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Bittersweet Comfort

I think comfort is a beautiful aspect of relationships. We all have times when we yearn for comfort. Sometimes we may be especially in vulnerable and comfort can be consusing. When life is harsh, of course, we want someone to put their arms around us and hold on tight. Feeling the warmth and affection of their embrace heals places deep inside. An emotional need is rectified. Many of us place high value of receiving comfort in times of need and we also instinctively offer comfort when we perceive it is needed.

A simple gesture of comfort can lead to more though. A comforting embrace can end up becoming a more sexual encounter than was originally intended. That is completely natural, but for those who do hold to an ideal of loyalty to their partner, it is wise to remember that if someone else becomes a source of comfort to you, it may lead to more.

Comfort has been an aspect of all my relationships. It is important. But there was one relationship in my life that was marked by comfort in a bittersweet way. Today, I am going to talk about Greg.

When I moved to London independently in my mid-twenties (I had spent long periods of my childhood in England when my parents were overseas) it took me a while to feel settled. A lot of dramatic developments had led to the decision to move. I had split up with my first boyfriend and then been on a lot of disastrous dates which had made me feel as if I was never going to find love again, I had walked away from a career that my father had effectively engineered for me, I had moved three times, living in large cities which were exhausting and had not felt at home in any of them, one of my siblings had caused a lot of upset in the family, and my parents who were grieved by that situation also expressed their disappointment with the decisions I had made.

I was lost when I arrived in London. I had a new job which was a helpful distraction, and as anyone who has lived in a large city knows, there was always something to keep me busy. Yet I was struggling emotionally. As I look back I identify that period as my first real depression – more than teenage hormones, more than passing blues, more invasive than any other emotional challenge I had experienced. It was as if every negative page of my life intensified into one cocktail of poisonous fog that dragged me further and further down. I was losing that battle, and sinking into depression.

Greg has known me since I was a child. He has maintained a friendship with my parents for decades and has been a business associate of my father’s. When I ran into Greg in London (where his business is based) it was natural that he would extend the hand of friendship. To begin with, that included him taking me out for drinks, for dinner, inviting me to accompany him to some events he attended in connection with his business. I enjoyed his company and conversation. I felt that on account of my parents, he was treating me well, exhibiting a caring manner, and making me feel I could call him whenever I needed to talk.

I did do exactly that. Sometimes, I felt so intensely lonely when I first moved to London. I would call Greg and he would be able to cheer me up. Greg had to travel a lot for work. He frequently made short trips to parts of Europe, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Los Angeles, South Africa, and Dubai. As it was not always convenient to talk on the phone, he encouraged me to email him. I appreciated him taking the time to read my emotional emails, and I often thanked him for his friendship and told him how much it meant to me that I could tell him anything. In response Greg mentioned to me that our friendship meant a lot to him because since his costly divorce, he had felt low at times.

Can you see where this is heading? You may have already read about Greg, so you know what happened next. But at the time, I had no idea what was going to happen – really – I was oblivious!!

It started when Greg included something in an email which seemed unusual. He wrote about what he would like to do to my breasts. When I first read that….I was shocked – totally shocked. Greg was twice my age. I had never ever had the slightest notion of anything sexual between us. My stomach churned with discomfort because it seemed completely wrong for him to say that. I pondered how to reply, but before I could, Greg sent an apology, stating that he regretted his inappropriate comment and expressing his hope that I did not despise him.

I assured him that I did not despise him, but that I had felt uncomfortable. There was no more mention of it until he returned to London and invited me out for a private drink so we could talk about what happened. During that meeting, he seemed to pour out his feelings to me. He said that with all the time we had spent together and all the emails we had shared, he had found himself thinking of me a lot. He told me I was beautiful and that it was sometimes confusing to him. He seemed so sincere when he apologised for making me feel uncomfortable, and laughed at the idea that I would ever feel attracted to him when he was so much older than me.

I remember sitting there feeling a mix of confusing feelings. My friendship with Greg was so important to me, but I did not feel any inclination for anything more than friendship. He took my hand at one point and stroked it, and then he told me he needed comfort in his life, and that he had started want that from me. He told me our relationship was special to him. So much of what he said pulled on my heartstrings. We ended that evening agreeing we were special friends and hugging each other tightly.

Over the next few weeks, our emails and phone calls seemed to intensify. My emotions were spiralling out of control. I don’t understand what was going on in Greg’s mind, and although now I feel a little suspicious, at the time I believed him to be completely genuine. But more comments slipped into his emails. He told me how much he longed to kiss me. He wished I was besides him in his bed. He wanted to take me into his arms and curl up on the sofa with him. He wrote that he had woke up in the night in a cold sweat needing me. None of it was overtly sexual, but it was becoming more and more intimate and emotional. It was also starting to stir desires within me.

It was still hard for me to imagine anything physical with Greg. I saw him as a friend of my parents, but now he was my friend. I had told him of the disagreement between my parents and I. Greg had sympathised with me and called my father parochial. The level of trust between us was steadily growing. We were having lunch one day at his London apartment, when he put his hand on the fabric covering my leg. He watched my face for a reaction. Stupid me – I decided I would ignore it and try to pretend I had not noticed. He must have taken that as an invitation, he lifted my skirt and placed his hand on my bare thigh. This time I looked at him. I was scared. I did not know what he wanted. I twitched in my seat, and pushed back so that he had to withdraw his hand. I remember Greg looking at me in earnest.

We talked about it. He told me he thought about me night and day, and that he was falling for me. My tummy was exploding with anxiety. I still was not on the same page as Greg was. Yet, he was so gentle and pleasant. I think a combination of factors, the wine, his cologne, his manner, my fondness for him, they all allowed me to go along with what led to my first lip-to-lip kiss with Greg. Do you know that feeling when your insides are telling you this is wrong, but you don’t know quite why? All we did was lip-to-lip kissing for a few minutes – there were no tongues. I felt Greg’s warm hands on my back.

But that was how it started. After that, over the next couple of weeks, we saw a lot of each other, almost always at Greg’s apartment. We had dinner together, we sat and watched movies. We talked whilst sharing a bottle of wine. We were becoming more familiar with each other. There was more kissing, we were touching each other more (while fully dressed), I was curled up in his arms on the sofa, he was stroking my hair. Gradually, it all seemed a little bit more natural for something to happen between us. Greg told me in one of his emails how he had fantasized about me and gave an example of the kind of intimacy he wanted which left a huge impression on my mind. He again mentioned how much he craved the comfort of my breasts. It was still hard to understand how Greg could feel that way about me.

…to be continued

6 replies on “Bittersweet Comfort”

When I was first reading your post, I thought maybe Matt Hancock should be reading this?

Jenna – I have read about this Greg before in your posts and I know that you went through a very tough time. You are brave to write about it! x

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Thank you for sharing more of your friendship and relationship with Greg with us, Jenna. I can see totally how this developed in a natural way, and gradually the boundaries of him being older, and your parents’ friend disappeared, and also how both of you struggled with feeling low and were sort of pushed into each other’s arms. Sometimes strange things happens in life, and all we have to do is to accept it, and not try to find a clarification why it happened, or feel guilty afterwards. It’s part of your life, and you grew from it.
~ Marie xox

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