The Weakest Link

15Oct11

I’ve taken more biology courses over my life than I’d care to remember, but one of the common themes that always popped up with them was evolution.   And I always understood the main point of it, bubbling back to ‘survival of the fittest’ or ‘adapt or die’.  What I hated was that 10 different scientists would take the exact same theory and tweak a few words in it to call their own, and I would be expected (and tested) to notice the subtle differences between things that were essentially the same.  Subtle is a killer, and deprived me of many a perfect mark.

I’m starting to notice that relationships are an evolutionary process; you can’t follow the practices of the past when you move into a new one, and it’s essential that you adapt or it dies.  It’s not even your life that you’re gambling with, but the ability of your relationship to flourish and be healthy.

Dex and I aren’t perfect, I’ll openly admit that.  We have our issues, and when they flare up they are a huge sore spot for me.  I’m not sure if it’s because we have so few issues that when they pop up it hurts more, or just that the few we have carry a substantial weight.  But whatever the case may be, on the rare occasion that I get upset, oh man is it bad.

The major issue I have with our relationship is that I sometimes feel like I’m not important to him, or just that I’m a low priority on the scale that is his life.  And when I get into these lulls, I realize I become completely unbearable.  I’m cranky, easily irritable, and more prone to burst into random fits of tears.  They don’t happen often, but when they do it’s usually because of a build-up of these feelings.   I try not to bottle-and-purge these days, but I’m also recognizing I can’t be whining to him every time I feel insignificant.  So I choose my battles.

To me, as a relationship progresses you should be spending more time with each other.  One of the signs I should have recognized in my last relationship was the fact that we only saw each other once a week for four years and I was happy.  I never felt this desire or need to see him more often, yet alone every day.  In fact, that idea probably made me more squeamish than joyful.  And I’m not sure if I evolved after that relationship, or if Dex himself is the difference between the two scenarios, but I recognize that now I want the opposite.  I want more time with him, and I frequently indulge (i.e., within the next year) the idea of living with him.  Ignoring the fact that I haven’t lived with someone in over 10 years and I’d probably be unbearable.  But I am engrossed in the idea of going to bed with him each night, having him wake me up in the morning, shared dinners and hobbies.  I don’t carry this belief that we’d spend every moment together (that’d be a bit much, really) but I acknowledge that I want the daily grind with him someday.

Which is part of the reason that yesterday’s blowout was particularly violent (I use this word inappropriately, yet it still is the best fit).  Dex and I text sporatically while at work, and yesterday he decided via text to drop the bomb on me that he was considering asking his brother and stepfather to move in with him.  They are in a tough place and need some help, and he wants to be able to do that for them.  And I’ll start off by saying it wasn’t the idea that felt like a slap in the face initially, but more so the tone of it, being that he already made the decision and yet again he left me out of the process.

Here’s my line of thought:  when you enter a relationship, you should as a courtesy involve your partner in any major decisions.  This rule is doubly important if it is a decision that impacts the way your relationship will play out, or your partner.  Dex frequently has ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to things, and because of this I get left out of making decisions that impact us.  A few months ago it was that he was going to have his mom move in for about six months; and now it’s the brother/step-father situation.  He gets into his mind that he’s going to do it before he even talks about it with me, without recognizing that having someone there 24/7  means our time together will be significantly compromised.   Not slightly, but significantly.  I’ve seen how he changes when his mother visits, being that I don’t hear from him as much, we barely see each other at all, and we have no time/opportunity for intimacy.  Whenever she visits I get into a depression because he becomes emotionally withdrawn (whether intentional or subconscious) and physically inaccessible.  I can’t get a hug to make me feel better unless we’re sitting in my car, and I can’t afford constantly going out on dates and expect to keep paying off my consumer debt.  It feels like a helpless situation in which I can’t get ahead and for which there is no easy solution.  And honestly I have no issue with enduring this for a week or two here and there, but the idea of months on end of these feelings?  I don’t know if I can psychologically handle it.

Yesterday while going back and forth about this discussion via text I found two things happening simultaneously:  (1) an emotional breakdown (aka I was crying), and (2) emotional desensitization.  When there was a lull between messages I just sat there like a zombie and felt nothing, but when I’d get a message or type out another I’d start crying again.  This is something new for me since it’s usually or the other that happens, and I know that i was consciously fighting the desensitization because I recognize it’s a bad thing for me.  Though my ability to backburner my emotions and push them to the back of my mind has been a great tool in the past, I know it’s not a healthy thing.  It’s not often that I get emotionally overwhelmed, so I try to deal with it rather than just push it off and brood in resentment later down the line.  So I spent most of my day at work accomplishing little other than plowing through a box of kleenex and likely scaring the people in the cubes around me.

The failure with text messaging is that context gets lost in the messages.  While I was strategically trying to send replies that expressed my feelings and concerns to Dex in a non-confrontational manner, his back still got up and his defenses were at red alert.  At one point he sent a reply that said “I stand by my decision”, and what the hell can you say to that?  So I simply said okay and tried to focus on my work again.

When I got home from work I felt exhausted so I went to bed, only to have Dex call me (a first in our relationship) and tell me how he had this grandiose plan of trying to bike out to see me, but while trying to pump up his tire it exploded.  I know it was the situation that spawned this idea, because he has never indulged something so insane (it’s about 45 kms each way) before.  He sounded very down, and in the end said he was doing it because he just wanted to see me.  My guilt complex kicked in hard, so I told him to let me throw some clothes on and I’d drive up there.  I met him at his place and we went to a restaurant for dinner, but realizing there was a long wait we ended up just sitting in the car and talking.

I wish we had the talk in a public place so I’d have been less prone to crying (again), but I was literally trapped.  I tried to explain to him my feelings, about how I don’t feel like a priority with him and why it hurt that I seemed like an afterthought in his decision making process.  He sat there and defended his actions, saying we did talk about it and he’s changed his mind, as if he felt that made everything better.  I had to point out that he was failing to recognize that his knee-jerk reactions were the problem, because he impulsively makes these decisions and thinks about the consequences later.  I felt like a bitch as I explained to him that he’s not 21 and he’s not single any more, and he has to understand that his decisions don’t just affect him any more.  It’s a two way street and the same rules apply for me, he just seems to be taking this realization harder than I am.

The end result is that I voiced the concerns I had and told him I’d support him whatever his decision would be.  I did point out that if he does decide to move them in that he has to recognize it’s going to put strain on our relationship.  I emphasized to him that I don’t think it would end things, but that it’s going to make life a lot harder.  I also made sure to be clear that if he does this it needs to be short term and with a fixed expiry, or else I can’t guarantee anything.

I know I sound like a complete and heartless bitch in this, so let me conclude with this:  I never opposed the idea of him helping his family out.  That was never my problem with this situation.  My problem was that he was going to impulsively make this offer to them without weighing out the consequences, on us and on himself.  There’s a history with his family (that I won’t get into), but one of my major concerns with him was that they’d end up possibly taking advantage of the situation.  Like I told him “what if in three months they still don’t have a place, or they’ve lost their jobs.  Are you going to be able to kick them out, or will it become six months?  A year?  If you’re going to do this you need to set ground rules up front or it might not work out like you’ve planned”.  I know he didn’t want to hear it; he just wanted to follow his heart and do what felt like the right thing at the time.  But all I truly wanted was just for him to let me sit there and voice my concerns before he actually did anything.  I wanted to make sure he was aware of the possible pitfalls of his decision, and make sure he understood that things with us would likely change.  I wasn’t trying to make it become a “them or me” situation, but I just wanted him walking into the decision being aware that I’ll likely be a bit moodier and possibly withdrawn from the lack of contact we’ll have.  I told him, repeatedly, that I admired him for being willing to do this for his family, and that I’d support him no matter what his decision would be.  I don’t know if that helped or made things worse for him, but I guess time will tell what he decides.

The problem is that when relationships happen and emotions get involved, nothing is clean-cut and easy anymore.  The idea of losing him upsets me beyond words, and even sitting here now I’m pretty down on the idea that I’m potentially losing my boyfriend until 2012.  But relationships are fundamentally about compromise, and if this is what he wants to do then I’ll stand beside him.  Just likely not at his house, since we won’t have any privacy.

Sigh.  I miss sex already.

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