December 18, 2010
Trying to be friends with an ex is tricky business. I am the kind of person who doesn’t lose feelings for those I have cared about. Talking to my best friend from high school last week gave me the warm fuzzies. Finding an old New York pal on Facebook is a big thrill. I even can talk to my ex-husband now without it being icky.
But my wishes to move into friendship with the man I loved for five years are turning out to be my wishes alone. We had a relationship that was physically intense, we had compatibility in many areas, and I cared about him deeply; his family, his child, his friends. I thought that, in time, the remains of what we had could be a basis for friendship. I was wrong. It seems that, for him, the relationship really was just based on sex. Sex with a girl who never said no, even at 6 AM before coffee, never said, “I couldn’t possibly; what if someone sees us?”, and never said, “you want me to do WHAT?” I was his perfect weekend sex toy.
It angers me now to know that I ignored signs (yes, there were clear signs) for five years. I’m not angry at him. I’m angry at myself.
I’ve talked to male friends about this relationship, and this is what they’ve always said: “Oh, yeah. He was in it for the sex.” I defended his honor, but now I’m done, and I have to admit that, yes, that was clearly the case. Men know men. It saddens me to think that some guys are so shallow that if there is no hope of getting in a girl’s pants, why bother talking to her?
Well, I am more than a sum of my sexual parts and talents. I am sweet, funny, and generous. I have a big heart and I’m easy to talk to. I’m a good listener. I have strong empathy. I have faults, too. I’m unfocused at times, over-emotional, and occasionally have really bad ideas that I am determined to put into effect at any cost. I almost always burn grilled cheese sandwiches. I blow my nose really loudly. I am a complete person. Not just a walking sex doll. And I deserve to respect myself and be with a man who can respect me for all of those things and see the good sex as a bonus.
I want to find a romantic partnership with a man who will always be there for me, as I will for him. Someone who would sit by my side a whole weekend while I visit my mother in the hospital and nursing home (I did that for TF1). Someone who would take two days off work and help me find a house in a new town, even if it tore him up that I was moving (I also did that.)
I remember the time my keys were stolen from the cubbies at the gym and I was having a panic attack, and he turned to me and said, “Do you care if I keep working out?” (to his credit, after I stared DAGGERS at him and said “you go RIGHT AHEAD,” he did help me look, and came home and helped me change the locks.) But it is a bit disturbing that his first instinct was to keep doing his thing when I was clearly distressed! Is this really a man I wanted to change my life for?
I’m beginning to think I dodged a bullet. And I am now really glad I ended our relationship a full year before I was going to leave the country, because obviously it is taking me a great deal of time to process this, and I’d rather be doing that now than while travelling.
I think that next time the pain can be avoided. There are always signs. It might seem premature or paranoid to end a relationship early when one of these SIGNS appears, but think of all the grief you save down the road! When I met my ex-husband, there were clear signs. In the case of the man I recently stopped seeing (let’s just call him Mr. Dark and Sexy Psycho Restraining Order) – yes, there were signs! And with TF1, there were signs all the way down the road. We still had fun; it was never bad. But I want more than just the fun, I want the boring stuff, too, the “how was your day?”, the “whose turn is it to do these dishes?”, the “can’t you please get this two week stack of mail off the kitchen table?” and the “let’s just get a pizza and watch TV tonight.” I want all that with someone. And I want to be his Tuesday night – or Thursday afternoon!- sex doll, but not because that’s all he wants from me. Because he loves me powerfully and knows he’s lucky to have me.
Why is it so hard to get past endings? Why do women overlook so many things until it’s impossible to go on? Do we want to believe the best in someone, or just believe our own delusional fantasies? I didn’t really want to change my travel plans to move in with a man who keeps a strong emotional detachment and lives in a town people like to make fun of. But the fantasy in my heart that I had someone I could truly love and be with, that I would get a second chance to get it right (even though my head always knew it was wrong) – well, that fantasy died hard.
Moving on is sometimes an excruciatingly slow process. This will be my first Christmas in 25 years not in a relationship. But I think of the alternatives – trapped in a marriage that was killing me, crazy in love with a man who was never serious about any of it – well, my plans to help out needy families and volunteer to work at the barn cleaning stalls are sounding better and better. Horse shit is better than bull shit any day.
Happy holidays to all of you out there in Winterville. Don’t forget to thank God, Buddha, or Allah for your instincts, and then pay ATTENTION to them!