Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Inevitable

Today marks the end of the relationship with "A" that started just over a month ago. I neglected writing about the whole thing while it was going on because, to be honest, I couldn't figure out what to write. I think I knew that this day was inevitable almost from the very beginning when I started trying to figure out how to deal with the differences in interests and lifestyle. Now that it's over I feel a little more free to write about some of the details and what I learned from it all.

What were the "differences" I mentioned above and in my previous post? I'll start with the things she told me at the start, and these are not my own embellishments -- they are accurate paraphrased comments:
  • She doesn't like music - any music. It makes her feel like wanting to scream.
  • When watching movies at home, she cannot sit through the entire movie, but feels compelled to get-up every 10 minutes or so and go back to it. She says this is because she feels that when she's at home there are better things she could be doing.
  • Also when watching movies, she needs to know how it ends and what will happen before watching it. This is to determine (a) whether the movie is worth watching and (b) to know what to watch for.
  • She doesn't watch TV at all, unless the weather is bad and she needs to watch the news
  • She very early on started talking to me about making this a long-term relationship (I mention this to explain why I was so persistent in trying to work out our differences in interests)
Now those who know me know that music, watching movies at home, and TV programs are a large part of my life. Not being able to share these with someone - especially someone I am dating - is very frustrating. I don't expect that we'll like all the same movies, music, or TV shows, but it would be nice to be able to at least hold a conversation about it.

In the name of being fair, and because there were personality traits we shared in common (allowing us to understand each other), and because I truly do care about her, I tried to find some kind of common ground on these subjects. In doing this, and learning more about her, I discovered many contradictions that only caused me more confusion and caused me to ask more questions.

I really cared for "A" and on the advice of a few close friends I tried to set all of this aside and just kind of experience everything "in the moment." The more I did this, the worse I felt about the inability to share with her things that I enjoyed. I envisioned a future of living together in the same house, but in two different rooms doing completely different things, and possibly annoying each other in the process. I saw a future of taking long car rides where I had to keep my car stereo silent because I would cause her distress. I saw this relationship progressing emotionally and physically, and I didn't like what I saw it becoming.

What ultimately caused us to break-up was my asking the following question, "What do you envision us like 3 years from now if we were living in the same house? What would we do on an average night?" The break-up was mutual, I will add, although I think that it could be said that she had made the decision before I did. The question I asked started a line of ugly commentary... According to "A":
  • Certain friends of mine "put me up" to the question I asked, and that they were trying to sabotage the relationship
  • I over-analyzed and dissected her interests to the point that she felt uncomfortable
  • When I appeared disappointed when she expressed a dislike for a movie I liked a lot, she no longer felt she could speak freely about her feelings.
  • That a relationship is primarily about doing things one person likes and the other dislikes, and the disliker does it because he/she cares about the other person.
  • I expected us to have everything in common and my expectations of a partner are unrealistic.
  • My self-consciousness caused me to move too slowly on the more intimate, physical parts of the relationship and I should not date again until I've resolved that.
  • I'm not ready for a relationship. I don't know what I want out of a relationship, and as a result, my partner doesn't know how to make me happy.
I think I left out a few things, but those are the crux of the lecturing I had to listen to over a period of 2 hours or so. The same girl that said she wanted to make sure we remained friends so I could help her with some technical stuff now told me that she was looking for a boyfriend and not another friend, and that if we broke-up that we would no longer be in contact with each other.

So here I am at the end of a month of getting to know someone and dating after 20 years of nothing. Even after being treated like a five-year-old I still wish the best for her. I'm not sure why, either. So what have I learned from all this:
  • This is the second relationship in 20 years I have been in where my apparent reaction to the other's disagreement with me about *something* caused them to feel unable to express disagreement to me anymore. So maybe I react too harshly or inappropriately to disagreement. I didn't feel I did, but...
  • I need to decide what it is I'm looking for in a relationship. Maybe I'm not meant to be with anyone.
  • If someone I'm interested in says that they dislike all music and TV and has weird ways of watching movies...run, fast.
  • My friends are my most cherished "possession" and I should (continue to) treat them well. If I never end up in a romantic relationship again, my friends will still be there. If someone I date starts accusing my friends of sabotaging the relationship, then run, fast.
  • If I do end up dating someone again, I'll need to find a new way to find out what she likes because obviously asking too many questions about this comes across as dissecting her.
Sadly, this again also resulted in comments about how I have an unrealistic view of what a relationship should be. So twenty years have passed and that hasn't changed.

Finally, I did discover the definition of a "date" from the movie "Enchanted" I saw a few weeks ago...and here it is as described in the movie:
Robert: You know, most normal people get to know each other before they get married. They date.

Giselle: Date?

Robert: Yeah. You know, date. They go someplace special, you know, like a restaurant, or movie, or museum, or you just hang out and you talk.

Giselle: What do you talk about?

Robert: About each other. About yourself. Hear about your interests, your likes, your dislikes. You talk.

Giselle: You have such strange ideas about love.

Robert: Maybe we should do what you would do. You meet, you have lunch, then you get married.

Giselle: Oh, you forgot about, "happily ever after."

Robert: Forget about "happily ever after" it doesn't exist.

Giselle: Well of course it does!
Guess I'm still looking for my "happily ever after." Sigh.

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