As a male writer in New York City, I’ve come across no shortage of women-scribes who aspire to be the Carrie Bradshaw of urban media. The seductive lifestyle of record release parties, open-bar velvet rope events and celebrity sightings has drawn plenty of talented ladies into “The Industry”. Before marrying six years ago, I even fell in love with a few of these starry-eyed sisters. My fellow Aidans and Mr. Bigs never seem to share our own stories of love, sex and city life; instead, our voices are typically relegated to the locker-room topics of politics, music and sports. “Common Sensual” breaks that silence. Listen up if you dare.
The need for space can sink a relationship. I learned that through my romance with “Zoë ”, whom I met way back in 1996 on the night Tupac Shakur passed away. I was at a swanky, invite-only bash thrown by Giorgio Armani and the entertainment was provided by a 22-year-old D’Angelo, who performed cuts from Brown Sugar all night long. A homegirl introduced me to her writer buddy—a sharp, talkative, fair-skinned music journalist from Tacoma; her pouty lips reminded me of Faith Evans. Zoë was 31 to my 26 (an older woman!) and we talked about our shared career path. We slept together on the first date and fell in love months later.
Zoë lived in New Jersey, far from my Brooklyn brownstone apartment, and the distance allowed us to enjoy each other’s company without being joined at the hip. There was once an incident in which an editor called Zoë to assign an interview with the one-hit-wonder reggae singer, Snow (Remember “Informer”?) only because he hadn’t been able to reach me earlier. I happened to answer her phone, and the editor gave me the story he’d originally earmarked for me anyway. Zoë wasn’t happy. Still, the whole thing was a rare instance where intruding on each other’s space caused a problem for us.
Writers, musicians—artists in general—tend to feel like we need more space from our partners than everyone else, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. Suffocation is bad for any relationship, whether you’re a painter or a maintenance man. Over a year after becoming an item, Zoë and I reached a point of no return based on space.
Without fireworks, bells or whistles, our breakup came attached to my first magazine cover story (which, coincidentally, was about the breakup of A Tribe Called Quest). It was a career milestone, and I needed major time and personal space to craft the strongest article possible on this moment in music history, something that mattered to a lot of people. Zoë, selfishly, didn’t see it that way. Her demands for sex seemed to double, interrupting my work. I couldn’t even shower in the morning without Zoë hopping in and bending over. Going out together to the usual industry events became a bigger deal to her all of a sudden, while I struggled for the time I needed to meet deadlines. In the end I decided Zoë had a real lack of respect for my space (and maybe even my work), and we broke up.
Months later, Zoë was dating director John Singleton, but that’s neither here nor there. At 27 years young, my own selfishness was also undoubtedly a factor in our split, but I was also mature enough to realize that space was a major deal breaker; if Zoë couldn’t even give me the occasional freedom I expected, we weren’t built for a long-term romance. I realized that even love wasn’t a good enough reason to keep a relationship going if my partner wasn’t able to respect my needs.
Has space ever been in an issue in one of your past relationships? Ever dated (or been) a “Zoë” Sound off!