. A and B are both dressed suitable for this walk, and not for a fashion show or a nightclub.
They walk. Oh, I am sure they hug and kiss each other, and say nice things, but a walk in the wilderness involves looking at the wilderness, for it is interesting to watch. He knows about trees, and she knows about the wildlife – so they teach each other about things the other person may not know. Oh, they will also talk about other things, like astronomy, languages, medieval art or prehistory. One will know more than the other, but the other will listen and learn, for all knowledge of this kind is exciting. Neither will feel inferior because (s)he doesn’t know something, but (and this is important) neither will mock the other for being such a nerd.
What they don’t talk about much is the relationship. The terms have been ironed out months ago, there is not much anyone can say. It is assumed that neither will walk out for trivial reasons, or because they have found a hotter lover. Assumptions can turn out to be wrong, but looking for constant reassurance is futile and counterproductive. Anyone can learn to parrot reassuring words while already plotting the next move. You either trust the person you are with or you don’t – and if you don’t, get out, the sooner the better.
Anyway, after a 2-3 hour walk, it’s time for lunch. Somewhere pleasant, in line with the couple’s budget. They will eat something they like, not something that will impress the partner. If one is a vegetarian, he (or she) will of course not eat meat, but will not utter a snide remark about the steak the other one is having. Neither will there be a snobs’ competition for selecting the wine (if wine is drunk). Not everyone cares about such things.
After lunch the couple will repair to the most convenient secluded location – someone’s apartment or house, a hotel room if there is no better solution, and make love. It was taken for granted from the very beginning that they will do this – if for some reason she can’t, she either doesn’t accept the invitation in the first place, or explain – very sweetly – why she can’t. No man likes to be kept on tenderhooks about such things, or feel that he has to go through hoops every time.
The lovemaking can be gentle or rough, simple or complicated, whatever works for A and B. What it is not is a mutual ticking box. I did this for you, you do this for me. How many times did you come? Neither A nor B are circus performers, neither do they wish to be.
Then it’s time for cuddling, talking, maybe some common activity, or even some independent activity in each others’ presence. A may wish to catch up on his e-mails, B may wish to do some writing.
6 o’clock approaches. They set a date for the next meeting, or agree to contact each other soon. And they do – one or the other, but within 3-4 days at most. It is not nice to leave people hanging for longer than that.
6 o’clock. The interlude is over. They kiss, they hug. Both go back to their other lives. Maybe to more than one (unlikely).
There is no discussion at any time of domestic matters, shopping, taking out the garbage, what school the kids go (or should go) to. These are to be discussed with the people A and B live with, in their other lives. An exception of course is if A or B happen to be experts at solving a problem the other one is having. If B is a vet, and A’s cat is sick, of course it’s reasonable for him to ask for her advice.
Oh yes – both A and B’s cell phones were on all this time, but no-one has called. Both A and B’s other partners know that they should only call in an emergency.
A post-script: the above is fiction, more fantasy than anything else. I have no idea whether anything this harmonious is even remotely possible.
However, I have always been interested in thought experiments. I recently found something I wrote, when still quite young and a virgin, about how I imagined a love affair to be actually like. It was quite a bit more explicit than what I wrote above. It also came remarkably close to reality, once I started to experience it. Aside from the dream aspects, of course.