Things continue to be pretty bumpy with the guy. To the point that I’m actually convinced we’re meant to just be friends. I’m not saying we can’t be more, exactly, but I don’t think there’s long-term potential with him. I don’t think I want there to be.
A few things are factoring into the equation. I had to take a long, hard look at my feelings. I’ve never felt so wishy-washy about someone. I’m usually so sure about people–and usually that sureness bites me…hard. With him, it’s always been this combination of really liking him paired up with this creepy anxiety that he’s not the one for me. I waffle on it so much, it’s scary. I usually have good instincts about people. But I am also definitely known for being someone who sees the red flags and makes excuses or ignores it entirely because I like the person so much. Then, months later, I feel like a total idiot.
My friend once told me, after my relationship with a long-time boyfriend ended rather suddenly: “You knew he was a bear. Bears eat people. Don’t be eaten by bears!”
Point taken, E.
The problem is that while I’m very forgiving of people’s flaws, I can also be pretty harsh and pretty insightful into things–in ways that are unfair. I feel like part of that aspect is at play now, but it makes it difficult to gauge what my feelings are sometimes.
I’m a very intuitive person. I get strong gut feelings about people, and I tend to know (pretty accurately) who they are–at their core. I tend to pick up on their fears and insecurities. I tend to see their gifts and potential too. So I get super frustrated when I see someone not living their lives in the ways I think they should. Like–you’re so this and that–why aren’t you doing this?! I tend to forget that things like insecurity and fear often prevent people from being their best selves. But I tend to believe people are their best selves. And then I get super hurt because of it. I know it’s in them, and that’s way sucky when they hurt you.
The guy in question, now, is someone I struggle with because we are very different in terms of how we deal with emotions. I’m a basketcase–spazzy weirdo and he’s Mr. Buttoned Up. We are very different in terms of what we value. He’s very traditional and tends to value things he does while balancing people–but in what feels like an obligation way (to me). I’m relationship-oriented, but in a highly selective way. I tend to be close to just a few people. People always comes before stuff. And I’m pretty intolerant about that. No apologies there, either. At the same time, I have to put a high value on my own needs. I’ve learned the hard way. So, self-care is up there for me too.
I’m finding that these differences really are tough for me to swallow. I’ve been trying to work through it, but I am just dissatisfied–flat out–with our interactions. It doesn’t meet my needs. Talking about it doesn’t help. He is who he is.
I took a test recently that focused on 5 Love Languages. I forgot to save the link, but I’m sure you can google it. 🙂
Basically the test gauges what you value most–what you need from a partner. I scored a 9 for Quality time, 8 for Words of Affirmation, 6 for Acts of Service, 6 for Physical Touch, and 1 for Gifts.
It was kind of interesting because I noticed, immediately, that the things I most need from others are the things I’m kind of bad at giving to others. I do okay with Quality Time, though I am often lost in my head–even when I’m present. I’m terrible at giving words of affirmation. I’m kind of in the middle on acts of service. Most of these I do just because I have good manners–like I’ll get you a coffee if I’m getting one–but I’ve had people get mad at me for these things–so sometimes I just don’t because it’s not worth it. Physical touch depends on the relationship, honestly. And gifts I rock at.
I think what I’m learning is that I’d rather talk to someone for 5 minutes–without interruption–rather than an hour of distraction. It actually drives me insane. It’s one of the big reasons I actually get pissed if someone is using a phone at dinner or if people are online when I’m talking to them. Nothing makes me feel less important. Honestly. I will get seriously angry. But that said–only speaking for short amounts of time will absolutely ruin any relationship with me. I like sharing my life with people I love. I like checking in about my day. I like sharing important things with my boyfriend. I like knowing his thoughts about things. I like hours of nothing with someone. It’s a big part of how I bond with people. I don’t think he gets that. To him, that kind of thing is a waste of time. He wants to fill up his days with utility and doing. To me, love is built in the nothing.
Words of affirmation are huge for me. I don’t need constant streams of it. But every so often, I need real compliments and thank yous. I just want to be seen. Not too much–not in an embarrassing way–but in a way that says–“hey, you matter. i care. i see you.” On small thing like that can fix almost anything. It can be my life raft when I want to bolt. He’s not someone who does that–unless I initiate it–unless I say I need it. And that’s not okay for me.
He is good with Acts of Service, but as I mentioned–that’s just manners. I grew up with people who thought these things were non-negotiable. You are nice and kind because you should be nice and kind. You don’t get credit for that. In fact, if you don’t, you’re a crappy person. This kind of thing is such a big point of contention with my roommate (for example). I can’t tell you how irritated I’ve been with him because he didn’t offer to do something or flat out didn’t seem to care. I take this shit personally. I’ve tried to be more understanding about it–but man–I just don’t want to be with someone who thinks being kind is optional. I guess I do sort of undervalue these things because of that.
Physical touch is big–but not in the ways most men think. For me, it’s about brushing the hair out of my face. Or putting your hand on my back as we walk down the street. Or squeezing my hand when I’m terrified. Little things. I mean–the other stuff can be great, too–but without those things–I feel disconnected. He’s very awkward with such things. He thinks about it too much, so it doesn’t feel genuine. Or he just doesn’t think to do them at all. It sounds retarded, but I need someone with a bit of grace. It may be why I tend to be drawn to womanizers and players, but I like that confidence and that swagger.
Gifts are great. I’ve actually had many love interests who would surprise me with things, and they were always wonderful. He actually is really good at this–uncannily good–to the point that I thought he was spying on me because how did he know about pineapple bouquets? But, overall, gifts don’t mean much to me. I appreciate them, sure, but I learned that things don’t matter much. I had so little growing up that I focused mostly on the inside. So, it seems hollow when the insides fall short.
No one’s perfect, right? I think I’m learning more and more that needs determine if a relationship works or not. You can love someone, dearly, but if you don’t have what they need from you–it’s just really difficult to be happy.
There are other things, too. Some I’ve mentioned before and some that have resurrected from the past.
I have always had this No Republican, no crazy religious person unspoken rule for dating. For the most part, those people hate me, so no worries. He’s more Independent, but with Republican leanings in ways that are troublesome. Our biggest clashes come from how he views feminists. He hates them and doesn’t understand them. Which gets interesting because I’m a feminist. But he doesn’t get that, when he says these things about feminists, he’s talking about me. He’s pro-choice, thank God, but he says things that are just plain ignorant. For a smart man (and he truly is), it’s like he has a chip in his head that prevents him from doing higher level thinking related to the issue. I actually have wondered if he has a mild form of Asperger’s or something because his lack of compassion and ability to “get it” just isn’t there.
I’ve ignored his stance on politics for a while. We simply don’t talk about it. If we do, it’s superficial and quick. But lately, I’ve found that this is the one of the core problems. I don’t do superficial. I don’t avoid things. And I have to with him. I don’t trust that we’ll be able to argue and still like each other. I don’t trust that he respects me or my opinions. That’s a problem. And worse? I could never have a kid with him knowing his beliefs would harm my child. So, I just doubt the long-term with him.
I do love him, but it’s not in any sustainable way. Deep down, I know there’s a better match out there. I’m not going to end our whatever, but I’m also not letting it get out of hand. I’m open to whatever comes my way. And I’ll enjoy myself accordingly. But I’m not about to pretend I don’t see a bear.