Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from an even more amicable break-up

I spent the last couple of weeks--but especially this past week--second-guessing my overwhelming sense that the relationship I was in, was doomed. The things that were not working were adding up and it was getting increasingly harder to believe that they could be overcome, even in the face of the many things that were working. On Thursday, I came home from work and cried over the realization that the relationship couldn't be saved. By Friday morning, I thought maybe I was tired and overwhelmed and should give it more time. I was too busy during the day (and evening) to give it any thought, but this morning, I didn't miss him or feel excited about seeing him tonight. When we sat down to dinner, facing each other, I undeniably felt nothing.

I couldn't believe he didn't (not) feel it to, but he did. We were walking around after dinner, and he stopped and asked me if I thought the relationship was working. He didn't think it was. I agreed. We were both sad. I was less so, because I'd gotten my sad out a couple of days ago and at this point I was mostly left with relief--that post-break-up relief of no longer having to dismiss the accumulating dealbreakers. I'd say, also, that the complete, instant closure--the lack of misunderstanding or recrimination, the absense of any need to wonder what went wrong--goes a long way toward easing the pain.

This was, interestingly, the first time my friends didn't try to talk me out of trusting my instincts. Out at trivia the other night, I enumerated the things that weren't working and said I just had a bad feeling about things. I expected my friends, who were in the throes of dating, to tell me to count my blessings, but they acknowledged that my instincts were probably onto something.

The man, on the other hand, was not as forthcoming. I'd felt for at least a week that it would be better to break it off, but that breaking it off was going to hurt. Last weekend, when I didn't hear from M. for, say, 36 hours (eventually, more than 48), I suspected something even though I knew he wasn't the ghosting kind. I started to emotionally prepare myself for our not being together, and I was mostly okay with it but it stung. To the point where, when I did hear from him latish Monday, I was relieved--even though I felt that we were just postponing the inevitable.

So here's what's interesting: I told him explicitly that I'd started to plan for not seeing him again (i.e., I'd made certain decisions around the assumption that we wouldn't be getting together on Tuesday night, as previously planned). He was shocked. He just had a lot of work, he said. Did I think things weren't going well? The way he asked implied that the very thought was absurd. He wouldn't just ghost, he assured me. I knew that, I told him, but there are levels of emotional distancing lesser to ghosting.

He wasn't feigning the shock; it just hadn't all come together for him. After I called him on it, he started wondering why he hadn't texted me all weekend. Sure, he was busy, but that hadn't ever stopped him before. [This, my friends, is a lesson in 'He's Just Not That Into You,' and I picked up on it even before he did.] This made him think about our relationship, which meant coming to the conclusion that things weren't working. It wasn't all in my head--either the dealbreakers or his distancing, even when his words tried to tell me that it was.

So we got together on Tuesday. We didn't talk about it, even though I brought it up. Being with him was more exhausting than anything else, not just because we were both tired. It felt like work. On Wednesday, I vented to my friends. On Thursday, I came home and cried. On Friday and this morning, I reverted to denial, but part of me knew the denial wasn't sustainable. This morning and early afternoon, getting together with another friend, I talked about how I just didn't think it was going to work. This evening, I saw him and I felt nothing. Later in the evening, we broke up, and I felt relief. I haven't cried, even though there's a tinge of sadness. I haven't thrown out his flowers and feel no need to. I feel no need to purge my house or electronics of signs of him. He asked if I wanted to stay friends, I demured. I believe in a clean break and don't really see the point. He said goodbye to the cat--he liked her at least as much as he liked me--and left. We parted on very good terms. I'm a little sad, but I don't feel a gaping hole in the fiber of my being.

Even the immediate, pragmatic things I'm relieved about--having the rest of this evening and tomorrow to myself; having the bed to myself; not having to go to yet another restaurant tomorrow because this guy doesn't like to eat in--are things that would've been of no comfort to me two months ago, and would be of no comfort to me now at the expense of a relationship I wanted to be in. It's time to move on when you think, oh, good, I'm not going to wake up next to him tomorrow.

I don't regret that we dated; I think we learned a lot from each other. I enjoyed getting to know him as a person. I benefitted from getting a stronger understanding of what wasn't negotiable to me, even when I tried to tell myself it wasn't a big deal. Maybe one or two of those things would've been fine, but they were adding up. I feel entirely comfortable holding onto them. I feel more comfortable than ever being who I am, and either knowing that there's someone out there who's looking for it to, and/or it's nevertheless who I am and what I need.

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