Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wanted: Partner With No Past

I’ve been assured that one of the things that makes me both rare and possibly valuable in the “relationship market” is the fact that I’ve had so few relationships before. Supposedly people really like their partners to have very little or no baggage, and no ex-partners to have to contend with. For me I’m normally really aware of the lack of experience I have at the more complicated partner things, thereby making me feel all sorts of lost and confused a bunch of the time. But according to those who know better than I it’s rarely the problem I think it is. And for no ex's to worry about? Apparently awesome...

T.E., being a pretty amazing person, has ex-girlfriends. Well of course he does. One could ask “if he didn’t then wouldn’t you wonder what’s wrong with him?” (and then I go “but I don’t have hardly any. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me?” and then they go “no, but that’s because you’re really unique in that way.” and then I go “so then him not having girlfriends wouldn’t be a bad thing either if he were really unique.” and then they would get uncomfortable with this awkward conversation and pretend their phone rang and go somewhere else. Far away else.) Technically I have absolutely no problems with the fact that others have loved him before I got my chance. Technically I also don’t think of myself as a jealous person.

(Tangent: I know I’m not normally a jealous person, and here’s how I know: the
crappy dude I relationshipped with before was known for wandering and lived far
enough away that I couldn’t possibly keep track of his activities and people
even told me point-blank that he cheated on me and to this day I STILL don’t
suspect anything nor did I ever have a single jealous twinge. So there.)

And yet there is this one “Ex” of T.E.’s that seems to magically create buttons I never had before and then dance on them in swanky, foreign stiletto heels. We will call her “Aussie Girl”. (because she comes from there. I don’t have to be creative when I’m naming Ex’s)

When T.E. and I first connected he was also connected to her. In fact they were pretty tight, and he was really invested. She was exotic and exciting and dramatic – things to which I definitely could not lay claim. T.E. was totally upfront with me about the fact that there were other people with whom he was also connected at the time and since it was just flirting and fooling around between us I never questioned that. As we got more serious, he and I, things between the two of them seemed to hit potholes, but I had decided that I had no business having opinions about his other interactions and I stuck to it. I ignored those things that weren’t he and I, and I got pretty danged good at it.

Finally he and I spent our first weekend together. It was astoundingly good, and much more than just fooling around. I knew then that my level of investment was higher than I ever expected it to be, and I kept my walls in place, but became much more aware of them. So it was with a certain amount of (totally inappropriate and kind of bitchy) glee that I learned from him that things with Aussie Girl had crapped out. In a word: she’d disappeared. She’d forfeited the game, thereby giving me the “win” and I wasn’t at all sorry to hear it. I tried to keep my catty remarks in check, but inside I did the happy “I win!” dance full stop.

But then she came back. (and how dumb was I to not have considered this possibility when I’d had the win in the first place? If you win because they go away, you run the risk of losing if they come back. It’s simple math, people…)

She didn’t stay for long. (She’s exotic and exciting and dramatic, sure, but she’s also flaky and scattered and maybe a wee pinch crazy-ass-nut-bags, so…) I got my “win” back when she vanished again, but this time I knew how weak a win it was and it took me a while to get over the sense of impending “she could come back at any time” doom.

Still, a big bunch of time passed and she stayed good and gone. I got more confident with what he and I shared. He got more invested in me. One morning he said three words to me that I’d never heard from a partner before, (I'm really hoping you know which words I'm talking about, but I'll also expect snarky cracks in the comments) and in that split second the last of my self-doubt went up in a puff of smug, triumphant (pink and sparkly, smelling of jasmine and hot dogs) smoke. This was a “win” I felt like I’d earned all on my own and wore it like a goddamn badge of “ain’t I somethin’!” honor. Heck, while he was here during the holidays his phone began singing (iPhones – they sing. Have I posted about my total and complete love for my iPhone? I haven’t? Good god, what is this other crap I’ve been wasting words on! Soon, my pets. I will gush about my iPhone soon…) and when I grabbed it to bring it to him I only slightly flinched at seeing it was another ex. Because CONFIDENT! STABLE! NOOOO JEALOUSY! He’s MINE and I’m HIS and everything else is just noise.

Last night we were Skyping, as we are wont to do on… well on pretty much all nights actually… and he said suddenly and from nowhere “Oh look. Aussie Girl just popped up.” After a little more chatting they settled that they’d both like to at least try the “being friends” thing – an idea that I’ve always supported. In the abstract. With people who are not "MINE." Now what I should have thought and felt and all was “oh really? Tra la la, who cares? Because ever so confident and stable am I, and did I also mention that I am impervious to the feelings of “jealous” and such?” I even thought that was how I was thinking and feeling at the time. I was proud of my reaction! ‘Just look at you,’ I thought to myself ‘bein’ all fine and not caring.’ I may even have mentally punched myself in the mental shoulder, all ‘nice job!’ like.

So it was a pretty crappy kick to the shins when all my dreams that night seemed to be various versions of “and here’s how you lose the whole shebang…” Dreams where his attention wandered or his interest waned. Where I found myself helpless and lost and sometimes even sad. I seriously resent being sad in my sleep! This is a total miss-use of sleep and I won’t stand (-er, lie) for it!

You’ll be pleased, my people, to know that I did raise the subject with T.E. I set boundaries for what I could and couldn’t handle, and to his never ending credit he assured me repeatedly and emphatically that she was a pool of crazy he had no interest in diving back into, that he wasn't even sure the friend-thing would work and that he loved me. I don’t doubt his veracity at all – he’s honest with me; he’s someone I know I can trust. However I also know that relationships of ANY kind tend to evolve, and I’ll never totally understand what the appeal was the first time around, so how can I know what sort of appeal might come through again. I’m nervous. He’s told me he’ll sever ties if I want it, and though I love him for offering I feel like that would be a fail on my part. I don’t want to be that chick. I just don’t like being nervous either. Wish me luck with my own bag of crazy, people.

(I mean come on. How could someone with a super-cool IPHONE be nervous? It just makes no sense…)

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