I’ve been home from my trip for almost three weeks. In that time, I’ve seen Bruce for a grand total of one hour, on a day I rearranged my schedule to work from home in the morning so he could stop by my place between job sites. It wasn’t quality time; he’d eaten something that didn’t agree with him so was sick to his stomach. We had sex which lasted eight minutes.
One hour in three weeks. A grand total of three in-person meetings in the two months since I met him. One after-work drink, one dinner, and a morning quickie.
Several comments in response to my last post suggested I should talk to Bruce about exclusivity – or more specifically, how I’m not ready to give it. But that’s like giving someone dessert when they haven’t even expressed a need for food. There’s been no “where are we going” conversations, no “I really like you, Ann” declarations, nothing at all that would imply a need for any clarifications on my part.
If things had been as I thought they’d be based on our interactions while I was away on vacation (a phone call almost every single day for over two weeks), there would be no debate whether to keep the long-term casual partners around.
But things aren’t that way at all.
First was the schedule flip that meant Bruce and I were on opposite week-on week-off schedules with our children. And no, I can’t just adjust mine to match – my ex and I have many months of immovable plans based on our schedule. Bruce knew it messed up our ability to see each other but sorting it out wasn’t a priority. He’s never had to take anyone else into account before. It doesn’t help we live an hour’s drive apart.
Then there was my honest-but-dumb mistake of leaving a voicemail on his ex-wife’s home number, thinking it was his. In the aftermath, I realized Bruce has not established the boundaries necessary for him to date. His ex wants him back, or at the very least doesn’t want anyone else to have him. His children haven’t been told their separation is permanent (perhaps because she didn’t want it to be). They haven’t written down their separation arrangements let alone started divorce proceedings. They live a few doors apart on the same street.
At that point, I was still doing alright. I told myself I had caused the issue with his ex. Since she’d settled down, I resigned myself that he’d be less keen to mess up his schedule but I figured it was just a matter of time. All I wanted was to see some progress, however slow.
I knew this past week would be a good measure of whether things could work in this context. He didn’t have his children. I gave him the rundown of my availability which included some times on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday that despite having Liam, could work for Bruce and me to see each other.
His job is physically taxing and he works long hours. He doesn’t always know where he’s going to be located. He isn’t the master of his schedule and he’s often at the mercy of others for getting things done when he expects. It is almost completely opposite of my world. So weeknights, even child-free, he can rarely plan in advance. I get it.
Then came the financial issues. The details are irrelevant, but Bruce had two major financial setbacks in the last couple of weeks. While he’s a skilled tradesman, he’s carrying his own mortgage on the house he shared with his ex (she’s the one who moved out) and providing support to his wife and children. He doesn’t have any extra money, so this is a big hit.
Suddenly he’s found himself not knowing how he is going to make ends meet. He is facing having to sell his house but doesn’t know that he can afford a place in the town they live in.
These are big things for anyone to deal with, but also having anxiety makes it all the worse.
So did we see each other? Nope.
Bruce was too tired to come visit after work on Thursday, despite his job site being close to my house.
We talked on the phone a few times that night as he filled me in on some of the issues he was facing and how badly it messed him up. He reassured me none of what I was experiencing with him was personal. He said he still wanted to see me and talk to me, but he needs to first focus on sorting out his financial situation.
Friday I invited him to come over after work and join me at a friend’s party. He was welcome to stay overnight. He canceled on that as well. He agreed to drive a colleague to their job site which meant he had to drive him home, a thirty minute drive away from my place. He told me he also wasn’t “good company” and didn’t feel like being around people, so the party was out. He dropped his colleague off and went home.
But we talked for an hour that evening. He wasn’t avoiding me. He reiterated some of what he’d said the night before. I told him the only red flag I had was whether he was able to create those boundaries and be able to actually date. He said he agreed and he thought he was ready when he started online dating, or he never would have, but he knows there are things he needs to deal with.
He told me he really needed to get his head in order. He didn’t expect me to wait around for him (from a dating perspective) because he knows he can’t promise anything at this point because he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing.
He told me he’d never wanted to throw anything in her face about him moving on, dating, or being happy. But ever the joker, he said he supposed he would need to find a way to let her know that the reason they don’t live together anymore wasn’t just because he needed more space.
I asked him point blank what he wanted – whether he preferred if we weren’t in contact, or if I should stop making suggestions for when to see each other, etcetera. He said he wanted to talk to me and wanted to see me but didn’t know how to make it work. He also said it’s just not feasible for me to come to his place. His ex lives really close, she’s still being snarky about me, and he’s trying to avoid that drama while dealing with his financial drama.
Saturday I’d offered for him to come over after Liam went to bed, so we could have some alone time. Even if just to watch a movie, it would have been nice to see him. He knew it was the last chance for us to see each other for several days. He needed the money so took a job which started at 7 am on Saturday. In the early evening, he called and said he was too tired and didn’t feel like doing the drive to my place.
So, any conversation with him about moving forward a relationship is off the table. He simply can’t deal with anything else at this point, and dating – and me – are simply not anywhere in his top priorities. I’m thinking about how to proceed but need to give it some thought.