The Möbius Stripper
The Möbius Stripper

If the relaxed and manicured version of you are different, will your partner still love you?

“What I like best about this chick I’m seeing,” pronounced VD (he of the unfortunate initials), “is that she’s fat girl filthy.” I winced for two reasons: one, because VD’s proclamations were, unfailingly, prologues to concepts that leave one’s soul and mind indelibly soiled; and two, because VD was my last-minute plus-one to a Sunday brunch I had been invited to, in way more genteel company than he was accustomed to.


VD’s current new fling, SJ, a slim-prim Gujarati MBA student from a fairly orthodox family, was the picture of politeness and correct upbringing. When the bedroom door closed, however, she became ‘fat girl filthy’. If I may summarise in VD’s own words: “Fat, unattractive chicks” are much more comfortable being “filthy” than “thin, hot chicks”.


The uncles and aunties murmured excuses and fled in moral mortification as he concluded with, “Gotta make hay while the sun shines. Know what I mean?”


“While the sun shines?” I observed.


“Chicks are kinky in flings, but when they become girlfriends they become all conservative. And wives — forget it. Might as well marry a dude for all the action you’ll get.”


Following VD’s line of thought was like tracing a Möbius strip of illogic with your mind. Keeping that aside, however, I considered the essential idea he was putting forward — namely that familiarity breeds (if not contempt) sexual ennui. A lot of my friends complain that as they go further along down the relationship road, the sexual chemistry doesn’t simply change, it dims. Broadly, they argue that when they first met, they would see each other only on dates, and on those dates they were both presenting their best version, but now they see each other more often, in their various natural states: therefore, familiarity has de-sexualised their partner. It seemed like a general enough complaint, and from a certain angle, looks like an inevitability of relationships —but how did it explain the couples that still had insatiable sexual chemistry? There had to be another answer.


As we wandered from group to group and VD proceeded to dismantle this particular social network of mine, I mulled over the idea. I had come to be familiar with many false relationship truisms, half-baked ideas that are passed around and handed down and accepted as truth. And, this one smelled like a ripe one.


A lot of our relationships and relationship misunderstandings are built on perspective and perception. The majority of people falls in love with or become sexually attracted to not the actual person, but an idea or persona they project on the person. It’s not surprising that when they finally see the truth, there can’t be the same love or lust as before. The thing is, we can’t really blame anyone for putting their best foot forward on dates, which is actually a good thing. You then get a very passionate interaction between the best versions of both persons, which is also good. What we can blame everyone for, however, is stopping once they get the partner.


It’s the expression ‘letting yourself go’. There’s plenty of easy justifications for it: I work all day in a suit, I just want to laze around in my pyjamas and watch TV; I just want to eat another batch of jalebis; I don’t want to change my favourite T-shirt even though I’ve been wearing it three days straight. There’s a margin for comfort, naturally — but there’s also a limit to dereliction. And, beyond the natural margin, this kind of neglect smacks of disrespect, of taking the other person for granted.


Ultimately, it comes down to this: if the best version of yourself is different enough from your relaxed version, then your partner actually fell in love with a different person. That’s not to say your relaxed version isn’t deserving of your partner’s love — but that’s a different proposition, and actually irrelevant to what has actually happened.


Most people have a Möbius stripper as their sexual persona, but fail to keep the kink superficial, allowing it to become an actual twist of ideology. The spectacular debacle of VD’s relationship and sexual doctrine is evidence enough: there’s nothing more tragicomic than demise by lazy ideology.



Olivier Lafont is an actor  and scriptwriter.

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