Interpreting Tony, and what to do when the fish is caught.

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”.)

40 thoughts on “Interpreting Tony, and what to do when the fish is caught.

  1. To quote Allen Wheelis regarding Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”

    Yes, your nature is to analyze, interpret and comprehend; that is a great thing and an integral part of Ann. But when attempting to read the entrails for enlightenment, there comes a moment when you recognize that you’re up to your elbows in messy stuff that won’t and can’t go back together again.

    That is where the sentence ” Meh! Fuck it” comes into play. Is it that time? Only you know for certain, but remember it is always an option.

  2. What struck me in this post are two details. One the fact that all files on Johnny, Fox and Sevag are incarcerated. Considering how recent the Sevag drama has been, it’s a great thing to read.
    Another one is “I’ve spent so much time with Tony focusing on what I want that he can’t give me.”
    I wouldn’t focus on what I want so much, more on what I need. They may be two very different things. I know you thought about this already when you wrote your post. It’s just one of the thoughts that popped through my head as I was reading you.
    I know for example that I am not always getting what I want, but often realize that it is what I need at that time…

    I obviously don’t have answers for you Ann. But like you, I enjoy the comments, on my blog or others. It feels like when my therapist would suddenly ask if I’d ever considered a different point of view and it helped me realize something deep.

  3. I have to say that I don’t love those statements that Tony is making…I feel like the “I don’t want to be in your heart” screams “because you are not in mine”. He wants to hang out, be friends and have sex but doesn’t want you emotionally attached because he isn’t going to return that to you (my interpretation of the above statements he has made to you).

    I don’t think he is selfish for wanting you around…we all want that easy comfortable’s hard to find. And it’s not his responsibility to set you free…you know his limitations and you are a big girl and can set yourself free.

    You know where he is at…he is not looking for love or to settle down…his comments (in my opinion) make that clear. If you can live with that then go for it. 🙂

  4. You make a good point for interpretations being subjective to the audience. At the risk of sounding flip, being a Gemini forever exposes my mind to two sides of the coin. One day I’m singing from the rooftops (okay, not really, but you get the point) that you and Tony are sharing time together, and the next I’m chastising him for wanting his cake and eating it too. Today is the “gray” day – I’m not sure what to think about him. But I do like the comment above from Sassy – kinda speaks to me.

    • Also, I’m very confident in your ability to discern situations for yourself and make solid decisions. You are clearly Clear on where you stand and you’re quite comfortable there. xo

  5. It seems like one of the thornier problems we each have in life is managing our expectations for situations we encounter. You and Tony seem as if you are very different people, and even if he were seeking a serious relationship it might not work because of those differences. That said, the not knowing definitively that it would not work would drive me crazy and to the point of disconnecting from time to time. He has been so far from ready emotionally to even broach the subject of a genuine, lives-intertwined-as-a-couple relationship the entire time you have known him. Once your feelings for him became engaged, it must have been and perhaps still is difficult to think clearly about anything other than what such a genuine relationship could be like.

    I have no real advice or answers for you, Ann. From your posts it sounds like you’re enjoying the time with him while trying to protect yourself from self-inflicted wounds. Maybe in the interim, while you’re mired down with work and recovering from Sevag and his tsunami of drama, there are probably worse things than hanging out with Tony. He does care for and about you.

    • Thanks Janelle… that’s exactly what I’ve been debating with him. It’s just nice, honestly, and because I’m am very clear on what I get, and don’t get, with him, it’s been okay so far. I’m being cautious!

  6. Yeah. More than anything, I’m sad to have been right, but I’ve seen this before having been on both sides of it.

    The sad irony about wisdom imparted by others is that we usually have to make the same mistakes and go through the pain first hand before we truly internalize and heed it for ourselves.

    In this case, I see you doing a lot of rationalizing for how and why it’s okay for Tony to remain in your life right now, even though from my perspective there is no good end game to this. But it’s clear you have to reach that end game on your own and all that that entails before it takes for good, nothing I or anyone else can tell you will help circumvent the path you have to go down, even if we know where it leads.

    So as they say, que sera, sera.

    • I have been silently critical of your sometimes harsh seeming comments.

      Now I read:
      “I’ve seen this before having been on both sides of it.”

      I feel guilty now. I wish I had known of your experience earlier. After reading this post earlier, I was logging on to express my need to go back to school for a psych degree before I continued to comment. I know, though, that experience allows greater insight than a degree ever could.

      That said, there are several points of view expressed on Ann’s blog. Each comes from the unique experiences of the commenter. I’m still confused, but I want to thank you, Ann, and all here for advancing my understanding…

      • No need to feel guilty. None of us truly knows what anyone else’s life has been except what we choose to share with others, and we all come with our own senses of perspectives, experiences, and biases. Unfortunately pain tends to be the best teacher, and given enough time we all have our share, both giving and receiving.

        We’re all here in life to learn from each other, and sometimes we learn the easy way and sometimes the hard way, but as long as we get something out of it that we didn’t have before, it’s worthy.

      • I too was aghast a few times at the harsh tone of Josh’s comments, and while there were times I disagreed, I never felt like he was being unfair. I think he offers an honest perspective that sometimes some of us are unwilling to say – or hear, as the case may be. I think it’s refreshing to have someone call bullshit (though not without an explanation – which we can count on here). Everybody should have a friend who does that. 🙂
        (Oh, and btw nbratscott – my comment was in no way meant to insinuate you were wrong or should feel guilty, just in case it came across as so. I was actually agreeing to your sentiment.)

    • What I haven’t written a lot of yet is all the reasons I don’t think it’s wise to have him in my life. I’ve been trying to replicate how the thought process worked in my head… and it started with the positive. I would genuinely like to find a way to be friends with him – perhaps with “benefits” until such time that I can’t handle it or someone else comes into my life – but I am not sure it’s possible.

      I do know, at least for now, it’s just nice to have him around. It’s been a relief from the drama and chaos. But I’m not for a moment being complacent or thinking there’s a good end game, as you say.

      One thing I’m decently good at is seeing where things end up. I’ve been able to circumvent circumstances before and not have to necessarily feel the worst pain before I make a change. Not sure I can do that with him… we’ll see 🙂

  7. I am really hoping that you find what you want and what you need. I like this new dimension of your relationship with Tony.
    On a technical note: for some reason when I access your site on my tablet the “like” button is not there. Not sure why this is but please know that I read every post and love them all.

  8. Ann,

    Speaking in reference of the frames of Tony,

    Take equal parts of each frame, add them to the shaker full of ice, mix thoroughly and strain into a nice chilled Martini Glass, garnish with twist of lime and enjoy.

    In other words, it is a little bit of all of them. Each of those frames are part of the concoction and will play out differently depending on the situation and context of the conversation.

    All the best!


  9. Interesting approach. And you are correct when you say that we’re all biased. You really hit the nail on the head when you mention the lack of an “ending” when you compare Tony to the others. I have my “ending” one too and while you can move on, there’s always going to be this restlessness about them in your heart. I think simply because there are just way too many question marks. And Tony reminds me most guys who leave us with question marks ….. They are unable to commit but they say all the “right” things. We walk away feeling like they really did love us but circumstances prevented it being real and permanent.
    We have to be careful about that outlook because it can haunt us. We have to remind ourselves that real, deep, long-lasting, whole hearted, whole self, stepDad to our kids, type love doesn’t allow a circumstance to prevent being together.
    These men all seem to share one characteristic: they are not very brave. They risk within reason, the love halfway, they keep options and they are never strong enough to risk losing. And their decisions tend to stem from narcissism.

  10. One more thing I feel compelled to share – nothing shrinks my bean more than a man without some balls. For that reason alone, “catching the fish” ultimately can lead to tossing it back. xo

  11. I have to wonder that maybe he’s afraid to tell you how things are really going between him and his ex-wife? I don’t know… I find it confusing that you share your experiences about Sevag and others, yet he doesn’t open up like you do to him. Idk.. maybe if there was no sex in the equation he might be more transparent? Or could it be that you really don’t want to know?

    • Tony doesn’t share that kind of stuff generally with anyone… remember he still has people in his life that don’t know he’s separated. He’s incredibly private… so he does share things with me on occasion (I’ve written about some of it), but it’s not usual for him.

      I am 90% certain I know exactly what it’s like between him and his ex. He’s shared enough over the time I’ve known him. I often use my own experiences to draw him out a little bit, so he knows it’s safe to talk to me. He tells me more than he does anyone else, actually.

    • Thank you! I find it helps me figure out all the things that could be at play when I’m trying to understand someone.

  12. Ohhhh Ann…I KNOW the heart WANTS what the heart WANTS. From personal experience, I know when you love someone (because I’ve done this) you rationalize in your head why he is behaving a certain way and because you love him, you are able to accept these patterns. I know that you (and me) try and try to make it work because you enjoy his company and all the good things about him. BUT, what I KNOW now that I did not know then, that it SHOULDN’T take that much work. Two of your thoughts: “Perhaps that’s because we haven’t really tested being fully together – with friends and family and day-to-day life in the mix.” and “But no matter what, this realization that I haven’t really ever gotten to experience a full relationship with him” makes me shake my head. I shake my head because these things haven’t happened all due to TIMING. And as you know, timing is everything. So, be his fuck buddy and enjoy his company or leave and find someone who you can be “fully together” with…that’s just my two cents…

    • Yes my dear you are quite right that timing is everything. Right now I’m enjoying the time I’ve spent with him, and I do know what it is and what it’s not, what he can give me and what he can’t. The moment I am unable to handle these things, I know I need to back away. Right now I don’t think he’s preventing me from moving forward, because I don’t want to go anywhere else at the moment 🙂

  13. Pingback: Tonight, I miss him… | Dawn's Nights

  14. If I were your therapist, I’d be having a field day with you and seriously thinking about publishing a paper or two. Lemme ask you what might be a rhetorical question: Why do you pay more attention to what Tony can’t give you instead of paying attention to what he can give you? Do you see that by looking at him in terms of what he can’t do, you will always set him up to fail, given how he is and, as such, you also set yourself up to fail as well.

    Yes, I understand you want what you want, from him or anyone else but why is it so hard for you to work with what you have to work with, hmm?

    • Right now, 100% true, I’m actually focused on what he can provide. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I can’t get from him… and especially right now, in the scary aftermath of a breakup, he’s been an excellent calm and protective presence for me.
      Right now, I honestly just want to have some men around who I know and who I trust. Some for companionship, some for sex. I am thoroughly rattled from some experiences in the last few days with the last man I dated and just need comfort at the moment.

  15. He is in love with you OR he loves you as a very good friend. My Amy and I have a deep love for each other and are mature and pragmatic about it. While the jealousy would chew me up for a while, if she needed to see other people to make her happy, I’d be 100% supportive of that and vice versa.
    I’ve always been a Tony fan, warts and all. Is he “the one?” Maybe not, but he could be a life long lover who is always there for you.

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