I looked him in the eye and said (not verbatim, and not a monologue):
I am confused and frustrated. I feel that you are not emotionally available. You are not ready to be someone’s boyfriend. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. I believe you feel about me the way you say. Perhaps you just aren’t ready – you have a lot of stuff to sort out. Perhaps you don’t know how. Perhaps you don’t realize that what we have is hard to find. The reasons, however, are irrelevant.
New relationships need care and feeding. I don’t just know how you feel – you have to tell me. I get more “good morning beautiful” texts from exes than from you. My ex husband called me to see how I was doing with my job loss, yet I heard nothing from you. I feel as if you are here for me when it’s convenient, but if it really takes an effort, it’s too much for you.
I do understand the place you are in – I’ve been there as well. As I told you, I broke someone’s heart because I was in a place where it was all about me. I wasn’t ready to compromise anything. So I’m not angry with you. I understand it – but it doesn’t make it okay for me.
I don’t want to be with someone all the time. I like my space and like my time with friends. I don’t want to be texting all day, every day. I’m pretty much a low-maintenance plant right now, a cactus, let’s say…and I’m dying from lack of care and feeding.
But here’s my problem. I really like you, and like being with you. I’ve met men before with whom I’ve been compatible relationship-wise, or physically we’ve had great chemistry. But both is very hard to find. I don’t want to say goodbye to you, but I need to find a way to not be constantly frustrated. I don’t want to bang my head against a wall any more.
I probably said a bit more than that, but those were the highlights.
To his credit, he was very honest and open with me. He heard everything I said, and didn’t get pissy or fake apologetic or make false promises. And while some of you may be yelling at your phones or computers “ANN IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT HE SAID”, here’s what he said:
- There are times, Ann, when I think you are everything I’ve ever wanted.
- I worry about going from one relationship to another. But I don’t want to date anyone else right now. What would that solve?
- You are right, I’m not ready to emotionally commit.
- I feel like I need to take five weeks and just be by myself and deal with my shit.
- Perhaps I don’t know how to be in a relationship, as you say.
- I don’t even know if my ex was serious about getting back together. She and I don’t talk. I don’t want it to be like it was before.
- I’ve killed cacti before [this was a joke, a pretty damn funny one, in the moment]. I need reminders to ‘water my cactus’.
- I was so miserable after coming back from my vacation, with the fight with my sibling, that even more than normal I wanted to just be alone. I know I’ve been more distant than normal since my return.
- I don’t want to be kicked out / said goodbye to.
- You are more than a convenience to me.
There was more, but these were the comments I remember. We laughed that sitting in a sports bar with crazy pumping dance music in the background was incongruous to our conversation.
As he was talking, all I could think was that I didn’t want to say goodbye to him. But if I didn’t want to say goodbye, I didn’t know what to do. I can’t continue the way things were.
Before you say it, I know that actions speak louder than words. And more importantly, we judge ourselves on our intentions, and others judge us on our actions. I’ve been forgiving of Tony because I know what his intentions are – but ultimately, what I feel are his actions.
I have also been forgiving of Tony because I see what’s possible. But sometimes, we don’t live up to our possibilities. I know that in the past, I’ve stuck with men because of what’s possible and ignore the reality staring me in the face. I can’t expect someone to change.
These are all things I know.
So what did I do? Not what was conductive to a breakup, that’s for sure.