He's good; we're good. We are moving forward, albeit at a snail's pace
A few signs of progress:
-- He's beginning to talk about the future. He now talks about when we go to camp together next summer, and the like. Previously, he always preceded things with, "if we're still together," but he's dropped that pretense over the last month or so. But more importantly, he's thinking about the future for himself
and talking about what he wants to do, and making some goals for his future, where none really existed before. He wants to buy a few more rental properties and is looking into what it takes to open his own brokerage. This is a big deal... he's kind of been spinning his wheels in the same place for the last 5 years, because the future never really mattered, because he didn't really have anything to look forward to. He just saw an endless string of days, all of them exactly the same as the one before. I think I'm changing that for him. He sees that I am a person with forward momentum, and that if he doesn't step up his game in this respect, I may well leave him behind. No that I need him to change--I adore him as he is, and I have no desire to change him. But if he wants to make changes and improve himself and his outlook on life, I will be wholly supportive.
-- He is (finally) letting me leave stuff at his place. Not a lot, not like I have a drawer. But I told him yesterday when I was packing up to leave, "I'm leaving some of my toiletries in the bathroom, since I'll be back on Thursday night." And he was totally ok with it, when previously, he would have said, no, you can't leave anything here. I have my drink mix in the kitchen cabinets, my new Lego set upstairs, and a few other things here and there. This is a big thing for him... for the longest time, if I left even as much as a hair clip or a rubber band, it would be returned to me the next time he saw me. This is good because he's seeing me as a more permanent presence in his life.
-- I have finally, after almost 10 months, met one of his friends!!!! This is HUGE. Like, a BFD. He likes to compartmentalize his life in a way, so the different circles of people in his life don't really cross over in any meaningful way, and he is rather private--he doesn't go out and socialize a lot. So I've never met any of his friends, except for the mutual friend who introduced us, even though he's met a ton of my friends, and they all love him. Real Estate doesn't have a large collection of friends, and most of them live far away. This friend, in particular, lives in Kenya currently, so we will call him The Kenyan. I have known about The Kenyan for a long time, and The Kenyan has been in town 3 times since I've started seeing Real Estate, but I had never met him--he leases a condo in the same building where Real Estate owns a few units, which is how they met, and Real Estate is watching The Kenyan's condo, taking care of his mail, etc. They're been friends for a long time. The Kenyan is getting married at the end of February, and Real Estate is going to Kenya for the wedding. So, two weekends ago, I find out that The Kenyan is in town just for a few days--he had to go to Atlanta for some business with his non-profit, and he decided to come up here and take care of some stuff here as well--and Real Estate was meeting him on Saturday morning for breakfast, which they always do when The Kenyan is in town. I assumed that I would be left home to my own devices while they had breakfast, as has been the case in the past, but Real Estate decided that I was coming along to meet The Kenyan. Funny enough, he didn't tell The Kenyan that he was bringing me! But The Kenyan was delighted to meet me, and he was lovely. Since then, Real Estate has even let me chat with The Kenyan a little bit via text, when The Kenyan texted Real Estate about some stuff this past weekend. The Kenyan is disappointed that I can't come to the wedding, but I expect that I'll see much more of him and his bride when they come back to the US next summer. But the reason this is a BFD is that he wouldn't introduce me to any of his friends unless he was feeling sure that this was going to last into the foreseeable future. I'm also fairly certain that he has (in the past) repeatedly told all his friends and family that he never wanted to be in a relationship ever again, so it also requires a certain amount of pride swallowing on his part, and he is a very stubborn man, so I'm sure that part was tough for him as well.
-- It seems like he's trying to tell me he loves me without having to actually say the words themselves. He's been singing me silly love songs, and a few weeks ago he told me I was his favorite person, aside from his dog. He's just not ready yet, but I'm not worried about it. To actually say it would be to make himself vulnerable, and he's not ready to put himself in that position yet, and I can understand that. I will be patient, because I know that he loves me, and he shows me that in every way that he can, which is more than any other person has ever done for me, and I'm incredibly happy with that. I would rather have the actions than the words.
-- He seems to be warming up to the boyfriend/girlfriend label. I backed off of this starting back in October, after we had our last big fight about "what is this?" I decided to just enjoy what we had, and not worry about labels, because my relationship with him (without labels) has been better and healthier than any relationship I've had with
labels. I would rather have the healthy, loving relationship without the labels, than give that up to try to find someone who will be on board with the labels, but not give me everything that Real Estate does. And then he doesn't feel pressure from me to move this at a faster speed than he's ready for. He has been very responsive to my needs; if he needs this to move slow, then I wants to be responsive to his needs as well.
So, that's where things are. I feel like we're in a really good place, and I'm happy that we aren't rushing things. I'm happy that I am able to have someone special in my life without feeling like I'm going to have to give up my independence to be with him, which is something that I've been worried about, getting seriously involved with another person. I'm quite happy with the way things are right now.