Getting an opportunity to not make the same mistakes twice.

I don’t live a life of regret.

Looking back on all the men I’ve had sex with (which is a LOT), there are fewer than five I wish weren’t on that list. Why? Because I didn’t really want to have sex with them yet I did anyway.

And it took me a long time to stop doing that. I was too focussed on their wanting me it didn’t occur to me I could say no and there would be more to come. Probably a legacy of not getting something from my relationship with my father, but I’ve largely moved past that now.

I think we only accept bad behaviour when we don’t know of the alternative, or we don’t know we are worthy of more. Or we tell ourselves the things we do get outweigh the other stuff.

For me, the latter is the most pervasive. I am a queen of justification and rationalization and nuance. Hy calls me out on that regularly. It’s the downside of my fascination with why people do what they do. It’s easy to lose sight of the behaviour staring me right in the face.

It would be easy to regret my marriage to Will. In many ways, I felt I came back to life two years ago when we split. Which would imply I was dead for the 15 I was with him. It’s true in some regards – passion and sex being the notable examples – but not in others. It also wasn’t his fault. It started with me and my reaction to an early broken heart which was never repaired.

In work and in life I have a strong sense of personal accountability. Unlike so many people’s revisionist history narratives, I don’t take the easy or simplistic route of vilifying Will for the breakdown in our marriage. I choose to believe I probably hurt him as much as he hurt me.

Which leads me to mistakes. I’ve made a few (yes,now that song is in my head).

[And BTW have I mentioned lately I sometimes detest the WordPress editing on a phone? I lost the rest of the my content on all my mistakes… yet another mistake…]

I’ve already talked a lot about what drew me to Will and how I justified his complexity as something I needed, since I was bored with nice guys. I hadn’t dated anyone who was nice and who had a backbone. Nice and weak or spineless I cannot do. That was a mistake and I’m working through how not to make it again – Fox is testing that ability.

But even more fundamental are some of my personality traits and how I react in a relationship. Will and I were badly matched in love languages. I need affection and quality time. He needed gifts and words.

I was angry with him when he gave me expensive gifts. I appreciated them but I thought he could have spent less money and I just wanted us to do things together. It was a sore point throughout our marriage. But I also stubbornly refused to see it his way. He wanted gifts, I thought they were wasted money, therefore I didn’t buy them for him. (and no, I don’t mean ever. But he wanted expensive things and I didn’t cave).

Which brings me to Fox. 

I’m pretty sure he and I have different love languages. At least, I am learning that words mean more to him than they do to me. I am not particularly sentimental, and he is. I have a thick skin and am not easily wounded, and he’s rather high maintenance.

At least, that’s how I see it. 

And hence exactly my point: when Fox texted me last weeek that we needed to talk about his emotional needs, my response was an eyeroll and a big sigh. I will likely write more about it but I thought it was ridiculous, given the situation which prompted it.

And that, my friends, is a mistake I want to avoid. I can be judgmental. If I think something is silly I’m less inclined to be accommodating. 

Yet I’m dating a man who is really quite amazing to me. I’m pretty sure he would do anything to me. But I’m not the same. 

And that’s the mistake. But I have an opportunity to make some changes, and I will try to do so.

28 thoughts on “Getting an opportunity to not make the same mistakes twice.

    • I’m a high maintenance woman, so I guess I understand Fox. I like a lot of reassurance and I like to be told I’m loved a lot. I want attention. You are very important to him, he just wants to feel his love is returned equally. Maybe it will take time for you to get there 😉

      • Yes, I do think that he’s somewhat insecure about how I feel about him. What I don’t know is how much of that comes from something I’m not giving him, or is just him being insecure no matter what. I suppose I hope it’s the former because it means it can be dealt with. Him being fundamentally insecure isn’t good.

        • Just because a person’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation does not mean they are insecure, any more than your preference for Quality Time makes you needy.

          • Oh you are absolutely right – I don’t equate those things. He is however somewhat insecure… He lost 100 lbs 2 years ago and still doesn’t see himself like he is today. He had told me he’s often the one who gets dumped. Etc. So while my behaviour might be triggering him as well, he’s not starting from a place of a lot of strength.

            Certainly didn’t mean to imply his love language equates to insecurity.

  1. “Or we tell ourselves the things we do get outweigh the other stuff.”

    That was my big mistake in relationships up until about 11 years ago. It took me until the end of a 12-year marriage and seven years of a string of relationships. I got to a point of “never again” when it came to making compromises.

    Making compromises was something that was drilled into me by mother who is 51 years into a verbally abusive marriage. I could never live with what she puts up with, but we have different value systems. She values “things” — wealth, a nice home, the ability to buy nice things without considering cost the way most people have to. She once told me, “You’ll never be happy until you find a man who makes at least $150K a year.” (Project much, Mom?)

    Since making my “never again” promise, I’ve been happier, even during the times when I didn’t have someone in my life. I just can’t be in a relationship in which compromises outweigh my personal happiness and satisfaction.

    But that’s just me.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Bobbie. I sacrificed too much for too long.

      I don’t know that it’s the same with Fox… my core challenge is I’ve made different decisions (on purpose) to try to not repeat the past. So I’m with a guy who is different and amazing in his own right, but he doesn’t have 1-2 characteristics I’ve always said I have to have. I’m not sure it’s true… but I don’t know how to figure it out.

  2. Just wait for the 3 year barrier, and you will be bored to death again. Women’s boredom tolerance is much lower than men. The best way to have relationships in these modern times are long term open relationships. Women are programmed to be bored with their men especially if they live with him and see him every day, this is how it is. Ask monogamous couples that have been together for more than 3 years.

    • I’m not sure I agree with all of your points, Peter. I do agree that it’s hard to keep interest going in a relationship, 100%. But regardless, I need to determine what characteristics are the right ones for me.

  3. That’s quite a generalization there, Peter. I’m sure it may be true for some, but I think it really depends on the person (and that includes men) and circumstances. When it’s real and it’s right, there is nothing more fulfilling and peaceful than laying your head down next to your soul mate.

    I can relate to your initial reaction Ann. I’ve been there. I never considered it something I needed to work on, but rather a symptom that this just wasn’t right for me. Is that a correct assumption? Who can say? I don’t know if i have the right to even comment, my circumstances, I think, are unique. Perhaps these are lessons for you to be introspective, and figure out what a happy medium is for you with a sensitive man. I’m glad, though, that you recognize your reaction and want to avoid a negative situation with Fox. It shows you have compassion for him – which is neither a weakness nor a sign that something’s amiss. Take a deep breath.

  4. I would roll my eyes at “emotions needs” too but just because it sounds psycho-bable-ish and we’re conditioned to want our men to hide their emotions. But it’s a good sentiment so go with it.

    • A friend pointed out that it’s way better to have that “problem” (a man who wants to express himself and communicate with me) than a guy who I can’t get to text me.

      So I do have to think about it that way, right?

  5. I think part of the problem is that when (only) one party gets pretty much all of their emotional needs met (that would be you), they become complacent while the other party gets more and more needy (that would be him) because they’re NOT getting their needs met.

    And that leads into a cycle of them pushing harder and harder for more and you feeling it as some kind of demanding and annoying neediness and that makes you withdraw, which makes them more needy and etc until you have a big problem.

    In your other relationships, from what you have shared it’s been mostly skewed the other way, which is why you were writing reams and reams of angst and worry and you were analysing every word and trying madly to grab onto every little nugget of goodness that was carelessly tossed your way and turn it into gold (heh… too much?! Yeah, I agree).

    Anyway… my early relationships were often skewed this way. And then I’d get bored with the needy whiny things that men would become in the face of this emotional inequality. Not their fault. But I had to work pretty hard (and fail a lot of times) to figure out what was going on, and then I had to figure out how to identify someone who didn’t do that (I’m an emotional steamroller, so many got flattened in the face of it :/), and then I had to find those people with whom I could have the level of emotional equality that works for me (I actually like it slightly tipped in my favour: no surprises there :P). That shit was hard to figure out: I think I can (mostly) recognise a good balance now when I see it.

    All this to say that your dynamic seems to have a lack of tension in it: you know, that tension that keeps you both on your toes, keeps you both offering your best to each other. He is all-in and you keep questioning what you are doing, he is throwing himself into it and you are the passive recipient of that predictable and comfortable and flattering attention (I know you aren’t ‘passive’, just using it to illustrate a point). If he’s not careful, that’s going to turn him into that needy whiny thing that you will eyeroll at every time he want’s to have ‘another talk about feelings’.

    It’s a useless (and of course possibly inaccurate) observation because I have no strategy for fixing it from your side (if I did, I’d have been able to fix the relationships I had that didn’t work because of this: I never could). If I was giving HIM advice, I’d tell him to let you do some chasing for a while, let you catch up (see IF you will catch up).

    Phew, long.

    Hope it’s just a little niggle in the end and I’m just rambling :).

    Ferns

    • Ferns, thank you so much for this. You definitely got me thinking. He and I have had a few talks about his needs / my needs and I’m working on finding that balance. I definitely don’t want to take him for granted, but I can see that with the tension missing, I don’t act as well as I do when I’m the one trying really hard to get someone to be there for me. He says he’s not concerned about how I feel about him, but there is something missing for him. xo

  6. I’m going to submit a theory, and it’s just that–a theory, since I don’t know all the dynamics of your relationship with Fox. But from what I do know, here it is, for whatever it’s worth. This may run a little long, forgive me.

    Fox’ insecurity and need for emotional reassurance may stem from the initial conversations regarding your desire for open sexual play with others. He obviously has never been in a committed relationship that involves this aspect, and so not only might he have insecurities about “not being enough” for you, but also the depth of your commitment to him in the relationship. And in his defense, this can be a hard thing to wrap one’s head around *this early in a primary relationship where the other person already wants to have sex with others*.

    That last sentence is the crux of my theory. I think there’s a reason so many married/committed life partners who are successfully into the swinger or sexual sharing lifestyle tend to be older, and who were together for years, if not decades in a closed relationship before opening up their relationship to others. This gave them plenty of time to establish and cement their commitment and life devotion to each other, to the point where fucking other people couldn’t remotely feel like a threat to their primary relationship, but rather a fun thing to enhance their existing relationship.

    In your case, you and Fox haven’t been together for years or decades. You’ve only been together a few months, and the sex with others aspect has already been brought up in the mix. Even more importantly, it has been brought up primarily not as something to enhance your and Fox’ relationship, but rather as something *you* were clear that you want to continue exploring for yourself, and he either has to be okay with that or not.

    So basically the timeline has sped way up from when most couples go from a closed relationship to an open one, and it’s based on what you want, not him, and in his mind if he’s not okay with it then he fears losing you.

    If I’m right about my theory, his insecurities are understandable, and unfortunately you probably don’t want to wait several years of being with just Fox before opening up the relationship, as is more common for a lot of swingers/non-monogamous couples. So Fox is in the position of having to go from 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds, and is struggling with it.

    Anyway, there’s my theory.

    • Wow again…I thought Fern’s response was great and this one is equally as strong. I couldn’t agree more with two of you.

    • Thanks Josh. I agree with you that my wanting someone who is open to the possibility of sex with others is definitely causing him some angst. Despite my reassuring him each time that it’s not a deal breaker and we’ll figure it out, and also backing that up in action (or inaction, as it may be), I don’t think it really matters. He’s worried, and it’s driving some of his behavior.

What do you think?