The on/off relationship…Regular readers will know that during our 6 months together last year, The Older Man and I were on and off more frequently than my friends and family could keep up with, and it became a standing joke. I always did like playing with a yo-yo. But we kept being ‘on’ for good reason, and I never stopped loving him.
So after thinking about contacting him for a month or so, I phoned The Older Man one sunny spring afternoon. I hadn’t planned what to say after “hello”, but after a first few awkward minutes of not really knowing what to say, we arranged to meet up for a brief chat two days later to ‘clear the air’.
Our ‘brief chat’ lasted for 32 hours. And could have been much longer, but we agreed that had resolved our unanswered questions and come to an understanding of what went wrong. My unfinished business was now…finished. We didn’t arrange to meet again.
Things had genuinely changed. He had made some changes to his job to free up time and was doing more of the things that make him happy; and his ability to talk openly and honestly about his fears and expectations had increased ten-fold, as had mine.
And the thing that was most apparent is that we both really, really wanted to make it work, and were willing to put in the necessary effort to try to do so. We discussed our varying definitions of commitment which had been such a bone of contention last time and came to a tentative compromise.
So after a few days of thinking time, we agreed to meet again. Of course, I convinced myself that it would all be hearts and roses from now on. I was having the “capitalized-on-transitions” type of yo-yo relationship – you know, the “healthy kind”.
And we spent some fairly blissful few weeks emotionally reconnecting, relaxing and just enjoying being together convincing me still further that things had changed around here. Woo-hoo! It was fun and it was easy. Due to all the massive dramas last year, we had never really done this and it was lovely. I was happy. He was happy. The big grin returned to my face and stayed there.
*Record scratching sound*
And then we had an argument. And it became quickly apparent that one thing had not changed. His ability to act like a sulky 5-year-old when annoyed was still there, in spades. I would like to claim to be the better woman and that I remained calm and mature in the face of this, but unfortunately I sunk to the lowest common denominator and acted like a sulky 5-year-old too. Oops.
But the next day was a new day, and 40-something and slightly sheepish me tried to be polite and grown up. I did not get the same in response. Sulky 5 Year Old was still in the building and didn’t look like he was going anywhere fast. By the end of that day, I waved the white flag of surrender and said that I wasn’t willing to continue our relationship rebuilding if this was how it was going to be. And because he was still throwing his toys out of the pram, he told me where to go – and that, as they say, was that.
Perhaps the commentators that advise against on/off relationships might just be right after all because all of the things identified here turned out to be true.
But I am glad we tried again and I have no regrets about doing so, despite all the sighing and eye-rolling from my family and friends. In some ways, we made more progress and forged a deeper connection in those few weeks than we managed to do in 6 months last year.
So it seems a shame to end it there, right? And I don’t want to. And I know in my heart that this is probably not the end of us and that the yo-yo might just wind itself up and down at least one more time.
But on the plus side…a new contender has just entered the ring. I decided to grow a pair and grovel to my lovely friend whom last month, you may recall, had stopped talking to me after our somewhat clumsy and indirect declaration of feelings for each other led to a hasty retreat.
I am pleased to report that it is easy to rescue a friendship from the brink of disaster if you know each other well enough to understand the other person’s entirely unwarranted panic responses. And we do, so that bit was straightforward.
But having now been open and direct about our feelings, we faced a few dilemmas.
- Do we risk ruining a very strong friendship? I think, with time, the friendship would survive if an attempt at a relationship proved to be a bad decision.
- Do we know each other TOO well? There is no mystery and no undiscovered skeletons with this one. We already know the full-on unedited gory version of each other’s lives and past relationships, and have been open about our underlying fears as a result of our experiences. Is this a good or bad thing? Who knows?
- Would it be weird to see each other naked and have sex? Erm no, because I must confess that we have done it before, and it was AWESOME. We seem to have that rare and electrifying sexual chemistry which comes from knowing someone inside out and having absolute respect for them, whilst also wanting to tear each other’s clothes off at every opportunity. Which is a pretty good combination.
Our conversation ended with no particular conclusions, but was looking quite strongly inclined towards ‘just friends’. Until the time came to say goodbye, which started with a hug and ended with a passionate kiss. And then another.
‘May you live in interesting times’ is suddenly seeming like the curse it was intended to be. I usually live in rather dull and predictable times (which is fine with me) and this is an unprecedented dilemma. I am pretty sure I love them both, in different ways and for different reasons. I have absolutely no idea what to do.