I came from a family that taught me that any wound could be healed via good communication. No matter how bad things got, I was told, if you just opened up an earnest dialogue and devoted yourself to listening to each other’s love languages, you could mend every grievance.
So my relationships were long, torturous things. If I thought there was the slightest chance we could still work it out, I’d spend hours, days, month hashing out what that inflection had meant. I never broke up before I had sucked the absolute last bit of enjoyment from a relationship; by the time we were done, we were wrung as sponges.
My recent breakups, however, worry me. They’ve been short, sweet… even curt. “I don’t think this is going to make me happy; I can’t do this.” And it doesn’t mean that the other person is evil, but it does mean that the effort I’d have to put into this relationship to make it functional is beyond what I’m capable of giving now.
So when I break up? I feel cold. Mercenary. As though I hadn’t given it a real effort.
That worries me. But I’m married now, and I owe it to Gini to have largely healthy secondary relationships. If I’m upset all weekend because someone said something that got me all butthurt, then that ruins Gini’s time as well. That’s not fair to her, spending her time rehabilitating ol’ mopey here. So there’s a certain callous calculation that runs through my mind now: if my lover can’t make me happy X% of the time, time to bail. If you keep making me sad, I can’t spend my time trying to narrow down whether it’s my oversensitivity or your undersensitivity… if this doesn’t stop, you gotta go.
Which sucks. There’s a part of me that wants to go, “Oh, let’s spend the next several months revamping our communication so I can be stronger and wiser.” After all, that approach did work with Gini, who by all rights should be my ex-wife now. Sometimes, that focused love and effort pans out.
So what am I now? An uglier man? Less caring? That concerns me. It’s a form of strength, I guess, but it also feels like a big weakness. I feel like someone who threw a human being aside for convenience – give me what I need, irrational as that may be, or I’m not staying. And it feels like I’m missing out on growth opportunities to find my own weaknesses.
It’s also why I don’t publicize my relationships. Gini’s the only one who gets the rhapsodic “I’m in love” entries on Ye Olde Blog… Because if I add someone to my blog’s cast of characters, and make my readers invested in them, then if it doesn’t work out I have to find a good way to drag them off stage.
I’ve seen that happen to others in other blogs. It’s ugly. People take sides, usually with the blogger, making snarky-but-helpful comments about how you’re better off without them, prying to know what exactly caused the breakup, encouraging stung responses from the newly ex-ified as her motivations are dragged out in front of everyone. And because of that, I usually will make mentions for someone’s cleverness (and anyone I date is clever), but not go all happy-dance to announce that I’m with someone. Hell, I’m willing to bet you didn’t know about the previous breakups (which were, largely and thankfully, friendly ones).
That’s caused issues. “Why am I not in your electronic life?” they ask, hinting that I should post about my love for them. Well, I don’t put you in my e-life because you might not be in the real one some day. Awkward, ugly… And true.
I dunno. I’m prone to making dumb-ass, cryptic comments about something that’s annoying me in relationships, which I probably shouldn’t (even if I never make a cryptic comment that’s related to a trouble with only one person). But once that relationship’s done? It’s over. I’ve had my say. From then on, I’ll elucidate only when asked.
Which is worrisome now, because my exes may have a different take. Used to be, I’d give it such a running go that you could say that I was needy, I was angry, I was childish, but you couldn’t say I didn’t care. Now? I don’t even have that.
(And yes, I’m still with my “core” relationships of A and B. Thankfully. Those partings would require an official announcement, as Gini and I have been dating both of them for almost four happy years at this point.)
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.