This goes deeper than public misconception. He’s right. It will blow over. He’s also right that we could curb some of the attention by going ahead announcing an engagement. It’s not like we don’t agree that something like that will happen eventually.
Since we got over our initial bullshit and became a public couple, Ian’s been itching to propose to me. I know he has. He’s one of the few men I’ve met who has dreams of marriage and sharing a cute three-bedroom home with our cats and the cleaning lady who comes in every other day. He was one of the most merciless playboys when we started dating. The papers were all in a tizzy when we announced our relationship. We were incompatible! What was a serial sex-machine like him doing with a nice girl like me? (I’ve been good at keeping my previous lifestyle out of the press. Only fellow kinksters know what I’m really like.)
Getting to know him has taught me a lot of things that most people may not know, though. Like how he’s a hopeless romantic who can change his lifestyle at a whim. He once went vegetarian for a girl, for fuck’s sake. I wouldn’t say that Ian is the kind of guy who lets his relationships dictate what kind of life he has, but he’s flexible and open to ideas. We’ve had the kids talk so many times we can recite it. I guess I find it hard to believe that a man who is so open to monogamy and the billionaire version of the white-picket fence with the little lady is okay with having no kids. Did he miss the part where we’re the only heirs in our lines? One day we’ll have to figure something out if we stay together.
Nevertheless, none of that changes the fact I know he’s been thinking about marriage ever since he realized he loves me. I’m wearing a gold band on my right ring finger. So is he. He got them for us as a surprise long ago. They’re basically promise rings. A promise to stay together, or so he says. I know he’s waiting for the day I’ll switch it over to my left hand.
There are lots of reasons I’m averse to getting married, or at least right now in my life. It’s not that I doubt his love and devotion for me. It’s not that I’m worried about protecting my personal assets – that’s why I have a great lawyer. No. I’ve got a shitton of issues I’m still trying to work through. I’ve come a long way since being with Ian. Honestly, I’d go so far as to say that I’ve gone too fast. Sometimes I need to sit back and take a look at the bigger picture surrounding me. I’m in a long term, healthy relationship. I’ve got a career that I’m proud of and a cozy apartment I can escape to when I need my space. I don’t have a lot of close friends, but the ones I have are perfect for me. I know how to kick back and have fun. I know what most of my issues are and am working with both my boyfriend and a therapist I see occasionally to figure them out.
Marriage comes with a ton of baggage, and not merely legal baggage. Ian doesn’t have to worry about most of it. Men aren’t affected by the things I have to face as a woman with a certain image.
If we even pretend to be engaged, not only will it be a lie that doesn’t need to exist, but I would feel so awful for the both of us. It would strain the relationship we do have. Why can’t we keep going slow? Why can’t we enjoy what we have already?
Why can’t people leave us alone?
“Sorry I brought it up,” Ian mumbles.
“You really want to get married, huh?”
This isn’t a conversation we need to be having in public. Most people around us aren’t even speaking English, and it’s loud enough that they can’t hear us anyway. Ian doesn’t look at anyone else as he says, “I don’t want to get married if you don’t.”
“That’s not what I asked.” Why does he have to be so complicated? “I asked if you really wanted to marry me. Take my apprehensions out of the equation. You want to marry me, right?”
His hand touches mine on top of the table. Eat your heart out, paps. “I want to be with you for the rest of my life,” he says, almost too quiet to hear during breakfast at a hotel café. “Marriage or no marriage, it doesn’t matter to me.”
“Of course it matters. That question matters to everyone.”
A sharp breath rips through his body. “Fine.” He drops the other piece of croissant he broke off. “You know why I want to at least get engaged? Because then the whole world will know that you’re mine.” He cuts off the words getting ready to fire from my lips. “They’ll also know that I’m yours. It goes both ways.”
I sigh, resigned to him not getting the point. “No, it doesn’t. Not on the macro level.”