If you haven’t read part one of this story, start here.
Aster’s birthday had been in July and now it was mid-August. We had celebrated together on her birthday, but we had also planned a party at our place for the weekend after Max and I got back. We thought it would be a good chance for our friends and her friends to mingle, and at first it was a blast. Until it wasn’t.
At some point Aster was dancing with a girl friend of hers, and they started lightly making out. Nothing too crazy, but it set off a burst of sexual energy. I thought it was funny and went with the flow, dancing with Aster and Max. But then two people started getting frisky – one of whom was in a relationship – and Aster flipped out. She couldn’t believe the one in a relationship was messing around with the other, they were supposed to be one of those people who didn’t do that and how can you trust anybody?!? She went off to one side of the room to cry, and several of her friends went over to console her – she didn’t want Max or me to console her – and then started insisting that both of the people in question leave the party. I couldn’t believe it. To me it was harmless, but several people were aghast – to be fair, the two of them did start to escalate – so I decided maybe the best thing to do was to acquiesce to Aster’s wishes.
Of the two, one was Aster’s friend, one was Max’s and my friend. She was more concerned about her friend leaving, so I tried to talk to Aster’s friend first. That conversation went nowhere quickly, with the friend telling me that “your relationship problems aren’t my problems.” I didn’t get the connection between the three-way relationship Aster, Max and I had and what was transpiring between our two friends, yet Aster’s friend refused to stop being belligerent. So I tried to get my friend to leave, but that conversation didn’t go well either. My friend wasn’t belligerent, but was definitely hurt at being asked to leave. I really was at a loss and didn’t know what to do. A long time later Aster’s friend took off of her own volition, Aster recovered, and the party continued, with everyone seeming to have forgotten what had transpired.
The funny thing is, at the time we had two Airbnb guests staying in our guest room. We had made sure they knew the party was happening before we confirmed their booking, but I was mortified that they had to witness all of this. Nevertheless, they had a fantastic time. Apparently no one throws house parties in Taipei, so they were thrilled by the house party experience and didn’t even really notice the drama unfolding. At least there was that.
So later that night all the party guests were gone, the Airbnb guests had gone to bed, and Aster, Max and I were chilling in the lounge area of my bedroom, our legs intertwined and our bodies in a cuddle as we talked about what had happened. And then all of a sudden we were all making out. I have no recollection of who initiated it. Aster later told me Max had initiated it, but honestly, I have no clue. One thing led to another, and we moved to my bed. And we all just went with the flow.
All of our bodies were enmeshed, all of us were playing with each other, completely out of our heads and just living in the moment, with no real idea who was doing what to whom at any given moment. To be honest, it was hot, in large part because we were all just in the moment. At some point I was fingering Max while he went down on Aster and she went down on me. And then the bubble burst.
“Omni,” rasped Max. “Yeah?” I gasped. “You were right, this feels really good.” I couldn’t help myself; I started laughing. Aster playfully smacked me: “Be nice!” It was a fun moment, a moment of release. But it also killed the magic. Suddenly we were all aware of what was going on. We continued for a little bit, but then stopped. Bathroom breaks ensued, and then we were all back in bed.
Aster and I wanted to play though, so we asked if it was OK. Max said he was cool with it. He made out with me and her and then just watched. But then Max started to cry.
“If you two can have sex, then what do you need me for?” The question confused the fuck out of me; I thought, is sex the only thing you think you’re good for?!? Both she and I reassured him, told him that we loved him. He calmed down, and the three of us curled up together and fell asleep.
The next morning we cuddled for a bit, then they had sex while I lay beside them watching and jerking off. After that we chilled for a bit, and then the two of them started whispering. It was clearly a conversation and not just a good morning, and I wanted to make sure everything was alright. But when I asked, I got a “yeah” and they went back to whispering. I asked again and got the same response. So I didn’t say anything for a while, and then asked again what was going on. And they still kept whispering to each other. So there I was, lying in my bed, completely out of the loop. I clearly wasn’t wanted in the conversation, but I didn’t want to leave the room in case the Airbnb guests were up, so I went over to my lounge area and chilled. They continued to talk for a while, and eventually Aster called over to ask if I had got all that. “How could I?” I asked, “You two were whispering the whole time!” I felt left out, and considering that I was involved in the night before and in the morning, it hurt.
They called me back over and filled me in on the gist of their conversation. I expressed myself in terms of how being shut out of the conversation had felt, and left it at that, trying not to make a big deal out of it while still making my perspective clear. We got up and had breakfast, cleaned up after the party, and then settled onto the couch to watch some series. I wish we had left things to cool off, but unfortunately, that was not to be the case.
Aster was horny and wanted to play. So she started feeling up on Max and me. I was nervous, not ready for this at all. I should have said something. I should have stopped it. But I didn’t. Things started getting heavier, and then we heard the Airbnb guests. So Aster got up and pulled us back to my room. Again, I should have taken the opportunity to stop it. But I was panicking a bit, and couldn’t use my words. And so I got to have one of the most traumatic experiences of my life instead.
Mentally, I froze. And Aster really wanted things to happen. She thrust my hand to Max’s ass, pushed my head down on his cock. I felt paralyzed, and I couldn’t vocalize my discomfort. She wanted me to fuck him. I couldn’t even get it more than semi-hard, but she wanted it to happen. So she got on her back, Max slid his dick inside her, and I struggled to get my dick inside his ass. With him blocking my view I couldn’t see her, but she was crying. Finally we stopped. I felt so dirty, so disgusted with myself for freezing and not saying no, so sickened that things had gone so far. I can’t remember what was said. I just remember being so thankful that it was over.
We were supposed to all drive out to a town outside of Vienna to spend the night and the following day together. Instead, I think Aster went home and I stayed in my room. I have no clue what Max did. I think maybe he went to Aster’s too, but I really have no idea. The next day we all met and decided that sex was definitely off the table for the time being, which I was extremely happy about. I had never felt so sexually unmotivated in my life. In fact, it would be months before I could bring myself to have sex again—even once our three-way relationship was over and I was free to roam.
Over the next couple of weeks we had a bunch of conversations trying to figure out how this would all shape up. Whenever the sex came up I would say that there was that brief period when we had all enjoyed what was going on, in large part because I couldn’t mentally handle the psychological devastation that had come after and needed something to have been alright with the experience. I also reiterated that to me sex wasn’t what should be the defining factor of how we love each other. Aster wanted to know what I would do if Max didn’t want to have sex with me, and I said that would be fine. She wanted to know how I would feel if he wasn’t OK with me and her having sex, and I said that would suck, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I wanted to focus on getting to know each other, wanted to focus on the emotional side of things, on the (in my opinion) vastly more important parts of a long-term relationship.
We decided that one of the (admittedly many) problems was that we weren’t always all together when we had conversations, and we hadn’t always done a good job keeping everyone informed of the pertinent information. So we agreed to make more of an effort to keep everyone in the loop.
One day we went for a hike during the day and were going to spend the evening together. Aster wanted to go home first, so she went to her place and Max and I went to our flat. Aster texted that she was on the way, and the smileys indicated that everything was copacetic. Max and I were sitting on the windowsill in my room smoking, rehashing shit. It wasn’t a new conversation, really just a rehashing. And then he leaned over, kissed me, and hugged me. We were both excited that Aster would be there any minute because we were going to make dinner and play one of Aster’s and my favorite games – Carcassonne. The bell rang and we buzzed her in. As soon as she got upstairs I knew something was wrong.
But she didn’t want to talk about it. At this point I had learned enough to know that it was better to leave her alone until she wanted to discuss it because she would just shrug off any attempts we made to ask her what was up. So we made dinner and ate in stony silence. When Max got up to go to the bathroom, she asked me if Max and I had been talking. I told her we’d been chatting, and she blew up at me, telling me she had seen us kiss and why hadn’t we told her what we were talking about. I tried to calm her down, told her we hadn’t said anything new, that it was just a chat, but she wasn’t hearing it. Max came back and she wanted to talk to him alone. So I left them alone, but was upset because again there was a conversation that involved me and I was being excluded.
About an hour later they came over and Aster let me have it: I should have told her what we were talking about the moment she came in the flat. I told her that since she was upset when she arrived and because Max and I weren’t talking about anything she didn’t already know, I had been more concerned about why she was upset—not to mention that she hadn’t even given us time to say anything because she was already pissed when she arrived. I wanted to know if I was really supposed to immediately share every last detail of every single conversation we had when she wasn’t there, even if it was just shooting the shit, and she screamed at me that yes, that’s exactly what should happen. I never did get all the details of what they had been talking about though.
Flash forward a few weeks after rounds of conversations. We were all sitting on the couch talking about how we wanted it to work out, weren’t sure if we could, but we still wanted to try. Aster had to study for exams and had previously asked me to help her study since all of her reading material was in English, so we collectively decided that we would all focus on helping her pass her exams and deal with our shit after that. The plan was for me to go over and help her study and spend the night, or I would leave after helping her and Max would go over and spend the night, or he and I would go do something. It worked for a bit, but then the shit hit the fan again.
I had pulled my calf playing with kids at kindergarten. Max was out of town for work, and that Saturday I met up with Aster and her friends. The plan had been to hang out before heading to some museums (once a year all the museums in town are open until midnight). She and I sat on the couch like a couple, sometimes holding hands, and everything seemed fine. In the end I didn’t go to the museums with them though because I was limping and didn’t want to slow them down. She and I kissed goodbye and said we’d see each other the next day to study.
I was feeling contemplative the next day, so when she texted me to ask where we would study, I said I would come to her place. She wrote back that it might be better for her to come to me because of my leg, but I said it was fine, it would be good to move a bit. Her response was that Max was coming back and she wanted to see him. I didn’t want to spend the evening with the three of us, but I didn’t want that to mean they couldn’t see each other, so I suggested that maybe he could just go to her place instead. She answered, “hmmm, OK.” For me, that meant that it was settled.
I went over to help her study for a few hours. Once we were done I packed up my stuff and was gonna take off, and she told me to wait, she was coming with me. I was confused because we had discussed this earlier and it had seemed clear to me that Max would be coming to her place. I tried not to let it bother me, but it did anyway. I asked her why she had decided to come over, and she told me that she thought it would be nice for him to sleep in his bed. She hadn’t even mentioned to him the conversation she and I had had. I asked her why she’d even bothered to ask me what I wanted in the first place because it didn’t seem to matter. She got pissed. I went home, and Max went over to her place.
A few days later Max and I went for a walk to discuss things. All of a sudden the story from him was that we had all decided not to pursue the three-way relationship that day we had talked about helping Aster study. This confused the fuck out of me. I mean, we were saying, “we want this to work”, not “we would have liked it to work out.” There was nothing about “it didn’t work out, let’s call it quits.” It was all about working to find a solution. And yet here he was telling me that we had indeed ended the relationship. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?
Granted, at this point the conclusion of the three-way relationship was long overdue. But don’t insult me by saying we already ended it when the conversation in question was about making it work. Don’t pretend just because you can’t deal with shit.
That has pretty much set the tone for my relationship with Max since then.
As for me and Aster, we talked about meeting up to discuss how everything had gone down, but she wasn’t going to have time for a few weeks. The day approached, and she cancelled. The time after that, I cancelled. Then she cancelled again. After that, I finally wrote that neither of us seemed to have much interest in actually meeting up, so it was probably best we just leave it.
Over the next few months she would occasionally send me a text inviting me to parties. I always declined, sometimes by saying nicely that I wasn’t interested, sometimes by saying I didn’t have time, sometimes by saying that I didn’t see what the point was. Sometimes I didn’t respond at all, and other times I said it didn’t make sense to me until Max and I had had a chance to smooth things out. At one point I told her we could meet up if she wanted to talk about something in particular, but I didn’t have any interest in just hanging out. She just wanted to hang out, so we didn’t meet up.
Throughout this entire period Max had de facto moved out and was living with Aster and her flatmates. I never saw him, and he rebuffed my attempts to sort things out between us. We went from using ‘bro’ as a term of endearment and ending messages with ‘love you’ to him just calling me man or dude. When I asked him about it he told me that he switched it up with everyone, completely erasing the fact that both of us had exclusively used that term of endearment with each other for a long time, relegating me to “everyone else”. And the reason he gave for not being able to work things out: “Aster can’t deal with our relationship, she doesn’t understand it.”
To me, it’s important to own my relationships, to stand up for them. If someone doesn’t like a particular person that I choose to spend time with, that’s their issue to deal with, not mine. Likewise, I may not like a particular person, but I won’t stand in the way of anyone else hanging out with that person. My relationship to any given person is mine just as much as anyone else’s relationship to that person is theirs. So hearing that he couldn’t stand up for having me in his life, that he would rather write it off and erase that depth, to hear “I want to be close, but Aster can’t handle it” or “I still love you and want this to work” hurt terribly. At one point I asked him if I was really expendable and he said yes. The day after he retracted his statement saying he didn’t really mean it, and I stupidly chose to believe the retraction because hope is an asshole that encourages willful blindness.
I also tried asking him how he was, but there too I met a brick wall. My questions were genuine, yet he claimed I was only asking pro forma. So I couldn’t have conversations about what had transpired between us, I couldn’t ask him how he was doing. He didn’t really ask how I was doing and offered nothing. It made for a really inviting atmosphere, let me tell you.
When he told me in November he was moving out, I was relieved. He was never there anyway and when he did make a rare appearance conversation was a no go, so I was glad that I could make other arrangements. I told him that I hoped we could still talk things out since for me the communication was far more important than whether or not we lived together, but alas, he continued to throw up roadblocks. Finally around New Year’s Eve he wrote to apologize for ignoring everything, and I thought, well maybe now we can start the healing process.
We did have a talk, and he kept telling me that he had to focus on Aster, that he really couldn’t do anything until she was comfortable. I tried to wrap my head around this, but I couldn’t. I should have read between the lines: what he was actually saying was “I don’t want to be that close to you anymore.” But constantly hearing “it’s not that I don’t want to be close, it’s that Aster can’t cope” instead of listening to the subtext gave me hope that he at least wanted to sort everything out, and damn it, hope is a bitch to kill.
The move out didn’t make things any easier. At first I wanted to stay in the flat and find someone else to share it with, but I at least wanted to sort out everything that was mine and his. True to form, he kept putting it off. Hell, he wasn’t even packing up his stuff, so I guess it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was no time to sift through all of our shared shit. I had had someone lined up who might move in, but she was concerned that his stuff wasn’t out yet and opted to find a different place. At that point I decided it wasn’t worth the effort, and decided to find my own place. I felt like a bitch for constantly harping about the need to get everything taken care of, but it wasn’t just my stuff, and initially not getting any cooperation and subsequently having him change plans to sort or throw stuff out stressed me out. At one point I thought, fuck it, if he can’t make time, then I’ll just walk away from it too, and we’ll both have to deal with the consequences. Eventually it all got done, but things could have gone a lot smoother with better communication and not “forgetting” that we were supposed to pack stuff up. By the time I moved out at the end of last July, I was absolutely over it.
Sometime during the summer he and Aster broke up, and on one of the rare occasions he found time to talk to me he told me one of the reasons was because of how things were between me and him. And I thought, on the one hand maybe now we could finally work shit out, but on the other, I don’t want to go back to the situation of being the ersatz girlfriend. If him having a girlfriend meant that he couldn’t be close to me, then why should I let him back in when he’s single just because now he doesn’t have a girlfriend who feels threatened by it? And when we talked, there still wasn’t much information coming from him, so really, what had changed?
At the beginning of August I was settling into my new place when I got an email from Max. In it he said that we would be able to have fun again, we just needed to get settled into our new flats. He ended the email with “Love, Max”. Suddenly we were back to love again. I wrote back that it wasn’t just about fun; it was about the trust, mutual consideration and communication everything had been built on. I said that we couldn’t keep pushing things down the road. Yes, everyone on the planet avoids certain things at times, but if something is important, then you just have to deal with it. To me it would have been important enough to deal with, but that wasn’t the impression I was getting from him. I would be open to the idea of sorting things out, but it needed to be a mutual effort.
A little more than a week later I wrote again, this time because of things related to the old flat – the last electric bill, etc. A week after that – the day before the electric bill was due – I wrote again to ask for a response to at least the second email. He finally wrote back and said that he had a lot of emails at work, and so he hadn’t felt like dealing with emails in his free time. But he would get to it in the upcoming days. Well, that pretty much said it all. And what that email didn’t say was said quite clearly by the absence of a response in the “upcoming days”. Another promise to deal with stuff, another promise broken.
That was the end of August, and in the middle of last month I wrote to let him know that I would be re-launching my blog and that I’d be writing about how things had turned out between us. In all that time he couldn’t be bothered to address the issues, and I mentioned that fact to emphasize why I wouldn’t be sending him posts about him so he could review them and discuss them with me, something I had done in the old days.
Which brings us to now.
In the next chapter we’ll talk about the lessons I learned from this wonderfully instructive experience.