Before my wonderful New Year’s could take place, there was the purging and apologizing of Christmas 2014. Three of the men whom I have dated (or attempted to) took actions that altered our relationship in some major way (or attempted to). For two of them, it meant that they were out of my life for good, while the third made an interesting choice and has opened up a door that was forever closed. Admittedly, this metaphorical door is barely cracked open and the security chain is still firmly in place, but it has allowed me to begin truly healing a wound that was deep.
He also gave me some really good advice concerning one of the other men in question.
Before we get into the sagely advice, you should be warned that we’re talking about the Boy here.
Those of you who have been reading for a while now know of the recurrence of the Boy, a man whom I thought I was dating (still think we were dating, although he may debate the definitions) but who got rid of me after finding a replacement. Even after he decided to get rid of me, we tried to be friends, although it is so ridiculously difficult to go backwards… The final ending of our relationship happened in the middle of a tumultuous situation at work, which led to me taking a 2 month hiatus on life in general.
Suffice it to say, it was bad.
So when I received an email from him on Christmas Day (though I got it the day after Christmas), I was shocked, and amazed and a little overwhelmed. Throughout my other dating exploits, I have used my interactions with him as a bit of a standard, because I needed to learn from my mistakes. It made me overly cautious in some regards, and blind to real jerks in others (i.e. the Artist, though we’ll get to him in a moment).
His apology was along the lines of he was sorry for the hurt he’d caused, although not for the cause, just the resulting pain. A strange apology, but considering the source, it made sense. He was sorry that I’d been hurt, but didn’t really feel he was in the wrong, I suppose (we could debate that, but we’d never get to the advice he gave me).
The result was that he piqued my interest enough for me to hear what he had to say, and after a couple of days of actually decent conversation that was more in line with how we had been in the very beginning (before we actually dated), I felt I could at least talk to him.
And he’d read my blog, and thus was completely caught up on what was going on in my life. Who better to ask advice from?
(Yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense, but bear with me…)
Earlier on Christmas day, I’d received another apology, via text, from the Architect from Sudan. It read “Marry Christmas, Is Christmas the time for forgiveness? I’m sorry.” This one I ignored because not only did the bad grammar irk me, but sometimes it’s just best to trust your instincts.
It made me think, though, and while I was waiting for the Boy to respond to my email asking why the sudden apology, I texted the Artist, my supposed friend and fellow artistic soul whom I have listened to ad nauseum as he goes on and on about his sacred five year game plan to become famous…
Can you sense the ire?
In my text, I asked him for his opinion, as a guy, as to why I would receive messages from these two people. His initial response was that people just get extra introspective around this time of year. This mirrors the responses from some of my other friends who felt that perhaps both gentlemen were trying to clear their consciences before the new year came around.
Then it became a much larger issue for some reason.
In my mind, it was merely an attempt to begin a conversation. I didn’t expect some in depth answer. It wasn’t a major catastrophe that required his immediate attention, but as I had had a mild crisis (in the form of a fight with my mother) a few days before, he took it as me needing him to solve a problem.
His later response was a three paged text about how he was an independent person and unable to provide me with the “love and attention” I obviously needed. He also wanted to make the point that he couldn’t be there for me every time my world “got shook up.”
This isn’t my first disastrous conversation with him where he’s taken something mild and blown it out of proportion. Remember when he told me he would treat me like crap because we had been at a more than friends, yet still undefined place? Or when he told me he could cut me out of his life because he thought I was after sex, when I had only been trying to be cute in response to something cute he’d said?
In both earlier cases, I had been willing to take the majority of the blame because I didn’t believe that he was actually that big of a jerk, but blatant disrespect because I needed a conversation with a friend during the Christmas holiday is just more than I can stand. It also proves that, yes, he is that big of a jerk.
The whole situation illuminates one of the tragic problems with the gender divide in American society, especially in the south: it is almost impossible for men and women to be friends because there is this constant redefining of roles as almost inevitably one person misinterprets the meaning of the other. And, I hate to say it, but it is usually we women who get the short end of that particular stick…
If I’m honest, I have to admit that we women are just as guilty of the misinterpretations. There had been many a time (and that I’ve documented on here) where I thought his actions were leading to something romantic. I may have even wished for that a bit. I can see the hope when I look back at posts with him in it, especially in the beginning.
I’m just glad that the Boy showed up when he did to offer some really great advice:
You have to keep yourself from feeling taken advantage of by altering your relationship to something more balanced. If someone wants more out of a situation then that someone needs to offer the same (or something of the same quality) in return. Anything less is a breach of contract, and it’s okay to renegotiate the terms of a relationship at any point.
This is a hard thing for me, as I am a people pleaser, but it really makes sense.
Since the Artist and I were trying to be 100% honest with each other (in theory) I think I had believed that was something we were doing. Even though we were just friends. He and I had discussed before that sometimes we don’t communicate well, and one or the other of us jumps to the wrong conclusion. We had agreed to talk it out when that happened.
In this instance, instead of talking it out, he insisted that I was asking for more than what he could offer, not realizing that I was asking him to return the same courtesy I had given him when I listened to his drama about his plan. The plan that he will probably never fulfill because he lacks follow through.
In my discussion with the Boy about the situation, I pointed out that this is the reason why, occasionally, in my serious relationships, guys I have dated have accused me of using them for something… less wholesome: when I realize they cannot provide me with the intellectual or emotional conversation/comfort I need, I get what I can get from them.
He pointed out how my solution was probably not the healthiest of ways to deal with such an issue. Renegotiating the boundaries of a relationship is much healthier, and it works for friendships as well as lovers. Since the Artist cannot be my friend, I can deny him the things he seeks, like a shoulder to lean on when he is doubting himself in his art. If he cannot treat me like a person, I don’t have to deal with him.
Similarly, if, as has happened in the past, one of my female friends feels a need to try to one-up me instead of offering emotional support when I tell a story about the problems in my life, I should stop going to her for support, and instead search for better, healthier friends to turn to.
That is the trick: deciding what you offer and what you expect and keeping them in balance. Don’t ask someone who cannot be there for you emotionally to be your rock. If they expect you to be their rock, it’s okay to tell them no, unless what they offer you in return is of equal value.
This is a thing I had forgotten in my need to please people. I was letting myself be used as a doormat. No more!
The conclusion of the whole situation was out with the Artist, and out with the Architect (thought he never made it past a first date anyway), and tentatively in with Boy… on a trial basis to see if we can actually be friends.
The peace that came from all of that nonsense gave me the courage to open myself up to someone I’d found attractive before, but had been convinced he wasn’t that into me. It led to the best New Year’s of my life!
But that is a story for another day.