ex boyfriend relationship


By word count alone, I’ve written the equivalent of two long novels about Tony and me. Probably not a surprise to those of you who suffered through Chapter One and Two. While he may not be a big talker, I seem to never be at a loss for words when it comes to him. It’s romantic tragicomedy at its finest.

A fellow blogger said she let one of her friends read my blog and they didn’t believe it was real life. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this and it makes me wonder what to make of it. Am I that fantastical or unbelievable?

Hy and I talked last night about what’s going on with Tony. While I haven’t been obsessing about things with him, I know it’s important to tread carefully so am giving it some thought. Shocker.

I have good intellectual clarity – the key will be finding the balance between the intellectual knowledge of what’s right for me right now, and letting my behaviour and choices be dictated by what feels good.

I know with certainty I need to keep some practical distance, for now. Meaning, even though I could talk to him every day (and he wants to), and see him more often, I shouldn’t. It is a necessary precondition for any hope for keeping some emotional distance. It feels as if he wants to go right back into a relationship with me. I don’t know whether it’s deliberate on his part – the cynics can argue he’s being careless, not considering the emotional impact of his actions. Maybe.

But something is different. The one big thing that held us back before is his inability to say his marriage was over. It wasn’t, ultimately. But now it would seem that it is.

He’s sending good morning texts here and there. He’s booking dinners weeks ahead. He sends texts saying how much he loves my big busy brain, and calls asking how important things in my life are going. He’s asked me to go away with him for two nights – a small cabin in the woods with an outdoor private hot tub and nearby skating and skiing.

And that’s precisely why I need to be careful.

But not too careful. Hy sagely advised there is nothing I can reasonably ask him right now – he doesn’t know how the future will pan out. He can’t tell me whether I will always be hidden from his soon-to-be-ex because how can he know that?

My concern isn’t that he’s using me during this transitional period. He loves me and wants to spend time with me. It might be better for him to have some time alone, but it’s not how he thinks.

I have two main reservations when I contemplate a possible relationship with Tony:

First is a worry whether he and I could ever have a fully integrated relationship. Would I be able to spent time with him and his son, would he take me to Christmas dinner with his family. These things are important in a serious relationship… and they would be far away from being a reality with anyone just getting out of a twenty year relationship. He won’t be able to answer any question I pose on this topic.

Second is a broad concern about his being so conflict avoidant. But honestly, it’s something that has to be experienced to be worked on. For someone I love the way I love him, I’m not going to walk away from the potential of something amazing without trying it out.

Of course, I also wonder whether it will actually work. Will the magic be gone if we can have a serious relationship with all of the challenges they have? Will he still adore me the way he does? Will his shortcomings be an issue for me?

Do I even need to be in a serious relationship?

And in contemplating these things, I realize I can’t produce an outcome. I’m a Producer and a Fixer, but this is life, not work, and not a production I can fully manage.

I’m going to – gasp – take it one day at a time. I’m going to be mindful of my emotions and reactions and course correct as needed. When we are away together, I may find the opportunity to tell him I’m nervous about being hurt – that I love him and I can feel myself being pulled back in as we talk and spend time together. But that’s me taking care of me. I can ask him to be mindful as well – to try to be deliberate in his actions – but I can’t rely on that happening any more than I can with anyone else.

It feels amazing to have this clarity and to be committed to this approach. We’ll see how it goes.

27 thoughts on “Tony.

  1. I like this very much. Clarity is the key to happiness. Or is it sanity?
    Well, whatever it may be, let us hope for an outcome that is real and safe and rewarding for all involved.

  2. Tony’s been in your life – and you’ve been on a roller coaster – with him for some time now, Ann; it’s obvious you love him very much.

    But I think if he truly loved you, he’d get his act together and be with you. People always have challenges to deal with, it’s true, but Tony’s put you through the wringer and you don’t deserve that. period.

    That’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.
    Have a great day, Ann.

  3. Regarding the believably of your life, there is a reason I’ve tried to persuade you more than once to try writing an erotic novel based on your experiences. Some of this stuff is unbelievable (but in a good way).

  4. You so very clearly know how you want to be treated in a relationship. This means that you have the power to be treated that way. You don’t want to be hidden, you don’t want to be a secret, you don’t want a limited, compartmentalized relationship, you don’t want to look back and see that you have just been used as a rebound. If you don’t want these things, then don’t accept them, either in the future, or now. What prevents you from setting firm boundaries with Tony around limiting your emotional and sexual availability to him right now? Are you afraid that if you aren’t here for him now, he’ll find someone else to take comfort in, and this new person will assume Pole Position once he’s theoretically available to give you the full enchilada? I know that you now only know these things, but are acting on them by not being 100% available to him right now. I also know so well from experience how hard it is to set these kinds of boundaries for yourself, so if I come off as chastising, its more of a projection of me being protective given some hard lessons I learned. The hardest thing is knowing, in practice, how to set that boundary. Where do you draw the line between being a caring, supportive, understanding friend… and his Go-To Girl? Also, this is totally unrelated, but how much of the rest of your love life does Tony know about? There’s no obligation to tell him anything, of course, but if it doesn’t make you feel comfortable, what is hard about it? I would imaging Tony’s fear of confrontation is part of that. Keep everything smoother. However, increased transparency might help you two through this transition

    • I’m not afraid of that scenario at all. What may or may not happen in the future is not dictating my actions today.
      I also think it would be very self centred of me to try to elicit any promises from him today – he’s in the midst of negotiating a separation. He has no idea how he will feel or what he will want as he goes through it and after it. Anything he says / promises to me today is based on assumptions. And above all else, I also don’t know what I want with him so why demand something I don’t even know if I want?

      And yes, he knows about my dating and sex life.

      • Got it. That is great news that you can be transparent with him. And, no, I would never advocate forcing him to make promises. That is a recipe for those promises to be broken. Simply, if you don’t like the way an arrangement feels, you don’t have to be in it. You can say, “I hated the way Chapter 2 felt, so I will never let myself be stuck in that situation again.” The only person you can extract a promise from is yourself.

        • Exactly. And all of that is a theory right now. He won’t know what he can do / not do post-split, nor should he be focussed on it. I can tell him that I am unwilling to be in that situation again but I don’t expect anything to come from that statement.

  5. I’d think the easiest practical and quantifiable line in the sand would be ‘nope until you can be open about our relationship’.

    From his previous behaviour he will be happy to keep you a little side secret for the next however many years because REASONS and you will fight that battle for-evaaaarrr if he can get what he wants without dealing with it.

    I don’t think he’s a bad man, I just think he’s a coward and a cheater and a liar. Oh wait… I take that first part back :P. #notteamtony


    • (as a note, I actually sincerely wrote ‘I don’t think he’s a bad man’ (I was not setting it up as a ‘hurr hurr’ joke for the rest), then I wrote the rest of that sentence and seriously went ‘um… actually when I put it down like that…)


    • One of the things I will admit to getting caught up in is I wouldn’t expect anyone in his position to be open about dating me at this point. He’s in the midst of negotiating a separation agreement. So given the timing it would be very ill-advised. But yes, I could tell him there will be no moving toward a relationship until he’s ready to be open about it.

      I feel I’m in a pretty good place with all of this. My heart isn’t fully open to him. I’m not expecting anything to happen with him, and I’m very aware I may not want it to happen anyway. I feel good about getting to that place.

  6. I really love this post and how you arrived at what you can’t reasonably ask him and expect answers. I think it’s a tough road to walk – not having those answers met (and the answers to those questions are your expectations ultimately). But I think your head is totally in the right place. It will be hard to stay there the more you are with him though. I wish you lots of strength.

  7. No need to extract promises, but by giving him leeway to have a secret-ish relationship with you right now instead of owning what you truly want and walking away if he is not able temperamentally or circumstantially to meet your needs, you are showing him again and again that you will accept less than you desire and deserve. Why on earth would he change? If this relationship is meant to be, it will be when he rises to meet you, not when you sink and sacrifice your truth for what you presume to be his truth (that he must not be pressured). You hope for so much from him, while actually expecting so little of him. This belittles both of you. Why are you are willing to accept such meager nourishment for your passionate and inquisitive heart from a man you love?

    • I’m not willing to accept it at all. I am not going to give myself into a relationship with him at this point. Maybe never. I need to take care of my heart, and see how things play out.

  8. I’ve love the comments on this post…I’m fascinated with this thought of yours: “I wouldn’t expect anyone in his position to be open about dating me at this point.” That statement to me shows you know your relationship with him has not been an appropriate relationship to have so why have a relationship with him now?!?! Why not wait until you both can shout out to the world that you are in love and are dating?!? I just don’t understand the benefits of keeping a relationship a secret…it just feels wrong if you have to keep it a secret…my two cents

    • I don’t have a relationship with him now, Tara. What I meant was, IF we were in a relationship, if we were dating, then I wouldn’t expect someone in the midst of a separation negotiation to make it known.

      Let’s say for a moment it was a new guy in the midst of a separation or divorce negotiation – oh, like the contractor or Bruce. Neither of them were telling their soon to be ex-wife or their family about dating someone / dating me. It’s perfectly reasonable. There’s no good to come from sharing that information. That’s why anyone would keep it a secret.

      So that’s what I was trying to say. It’s tempting for me to say “oh, well nobody would share that information now, anyway”. But I wasn’t saying I want to be in a relationship with him now – or ever, or I think it’s smart to do so, or even if we were going to start dating, I’d do it before he’s through his separation. But what I can say for sure… if I do decide to be in a relationship with him, there is no f*cking way I’m willing to be a secret.

  9. Good luck, I hope it works out for you!!
    I am living a tragic comedy right now and it is so incredibly ridiculously funnily painful!!

What do you think?