Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why casual relationships can only lead to casualties

I thought things were on an upswing, I really did. I swallowed my stupid pride and made nice and we went out on Saturday and had a really good time. Dinner, a play, his house, then a bar and a band and a drink. Doritos were had, but we went out again after, so staying the night wasn't an issue. And yes, he dropped me off at home at the end of the night, but it was late and I had to work the next morning, and it was fine. I was fine. Then last night, dinner and an Indian music and dance performance. Back to my house for some down time and a Netflixed episode of Ally McBeal, which in retrospect may not have been a wise choice. (Ally, could you not be a bit less whiny and clingy and utterly terrifying to males everywhere?) And then, out of the blue, he was saying that he couldn't even believe he was bringing this up, but, well, he'd been having conversations with friends lately, and it had him all uptight because, well, what are the unspoken rules of relationships, anyway?

Um? I said.

Because these friends, he said, they were making all kinds of assumptions about him and us and his obligations towards me and it was making him feel very chokey and tense because, to be honest, he's feeling very commitment-phobic lately.

If this had been Ally McBeal, you would have heard a low hiss as I slowly deflated and shrank into nothing. Maybe a shot of me with a chest full of arrows, pierced through the heart by a bow and arrow-wielding CGI-enhanced dancing baby. But it wasn't, and so instead I just said, "Oh." Then, "Are you commitment-phobic in general, or just...now?"

"No, I haven't always been commitment-phobic, I think I'm just reaching a point in my life where I am."

So just this time, then, I thought. Just with me.

"What's the opposite of phobic?" he asked.

"Philic," I said, because that was what I could do. I couldn't for the life of me come up with an appropriate response that would encompass the depth of what I was feeling, but Latin suffixes I could do. Hydrophilic. Francophile.

"Is that what you are?" he asked. There didn't seem to be a word to describe someone who is neither phobic nor philic but who is happy taking the middle of the road, because everyone knows that any time there is something to love there is also necessarily something to fear. But I didn't know the suffix for this, and so I said nothing.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I guess that's a dumb question." I still said nothing. "You're very quiet," he said.

"I... I just... I don't know," I said. "I don't know."

"I'm sorry," he said again. "This is obviously not what you were expecting to hear."

"No," I said, my voice sounding unnaturally shrill, "actually, it is. It is."

But I couldn't give voice to any of the thoughts that were running through my mind, namely, Why are you telling me this? Why now? What do you want from me? What do you want?

"Well, maybe you need some time to think," he said, (No, I don't, I thought). "Then we can talk about things and figure out if we want to keep seeing each other on a more casual basis."

"More casual," I repeated dumbly. "More casual?"

"Now you're just repeating what I'm saying," he said, obviously missing the point.

We see each other about twice a week. I have never pressured him for more. On days I don't see him I don't call, and I hardly ever text. We don't e-mail and we aren't friends on Facebook. We have never discussed a future further in advance than next week. He's mentioned my upcoming birthday and I brush it off, saying, "Let's not talk about that." I've made it clear he is under no boyfriend-type birthday-celebrating obligations whatsoever. We have sex and we go home to our own beds. One time I slipped up and asked him to spend the night; one time. And now this? More casual, he says?

As if reading my mind, he said, "It's not anything you've done; I think we've been having a really good time just hanging out. I have fun with you, and I'm obviously really attracted to you. It's just, like I said, these conversations with my friends. They say there are certain expectations involved, and when I feel like there are expectations, I start to feel really...trapped." He waited expectantly, but I couldn't say what I knew to be true. That this was the last time I would be seeing him. Oh, sure, between yoga and trivia nights and the smallness of Mythaca we would surely run into each other again (and again and again), but this night, this was it. The last time we would lay on my bed with our legs intertwined, which we were, we still were, even through all this. Our torsos had by now separated in self-defense, our hearts protecting themselves via the safety of the chasm growing between us, but for now, by habit, our legs still clung together. A slow cleaving of ourselves.

"Well..." he said in response to my non-response. "This is what I'm guessing you're thinking, and stop me if I'm wrong here. You're thinking you probably don't want me hanging out here for much longer..." (I almost smiled. It was the one thing he had gotten right all night.) "...and you probably want some time to think things over." (Nope.) "So it's good if I go, then?" I nodded. He put his shoes on.

The sound of a front door closing can be the saddest sound in the world.

33 comments:

  1. I think he needs to stop listening to his stupid friends! Blimey, what's wrong with these blokes? And maybe you should have told him how you were feeling instead of letting him lead the conversation? Unless you just wanted him to leave, that is. I'm sorry :(

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  3. it seems like cheap, cowardly excuses..."..after all these conversations with my friends..." If he were really into you, he wouldn't care what his friends think! And more casual than what you guys had going? I have a more intimate relationship with my gynecologist...he's not worth your time. You need someone without the commitment issues.

    Sorry to hear it ended this way though, but you deserve better.

    (P.S. deleted comment is mine...had a grammatical error that I had to take care of)

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  4. Not to be trite, or maybe exactly that, it's not you; it's him. I mean that. When you say "So just this time, then, I thought. Just with me.", that's not it at all. It's HIM! He has a problem. You are awesome. If I know his type, and I totally do, he is having some age-related freakoutedness because people around him are probably getting married and considering children and he's definitely not ready for that, but if he sees you every week then people are going to think he wants to marry you and if he marries you, he's a grown up and WHOA where did his life go. So, fuck him. I mean, don't fuck him. You did the right thing, even though it sucks. The guy you end up with won't have to be talked into spending the night. He will want to, because you're awesome and he knows it. I'm sorry this happened, but I'm glad you're not wasting your time anymore!

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  5. Oh Rachel..... what is it about guys?? We're into the second millenium and they still call the shots - they really do! I bet THEY don't think, "Oh, I had better not text too often or it will seem as if I'm being pushy." I think it's actually harder these days for you young people despite the more liberal times. When I was young there WAS an expectation that guys got married so they accepted it. Lol. Anyway, you are so much better then this guy. I know it's hard. I really do. But hang in there! x

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  6. MORE CASUAL indeed. What's up with that? It doesn't get more casual. Good riddance.

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  7. I think that us women always delude ourselves and really want to believe men's bullshit, even when we know that what they are feeding us is bullshit.

    Fuck the friends. Doesn't matter what they may or may not have said. It just matters when Mr. Beard has done and is doing. He is not into you. Plain and simple. I hate hearing people people give excuses and yadda yadda yadda as to why. He just not that into you. And that's completely okay! He's not into you, but I'm sure that there are a ton of people that you're not into so I don't think you should think there's something wrong with you.

    Just try to move on and don't fixate on your relationships (or lack thereof). Yes, you are awesome, but for whatever reason, he didn't think so. That's ok, though! Completely fine. Because all that's important is that you love yourself. I really think you need to stop making concessions/excuses for these guys, cuz honestly, the writing was already on the wall the 2nd time you had sex and he was out the door the moment after. No excuses. And the freak-out about staying the night? You shoudl have stopped seeing him after that. Don't let him make a fool of you if you know that you can't handle/don't want the little that he's offering!!

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  8. I hate when I feel like I have to defend myself.

    I don't believe I was making excuses for anyone here. I was repeating a conversation I had. If I was making excuses for him I would still be with him, and I think I made it pretty clear that it's over.

    And yes, I am familiar with the "he's just not that into you" argument, but at the moment--less than 24 hours after the fact, when I am still feeling pretty vulnerable--it's not that helpful.

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  9. Oh, this makes me sad. You deserve so much more! What is wrong with the guys in Mythaca?

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  10. why why why why...

    Why is he blaming this crap on his mythical friends? Be a man, sonny.

    Why is he thinking he is going to find someone better? Is he really all that and a bag of chips?

    Why does he keep saying he knows what you are thinking? He has no idea.

    And finally...

    Why is he such a douche? No answer to that one. Sorry.

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  12. oops!
    deleted my previous comment to make a correction.

    Anyway, I don't think you have you defend yourself to anyone- if I made you feel that way, it was certainly not my intent.

    I re-read the post and you're right, you were just recounting what happened. You weren't making excuses, but I feel that us women in general are SOOOOO quick to make excuses for ridiculous behaviour by guys. So I'm not pointing the finger at you especially. I realize that you are vulnerable, but in reality I am pissed off at these ridiculous guys who get to call the shots and do this shit on a regular basis to nice females. Yes, I have been in your position. Many times. So I'm not trying to get on the high horse and blame you or call you weak or something like that. But, I also feel like you have been through a similar "shady, non-committal guy" situation with the married guy, no? Or with that other guy who would always sleep over but no sex?

    Besides that, the universality of this situation makes me angry because it happens ALL. THE. TIME. and to so many of us. And we (women) never seem to learn, and our lady friends are basically yes-(wo)men, making excuses for dudes like "oh, he's not ready for a relationship right now", or "oh he's worrying about his friends' opinions" etc etc when what we should be saying is, "fuck him, he is ridiculous, on to the next". Yes, it hurts, but when will we stop subjecting ourselves to such nonsense? In the last post about this guy, some readers (I may be mistaken becuase I haven't read the comments in a while) were trying to make excuses as to why he wasn't spending the night.... i.e. he doesn't sleep well in someone else's bed *eye roll* , when the true answer is that he was looking for a "cuddy buddy"/"special friend" and that's it...

    Please don't think I am trying to judge you or anything. As I said, I have been in this situation many a time and tried to delude myself and wasted a lot of time, energy, and tears on fools who weren't worth my time.

    Think of him as a learning experience- now you'll be able to spot the bullshit from a mile away! And know that most of the time (to take a line from HJNTIY) we are unfortunately not the exception, but the rule.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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  13. Is this guy around 30? there is this phenomenon known as the 30yr breakdown, i think he's having one, you might be too, also how old is this cat? at 15 your friends talk you out of seeing a female you dig, if it happens anytime after 21 you are a tool... and really you are like the Charlie Brown of dating, it might suck for you but it's great entertainment at times.

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  14. Wow. WTF. My heart is breaking for you. Jerk.

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  15. Nikita: Thanks for clarifying. I did feel like I had to make clear that I wasn't making excuses for him, but I know you weren't trying to be hurtful. And yes, as you mentioned, I have been through somewhat similar situations before, which does start to make me wonder...but at the same time it still doesn't make me psychic. I still don't know what's going to happen 'til it happens. You know?

    Kono: He's not even 30! I'm almost 30, he's only 27! I am so sick of younger guys, but there is literally no one my age here. (And it's only going to get worse the longer I stay here, I imagine.)

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  16. Oh, and the Charlie Brown of dating? Wow. Might have to be my new tagline. Hell, I should make t-shirts. Ha!

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  17. Honest to Pete, I cannot believe the bad luck you have with these guys. I truly don't believe that it's you. You just end up with these guys who have weird hangups and issues that existed long before you, and you're the unfortunate one who ends up paying the price. I would say try to be more careful who you pick, but from what I can tell, these guys don't seem like bad ideas up front (except for the married guy, sure).

    Hang in there. I was in and out of wrong relationships for a long time, but at 33, not long after I moved to a new city and took a new job, I met a guy who is perfect for me. And to be honest, if I had met him when I was 25 or maybe even 30, I don't think I would have been ready. I was still picking the wrong guys back then. I had to wait until I really knew what I needed out of a relationship before I was ready for the right guy. For me, the timing all worked out, and the heartbreak I dealt with in the meantime is what got me there. Fingers crossed that's what's happening for you.

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  18. More casual? Seriously? How utterly ridiculous. I'm sorry.

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  19. More Casual. BULLSHIT!

    I'm sorry this happened and he ruined a good thing that worked for both your short term needs.

    I don't think there was any conversation with his friends, he used them as his "out".

    Keep searching.

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  20. I think the greatest response would be a cheerful "Ok.Next!" But I don't really know anyone who could pull that off in real life, myself included.

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  21. I was chatting with a colleague at work today and she was lamented that this guy that she's been dating exclusively for TWO YEARS still won't refer to her as his girlfriend or tell her that he loves her or truly commit to her.

    Then I came home and read this post. What's with all these ridiculous guys nowadays?!? Either you're in, or you're not. There just isn't "more casual" or "less committed" or any other line he could have come up with. And that bit about "talking with his friend"? That's a crock too. As much as it hurts, you were wise to get out now. He's simply not the one for you at this time.

    Still, I'm sorry you got hurt and I hope you'll be feeling better soon!

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  22. As much as I hate to admit it, I have been this guy before, I know what he's thinking. You are much better off without him in your life, at all, in any fashion. He'll wake up and regret it one day - but you should not.

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  23. I'm sorry this relationship didn't work out. Have you ever thought it might be better to wait to share "doritos" until a guy has proven that he really IS into you? If all you want is a casual relationship go ahead with the doritos but you obviously want more than that.

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  24. You are singing my song. Note for note. And you do it so beautifully. My own situation is also pretty fresh, and I'm not handling it as maturely as you. But your eloquence gives me some comfort. Thank you.

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  25. I am so sorry for your bad luck, but I'm also so happy you're not sticking around to find out what else this guy is capable of throwing at you. GOOD FOR YOU to know when it's over, because I'm sure he's also the kind of person who'd just keep everything status quo, Doritos and mindfuck and all, if you agreed to keep things "more casual." Fuck him and fuck his beard. You're just warming up for better things.

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  26. I don't mean to go all "grandma" on you, but I think I agree with Tessa... what about putting a clip on that bag of doritos for a while? ... And, you know, maybe even that Jimmy James guy with his "prude" self could turn into something better... no?

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  27. I didn't feel compelled to comment until suddenly the Doritos were brought up, and I have to say: When I open the bag of Doritos, it's because *I* like Doritos.

    I'm just saying.

    (Plus, I have this theory that casual sex doesn't ruin relationships; it just accelerates existing relationships towards their natural end, whatever that might be.)

    Sorry about the guy. This part always sucks.

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  28. Well, yeah, who doesn't like doritos! ... but I just thought Tessa had a point... and while you're theory about casual sex may be correct, I don't think there's any harm in trying dorito abstinence on the next guy.

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  29. Here's the possible benefit of numerous awkward breakup moments since the mid-1960s--

    1. He is full of shit on so many levels.

    2. He really is not interested. "More casual" means we've had sex two or three times and there's no more experimenting left. I'm not in love, this is nothing special, there are other women out there to (possibly) experience a major spark, we have nothing in common, I feel guilty at feeling nothing, let's move along.

    3. You need to express all those silent thoughts that apparently occur between sex and the door. Every thought you had should have been clearly expressed to him. You know, aloud. "More casual? What's more casual than this? I've felt more commitment in 10 minutes with the burrito guy at Taco Bell than I got from you in 10 weeks."

    And so forth.

    Happy birthday.

    M.

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  30. Wow, you remembered my birthday! That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks much, M. :)

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  31. I'm with Gabbi on the Doritos thing. If I don't want Doritos, I don't have Doritos. It's very simple. If I WANT Doritos...okay, that's when things get more complicated.

    More importantly, hey! At least you're out there. I'm not even trying to meet guys.

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  32. Sorry to sound old-fashioned, but I agree with M just above - he got "what he wanted" and so that's it - he'll go find the a newer girl, as that's more exciting. It's still a man's world, unfortunately.....

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