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The One Thing She Really Wanted


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Duane’s nose nudged her hair to the side, exposing the back of her neck. He took a second to let the Acqua di Gioia he’d bought her a week ago serve as a reminder of his good decision-making. Before becoming intoxicated by the scent, he asked her a question he’d answered a month ago.

“What do you want for your birthday?”

Keya smiled. Her eyes widened at the thought of having a weekend alone with him.

“Nothing major. I just want to spend time together. That’s all. You’ve been working a lot lately.”

He laughed and looked over at the nightstand. There was no blinking or flashing on his phone. When he was under her canopy every Saturday night, he was under her recently negotiated rules. And house rules said the only thing he needed to touch in the bedroom was her body.

“I always have to work. It’s the nature of the beast. And you always say that. But for real, it’s your birthday. I’ll make sure it’s special.”

Keya knew what that meant. Of all the men she’d dated, Duane was the best at making the smallest occurrence a monumental occasion. Shoes for being beautiful. Bracelets for being born. Dinner at four star restaurants just for being of the divine. Everything was the finest because that’s what she deserved. His tokens of appreciation even drew the envy of her girlfriends. They always reminded her that she had a keeper. She always reminded them that grass looked different from afar.

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“You don’t have to go crazy with it this year hun. I just want to spend the time together.”

Duane kissed her again. His lips on her skin was his way of saying “okay.” He’d already thought about the party. He had the contact info for all her local friends and family. His work on the nightclub scene made it easy for him to get tables at any venue he wanted. This party would be epic. Duane could already see the flare on the Grey Goose bottles. It was going to be the most memorable birthday she ever had.

He spent the next two weeks making the final arrangements for her party. He put in the extra hours at the office to get ahead of his schedule. He didn’t want to be distracted on the 23rd, when he was certain there’d be loose ends to tie no matter how well he prepared. It was this attention to detail and proactivity that attracted Keya to him in the first place. He was a man that always had a plan, a backup plan, and backup to the backup plan. Duane was the epitome of calm, cool, and collected. She found it sexy. He found her. This party would be another reminder of his appreciation.

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Then the big day arrived. Duane called Keya after dropping by the nightspot to make sure the decorations were in order.

“Hey babe. I’ll pick you up at seven. That means you need to be ready by 6:05.”

She feigned a smile through the phone. She knew he had something planned. Something more substantial than the small thing she asked for.

“Ha. What are we doing tonight? You still haven’t told me?”

Duane wasn’t so calm and cool anymore. At this point, he was giddy. He couldn’t wait to see her face when she walked into Highlights and saw what he’d put together for her. He muted the phone to clear his throat before continuing.

“Oh, just out for a couple drinks then we can kick it.”

“Oh. okay.”

He couldn’t hear her smile anymore. She knew what “a couple drinks” meant. It meant a couple drinks with a couple hundred people.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh nothing. I’m just a little tired.”

“Well alright. We’ll change that in a few hours. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

She hung up and laid back on her bed as two years of frustration and a moment of acceptance welled in her eyes. Keya looked around at the mementos and keepsakes — reminders of the story they had written over the past two years. The same things Duane did to earn her love were costing him what he wanted the most. She felt sick at the thought of what she’d have to do to his heart tomorrow.

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Keya felt loved, but she didn’t feel understood. And despite the great sex, grandiose gifts, and unforgettable memories, she got everything but the one thing she wanted the most: his time…alone.  She wrestled with the realization that one of his greatest assets had become their relationship’s greatest liability.  Her shoulders rose and sank with disappointment when her doorbell rang at 6:58pm. If it were up to her, candles, music, and a quiet hotel room overlooking the night sky would be their only company. But she knew Duane, and he lived by the motto “go big or go home.” This wasn’t the way she envisioned she’d be spending her birthday, but she couldn’t go another day of feeling unheard.

She opened the door, smiled as she’d done so many times before, and grabbed her coat.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? How would/did you handle it? What do you think Keya should have done in this situation? How about Duane? Other thoughts are welcome!


This post previously appeared on SBM in February 2012. A lot has changed since then, so we’re making this post new again.


  1. (1960's Batman announcer voice) Will Duane be the guy at the door? Will Keya put on something else other than a coat? Has Duane figured out how to Iron his cape? Will Keya find her communication skills in time?

    Tune in next time folks…

    Same SBM time, Same SBM channel!

  2. They have different love styles. He is loving her the way he wants to love her and not the way she needs to be loved. This relationship may be doomed as I can see Duane feeling hurt and unappreciated because he puts in all this effort to make her feel special that she doesn't want. That said, as an extroverted introvert, I can see her side of this, too. I don't want all that of that fanfare, I want YOU. There is room for compromise but these folks need to talk and LISTEN.

  3. “Oh nothing” is where all fux given is lost, speak the fuggup or deal with the consequence (a lavish birthday party being one is even more reason not to cry for Argentina but i digress)

  4. I have actually, not precisely the same situation. Guy meets girl. Guy is broke. Guy becomes successful and tries to buy girl's love — even though he already had it — long story short, both weren't mature enough to talk it out and come to a resolution. We're actually trying to work things out now…in a more mature manner. So i think it comes back to being mature enough to deal with the miscommunication.

  5. I did this.. went big for all her birthdays, graduations, Christmas, etc.. but when it was my birthday you know what i got? "ehh i dont know what to get you?" like all guys dont like the same 3 things, sports, video games, and sex. Since then i know no other guy has ever topped me, you know why? cause i see her wearing the same stuff i brought her all over her IG.

    1. I think men should just start telling us what they want for gifts, because it is much harder to buy a guy a gift for a man you're dating. That still didn't give her a pass to not get you a gift card or something smh.

  6. Slim are you secretly working on a novel??? If so hurry up and finish so I can buy it 🙂
    I was in a very similar situation with my college boyfriend. He was a party guy and a bit of a show off. He was also tall, attractive, sexy, popular, and a kappa. We had a long heart to heart about it and I kindly let him know, that partying, hob-nobbing and socializing all the time was not my thing. I explained to him that life is all about balance, and too much of anything upsets the balance and is not good. I told him we needed a good balance of socializing, me time ie alone time away from one another, and us time ie quality time together. I explained to him how to achieve that balance and he complied.

  7. The root of this problem between these characters is communication. Keya needs to explain to Duane how she is feels, and why. She needs to try help him understand why what she wants is so important to her and to their relationship. Closed mouths don't get fed, so Keya has herself to blame for her unhappiness more than Duane.
    People need to learn to speak up and say what they want and need and why they want and need it in their relationships. If the other person cannot or will not comply with that then let them go. Doesn't make sense to keep someone in your life who isn't willing to do simple things that you want/need to make you happy.

  8. It's obvious that they care about each other because he does try and she goes along with it. So it shouldn't be a big deal to just talk about it. I wonder if Duane is the type of person that feels awkward when it comes to personal time and alone time with whomever he dates. Some people feel the need to constantly be around others. He is also assuming that every chick wants material things all the time. Perhaps for his birthday (maybe a week after because he'll probably throw himself a big party) she should treat him to a weekend getaway and see how he reacts. In a relationship you HAVE to connect.

    I haven't been in a relationship like this. In fact, most of my breakups (if not all) ended because I was too verbal lol

  9. "The same things Duane did to earn her love were costing him what he wanted the most." So basically, she wouldn't have even given this dude the time of day in the first place if he hadn't been giving her the items that she's complaining about now. After two years. If dude hadn't been giving her any of those things, but just his "time", she would have dropped him one year, eleven months, three weeks and six days ago.

  10. I am going through a similar situation now, and am at a crossroads. Nice guy, but I have to say, talk after talk, if a guy doesn't change despite you voicing your needs (and them agreeing), what are you to do other than break it off? Quality time is so important in a relationship, and if he continues to put everything before you, at a certain point you have to walk away. It's not that the individual is a bad person, just not for you. At least not now.

  11. While I do think there is a need for more communication in this relationship, it seems as if most of these comments have placed this responsibility on Keya. If I am reading the story correctly, Keya did communicate; she said, " 'Nothing major. I just want to spend time together. That's all'". If Duane ignored her/did not believe her when she said this, that's Duane's fault. Granted, Keya was used to Duane going over the top, so she could have been stronger about not wanting lavish gifts both on her birthday and the times before, but she did say it.

    The other side of this situation is like when I told my boyfriend that I wanted a necklace. His response: "A necklace? THAT'S DONE. That's all?" He didn't say, "A necklace? That's all? I'll get you something better," which quite honestly would have elicited a confused response on my end.

  12. It comes down to our respective love languages. Everyone has a primary love language in which they receive love, it could be either physical touch, acts of service, gifts, quality time or words of affirmation. Clearly Ms K's primary love language is quality time and D does love her, but its not in her language. My primary love language is acts of service, but I dont give love in my primary language- I would rather buy a gift for someone. This can be resolved by communication. When you meet someone, have this discussion on the love languages so no-one feels unloved because they are being loved the wrong way.


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