by: Adam Guerino
I’m no stranger to using addictions as a comparison for how I approached dating. I know that saying I’m a dating “addict” is sensationalizing something that could be easily described as “Dates too much”, but so much of how I approached dating mirrors other addictions. Like those who suffer from substance addictions, dating was something I did to ignore and assuage problems in my life; something I did out of habit and comfort. I never had a “rock bottom” scenario where I woke up in an alley, shivering like the worst descriptions of some substance addictions. But then again, the last relationship I had was the worst. So much so that my abstinence from dating shortly followed. It occurred to me, the best possible nickname for him is Rock Bottom. Because, without question, he was the worst relationship I’ll ever have and, yes, he was a big ole bottom.
When I met him, I was sober. Single. Happy. Skeptical. I met him at a dance party and we had a lot of fun. I don’t remember our conversation but he probably bought me a beer and called me pretty because that always works. We didn’t dirty dance or make out or anything, it was just good fun. Then at the end of the night, he literally took my phone out of my pocket to put his number in. I remember thinking, “That looks like my phone!” and realized it WAS my phone and he inputted his number and texted himself so he had my number. He began texting me within the hour and continued to do so an average of 15 times a day. We met again a few days later. Little did I know when I brought him home, I’d wake up with a boyfriend.
Within a week, we were inseparable. He demanded exclusivity, saying that he broke up with his boyfriend to be with me. I didn’t know he even had a boyfriend, but apparently he had a date with him an hour before he met me.The reason he wasn’t being affectionate at the dance party was because people could have told his boyfriend. And the excuse he used was so tired: “Well I didn’t say I didn’t have a boyfriend.” I told him there’s no need to be exclusive because I’m not seeing anyone else. He used these words to say that we were exclusive.
Within the first month, I learned that even though we saw each other 4-5 nights a week, he was still sleeping with other guys. Lying about it at first but then admitting it and saying it was my fault for not letting him come to my comedy shows or introduce him as my boyfriend. I broke up with him and he stalked me until I gave him another chance. I told myself if I let him more into my life that maybe it would calm him down; it wasn’t about our preparedness but our potential. It was such bullshit and the worst part is, I was feeding it to myself too. I was an addict and I was creating lies to justify my actions.
He cheated again. We broke up. Again. Getting back together within an hour. Later, he went on a weekend vacation, insisting he wanted to be exclusive before he left then fucked two guys while away. My friends and I called it the “Legs Up Across America Tour.” Throughout, he was also a regular shower lurker at the gym and hooked up with one of his exes. When the ex found out about it, he said that my boyfriend said we weren’t together. When I asked my boyfriend, he said it was rape. Sadly, I believed the ex over my own boyfriend. What was my problem that I couldn’t leave?
Soon, I caught him in lies that had nothing to do with his cheating. He said his mother had a gambling problem and he sent money home to her. He also said his last relationship lasted two years. Both of which were lies and unnecessary. Once, I asked him after he confessed a lie, “Did you know you were even lying?” And he flipped out, saying I was trying to make him feel like he was some nutcase. I didn’t disagree. But again, what does it say about me that I stayed?
These are only the lies and infidelities I knew about. Obviously someone so full of self-loathing had more times that I didn’t know about. I was so busy trying to understand him until I realized I was just avoiding understanding myself. I was a dating addict. He was addicted to constant physical and emotional attention. So much that if we didn’t have it over a course of eight hours, he’d find it elsewhere. Our addictions rubbed up against each other like desperate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I tried to fix me by fixing him. But there was no helping him–no amount of patience and understanding that would change his lies and need for constant, numerous sexual partners. Or as one of my favorite people advised, there wasn’t a dick big enough to fill his loneliness.
I don’t believe his accusations that I’m the reason he was so desperate but I do think that every time I gave him another chance, I was forgiving things I should walk away from. Too rare are the times we realize we are accomplices to our own tragedies. It’s not fun when you get to the last act of a mystery and you find out you were the culprit. He was, by no means, an honest person but he was completely honest about being dishonest and I can’t blame anyone but myself for that.
Now, each time I meet a great guy, I wonder and I fear that he might be the same as Rock Bottom. But what I’m really worried about is, was this a person or a pattern? I know distance is the answer. Distance from him, because we were so toxic together and distance from dating to make sure that when I date again, it will be with open eyes and smarter choices.
Adam Guerino is a writer in Chicago who works nationally as a stand-up comedian event producer. Guerino is the creator of OutLoud Chicago a production effort bringing queer entertainment to the mainstream with rotating venues including Queer Comedy at Zanies and Barefoot Ballad at The Hideout. His benefit series We Are Halsted seeks to get the queer community to support the queer community by raising funds and awareness for queer homeless youth. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events,www.adamguerino.com.