So, I don't know if you all have seen my posts in the Falling "IN LOVE" Again
thread, but Real Estate and I are at a crossroads. Rather than re-write everything or make the lovely Singles TAMers go in search of these posts, I will re-post them here.
Originally Posted by FeministInPink View Post
I don't know if you're broken, but I would like to see what other people have to say about your situation, because it looks a lot like mine. My current partner, who I've been seeing for a year, seems to be in the same boat as you (though he is about 10 yrs younger than you, and has no children). We spend every weekend together, and sometimes one (or more!) evenings during the week. He's a wonderful man, but he says that he can't ever allow himself to love another woman after the way he's been hurt in the past. He's built a wall to protect himself and keep others out. Like you, his XW cheated, left him and married the OM as soon as the divorce was finalized. I absolutely adore him, and he says he cares for me deeply and that I make him happy... but I want to be with someone who is in love with me, someone who can't wait to see me, who misses me when I am away. I'm at a crossroads myself and I'm not sure what to do in my own situation. We had a big fight about this a week ago, and while I agreed to stay for now, I'm having serious doubts and things feel very different to me now.
And when the OP asked to hear a little more about my situation with Real Estate, I posted:
Originally Posted by FeministInPink View Post
Ugh, it's complicated. What do you mean, haven't got the wild out of you yet?
Yes, we have talked about expectations, in a limited sense... his expectations have been a moving target, honestly. Starting out, he was saying, I don't ever want a relationships again, I don't ever want a girlfriend again... then six months later, he's saying that we're a couple and acknowledging that we are in a relationship, but claims he still doesn't want a girlfriend/boyfriend thing, because that means that we are thinking about marriage, and he never wants to get married again. And whenever he makes declarations about what he doesn't want, he always makes a disclaimer that this is the way he feels now, and he doesn't see it changing, but he might feel differently in a year. All labels aside, we're as committed as any two people who have been seeing each other exclusively for a year can be, and he asked me once what I expected/wanted out of a boyfriend, a gave him list of things that I expected from a boyfriend, and he said, I'm willing to give you all that, I'm just not saying that I'm your boyfriend because that's a precursor to marriage. I've never pushed my agenda regarding my expectations, I've been happy to take things as they come and let things develop in an organic way... it has only come up a few times, when I felt he was neglecting me/my needs or not making me enough of a priority; usually, he is very responsive when I communicate something like this, but if he's stressed about something else that I don't know about, he'll go into "I need to assert my independence and remind you that you're not my girlfriend" mode, which always results in a big fight, like the one we had last week.
And I DO want to get married again, someday, but only if it's to the right person, and I'm not in any rush at this point. At this point, I just want a boyfriend, and I am happy to stay at that point for a long time. He asked me, five months ago, to be patient with him, because he has a lot of baggage, and I have been very patient with him. Until this fight last week, we never really spoke about my expectations, and I was ok with that. I didn't have any expectations... expectations for the future keep you from living fully in the present, which is a waste when the future may never even happen. I was happy with our relationship, and I felt like I was getting my needs met in the current state of affairs. And if our relationship was meant to become something more, then that would happen naturally. Then again, I also thought that his behavior and affection was coming from a place of love, and that his feelings were evolving.
I was upset because he had come home from a week and a half in Africa, and I barely saw him in the week and a half before he left... and I thought that we would FINALLY get some time together now that he was back, and I felt like he was blowing me off in favor of everything else, making me wait another five days until the weekend to see him. I had waited three weeks to get some quality time in, and he was expecting me to wait another 5 days? That did NOT go over well with me, not at all. So we got into a fight about it, which led him to ask, "What do you want out of this relationship? ... because I get the feeling that you want more than I am willing to give." Which turned into another fight. And it became very frustrating for me, because a lot of his reasons for not wanting anything more serious sounded more like excuses and fear talking, than actual legitimate reasons. And it was very hard for me, too, because the whole thing triggered my fear of abandonment (it really felt like he was rejecting me on some level). (One of his things about us not being bf/gf is that if we aren't bf/gf, then we can't "break up"--neither one of us can't dump the other. He thinks it will protect him from being rejected. Which makes absolutely no sense at all. A lot of things about his arguments on this topic have been illogical.)
He says he's never met someone as compatible with him as I am. And he sees us together for years into the future. That I'm his favorite person, that he cares for me more than anyone else in his life. What I don't understand is how you could meet someone so perfect for you, whom you see a [short-term, few years] future with, who you care for so much, and yet... you don't want to even consider the possibility of something more serious, more permanent with them? It makes no sense to me at all.
I hate his XW so, so much. She screwed him up so bad... the sad thing is that the betrayal and divorce made him the man who he is today, and ironically, pushed him to learn how to be a better partner. And because he IS such a good partner is one of the reasons I like him so much. He said once, if I had met you instead of her, things would have been very different for us... and I said, if I had met you then, we wouldn't have worked. Our relationship would have failed then, because you were a different person then, and I'm in love with the man you are NOW. SMH.
In response to my second post, Rowan wrote and I responded:
Originally Posted by FeministInPink View Post
FIP, your fella is emotionally unavailable. The push-pull thing he does, where he's your boyfriend except he isn't and wants to remind you of that fact, allows him to keep you on the hook and keep getting his needs met without making you an actual priority. And you're allowing it. You're projecting love and evolving feelings that aren't actually in him. You're holding on to hope because he's doling out hope-bait by telling you that his feelings might change - presumably if you're...what? More, better, different, what? You're trying to be patient and understanding and to not place demands on him. And all that would be fine, good even, except that you don't actually sound like you're really okay with this nebulous, no-definitions, boundary-less, quasi relationship you find yourself in. You honestly sound more like someone who's trying to be "low maintenance" because you're deathly afraid of being called "high maintenance" or "demanding". But the truth is, that it's okay to be demanding, when what you're demanding is honesty, respect, clarity, to have your needs met equitably in the relationship, and to put an end to moving targets. Expectations in a relationship are not necessarily a bad thing.
The problem is that your guy has told you what he wants, but you're still trying to figure out what he's saying. You've been together a year and he still insists he's not your boyfriend - to the point of feeling the occasional need to remind you of that fact. If you want a boyfriend, he's not your guy.
Thanks for your feedback, Rowan, but I posted this for the OP because he wanted to hear a little more, not to get feedback on my personal situation from other folks. If I needed feedback, I would have posted my own thread. And you would have the entire contextual story to respond to, not just one post.
Maybe he is emotionally unavailable. But he DOES make me a priority... the example in the previous post is an outlier, and I only gave it to put the argument in context. I am one of the few priorities in his life, but at that moment, all of them had come together to create the perfect storm of priorities, but I didn't know it at the time because I hadn't seen him while he was out of town and we hadn't had time to talk.
He doesn't expect me or want me to change. In fact, for the first time in my life, with him, I don't feel like I need to change or be any different
. I have, and I do make demands on him, and he expects me to do so if I'm unhappy, and he always does his best to resolve these issues and talk them through with me. We do have boundaries, we are exclusive, we've always maintained a policy of complete honesty in our relationship, we have a great deal of respect in our relationship, and not only are my needs being met for the first time in any relationship, he actively wants to know what he can do better to make sure my needs are continually met. And I may have mispoken... I have expectations of all the above. But in the context of my conversation with him, I don't have expectations like, "I want us to get married in X number of years." I like my independence, and I value it because it was very hard won. I'm not looking to give it up anytime soon.
I also received a thoughtful PM from another TAMer, and he and I exchanged a few PMs. I won't quote him here, as PMs are private (and I believe it is actually against forum rules to quote PMs in a public thread. But that TAM gave me some good advice and a few things to think about, from the POV of a man who has been where Real Estate is right now. And this TAMer has obviously read my posts in this thread about Real Estate here, because he referred to the nickname in the PMs, so he had a little more context to go on than Rowan did. The gist of his PM advice was this: you need to sit down with Real Estate and have a non-confrontational conversation about where you (FIP) want to be in 5, 10 yrs from now, and if this is acceptable to him? How much time you (FIP) are willing to invest in him to wait and see if he comes around? Is he even capable of giving you what you need? Without this conversation, he will be treading relationship water indefinitely, and we will still be at the same place a year from now, except that I will be even more attached and even more hurt when this ends. Like with @bkyln309
's OM, the treading water allows Real Estate to get his basic needs met but leaves me wanting more; he is making a conscious choice in refusing to get attached, so he never has to run the risk of getting hurt again. And he will continue to do so as long as I let him.
My reply to this fantastic TAMer who PM'ed me:
Originally Posted by FeministInPink
Thank you. You aren't off-base, not in the slightest. I really appreciate the advice. I don't have kids, and I don't know what I would say to them, and I can't ask myself what advice my parents would give, because they're totally messed up and give really sh*tty advice. My FOO is the great source of many of my emotional issues. There really is no one in my life I can go to for good advice. I have a close friend who is very empathetic, but she always encourages me to follow my heart and talks to me about patience and understanding, which helps to give me strength, but it isn't always the best advice. She has in the past encouraged me strongly to walk away from certain men. Not with RE, though. With RE, she's always encouraged me to follow my heart and be patient, because she truly believes he will come around.
And it has been a struggle, because I really, really want the heart to win out. But I know the odds are so, so slim.
So this is very, very helpful. The more I have been thinking about this, the more that I realize I can't go on this way. I was happy with him in the present, but part of me being happy was that his behavior towards me gave the impression that he was starting to think about me more seriously, and thinking about the future, and that his wall was starting to weaken. But after we had this big fight or whatever, that changed. He wanted to keep our relationship the way that it had been, but the fact of the matter is that we can't keep the relationship the way that it had been because the context of everything he says and does has changed for me. I realized that spending this past weekend with him. He behaved the same towards me as he always has, but because the context and my understanding of his behavior has changed, it feels kind of empty to me now. And I can't be the same as I was before, with this new contextual understanding.
I'm no good at faking it, so we'll need to have this conversation sooner rather than later. He expects me to stay over at his place this weekend, I assume, since that's what we do every weekend, so I guess it will be Friday. I need to memorize your message, it has pretty much everything I need to say right there already.
So this is where I stand right now. I've been thinking about this ever since last Tuesday, when we had the fight. Initially, I felt ok with continuing the way things were, but after spending last weekend together, I realized we can't just go back and continue the way things were, because the fight last Tuesday changed how I view and experience everything with him. When he cuddles me at night, when he holds my hand, when he kisses me... I need it to mean something. Physical touch is my main love language. And now it feels very hollow. And fake, somehow. And I can't do this. I can't be in a relationship with someone that is just treading water, filling my love bank with counterfeit money.
Initially, I thought it would be foolish to discard someone who makes me happy, only to be alone again in the cesspool that is modern dating after divorce. I don't want to be back there again. But I also can't be with someone who doesn't really want to be with me. It makes me feel like I'm filler, like I'm being used to fill the hours and fill the space, simply because his XW isn't there anymore. It makes me feel like he could take or leave me, that I could be pretty much anyone. And I simply can't do that to myself, even if that means that I'll be alone. I would rather be alone than be a space filler.
I was going to wait until Friday night, but the more I think about this, I want to do it tonight. I don't want to wait until tomorrow night.