here we are

I suppose I should begin the first “real” post here explaining why I abandoned my previous address to begin thecoordinatesofmemories.com.  I’ve been in a relationship for nearly three years, and she, whom I’ll refer to as GF, occasionally visited my previous blog, which greatly restricted my writing freedom. We’ve been living together for a year and seven days; those 372 days haven’t been without a few, um, conflicts.  Unfortunately, a few of those conflicts have turned physical.  I’ve never struck her, but one time I did shove her onto the couch.  She’s thrown objects at me.  She once threw coffee onto my face, resulting in a ruined laptop keyboard and stained wall.  An argument last week escalated into her slamming a bedroom door on me – a crack in the door marks the point of impact.

I’m 32 years old and I’ve never been in a relationship for this length of time, so it’s difficult for me to judge not if, but how dysfunctional our relationship is, and, more important, if it has mutated from a healthy affair to a poisonous one.

When we first began dating, I was on a mood-stabilizing medication and a heavy dose of an anti-anxiety drug.  The anti-anxiety significantly altered my ability to retain memories during my time consuming the medication.  This saddens me because I value all memory, the bright and dark spots.  Memory is what sustains civilization, life.  It’s odd because I don’t remember if I was ever “in love” with GF during that first 6 months, year.  Was I not?  Or do I simply not remember?  Regardless, I’ve grown to love her, but I feel that things have slowly shifted over the past month or two.  Those shifts now make me question the purpose, or foundation, of our relationship.  We haven’t had sex in several months.  She asks but I never seem to be in the mood.  The spontaneity is dead. And I question if I’m still sexually attracted to her.  And more and more it seems as though the continuation of our relationship is based on pity and fear – pity because we have little else in our lives and fear because we have little else in our lives.  I haven’t discussed any of this with her because just the thought breaks me.  The other day I was being rather despondent and she asked me what was wrong.

“Is it school?” she asked.  “No,” I answered.

“Something with your family?”  “No.”

“Is it your job?”  “I don’t like my job, but no, that’s not it.”

“Is it about me?”

I don’t recall my response, but it wasn’t ‘no.’

She then prodded me for more.  “I don’t want to talk about it right now, OK?”  She continued.  She finally said, “Please don’t leave me.”

I’ve returned to those four words countless times since and they kill me. (And it’s not the fact she said it, but it’s how she said it.) My chest burns. My eyes water.  I suppose those four words summarize our relationship.  I think to myself, I know our relationship is fucked up but please don’t leave me because I’m afraid of not having this fucked up relationship.

When you’ve been with someone for an extended period of time you begin to take them for granted. But it’s more than that. They become the medicine cabinet. The coffee maker. A stain on the carpet. You notice her presence, but it’s a normalized presence. Unremarkable.  Her touch once electrifying barely produces a neuronal response. A kiss goodbye is a formality. I suppose there is a degree of comfort associated with this type of relationship. You feel safe. Secure. You also feel lonely, but better to be lonely together then alone and lonely.

To further complicate this issue I received a few days ago a Facebook friend request from a woman (I’ll call her WS) whom I spent a summer with many years ago.  I was 19 and she was 16. We couldn’t officially date because her mother wouldn’t allow her, but we spent as much time as we could. I was crazy about her. Throughout the years I’d think about her from time to time and searching for her online proved fruitless. Needless to say, I was shocked when she found me on FB. Later that night we chatted on FB for about three hours. I was not prepared for how I’d respond emotionally. It was as if I was 19 again and… I’ll spare the details except to say that it was one of the strangest yet profoundly exciting experiences of my life.

WS still lives in the city I’m from and I’m two hours away. She’s 29 and has a 9-month-old boy, a boy whose father is apparently less than adequate. She told me that she too had thought about me during the 14-year gap of communication. We’ve been exchanging text messages and have had one phone call. I’ve been honest about my current relationship. And I’ve probably been a little too honest about my emotions. And this is when things begin to destabilize. I’ve had daydreams about us living together. In them, I’m making decent money working as a registered nurse – enough money to fulfill the financial responsibilities her son’s father lacks. (Last night she told me since she was 6 months pregnant she’s been a newspaper courier; a job that’s 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Since she’s been doing that, she’s missed just 3 days – the 3 days she was in the hospital for labor and delivery.)  In the daydreams, I’m there and everything is perfect. And here’s the thing: I would proudly be that boy’s father figure, which is ironic because meeting a single woman with a child has always been a less-than-ideal situation in my eyes, but I’d certainly make an exception for WS, no questions asked.

Now look, I understand that this entire fantasy is based on a seemingly infinite number of presumptions, but why am I thinking like this? Despite the confessions I’ve given to her, she still contacts me. Why? How can communicating with a woman whom I haven’t contacted in 14 years – someone I couldn’t even officially date – affect me this way? Am I delusional? Is it (I dare say) fate? And why the hell am I even fantasizing about these absurd scenarios when I’ve been in a relationship with a woman for the past three years? It’s not fair to her, but how guilty should I feel when these are simply thoughts and daydreams?

How detached have I become?

t/c/m

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~ by the coordinates of memories on 7 May 2011.

4 Responses to “here we are”

  1. Relationships are interesting things; the way that they progress, grow, morph, change. I suppose that I can relate to your current situation more in terms of my relationship w/ Kelly than w/ Megan, though there are definitely some things that I can draw from my current relationship as well.

    I met Kelly in Jan of 2005, at a very transitional time in my life. I was a few months removed from the end of my relationship w/ Samantha (probably the worst relationship decision I have ever made, for circumstantial reasons, not personal ones) and had only just begun to get back on my feet financially, after losing my job the previous Oct. I had met a few girls online and had gone on a handful of dates w/ them, but nothing really clicked. Then I met Kelly. I wasn’t overly attracted to her, and didn’t really think of her as “girlfriend material”, but she was nice enough, and we shared similar tastes in music, movies, politics, religion, etc, etc. She had also indicated that she planned to move back to Terre Haute that fall to finish her degree @ ISU, so from the beginning I had no thoughts of any kind of serious/long-term relationship with her.

    About a month after we started dating, I starting working nights for my courier job. Kelly also worked night at the hospital, and I think this played a major part in why we stayed together as long as we did. Our relationship wasn’t based completely on convenience, but it certainly was a major contributor to the “comfortable rut” that we found ourselves in.

    Things progressed nicely between us until I started working at Schwab in Oct 2006. It was around this point that things really started to change with us, though when I think about it, my doubts and boredom had started creeping into our relationship a few months before. I had begun to feel that our relationship had “plateaued”, and the feelings of restlessness were definitely becoming more and more noticeable. Add to that a whole new group of friends/coworkers from my new job, plus a new work schedule, and it really didn’t take long for our relationship to completely unravel.

    Looking back, I was kind of a dick to her during that time for the most part. On a few different occasions, I had indicated to her that I wasn’t totally happy, and needed something to change, but I was very impatient and vague with her. However, the true catalyst for our breakup was a girl I met on my first day at Schwab. Kaelyn was around my age, a couple years younger maybe, and like me was in a frustrated relationship. There was a strong mutual attraction between the two of us, an attraction far beyond anything I had ever felt for Kelly. And even though after I got to know her better I realized that we would never be compatible in a relationship, I still couldn’t shake that FEELING, or to be more accurate, I couldn’t shake the fact that even though I cared for her a great deal, Kelly just didn’t inspire that same type of intense attraction in me. And over time, this reality just became too much to bear.

    There’s a line in “Fight Club” where Norton says something to the effect of, “After spending time at Fight Club, everything else in life gets its volume turned down.” And that was how I began to feel. I became more distant from her, my feelings of restlessness growing by the day. I began to shy away from her sexually, just not interested in her in that regard. And when I heard that Kaelyn had broken up w/ her boyfriend, I began to formulate a way to end my relationship w/ Kelly.

    I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, as I previously stated, I was quite sure that Kaelyn and I would never be compatible in a relationship capacity, but nevertheless, I just wanted to be free. And so one Saturday morning in late Feb(?) we met at BW’s and had “the talk”. She seemed to take it much better than I had thought, stating that she had sensed things were very off for a while. I had another beer, we got in our respective cars, and parted ways. All seemed fine for a few days, maybe even for a week or so. But then the absence of comfort, of routine and ease began to rear its ugly head. I found myself out at the bars w/ Kaelyn and coworkers, expecting to be having a blast w/ my new found freedom. But instead I felt a kind of emptiness for some reason. And so of course, a couple of weeks later I found myself talking to Kelly about rectifying things.

    We got back together some time around St. Patrick’s day, and things lasted another four months or so before the restlessness again took center stage and we had another “talk”. The 2nd time around was easier, but again after a few months of fruitless dating my mind began to wander back to Kelly. She had dated a few people here and there as well, and we went out a few times to see if anything was still there, but by that point too many things had changed between us. You can’t recreate a feeling, and our time in that regard had expired. I met Megan around that time and she met the guy she would eventually marry. We remained friends for a short time after that, but I probably haven’t spoken to her in three years or so at this point.

    There are times when I wonder what might have been between us had I never worked at Schwab or met Kaelyn, because honestly I don’t know if I would have had the courage to end things without those chance happenings.

    With regard to Megan, we just hit our three year mark on April 1. Our relationship is very good now, but we definitely had our rough patches when we first lived together, as we both have somewhat strong personalities in some regards, and can both be very stubborn. But I think these things are normal for the most part. We’ve had our bouts of yelling and door slamming though. One night she tried to prevent me from leaving the room we were arguing in. I didn’t push her out of the way w/ my hand or hit her or anything, but I kind of moved her w/ my shoulder as I walked through the doorway and she fell down and started crying. I felt bad and immediately told her I didn’t mean to and helped her up. That’s about as far as anything physical has ever gotten w/ us. She does have a penchant for smacking me in the arm, chest, leg, (never face) when she is pissed at me sometimes, but nothing that I would ever consider violence by any stretch of the imagination.

    There were times when we first moved in together that I wondered if I had made a mistake began to feel distant from Megan, but I’ve never felt the kind of restlessness w/ Megan that I did w/ Kelly. And that is kind of strange when I think about it, because on paper, Kelly and I would seem like a much better match than Megan and I.

    Looking back on the second time that I broke up w/ Kelly, that was an extremely hard thing to do. I knew it would hurt her greatly, especially after just getting back together a few months before, but in the grand scheme of things, it was the right decision. My advice would be that if you are unhappy w/ someone and can’t give everything you have, staying with them out of convenience or comfort or pity is ultimately not being fair to yourself or to them. The truth is not always easy to accept and rejection certainly hurts. But by staying w/ someone for the wrong reasons, you are preventing them from moving on and finding someone who wants to be w/ them for the right ones.

    In my experience, regret is one of the most powerful emotions one can feel. When making decisions of this nature, always remember to be completely open and honest w/ the other person. Problems often have a way of being solved once everyone has everything out on the table. I mentioned above that there was a time when I began to feel distant from Megan, and she certainly started to notice that something was off. I had begun to view us more as roommates than a couple. One night she asked me what was wrong and I just laid it all out there. I told her everything that I was feeling at the time, and also that although I loved her, I was not happy with the way that our relationship was headed and that if things didn’t change, I didn’t know if I would be able to go on. It upset her to hear those things, but she was glad that I told her. And after that, things began to change. We communicated more openly and didn’t bottle things up. I’m not sure how bad things would have gotten had we not talked, but that chat might have saved our relationship. So I guess if you have any doubts about what direction to heard, before you make any major decisions, be sure that you have exhausted all possibilities and laid everything out there. And once you have, if you still have doubts, it probably wasn’t meant to be.

    Sorry if this whole thing was a bit all over the map, my mind has been working faster than I can type. Let me know if you need any other advice or if you ever need to chat, feel free to give a call.

    Talk to you soon my friend.

    D

  2. D, thank you for every word you left here. Really. Your words added some badly needed perspective.
    The fact that GF and I are so alike adds to the frustration and ugliness to any arguments or conflicts we have. Time and time again my mom has said how she’s the “perfect one” for me because she knows “how to put my in my place.” Throughout the years I’ve read various things that suggest your family and close friends are actually better predictors of a relationship succeeding or failing. So I don’t know…
    One more thing — and feel free to avoid answering this because it is rather personal: how often are you and Megan intimate? I think my situation has been affected — and I hate to say this — by GF’s physical changes… as in weight gain. And I hate to admit that because it reads so shallow and misogynist, but look, physical attraction is one of those prerequisites for having sex. Plus, it just isn’t as exciting as it once was. I think I wrote about the lack of spontaneity and the like… I think the lack of sex has bothered me more than anything over the past several months.
    Thoughts?

  3. Yes, lack of intimacy can definitely take its toll on a relationship. It’s something that a lot of people seem to like to downplay, but whether they want to admit it or not, it is an integral component. And throughout a relationship, intimacy will naturally ebb & flow for various reasons. Again, people like to downplay it, or call it shallow, but maintaining physical attraction is very important for a happy relationship. It’s not the only element, of course, and perhaps not even the most important, but humans still have primal needs that must be met.

    I think it’s natural as you grow accustomed to each other that the initial “fireworks” will die down as the relationship slips into a routine. And I think it also has something to do with the fundamental difference in nature between men & women (i.e. hunters vs. nesters). At our most basic animal nature, stripped of societal standards, religious beliefs, etc, men are programmed to stick their dick in as many different females as possible. It’s just they way we’re wired, which of course conflicts w/ modern relationship norms. Like Chris Rock said, “Dyin’ to cheat!….Can’t cheat”.

    As far as physical changes in your partner affecting sexual interest in them, it may seem shallow, but this is basic human nature and there really isn’t anything that you can do about it. People are initially drawn to something that they find physically pleasing when they first spot a potential mate. It’s only natural to assume that if what they initially found physically pleasing changes, so might the desire. Of course this isn’t always the case, but it’s certainly not something that you should feel bad about or have to apologize for.

    As far as our sex life goes, I’d say it’s pretty decent. Our frequency of sex varies a lot from week to week simply due to our work schedules, but I’d say on average we have sex maybe 2-4 times a week. We are a bit different though in the fact that we might not do anything for most of the week, but then we’ll do it like 5 times in two days or something. We seem to go more in spurts rather than a regular schedule, but it works for us. Though I will say that the frequency is probably a bit less than it was earlier on in our relationship.

    Regarding family members being good predictors of relationships, I’ve heard this a lot over the years too. My sister actually used to have a pretty good feel for the girls I dated, and I always valued her opinion of them. Not sure why this is, perhaps they just have some sixth-sense subconscious vibe that they get. But yeah, I’d say that there is some truth to that.

    Again, I’d say that if you value your relationship and want to improve it, it’s best to be open about how you are feeling. It might hurt her if you tell her that weight gain is becoming a turn off for you, but hey, you have needs too, and if they are not being met, you have every right to try and make things better. Of course it goes without saying that constructive criticism is always best, but sometimes there really isn’t an easy way to say something. The main point to communicate is that although you might not want to feel that way, you DO feel that way and you want to try and improve the situation and bring desire back into the relationship. Although her pride might be damaged, she can’t fault you for expressing your true feelings.

    D

  4. Please don’t take this short reply as ambivalence toward your comments — it’s not. Your words are very thoughtful, insightful and, most of all, highly appreciated.

    As I’ve written previously, I lack experience in the relationship department, so my current journey with GF has been an on-the-go type of thing. I think our communication has been pretty open throughout our relationship, but unfortunately that communication isn’t as clean and thoughtful as I would wish.

    As far as sex goes, I don’t know, man. It’s been months and I never seem to be in the mood. I like spontaneity, and I’ve dropped hints at things that could make it more interesting for me, but that never seems to go anywhere. I don’t know, but the whole issue really bothers me, and I’m afraid it could have wider implications regarding the health of our relationship. Maybe not.

    Perhaps my neurotic being is overthinking this (as I do with most everything else).

    Again, thanks for your comments. You’re the only friend I felt turning to for this type of stuff because I value your logic and approach to such personal issues– well, issues in general.

    Thanks again, bro.

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