Monday, December 04, 2006

Boyfriend, what boyfriend?

Last week was not the happiest week in relationship-land. Thus, the lack of posts on the topic. I knew comments would fall into two camps: 1) be patient with him and stop stressing out so much about nothing--he likes you! and 2) you deserve better and why are you being so patient with someone who doesn't treat you with the consideration you deserve? The third choice was that I would get no comments at all (also unacceptable!). In any case, I couldn't face it. So, after my historical post, I gave up and decided to take a couple of days off--not that I had time to write this weekend anyway.

I was hanging in there pretty well until Friday. My frustration was mounting on Thursday, but I had a happy hour to attend that evening and Pele called and I vented to her and it all seemed under control. What was the problem? I hadn't spoken to Owen since Sunday. He'd answered some emails of mine on Tuesday but neglected to answer a couple I sent on Wednesday. When Friday rolled around and I still hadn't heard from him I started to suffer.

Why was I suffering so much? I can't really say. Admittedly, it was inconsiderate of Owen not to answer my messages. I also wasn't sure when I was going to see him again and I don't like that out of control feeling.

On the other hand, there was no reason to think I wasn't going to hear from him eventually. I knew the problem was his work and how he deals with it when things get crazy. Clearly, things were crazy and that's why I hadn't heard from him.

I knew it, but I couldn't handle it.

Friday was a disaster. I got very little work done and I couldn't focus. I was angry and sad and just a plain mess. And I wondered at myself--how did it get so bad? Why was I having such a strong reaction? Why couldn't I keep my emotions in check?

I promised myself not to send Owen an email or text or call. But I broke that promise on Friday. In the afternoon, I sent him a very short email asking that he let me know he was alive. He didn't answer. A few hours later, I sent a text saying, "hello?" He didn't respond. Finally, I called him.

I said, "I need to talk to you and I need to know when." He explained that things were crazy, he'd already worked 60 hours this week and he'd call me as soon as he got home. Which he did. That conversation was something of a fight.

I was so frustrated on Friday. I just couldn't understand why I felt as low as I did. I could not contain myself. I wanted to be calm when I talked to Owen. I more or less succeeded.

I can't reproduce the entire conversation but I asked him to tell me more about work and he did. I was sympathetic. And I said it would really help if he would talk to me and explain how crazy things were. He said, "But I TOLD you it would be crazy this week."

"No, you said it would be bad. I didn't know that meant you couldn't answer email."

"If it's usually bad and I say it's going to be worse than usual then you should expect this."

"To not hear from you at all? No. And, no, I did not get that it was going to be so much worse. But now that you've actually told me more about what is going on, I understand."

"You know, there were lots of emails I couldn't answer--that I could get fired for not answering!"

"Look, you can take a minute and write to me--at least to say that you can't respond fully now."

"That would be enough either! You'd still want more. It's never enough."

Oh sigh. It was not the happiest conversation. And I don't agree that it would not have been enough. As Pele pointed out, how can he say whether or not I would be satisfied with something he didn't do?

What I tried to explain was that if he wants to be in a relationship, he needs to bend just a little. I don't expect to see him every day and I can live with not seeing him during the week, "I'd be happy to talk to you a couple of times a week--for 10 or 15 minutes."

Owen said, "You don't understand--when I have one of those terrible days, I need to do nothing. If I can do nothing, not talk to anyone, not leave the couch, for a couple of hours, then I can be ready for the next day."

I said, "I understand that feeling...but do you think you can take 15 minutes from your downtime to talk to me?"

Then he sighed.

I said, "It's really hard for me to feel so connected to you on the weekends and have such an intense good time together and then have hardly any contact at all during the week."

He said he "gives" me his entire weekend (it's perfectly true) and that it's crazy that it's not enough. He doesn't understand why having almost no interaction with him during the week makes me unhapppy. But no interaction leaves me feeling neglected and ignored, even though I know very well that he likes me.

I said, "There has to be some way to handle this so you don't feel burdened and I don't feel abandoned."

Shortly after that, we got off the phone. He suggested that we have brunch on Saturday and talk more--and we did.

He came over Saturday, late morning, and used my computer to do some work. I was happy to have him there and I puttered around, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry and tossing him the occasional comment while he worked. This may be a solution when he gets a laptop and can do some of his work from home (though I do wonder if this mythical laptop will ever appear).

We goofed around and were our normal silly selves before and after he did his work. It felt good and happy and I was glad that we were still relaxed and comfortable around each other. However, we hadn't actually resolved our problem and I knew we would need to have a more serious conversation--one I was dreading.

We went out for a late lunch/early dinner and I said, "I know you don't want to, but I think we need to talk about this again. I really think we can figure something out."

He wasn't so sure--or at least didn't seem to have any suggestions. I repeated what I'd said before about needing to at least talk to him during the week. He said, "So now you're telling me what I have to do."

Oh sigh. I said, "Look, no, I'm telling you what I would like--what I need to be happy. You can tell me what you want. What are your thoughts?"

Silence. He seemed so frustrated. I didn't know what to do. "I know we can work together and come up with some kind of solution. Really."

We talked about some other things that were not quite so sensitive. When our food arrived we ate quietly and I thought about possible solutions. I said, "I have an idea. You tell me if you think it would work. What I would like is to do is decide by the end of the weekend if we're going to get together on Friday."

"You mean, decide on Sunday what we're doing on Friday every week?"

"Not every week. Just this week. We'll try and see how it goes. We can figure out the details on Friday afternoon, when you know when you can leave work."


"But, if you can't get together on Friday--you're too tired or there's a happy hour or whatever--then let me know by Thursday afternoon and I will make other plans for Friday."

"So let you know by Thursday?"

"Right. And--try to answer my emails and talk to me if I call you. That's it. What do you think?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Ok."

"Look, if you don't like it, tell me. I'm open to other ideas." But he didn't have anything to add.

We finished dinner and chatted easily after this conversation--somewhat to my surprise. We went back to his house and while there was talk of meeting up with Frank, it never happened. Barry was home and we three hung out watching tv until 12:30 and then it was time for bed.

The next day, Owen's friend, Linda, was supposed to come over and watch football. He'd invited me to join them, which I appreciated, and I was planning to hang around. Unfortunately, Linda never did show up--but we still had a good time, eating biscuits, watching football and horsing around. Actual roughhousing occurred, which was amusing and only slightly dangerous.

The other excitement on Sunday was a very short visit by B1, my brother from New Jersey. He came to DC on Sunday afternoon and the plan was to have dinner with him on Sunday evening. B1 particularly asked to meet Owen (this was the topic of one of my unanswered emails). When I talked/argued with Owen on Friday, he told me he was game to meet my brother and the plan was still in place by Sunday. I didn't know for sure B1 was coming, though, until he called me at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

I probably shouldn't have told Owen the story about the time B1 offered to beat up Tom (important grad-school boyfriend), but Owen didn't seem too uncomfortable. He did get a little cranky about the last minute nature of our plans--we didn't know exactly when or where we were meeting B1 until he called again at 7pm. It's rather amusing that Owen was grumpy about last minute plans when, um, that's how we do EVERYTHING. But I digress....

Dinner went well and, while Owen was quiet, he fully participated in the conversation and was friendly and good natured. Whew. B1 doesn't need to protect me from this one! As always, it was good to see B1, and I was sad when we said goodbye this morning. I will see him soon though--in just a little over three weeks.

So, to sum up: I've been fighting with my boyfriend because I feel ignored during the week. I tried to come up with a plan that would help me feel more comfortable during the times he's out of touch. I hope he doesn't feel like it's "too hard" or too much trouble to talk to me during the week, even when he is all stressed out. I want to let him deal with things the way he needs to, but I also thinks he needs to flex a little if he's serious about having a relationship. As for me, I would like to see him more often, socialize with our friends more often and have a closer relationship. I want more but I enjoy the time we have together so much that I'm willing to compromise. However, I need a little more certainty about when I will see him and hopefully I've found a way to get that, at least in the short term. There is a lot of doubt in my mind about how things are going to go...yet I'm still quite hopeful. I want it to be easier--I want to remember the good parts. I trust there will be a lot more good to balance out this rough spot. There damn well better be.

Grateful for: compromise.

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