Before I can tell you the story of Jerry, who J made mention of in a recent post, I have to tell the story of Ted. You’ll understand when you’re older. (Seriously, when you’re a week older and read the Jerry story, you’ll know why I introduced Ted first.)
Ted’s reputation among my friends is incredibly divisive. One of my friends will burst out laughing and shout, “Yesssss! Big Dick Ted!!!” in anticipation of an absurd story whenever his name is mentioned, while others nod and say, “Oh yeah, Ted,” in acknowledgment before shaking their head and muttering, “he was an asshole.” The latter reaction always surprises me a little. My own opinion is that Ted definitely walks the line of being intolerably overconfident, but isn’t exactly an asshole. I’ve had exes who are incredibly nice and sensitive at first and then reveal a profound capacity for assholery when they are no longer interested in a relationship.
Ted Quote #1: No kissing during sex.
Ted wasn’t like that. He was the same boldly honest semi-vain guy from beginning to end, and I feel certain saying that he presents this way to most everyone he’s ever met. What you see is what you get, and while that doesn’t negate his inclination toward cockiness, you have to respect someone who puts on no airs. Or at least I do.
I’d much rather the guy who says, “yo I want to fuck you but I’m not ever going to be your boyfriend” than the one who pays for all of your meals and cooks you dinner and sends you cute texts all day every day for two months and gives every indication that a relationship is on the horizon and then acts completely fucking horrified when you want to discuss the idea of dating exclusively. Blunt truths can be jarring, but they’re rarely as devastating as feeling deceived (whether the deception was through the presumed intent of actions or an outright verbal lie).
I won’t keep ranting about that, but it is a relevant rant, because I met Ted the year after I had been emotionally destroyed by someone who had no idea — no. god. damn. idea. — what he wanted. So meeting someone who knew what he did and did not want and could lay that out for me was beautiful in the way a flight path entirely over land would have been beautiful to Tom Hank’s character in the sequel to Cast Away.
Ted Quote #2: You’re not allowed to wear clothes in my bed.
I met Ted on Tinder. He was intelligent, witty, and wise (like any self-proclaimed Ravenclaw should be). We chatted for a week or so, and him finally asking me out went something like this:
Ted: If you’ve decide I’m not some weird Tinder guy and ask me to go to trivia with you, and then if you impress me enough with your knowledge, I may let you have a Harry Potter marathon with me.
Me: Wait, I’m sorry…I have to ask you out and impress you?
Ted: Oh, did I not warn you? I apologize. I don’t make the first move and I flirt like a middle schooler. I think it’s endearing.
Apparently I thought it was endearing, too, because Ted and I went on said trivia date, and then a few more. But when I asked him to hang out the next time, he said he didn’t know. He explained that his busy season at work was going to start the following month, and he’d be working twelve hours six days a week, and knew he would have zero time or ambition to put into a relationship. He said he could tell I was not the type of girl who slept around (I am not), and he assumed I was looking for a boyfriend (I had been), and when things between us slowly burnt out once his work picked up, he didn’t want to carry any guilt for having led me on.
I was disappointed. As a semi-awkward, semi-picky woman, finding a man I’m comfortable with and also want to date isn’t always easy. I wound up deciding that I could try my hand at having a friends with benefits relationship with Ted as long as I wasn’t turning down opportunities for dates with people who wanted a real relationship. I based my decision upon 1) my valuing his sense of decency in not wanting to mislead me and 2) the fact that I’d had sex exactly three times in the previous 16 months and really wanted to get laid.
Ted Quote #3: People lie about their intentions so they can get what they want. I’ve found that if you’re just honest with people, they’re usually so grateful for the honesty that they give you what you want anyway. Bonus: no guilt afterwards.
And get laid I did. I won’t go into all of the details, but there were times when I legit wanted to stop Ted and ask what exactly he was doing to my vagina because I wanted to know how to do what he was doing. I never did that, because even I won’t rise to the level of awkward required in order to ask someone how to operate your own vagina, but damn. And not to say I hadn’t liked sexual things I’d done to that point — I had — but it was usually me going along with what my partner wanted. Ted asked lots of questions, and ruminated on my somewhat-hesitantly-stated preferences and desires in order to figure out exactly how I ticked. And then, like the fricken Sorting Hat of Sex, he would yell out different conclusions and I would join my selected sex house. (Okay, that last sentence was just me wanting to make another nerdy HP reference).
So what a guy, that Ted! Right? Honest. Helpful in revealing one’s own sexual interests. He was also the one man I’ve ever met who was perpetually cold, and he owned a home with forced-air heat, which was really clutch since at the time I lived in an old house (read: drafty) that used oil heat (read: very expensive). Am I saying I pimped myself out in order to save money and sleep in a warm house that winter? No. But maybe. But no.
Ted Quote #4: [when I asked if he’d gotten many trick-or-treaters for Halloween] Quite a few. The last girls who came by were high schoolers. They wanted my dick.
Eventually, once his busy work season waned, Ted revealed that he had been on a few dates. He didn’t think it was fair to keep seeing me as he pursued someone else. It was a bummer in the way it’s always a little bit of a bummer when the other person “moves on” first, but truth be told I’d started seeing someone I enjoyed spending time with more than Ted, too. And the best part?? No hard feelings because he’d been clear about where things stood from the beginning!
To date, Ted is the only truly successful Friends with Benefits relationship I’ve had. My definition of successful when it comes to FWB is, “we both got what we wanted and nobody’s feelings ever got hurt.” A while after we’d stopped talking, I read 10 Rules for Friends With Benefits, which is a guide for having a, “mess-free friends with benefits affair.” I read halfway through the rules and zip-zip-zip scrolled up to the top of the page. It said written by Georgia Wisdom, but I swear that Ted could’ve written this. Our relationship met basically every rule:
#1 Ted was my type in some ways, but also not my type in a lot of others. We had good conversations, but no big common interests, and I never had the thought, “aww I want to introduce him to my friends!”
#3 We only texted in order to make plans to hook up. Except the time he texted me after I said, “Alright headed out!” with, “bring me soda, I’m thirsty.” I was dumbfounded. Was this guy serious? Booty calls deliver their bodies to your door; not groceries. I took a screenshot and sent it to my friend with the caption Fuck him! (Then I got halfway to my car, groaned, and ran back inside to grab a can of pop.)
#5 We certainly didn’t make pancakes together. Once after hooking up, I laid in Ted’s bed trying to fall asleep while he went downstairs. He came back to bed eating Pop Tarts, and before I even realized what he had, he says, “You can’t have any.” I narrowed my eyes and shrugged, “I don’t even want those.” (I kind of did, they were the s’more kind) “Good, they’re mine,” he said.
#6 We didn’t kiss goodbye. Most of the time I’d slink out in the morning while he was still asleep.
#7 We did break it off after 3(ish) months.
Ted Quote #5: If I had a son, I think I’d be too competitive with him. If I had a daughter, then once she turned eighteen I’d have to worry about making things awkward for her if I fucked one of her hot friends.
When I started this post I thought that by the end I would finally lay to rest the question of whether Ted was an asshole or merely an egotist. I still don’t know. What I do know is that he taught me a lot about myself, he thought pretty damn highly of himself, and he was always truthful. What do you think — is Ted’s patronus an asshole?
With love, B!