At long last, McI and I had our overdue conversation. It went much better than I had expected. Things came to a head on Friday, when he didn’t bother to contact me to cancel tentative plans. He’d never done that before, and so I sent him a text telling him that we needed to talk (meaning whatever it is people who aren’t a couple do to “break up”).
I heard back from him, with an apology, saying that he needed to go hide and that he understood that the writing was on the wall. We wound up texting into the wee hours of the morning about where and when we’d meet and settled on the Charles St. T Saturday morning. I got about two hours of sleep, and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes (I know, I know, but given my self-destructive tendencies when I’m hurt, my choices were getting hammered or smoking, and I chose having a clearer head).
Throughout the night, I tried to figure out what I might say. I settled on being honest, and telling him how I felt and what I wanted—and what I didn’t want. I’ve never really done that before, and I was going to regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t tell him. As best as I could, I prepared myself for hearing the likely truth that we didn’t want the same things. I resolved to remain calm, not to cry, and not to attack. I wasn’t going to be Little Sassy Schmoozer, but I was going to employ some of her communication skills. The Little One sets people at ease, and allows for people to respond calmly (and honestly), not defensively. I needed her.
That morning before we met was one of the longer mornings of my life. How do you really prepare yourself to say goodbye to someone you love and want to be with? How do you prepare to do it without reading rejection as a reflection on you and your worth? Although I have learned to value myself on my own, I think perhaps that meeting with McArtsyPants couldn’t have been more timely. Someone who’d dated me and treated me less-than well had just expressed regret that he hadn’t recognized what he’d had when he had it. That gave me some external strength, and I needed it.
I walked to the T a little early, preparing myself along the way. I looked at my watch and told myself that it would all be over in an hour. I just needed to get through this hour. I hadn’t really talked to myself like that since I took my Master’s exam. Like the exam, it would be OK. I’d live, even if I didn’t “pass” this one (I passed my exam with flying colors, even though I was convinced I’d flunk).
The train arrived and deposited me at Downtown Crossing. Just as I’d sat down to wait for the Red Line, in walked McI. We laughed at our punctuality, and he sat beside me. “Come here often?” I joked. We had an easy chat, interrupted at times by uncomfortable silences. We got on the train, and I learned why he had wanted to hide. His life isn’t for broadcast on this blog, but I will say that I would have run home to hide myself. But that doesn’t make it OK.
We got off at Charles St. and walked to the Esplanade. I’d thought that it would make a good spot to chat. Pretty, public enough to discourage a scene, and with plenty of exits. We chatted as we walked along before sitting down on a bench. I took a deep breath and started.
“I really like you, McI,” I said (OK, I didn’t say “love,” but Little Sassy Schmoozer knows how not to freak people out). “I’d really like to keep dating you. But I can’t have you blowing me off, even for good reasons, and I don’t like the way I’ve often wondered if you’d just disappeared. You’ve always had good reasons for doing this kind of stuff, which is why I’ve been understanding, but I can’t do it anymore. It hurts. I need to know if you still want to know me.”
“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry,” and he proceeded to tell me how he felt. We’re not in the same place, but he doesn’t want me out of his life. I learned a little more about why he’s been hesitant about getting more involved with me—things that have nothing to do with me. Things that in time could be resolved (like I said, his life isn’t for broadcast, so although this part of the story is incomplete, you’ll have to trust me that it wasn’t hopeless). I asked him if he thought that he could be better about communicating with me.
“Definitely,” he said without hesitation.
We talked some more, and we left it that we’d work on getting to know each other better. We agreed that there’s something there with us that would be sad to lose. It was really nice to hear that he likes me, and not matter what happens to with us romantically, he’d hate to lose my friendship. That might sound strange, but I’ve often struggled with feelings that I’m not worth knowing and that guys only want me for sex. That’s not to say that we didn’t talk about that—we laughed when we talked about how good other aspects of our relationship are. In general the conversation was calm, honest, and kind. The setting provided ample opportunity for diversions when things got a bit uncomfortable.
For now we’re both free to date other people. I know this sounds weird, but that’s fine with me. He’s a busy guy, and I’ve wanted a little more company. I like knowing that I can have some without feeling like I’m sneaking around. He also knows that I’m not going to wait forever and that I’m going to live my life. We’ll see what happens, but things are no longer on his terms exclusively.
“Well,” I sighed. “THAT was somewhat unpleasant. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I know you weren’t looking forward to this conversation.”
“Yeah, I know. These things are never fun, but we needed to do it, and I’m glad you said something.”
All in all, we talked for about an hour, and then we parted company with a hug. “I’ll be in touch, and I won’t disappear,” he said, smiling. He went his way, and I went to the North End for a coffee.
I’m proud of myself. I was able to say what I wanted and to express what I didn’t want honestly and in a way that didn’t put him on the defensive. I found out where we stand, and I realized that things weren’t as dark as I’d thought. He agreed to communicate with me more, and ultimately, this was what I really wanted. And the thing is, even if he doesn’t follow through with that, and even if things don’t (and there’s every possibility that they won’t) work out with us, it won’t be because I didn’t say anything. I don’t have to live with that regret.
This concludes the blogging I’m doing about my dating life for a while. Things are fucked up enough in this world these days that a good ol’ political rant is in order soon.