On Bromances, Breakups & The Stories That Bind Us

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When I start dating someone new I have to “come out” to them about a lot of stuff. For example, that I write about sex & relationships on the internet, that I live with my mother and that I have an anxiety disorder (I usually save the last one until I’ve had a chance to get to know them.) However, since bringing on Joe the Intern in 2013, if they’re OK with all of the above, then I have to add, “Oh and by the way…I also have an “employee”  who is a 12 inch tall half naked man.” You either get what Joe is about or you don’t. But, if you are going to date me, you need to know that me and Joe are a 2-for-1 package.

One of the things that initially impressed me about The Secret Agent was that he wholeheartedly embraced the presence of Joe the Intern, right from the beginning.

A few days after our very first date, The Secret Agent was scheduled to go on a business trip. He texted me from his destination and asked, “Is there anything that you or Joe need from the mainland?”

I told him I was good, but sent him this photo of Joe just for fun.

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He came back from his business trip with a box of jellybeans for Joe and I to share. This was the start of what would be an epic bromance between the Secret Agent and Joe.

Actions speak louder than words. By accepting Joe into his life, The Secret Agent made it clear that he also accepted my quirks – a sign that he was the right person to have in my life.

After that initial offering of jellybeans, The Secret Agent and Joe would exchange messages on the regular.

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And, like any Step-Boss trying to impress his lady, he spoiled both of us rotten. He made sure Joe & Hammer kept their fanciness on fleek with a pair of jaunty top hats. He also purchased Joe a tiny pair of vintage cowboy boots and generously donated to the Skinny Dip vehicle pool, much to the delight of the interns.

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To show his affection for Joe, The Secret Agent even went so far as to get this T-shirt made for our adventure at the Squamish Music Fest.

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However, it’s not about the material things that The Secret Agent brought into the relationship, but rather, the unending patience he showed for my unconventional hobby/intern. He travelled with Joe, helped me shop for props and never complained when I had to do multiple takes of the same photo just to get the perfect shot (doll photography is a lot harder than it looks!)

I know if you asked the The Secret Agent, he’d tell you that he doesn’t just tolerate Joe, he truly enjoys spending time with him and helping with the photos (& disposing of um, “personal items” in elaborate ways.)

While we were California, we used the bikes provided by our airbnb hosts and spent an afternoon riding around Venice beach & Santa Monica. When I looked up at The Secret Agent riding ahead of me on the boardwalk and saw Joe’s tiny head peeking out of the top of his cross body bag, I not only smiled – I felt grateful to have S.A in my life.

As I’ve explained before, The Secret Agent and I are alike in some ways, but also very different in others. Despite differences in lifestyle and ways of being, a shared affection for Joe was always a constant in our lives.

Whenever these differences became impossible to ignore or silence crept into our conversations, there was always Joe, standing by to break the tension.

The Secret Agent would ask me, “What do you think Joe’s up to right now?”

And I would reply with something like, “Shhhh, don’t break his concentration. He’s telepathically communicating with Hammer about all the margaritas they’re going to make tonight.”

That tiny 12 inches of muscled plastic was the glue that held us together, until it was no longer enough. 


I’ve always thought that the worst parts of breakups aren’t the actual moment of the split, but rather the weeks, days, hours leading up to it. When you stop holding hands in your sleep. When texts that used to be signed by “xoxox” are now signed with happy faces instead. When kisses on the lips are replaced with kisses on the nose. When you start feeling more like friends than lovers. You try and convince yourself that you’re just imagining these things; that you’re reading too much into it, despite the fact that evidence to the contrary is staring you right in the face.

These are the moments that suck the most.

This is all to say that The Secret Agent and I broke up about a month ago.

While it’s always sad when something ends, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my relationship with The Secret Agent. Unlike my relationships in the past, which involved a lot of self-sabotage and trying to force square pegs into round holes, I’m proud of how I handled us being together. I committed, I was patient and I let the relationship evolve organically – we both did. We had a great few months together, but when those differences became too big to overcome, we parted ways as adults without any drama.

{Epilogue} I’m fine. The Secret Agent is fine. Joe is fine. The Secret Agent & Joe have decided to stay in touch and continue being “bros.” Joe is handling it all like a champ, with his signature brand of stoic silence.

(Top photo is via Steven Henke‘s series, “Barbie Does Palm Springs“)

  • Aww I am sorry to hear. I guess when it’s not right, it just isn’t. Glad you and Joe are doing well. Big hugs xoxo

    • skinny_dip

      Thank you Kez! <3

  • Jen

    Sorry to hear things ended with Secret Agent… That’s too bad. Glad to know you are doing okay.

    • skinny_dip

      Thanks, Jen xo

  • So sorry to hear this, friend. Thinking of you & glad you’re doing all right. <3

    • skinny_dip

      Thank you, Kate! xo

  • What a beautiful post…but a sad one too! I guess the most important thing is the fun times you had together and that it was all worth it. Many relationships end up feeling like a waste of time. Glad to hear you & The Secret Agent weren’t (a waste of time that is!). xo Cristina

    • skinny_dip

      Thank you Cristina! xo It’s true – there are lots of positive memories so I don’t think of it as a waste of time either. I’m glad the SA & I met, and now we’re just transitioning to being friends instead.