Sunday, February 26, 2017

Well, this hurts

That gaping-hole feeling was merely delayed; it hit me this morning, even before I started stumbling upon the reminders of the relationship: his toothbrush, his towel, the coffee maker that I don't use. And, now that I think about it, a bunch of medium-roast coffee that works best in the coffee maker rather than my prefererred French press, so I guess I'll be leaving the coffee maker out for a while. The treats he got for Gracie (I have no intention to keep giving them to her). Why does this stuff bother me more than the flowers? Why doesn't the overwhelmingness of our incompatibility blunt the pain?

And--here's a non-rhetorical question--how did this happen? I mean, nothing out of the ordinary happened; we dated, and in the process of dating, came to the conclusion that it would be better to stop dating. Could we have reached this conclusion sooner? Probably not; things were going well for a while, we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of great conversations. Were there signs from earlier on of problems ahead? Sure, but it's not a bad thing to see if you can work around them. It was also reasonable--for a while, and that while was running out--to think that some of the problem areas were based on temporary circumstances that could change for the better. One of us was always traveling, for example, or stressed, or both. If anything, I think the circumstances that enabled the relationship were more problematic; the fact that he lived blocks from my (permanent) office, made it too easy for us to get together after work and do nothing. We'd bring our work day into the relationship and not do much other than eat and watch TV. I found myself thinking that I didn't want to be in a relationship where all we did was eat and watch TV. [To be fair, we also so a fair amount of plays and movies, but still.] I suggested that we do Other Things, like maybe go somewhere for the weekend, and it was a red flag to me that he wasn't interested in that at all (even before he'd checked out of the relationship). So the mistake on my part was to fall into a relationship too soon; I might have allowed more space for wooing before 'what are we doing this week/end' became a done deal. I'm not sure what that would have changed--would we have broken up sooner or just dragged things out for longer?

I'd noted after my last break-up (see lesson #4) that sometimes breaking up by email (or text) is fine. I believe that would have been preferable in this case, even though it's not what happened. It would have been better to start the conversation in writing (since we were communicating that way anyway) and finish it in person--I agree it had to happen in person--rather than pretend by text that everything was fine because we weren't going to see each other for a few days. I could feel this man distancing himself, and I was--I won't say I was fine with it, and neither was he, but I was in agreement. It was confusing to get texts that implied that everything was fine. Maybe a "things have been different lately, let's talk" text would have worked well. Instead, I had to analyze my own preference to end things, second-guess myself, etc., and then I was completely caught off-guard when the conversation started. He'd even brought his overnight bag, I guess for added illusion. The second we sat down for dinner, I didn't feel like I was sitting across from someone I loved or could love. I cared about him as a person, but I knew our relationship was over. We ate, had a perfectly interesting series of conversations--as one would with a friend--and left the restaurant to walk along to river on the way to my place. He stopped at a spot with a beautiful view, and I thought this would be romantic if I still cared. And then he asked me whether we were working. I'd have loved to have this conversation in the other direction, but even as I knew this one had to happen, I was just taken aback. Is it fair to be annoyed at the premeditated breakup evening, even as I myself spent the week thinking that we should break up without really knowing how to do it? He kept talking, and I occasionally piped in to agree with him. We walked to my place so he could say goodbye to the cat, which was very, very sad. It might have been harder for him than saying goodbye to me. He occasionally tried to start an unrelated conversation on the way, but I wasn't feeling it. He was more sad, in the moment, than I was--I'd spent some of my sad a couple of days before when I realized that the break-up was inevitable--but we're on the same sad page. We both wish it could have worked, but we both know it couldn't. He asked if we could be friends. Initially, I declined, but when it came up again I agreed.

What if we hadn't been on the same page, though? What if I was reveling in the romantic, scenic moment and relishing the "where is this relationship going" conversation, when it turned out to go the other way? I'm convinced, even though I was ready to break up, that a staged break-up was a poor choice.

I started a new (temporary detail) job three weeks ago, and I don't have access to the gym in my building(s). I deliberately gave myself a week off--I'd overtrained my last week at the permament job, and was trying to shake a potential cold--but one week turned into two turned into three that I hadn't strength-trained. I only needed 20 minutes in the morning before leaving for work, but--especially with the slightly longer commute--those were 20 minutes I hadn't found. So today, I was going to strength-train for the first time in weeks. When M. bugged out of my life last night, I was glad I'd have this morning to exercise and dye my hair. Starting that workout took so much determination--I just wanted to curl up on my sofa and cry--but I knew that I would only get out of those feelings by communicating to my body that everything was as it should be.

The pain is manageable, and in a way it feels right to feel it. I feel stronger getting back out there--stronger about sticking to my standards and instincts. Just before I met M., a friend of a friend had asked me out but never followed up; I'd said yes, but now I've come to appreciate that the things that made M. and I incompatible would be even more so with this guy, and I'm not willing to put the time in to be proven wrong. If I've learned anything, it's better to be picky.

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