I love the comments I get on this blog, especially the Tony posts. I guess I know I’m committed to honesty when I still write stuff which I know will result in a collective groan.
What I find interesting is how we can have such different interpretations of the same situation or dialogue.
Our frame of reference dictates so much of how we interpret things, and unless we deliberately force ourselves into a different perspective we will all be naturally biased.
This is why I love analysis and different opinions. I can look at the situation and dialogue with Tony and see it from multiple perspectives. Sure, I can drive myself crazy this way, but usually it helps me see things differently than I might otherwise.
Let’s take Tony and his willingness to be around me as the example.
Here’s what he’s said:
I just want to be in your life. We don’t have to meet in private. I just want to talk to you. Even just to listen to your voice and the things you have to say.
When I told him something about him always being in my heart he said:
I don’t want to have a place in your heart. I want to have a place in your life.
When I asked him how he could be okay with my being with other men; how he was able to get his head around that, he said:
I just want you to be happy, Ann. If I can’t give you what you need, can’t commit to you the way you want, and you find someone who makes you happy, that’s great.
He’s proactively said things like:
I don’t want you to be confused or hurt.
There are at least a few different ways to view all this.
The most common way to frame it is he’s being selfish. When we think about it this way, the narrative is that he wants me around for his own happiness, even though it’s to my detriment. That he is only considering the benefit I provide to him. If he was selfless he would “free me” and not respond to my attempts to communicate with him.
Another frame is he’s being passive. I’ve come to him this time, continuing to keep the lines of communication open and leading us back into intimacy. He’s followed my lead and not pushed me unless I’m willing. From this perspective, he’s not going to really make a decision either way. He’s going to accept what I give him – I could tell him we will just be friends, or be lovers, or try to start Chapter 3. As long as I don’t push him to the ultimate change (moving forward with his divorce), he will go with the flow.
Yet another frame is he’s genuinely in love with me despite being torn about how to move forward to finally end his marriage. He’s thrilled I’ve come back to him and he’s respecting my desires to not be exclusive and will accept what I give of myself. He loves me so selflessly that despite being to his detriment, he’s willing to let me go if it means I will be happier.
The other one that occurred to me today was he sees me as a very strong woman who is independent and makes good decisions, so he assumes if I’ve come back to him in some form it’s not to my detriment. He believes I know exactly what I’m doing and when I say I’m fine, he thinks I’m fine.
It’s not to suggest that any one of this is the right and only answer. But I do find it interesting to take these different perspectives and play them out… what does it mean if I think about it a different way? I actually think each of these things plays a part.
I’ve spent so much time with Tony focusing on what I want that he can’t give me. Whether it was communication, or exclusivity, or an integrated and serious relationship, usually I was yearning for more. This was especially true in Chapter One. By Chapter Two, I was in a better place and it lasted for months until I realized where things stood with his “ex” wife and couldn’t be part of any deception.
With this as my focus, I didn’t spend nearly as much time thinking about if I’d want the big fish if I actually caught it. Yes, while there’s an amazing connection, it’s very comfortable, etc etc., could I really see myself with him long-term? Could he be a step-dad to Liam and someone I could rely on as a partner?
I’m assuming those things are what I want. It would be nice. It felt lovely with Fox when I saw a potential future with someone who could be a part of every area of my life.
I don’t see Tony the same way. Perhaps that’s because we haven’t really tested being fully together – with friends and family and day-to-day life in the mix. Perhaps it’s because I’m just trying to find a way to limit his real estate in my heart. Perhaps it’s because he has characteristics I know would be difficult to live with; perhaps deal breakers.
But no matter what, this realization that I haven’t really ever gotten to experience a full relationship with him – at least, the way I define a serious relationship – helped me understand why the yearning is so strong. There are still unanswered questions. It’s not like Johnny or Fox or the last one where there was a beginning, middle, and end.
I halted our relationship; I didn’t end it in the same way I did with the others. I feel like my words are failing to get across the nuance in my head. It’s not that we aren’t done… I’m quite clear on what I need for a Chapter Three to be feasible. But it’s this feeling as if the file on him isn’t shredded and incinerated. It was just archived.
And what I’m also realizing is that despite the archiving, there are reasons the relationship may not last even if there was a Chapter Three. Things I already know today about who he is and how he is, which despite connections and magnetism and passion, could ensure a “real” relationship has no chance of success.
(And on an unrelated note: Josh, you absolutely called it about the comment that things weren’t going well with him and his ex. I had a flicker of hope, which was quickly extinguished as it should be. When I asked him about it later, saying “you said things aren’t going well with you and her, what’s going on”, he had no recollection of what he’d said prior and when I reminded him, he said “oh well they are fine…as fine as can be with an ex-wife wife”.)