At this point, I seemed to be the only one with the pressing need to either move forward with our relationship or move on. Despite my growing feelings for "Mr. Weird Science project", we were basically just "friends with benefits". Perhaps that's all he ever wanted. Ick! I certainly didn't sign up for that scenario. At least, not intentionally. After five years of not dating and consciously working on regaining my self-worth, and clarifying in my heart what I want, need and deserve in a relationship, how could I possibly let myself be reduced to a "friends with benefits" situation? But something made me stick around. Something told me I was more than just his convenient fuck buddy. But something else told me I was being completely delusional and falling back into old patterns of knowing, in theory, what I wanted and deserved in relationships (and life, for that matter) but settling for less. Why do I do that?!?! How emotionally impaired am I, that I'd let a whole year pass without discussing my wants, needs and feelings? And does that mean, on a subconscious level, I don't think my wants, needs and feelings are valid? Or I'm not worthy of the type of happiness I envision for myself? Am I so afraid of more rejection and heartbreak that I'll settle for whatever I can get and pretend it's enough? Or am I self-sabotaging a potentially awesome relationship for fear of complete vulnerability? Damn the Universe for throwing more relationship lessons my way!
At this stage in our "relationship" I didn't feel equipped with the emotional armor necessary to ward off the deeper feelings that were starting to emerge. And I couldn't compartmentalize them just for the sake of getting laid on the regular either. I was diggin' "Mr. Weird Science project" and it felt like he was diggin' me back. But I had no verbal confirmation to prove it. And the last thing my ego needed was to invest any more energy into something that had absolutely no chance of a future. If I were to stick around, I needed to know whether it was safe for my emotions to grow freely and naturally, or if it required maintaining this same strategic level of emotional detachment and the protective walls it built. I could certainly play along with the game of emotional distance but my heart really wasn't in the mood for an emptiness. Emotional unavailability was the red flag to walk away, no matter how hard it would be to turn around and put one foot in front of the other. I didn't want to settle for anything less than the deep levels of physical and emotional intimacy I crave. I wanted a completely different relationship experience than any I've ever had. And I was ready and willing to commit the time and effort needed to cultivate that with someone who wanted the same.
Preparing myself for complete vulnerability was one thing. Preparing myself for his response was another. So after whiskey, and after sex, and in the dark I described to him the type of relationship I envisioned for myself and why. And, that my vision didn't necessarily include him but the possibility felt worth exploring. What a relief to finally speak to him from my heart! And with no expectations other than to be heard. He allowed for that. He didn't belittle my feelings, get defensive or make excuses even though he was in a completely different emotional space than me.
It was a familiar disappointment. I honestly wasn't surprised because this seemed to be my relationship pattern; lopsided emotions and unequal interest in partnership. I felt myself detach as he spoke. But the kind of detachment that allowed me to truly listen to what he said, in the same way he listened to me. He expressed not feeling ready for a relationship; not while still in the midst of divorce and seeking resolution to the issues that ended his marriage. Not while supporting the emotional needs of his kids and the other responsibilities of parenting. Not with the additionally heavy demands of his corporate career. His emotional plate was full and, as much as he valued me, our friendship and time spent together, he was happy with "status quo" for now.
Even through my disappointment, I couldn't help but respect him all the more for having his priorities straight. I loved that he didn't try to appease me with empty words and promises or try to romanticize our situation. He, too, spoke from his heart. But when our conversation ended and he wrapped his body around mine as if nothing had changed, everything did. Cuddling with him used to feel like the comfort of home. Instead I felt smothered by my own lack of integrity. My spirit felt restless as he settled comfortably into sleep. I wanted to leave as much as I wanted to stay. I didn't want to lose him but I also didn't want to lose myself in him. Decisions, decisions...