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Author Topic: I somehow, without meaning to, have set "talking" as a line in the sand [Part 1]  (Read 6877 times)
patientandclear
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« on: August 12, 2015, 09:48:48 AM »

Hello all.  It's been a few months since I posted here.  Very long story short: I have a 4+ year ill-defined r/ship with the BPD man in my life.  We were lovers, he ended it for reasons he now says don't make any sense, and since, we've had various episodes of an intensely romantic "friendship" in which he seeks great emotional access to me and then occasionally behaves in ways that, to me, are not consistent with the bond he has cultivated with me (he suddenly moves to another city or starts dating other women, albeit without telling me that and subsequently denying it when I raised it as an issue.  I am certain about it though).

We did a round of that without explicit discussion.  When I became clear he was involved with someone else, I told him I needed to pull back from our intense emotional connection.  He got very angry and sort of excommunicated me and said to have a nice life (this was 20 months ago).  A few months later, when the new r/ship had faltered, he got back in touch, sending a lovely gift he'd made, planning to come see me.  I said I didn't plan to see him unless things had changed.  He didn't respond for 8 months.  When he did, he was in a fairly desperate state -- I believe because additional r/ships in his new city had come unraveled and he was feeling quite isolated.  He pledged to do whatever I needed in order to have me back in his life, said I was the most important relationship in his life, etc.  He also said that as long as he thought I did NOT want a romantic r/s, he did.  But when he thinks I do, he doesn't.

In these talks 6 months ago, I was very clear that the "friends" label doesn't work for me any more.  I'm very flexible about terms, labels, arrangements.  I like intense connection and space just like he does, and I don't think we actually have any incompatibility on that front.  But.  I need the r/ship to be acknowledged and need him not to feel like it's compatible with seeing other women.  I've been very clear with him since March on that point.  Short of that, I can be in light contact, but not do the intense intimacy he seeks with me.

In the one most honest talk we had, he explained that he'd enjoy trying again with me as lovers, but, he knows he "cannot be trusted."  He says he knows no one can deal with his reactions (I think I can, by now -- I've learned a lot -- but have never really had a chance to explain that to him) and it will all blow up and hurt a lot, and he still imagines there is some perfect woman out there who will not react negatively, so ... .it's better that we be friends.

Fast forward to now.  We are not on the same page and I have reiterated that numerous times.  I told him I'd have to maintain a fairly low ceiling on the degree of connection we can have in order to be in touch, unless he'll let us out of the "friends" box.  He immediately set about trying to get through those boundaries and eventually I did allow a lot more access (because it felt artificial and crappy to refuse to answer questions like "how does it feel when you X?" and because I wasn't sure if perhaps he was reconsidering his position, too).  Eventually we arrived at a place that's indistinguishable from where we were two years ago, which ended up so painfully.  We are de facto emotional partners, without a physical r/s, with no acknowledgement, and no commitment not to see others.  I know from past experience that this isn't sustainable for me.

So I asked to talk with him, last week.  In person.  In the past when I've tried to manage these feelings of discomfort on my own, by setting harder limits and backing up, he's been super upset and later wanted to know why I wouldn't just talk with him.  So, I tried.  I was quite surprised that he refused.  Just reiterated several times that he only wants to be friends (which was not the question on the table -- I know that's his position -- I can just as easily say I am not willing to be just friends -- it doesn't settle the question of how we should proceed from here, since he's known my views for just as long and continues to proceed toward a thing I too have said I don't want and can't maintain).  He said his ability to talk about this any more is exhausted.  (It's worth noting that he expressly offered to have this talk with me three weeks before, "when and if you need it," so this refusal really took me by surprise.)

I backed way off and just said "OK, I hear you, I must have misunderstood your willingness to discuss this.  Let me know if you find you can talk."

Silence since then.  From both of us.

I don't engage in ultimatums with him, or at least, I've tried not to.  I find this is now sort of set up as an ultimatum -- I somehow, without meaning to, have set "talking" as a line in the sand, which is not a battle I would have chosen to fight.

But ... .?  I laid it out very clearly to him leading up to his refusal to talk, that I'd have to set harder boundaries on my own if we couldn't figure out another approach that would work for us both.  Now I feel like I have no choice but to set those harder boundaries on my own, which would be: light, polite contact only, acknowledgement of major milestones (congratulations on your recent success in X!  Happy Birthday!), not the partner-like intimacy we've had.  I think it would be very confusing if I all of a sudden make contact on these new terms.  He'll think I didn't mean the boundaries I've articulated (I need to talk, and, I can't be in intimate contact if you're still maintaining this friends limit) and will immediately try to expand the scope of the contact.  I feel it's my obligation to me and to him not to be unclear about this.  He already claims he was confused about what I wanted and will accept, which is BS in that I'd articulated my own terms consistently and repeatedly -- this was more an instance of him believing what he wanted to believe, that he could have what he wanted and I just gave up.

He's said in the past that he respects that I set boundaries, so I'd think that being murky on them now is the last thing I want to do in the interests of any future dynamics between us being at all good.

I'm wondering if folks have any thoughts about the difference btwn ultimatums (ultimata Smiling (click to insert in post)) and boundaries in this context, and whether there are any further steps I should take now to straighten this out.  I'm able to wait quietly.  I have often done so in the past, and 15 months of that is about all that ever caused him to be open to redefining what he's willing to do with me.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 10:19:11 AM »

 

He may have interpreted it as a hard line... .that is his to deal with... .I certainly didn't read it that way... .

I would have like it better if you had said "perhaps"... .I misunderstood you... .to leave it a bit more ambiguous... .

FF
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 11:02:36 AM »

 For arguments sake, let's assume he wants the intimacy minus what we would consider normal, "real" intimacy... .and no strings attached. He doesn't want a real relationship as you do, and can't sustain one even if he tried.

What then are you wanting? To have a friendship where he doesn't try to push it Into deeper waters?  I don't think that's going to happen... .he will always push into deeper waters as that's what he desires and wants, if you don't want that it's your boundary to keep.  that's what he's there for, that's the whole point of contact for him. that's the reason he needs you.

I think you both fundamentally want different things. what in your mind is the resolution if that is true?
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 11:56:50 AM »

Thanks very much FF.

MaybeSo: I guess what I am hoping is that he will accept that it's an either or choice. If he wants intimate connection with me, that won't work if it's not a in a monogamous committed context. When we talked in March, he seemed to be offering that. But then explained that he doesn't really think it will work because it will blow up because I won't accept him after his weird reactions.

I've had months to think about that, and while I felt really rejected at the time (and I got mad at him, which caused him to shut down the conversation, understandably), I can now respond differently to those feelings on his part. I think I can assure him that I won't reject him just because he freaks out from time to time when intimacy gets scary and threatening. I can deal with that. But doesn't know that. I'd like to explore that with him so maybe it would be possible to reconcile what we both want.
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 12:28:37 PM »

I'd like to explore that with him so maybe it would be possible to reconcile what we both want.

Spend time with yourself first... .sort out where your boundaries really are... .then talk.

If he doesn't want to talk and sort it out... .well... .I think you have your answer...

Sorting out yourself first will help you stay more centered and calm during the discussion...

FF
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 12:34:21 PM »

Hi p+c,

I followed your last thread.

For what it's worth, he can't give you want you want and he is letting you know this.

I think I'm sort of repeating MayBeSo's response, but given that he cannot give you want you want, this to me has become about you upholding this boundary of either NC or extremely limited contact. However I believe any form of contact will ultimately lead you back to the same emotional impasse until of course you are ready to let go and move on.
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 03:51:18 PM »

It's not at all clear to me that we cannot find common ground. Maybe not. But we've barely even grazed that topic. The whole question is so charged for us both (for me, rejection; for him, shame, engulfment, his prediction of failure and loss) that we've had a tough time navigating an exploration of what is possible.

I do believe that over time, we could perhaps find a way forward. He himself named the ingredients in March: intimacy, monogamy, commitment. But he feels like we're doomed based on assumptions about how I will react. Is there no way to address those assumptions? In March he said he'd do anything he needed to to make it work. I am the one who balked because his assurances were so fast and did not ring true.

We are unusually well-matched in the kind of relationship dynamic that works for us. (Admittedly, the r/ship dynamic that works for us does differ from his ideal image of a romantic r/ship. This is my own assessment of our matching up in our tolerance for intensity and space.). Let's just assume it is possible we could reach terms that would work for us both--but we can't talk about it because he feels I demanded that as a condition of ongoing access to me and he resents that, or really can't stand the prospect of that conversation. Is there any approach that would make more sense than the one I've found myself taking?

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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2015, 04:15:28 PM »

he is assuming you will not like or tolerate who he is when you get what it is you are asking for.

b/c he gets weird when he finds himself tied to someone. Maybe he is moody, does push-pull stuff,  becomes critical, bails easily, moves or takes off with little warning. Etc.

there is no reason to think he will be better at intimacy then he has been in the past. he hasn't managed to stay in a healthy committed r/s with anyone, correct?

But you are at a place where you know all that and want to go there with him anyway?  correct? are you saying you take him as he is? knowing there won't be stability or any security? 
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2015, 05:03:30 PM »

Basically, yes.  And I've been demonstrating that for a long time in this intimate friends dynamic. But he does not know that I would apply that approach to bring his romantic partner.

My only condition is that he not see other women and that he not continue to refer to us as "friends," or that he acknowledge the nature of our r/ship as a primary commitment. Otherwise, we sail along being super intimate, then there's a glitch, then he suddenly re-asserts that we're just friends and I shouldn't have any other expectations. I need clarity about the nature of what we are doing. Beyond that, yes, I can deal with how he acts. I'm very familiar with it at this point.
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2015, 05:31:02 PM »

 

If he verbally agrees to your conditions now...

What changes has he made that would make you believe that when the pressure is on... he will hold to his agreement?

FF
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2015, 06:50:05 PM »

My only condition is that he not see other women and that he not continue to refer to us as "friends," or that he acknowledge the nature of our r/ship as a primary commitment.

My understanding is that he offered this to you at the beginning, but was unable to sustain it for very long (a few months, maybe a year?)

And after that, you and he got into various disagreements regarding this, and he pretty much said he couldn't or wouldn't do that for you.

And finally he sounds almost desperate enough to tell you that he can... .maybe even convincing himself that it might be possible.

This has clearly been VERY difficult or impossible for him in the past. Do you believe he has changed significantly somehow?

Excerpt
Beyond that, yes, I can deal with how he acts. I'm very familiar with it at this point.

I believe you do have a lot better boundaries and other tools for BPD behaviors... .except for this one!
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2015, 12:06:34 AM »

  It's nice to see you again, patientandclear. Your posts have helped me so much.

I'm sorry you're dealing with a confusing situation right now. I can't say what he might have thought, but I didn't read your statement to him as an ultimatum.

I agree with FF - I think spending time with yourself is the best course of action right now. Give it some time, until you're more comfortable with clearly defined boundaries.

we've had various episodes of an intensely romantic "friendship" in which he seeks great emotional access to me and then occasionally behaves in ways that, to me, are not consistent with the bond he has cultivated with me (he suddenly moves to another city or starts dating other women, albeit without telling me that and subsequently denying it when I raised it as an issue.  I am certain about it though).

And there's the rub, isn't it - the bond itself leads to behavior that is inconsistent with intimacy. Unless he overcomes his fear of intimacy, is there really much chance that he will seek out anything other than what he always has?

I need the r/ship to be acknowledged and need him not to feel like it's compatible with seeing other women.  I've been very clear with him since March on that point.  Short of that, I can be in light contact, but not do the intense intimacy he seeks with me.

These are very clear needs, expectations, and boundaries.

The question is - how do you feel about enforcing them? Are you ok with going to light or no contact?

In the one most honest talk we had, he explained that he'd enjoy trying again with me as lovers, but, he knows he "cannot be trusted."  He says he knows no one can deal with his reactions (I think I can, by now -- I've learned a lot -- but have never really had a chance to explain that to him) and it will all blow up and hurt a lot, and he still imagines there is some perfect woman out there who will not react negatively, so ... .it's better that we be friends.

One thing I have learned - if someone says that they can't be trusted, then it's a good idea to believe them.

I don't doubt at all that you could deal well with his reactions and most of his behaviors. But even if you could explain it to him - that doesn't mean he would really believe it. By which I mean, he would still always have that doubt and fear, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. It's as illogical as his belief that there's a "perfect woman" who will allow him to live out his fantasy life and take away all his pain.

We are not on the same page and I have reiterated that numerous times.  I told him I'd have to maintain a fairly low ceiling on the degree of connection we can have in order to be in touch, unless he'll let us out of the "friends" box.  He immediately set about trying to get through those boundaries and eventually I did allow a lot more access

He hears you say these things - but he knows that if he pushes hard enough, he can get through your boundaries and get emotional access to you. Where is his incentive to change the status quo?

Eventually we arrived at a place that's indistinguishable from where we were two years ago, which ended up so painfully.  We are de facto emotional partners, without a physical r/s, with no acknowledgement, and no commitment not to see others.  I know from past experience that this isn't sustainable for me.

Living on the precipice of intimacy is not sustainable. You deserve more than that - you realize that.

I'm able to wait quietly.  I have often done so in the past, and 15 months of that is about all that ever caused him to be open to redefining what he's willing to do with me.

Look at what you're saying here. He eventually becomes open... .to having a conversation about redefining... .what he might be willing... .to give you in a relationship. That's like five wishy-washy steps from having a relationship.

Do you think he's changed in some way that would allow him to break out of this typical cycle? If not, are you open to redefining what a "relationship" with him might look like?

What then are you wanting? To have a friendship where he doesn't try to push it Into deeper waters?  I don't think that's going to happen... .he will always push into deeper waters as that's what he desires and wants, if you don't want that it's your boundary to keep.  that's what he's there for, that's the whole point of contact for him. that's the reason he needs you.

I think you both fundamentally want different things. what in your mind is the resolution if that is true?

For what it's worth, he can't give you want you want and he is letting you know this.

 Take care of yourself. If you don't feel the relationship would be sustainable, then there's your answer. If you think that you'd be ok with redefining what you need and expect, then there's another answer. But I wouldn't expect him to change - now it's up to you to either accept as-is or to keep your emotional distance.
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2015, 09:13:15 AM »

You guys are awesome.

What gives me pause about the whole situation is this.  He has some reason historically to think that "no one can deal with my reactions."  Initially, I couldn't.  I had no idea what was going on, felt toyed with and betrayed, acted like he was screwed up, etc.  That was four years ago.  It hurt him greatly that when he tried to re-engage me, I was somewhat hesitant and skeptical, wanted him to figure out what had happened before we tried again, how it wouldn't recur, etc.

Now, I'd have a pretty different reaction.  I've learned a lot about him and that his behaviors are not per se rejection, cavalier, whatever I first thought they might be.  I don't have much difficulty waiting them out.  But he has a traumatic experience embedded wherever those live that things will hurt with me when he is himself -- I will leave, he will lose me, I won't accept him as he is.

Is there no way to change that?  I understanding that "talking" per se is probably not sufficient to undo those fears and expectations, which he doesn't even experience as "fears" but as inchoate feelings of needing to keep his distance from me.  But we haven't even ever talked about it.

The reason I framed this thread as I did is that I feel like I stumbled into a weird unintended cul de sac where I drew a line in the sand at "talking" when we all know that talking isn't likely to work.  Somehow I am now a "talking" persecutor.  That really isn't how I conduct relationships, at least not this one (which is how it's come about that we're four years into this and have never really talked about what I could manage and what he needs).  It did seem courteous to offer to talk before I just launched into enforcement of limited contact.  But talking itself isn't really the value I want to make a big stand about.  Yet, here I am.  I hear the guidance above that I have more hope for this whole effort than many of you think I should have.  I'm considering that bigger question too.  But setting it aside -- I've clearly made him feel invaded or encroached upon just with this need to discuss the situation.  Is there anything to be done about that other than waiting quietly until and unless he decides he can manage to talk to me about this?
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2015, 09:58:45 AM »

 

Sometimes... .I think we look to much at one tree... .

Let's back up a bit... .

The key about boundaries is consistency.

If you made a booboo and inadvertently set a boundary... .or are perceived as doing that.

Just change it... .but stick with the change.

What you don't want to do is talk this week... .not the week after... .text only the week after.

Pick something... .and stick with it...

FF
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2015, 10:49:43 AM »

I hear you FF. If we were in communication at all, I would just re-tool the boundaries (more limited contact if he won't let me out of the "friends" box) as you're recommending. And stick with them. But ... .Because I asked to talk, he said no, I said "ok let me know if you find you're able to talk" ... .No chance to set and maintain any boundaries except this accidental one, an in is about talking about our relationship. Which is the "boundary" I'm questioning--it wasn't the one I'd have chosen to set. My core values are not "you have to talk with me about the relationship."

Our history is that he will now disappear for months. I will have no chance to implement and stick with day to days boundaries as you're suggesting. And this is sort of an accident, again. I did not mean to pick this issue (willingness to talk about the relationship).
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2015, 11:23:32 AM »

 

As long as you are talking and acting in accordance with your core values... .don' worry about it.

We know that he will appear to change his core values... .from time to time... .don't be shocked by this.  It appears you are ready.

His boundaries will appear to change... .he may claim that yours change... .as long as you are satisfied that you are staying on a true course... .let him claim... what he claims.

FF
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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2015, 11:33:19 AM »

Hi p+c,

When I read what you write I have a sense of getting lost in the words, engulfed by them,  almost overwhelmed by the implicit emotional need to find a solution to a conundrum I suspect cannot be solved.


The essence of what you write is that you need something from someone that they are unable to give you. Maybe what becomes important for you now is that you listen to his silence in the same way you would were he speaking. His silence to me conveys just as important a message as the 'talk' you wanted.

Can you fully accept his silence without having to work out a solution to it?

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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2015, 12:00:45 PM »

FF, thank you (again). ":)on't worry about it" is remarkably helpful advice.

Sweetheart, I think what's missing from that analysis is that I have walked away from this r/ship on multiple occasions when I determined we wanted different things and he couldn't or wouldn't do what I need. I didn't have conversations with him. I assessed his actions and choices, let him know my boundaries, he chose how to proceed and I let that be.

What's hard for me now is that it is not just that I want something he won't do. He also wants something that I won't do and has made major efforts, some of which seemed sincere and tough for him, to work out a way for us to stay together in some sense. And has begged me not to end things and has asked me to tell him what I need so we don't have to lose this entirely.

It isn't as black and white as I want X and he does not. It feels like we need a process to find terms that can work for us both. But we keep taking stances that block that--sometimes he does, but a couple times now, it's been me. And I was feeling like now, maybe, it's me.

I do take from what FF is saying that maybe that's not the case. Which helps.
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« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2015, 12:23:28 PM »

It isn't as black and white as I want X and he does not. It feels like we need a process to find terms that can work for us both. But we keep taking stances that block that--sometimes he does, but a couple times now, it's been me. And I was feeling like now, maybe, it's me.

For me the above captures the essence of an emotional impasse, it is the 'blocks' that obviously create the communication deadlock, but for me it is through these deadlocks, these blocks that you both create for each other that your unconscious processes are in action.  Intrinsically it feels to me that you both know that the relationship cannot work, but because of the nature of BPD attachment and pathology in a relationship, he will never be able to let go, he will always come back. Ultimately it will be up to you to let him go.
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« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2015, 01:05:04 PM »

Hey patientandclear, I've read a few of your threads and loosely followed what's been going on.

It sounds like you know his patterns of behavior, but that you are stuck in between believing that either a.) he can change, or b.) he can't. The waters get pretty murky in a situation like this. The decision about the level of intimacy that he wants is not yours to make, but your emotional investment in the situation seems to point toward the idea that maybe you'd like the opposite.

I've found that in my friendship with my BPDex, when I am feeling solid in my resolution that no, she won't change if she doesn't enter therapy, I stay grounded and am more easily able to focus on the friendship for what it is. In brief, when I know what I want based on what I see, hear, and experience, there just aren't so many questions. The behaviors speak for themselves.

Here's an interesting question for you. How would you feel if he disappeared and you never heard from him again? Would life be easier, or harder?
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« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2015, 02:21:15 PM »

P&C, here's what I think I'm hearing from you... .is this right?

1. Long standing issue that you don't want emotional intimacy without romantic commitment/fidelity from him, and he err... .either can't do that or has serious issues around that, but does want the emotional intimacy... .at minimum in an on-again-off-again push-pull way. (I'm basing this on prior behavior)

2. He also has many long standing BPD behavioral issues (besides #1) that nobody in his life before you could cope with, and you didn't do well before, and you now believe you have the tools to cope with.

3. You told him you needed to talk about the r/s, and he ran away rather than discuss it with you, and his typical pattern is NC for months now, and you don't want that.

You are trying to figure out if you can convince him you are safe on issue #2, talk about issue #1, and not be stuck waiting months due to issue #3... .
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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2015, 03:55:02 PM »

Yes, GK, excellent (and humerous) summary.
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2015, 05:36:07 PM »

Yes, GK, excellent (and humerous) summary.

Thanks. I really wasn't trying to poke fun at anything, just trying to be brief and cut through the crap to the problem you were looking for assistance on.

Here are a few first thoughts on solutions.

 Perfect world scenario: you call/message/email/etc. to him and say that you had no intention of scaring him off by asking for a relationship discussion, both you and he stand down, and things get better. Perhaps even leading to some clarification on your relationship eventually... .

You might try this anyway, just giving him an opportunity to be reasonable, despite it not being very likely.

 However ... .this sort of push-pull thing... .also fits into problem #2 (It is normal BPD behavior!) Are you sure you are up for it? Is cutting you off for months OK if he doesn't get involved with another woman while he does it?
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2015, 01:45:46 AM »

He would likely be very reasonable if I reached out.  I'm sure by about now, he's wondering how we got to this point and how it can be undone, but feels stuck and doesn't know how to get back.

But.  I think it would be very confusing for him to hear from me, saying I didn't mean to condition continued contact on him talking about the r/ship ... .BUT absent such a talk, I have no choice but to limit that contact to a fairly superficial level.  I mean -- why bother, right?

Yes, I am up for it.  If this is "just" push pull, I can handle it.  It's the gnawing sense that it is me "making" him talk, that he's reacting to, that makes me cringe.
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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2015, 01:03:17 PM »

You sound afraid of the consequences of reaching out to him and trying to re-open communications... .

... .that it would somehow have significant meaning as far as your boundary enforcement / relationship struggles.

... .If you want a healthy relationship, you need to have this sort of communications. My suggestion is face the music, and see how he reacts. This waiting, wondering, and fretting sure doesn't sound happy for you.
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« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2015, 02:13:44 PM »

In the past, me waiting him out under similar circumstances has resulted in him eventually making gestures of reconciliation with a more open mind and heart.

Also, his non-response to my request to meet and talk (despite that I don't like that it feels like I drew that line) also feels quite manipulative. Responding in a ST situation by asking for ST to end does not usually go well, right?

What I can imagine saying without blowing my own boundaries is that I didn't mean we could have zero contact without having this discussion. Just that in the absence of some other understanding, I'd need to step back to a less intimate level of engagement. But we had a bunch of pending more intimate topics going, and I would not plan on returning to those ... .Instead I'd be offering a less meaningful r/ship. Doesn't that seem like sort of a crappy overture?

If we were married, living together or even in the same place, I could just be in normal touch and let this develop and hope we could reach a meeting of the minds later. But here, the very nature of the interaction requires a conscious choice and requires me to be stingy and turn him away from more meaningful contact. Given that, isn't reaching out kind of misleading?

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« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2015, 07:47:11 PM »

Given that, isn't reaching out kind of misleading?

Ahh... .I think you are wondering about the assumptions he will make.

If there are specific fears you have about that... .figure out what they are... .and clarify that during the talk.

If you have a "meaning" to reaching out... .well... .announce it at some point. 

He can still make assumptions if he wants... .that's up to him.

FF
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« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2015, 09:58:32 PM »

Doesn't that seem like sort of a crappy overture?

Also, his non-response to my request to meet and talk (despite that I don't like that it feels like I drew that line) also feels quite manipulative. Responding in a ST situation by asking for ST to end does not usually go well, right?

I don't think that clarifying your position is necessarily asking for ST to end. It's important to you to clarify what you meant, because you feel like you drew a line that you didn't mean to draw.

You're only asking for something if you ask for it. Smiling (click to insert in post)

He can still make assumptions if he wants... .that's up to him.

Idea

Calmly and neutrally clarifying your position and fears - after some time with yourself - can help alleviate your worries over his possible assumptions and feelings of 'game playing.' You will know that you have expressed yourself to the best of your ability, and are doing so from a centered place - your intentions are not manipulative.

It's frustrating to navigate these waters.   Go easy on yourself and give yourself a little time.
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« Reply #28 on: August 15, 2015, 02:25:36 AM »

Dunno what communication channels you normally use with him. If I recall correctly, he's still in a different city, so face to face isn't going to happen.

If you can just call him on the phone (or skype/facetime/video chat if you do that) and open with "Hello" or "What's up?" That would be my most reasonable choice in your shoes.

I 'spose you could do the same in a text or messenger format. That would be my second choice.

I'd hate to respond to this situation by email... .
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« Reply #29 on: August 15, 2015, 05:52:03 AM »

Hi p+c,

When I read what you write I have a sense of getting lost in the words, engulfed by them,  almost overwhelmed by the implicit emotional need to find a solution to a conundrum I suspect cannot be solved.

The essence of what you write is that you need something from someone that they are unable to give you. Maybe what becomes important for you now is that you listen to his silence in the same way you would were he speaking. His silence to me conveys just as important a message as the 'talk' you wanted.

Can you fully accept his silence without having to work out a solution to it?

P&C, when I was searching for answers, my guy explained it to me that he has "dark moods" and it felt like we had climbed up this enormous tree and found ourselves way out on a limb that might crack at any minute.  And what he "needed" was for me to protect myself from his callousness and extreme selfishness.  The fragile limb could only withstand the weight of one of us and he "needed" to feel that I was safe, he didn't want me to crash and fall, or to save him from it happening. 

Basically, back away and seek shelter, whatever that looks like to me.  Get off the branch.  He'll find his own way... .

I took it to heart and have never mentioned it again, "Are you out on that limb again?  Why won't you talk to me before going out there?"  I just don't follow him out there.  There are plenty of strong branches and things to do in that big tree, lots of room for both of us to enjoy the vistas.

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« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2015, 07:51:03 AM »

Phoebe, that's such an interesting answer. I do think it applies here. But what does it suggest about what I should do now? The insistence on talking doesn't seem helpful. I really am fine with so much about how things go with him. I tried being open and not imposing a bunch of stingy feeling boundaries, with the intention of clarifying my quite limited needs in order to continue like that at some point so he's not confused. I get that he needs me to take care of myself and I was/am. But as a result--I think as a result of his assumptions or fears about where I was going with the "talk"--we're dead in the water now. And somehow i've become "the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship." Am I missing something about how to take care of myself that could avoid this impasse?
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« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2015, 05:35:44 PM »

Hi P&C!

First and foremost, I didn't read every single part of this thread, I have to admit. But I read most of it.

But, what you wrote above and any/all description of your time with him... .is what it is like to have him in your life.

THIS. Right now. Is what it's like to have him in your life.

This is what it's like.  So make sure you are choosing what IS, including what is happening right now... .which is NO accident... .and make sure you are not fooling yourself into thinking you are somehow going to get something different if you just find a way.

What you have experienced so far IS what it is like to have him in your life. All of it.


This is just my opinion, and you will have to take it as coming from a person who was in a similar situation, though more involved.  We did live together, co-parent etc. But the basic dynamics were the same as you continue to describe here.   And I'm out because I learned there was no real safety net to be found, and I looked in every corner and investigated every angle possible.  

There is the concept of being a 'lie invitee'.  My requirements were similar to yours, and certainly I had a bottom line regarding fidelity.

In requiring this multiple times, I turned into a lie invitee.  I invited a person who showed me time again that he simply was unable to stay put and keep a hold of himself in a committed relationship (not just with me)... .to lie to me about this and to make promises and agree to things... .I did so by using (fidelity) as the required currency to be in my life in the way he wanted (periodically) to be in it... .but he had already shown me over and over that he couldn't do this.  And yet I asked for it anyway.  He accepted.  He gained access for a while, then over time would of course grow disatisfied and then eventually he would dump me and move on.  

I listened to him agree to do things over and over that he had shown no capacity to do, and no pattern of having been able to do it, but i kept requiring it as the currency for access to me.  

And he wanted access to me so he at times said OKAY! and agreed to what I asked for.  

And of course, it never, ever,  held.  And of course, there's always a reason why... .usually having to do with something I did that disappointed him or some such thing... .you know... .relationship stuff.  

P&C, I would trust fully your person's pattern.

If his pattern is to leave, trust he will eventually leave (even if only temporarily).

If it is his pattern that he needs to have attention from a new source, trust he will do that, too.  

If he tells you he cannot be trusted... .BELIEVE HIM.

If your person continues to stay away from these waters... .it may be that he actually knows himself better and/or has perhaps more integrity ... .or is less desperate... .than the person I was involved with.  I don't know.

My person told me several times he was not to be trusted... .and I chose instead to believe the sweet things I wanted to hear  that would come out of his mouth at times... .when he was lonely or missing me or desperate for some access to me... .and past the first 1-2 go arounds... .I was fully engaging in being a 'lie invitee' when I would grant him access only after he told me stuff that both of us knew was not really sustainable.  

Come on now.  If a person has never had any success with long term commitment or fidelity... .they are going to continue to really struggle in that area.  No matter what.   It is questionable really if they even value it at all, or are they simply agreeing to what is needed for access?  

Even if it is sincere at the time... .it's going to be a problem.  You know this, right?  He isn't going to do 'fidelity' well just all of a sudden because you want it or ask for it.

I think you might still be trying to get around something here that can't be gotten around.

All the calculus in the world isn't going to change who he is, and who you are.

Why or why is it so hard to believe a person who tells us they can't be trusted?  


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« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2015, 07:00:35 PM »

MS: extremely good questions and points as usual.

I guess what is keeping me engaged -- why I got back in touch with him, why I wanted to talk -- is that when he was explaining why he "can't be trusted," his explanation was that "no one can handle my reactions." But I think I can. And he has no idea that I think that, or might be right. And it seems such a shame to just give up, if that's true. He's assuming it's just futile.
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« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2015, 09:42:10 PM »

 

This is probably not something to "argue" about.

If you want to tell him you can "hack it"... .or "handle it"... .

Tell him once... and then drop it.

Otherwise... .I think it could be something you argue about... .a lot.

He has breakdown and flips out... .you stay calm... .he claims you are not calm... .you claim you are... .

It's sort of another thing to debate... .or go in circles on.

Depending on how deeply he holds this conviction that you can't handle it... .you run the risk of invalidating him by "proving" you can.

To be clear:  I think you are fine to discuss this with him one time... .say it... .drop it... .and move on.

FF
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« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2015, 10:26:02 PM »

FF, that sounds right to me, and that's pretty much what I had in mind with the talk I proposed.  But he's not willing to talk.  And absent some sort of clarification that to me, the intimacy we engage in MEANS a committed, albeit unusual, r/ship, I don't think we should continue with the intimate connection.  And I didn't want to say that by email.  And he won't talk in person.  So ... .we're not communicating at all.  If I had had a chance to tell him what I meant to tell him, I think we could have carried on without him making any "concessions" or losing face in any way, but with a clearer understanding of what this means to me, and ... .we might have a good stretch without ever really defining what it "is."  Fine with me.  It just seems to me that we ended up off track because we got high-centered on this issue of "talking," and now I don't know how to get back on better ground.
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« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2015, 10:28:00 PM »

P&C,

Wow, this thread has me really confused. Correct me if I am wrong here:

You want to get him to the table to talk to let him know that you can handle his actions/behaviors. By so doing, you think that he'll see the light and enter into a committed, monogamous relationship; although, his prior actions/behaviors are not indicative of that (prior actions/behaviors which you are placing boundaries against)?

Also, I have seen this in some fashion or another posted twice by you on this thread:

... .he was explaining why he "can't be trusted," his explanation was that "no one can handle my reactions."

Is this ^^^^ what you're basing your conclusions on in regards to talking to him about being able to handle his actions/behaviors? You do see here that he is taking no responsibility for his "reactions?" The problem is not with him; it is with everyone else. Do you think that will change inside of a  committed, monogamous relationship?
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« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2015, 10:37:51 PM »

Apollotech: no, I don't see him changing his reactions.  I spent a couple of years wondering if he was interested in doing that.  I now see he is not.  The question is whether, accepting he will have the reactions he has, I am prepared to deal with them.  I think so.  I have a pretty good understanding of his dynamics and cycles now and once I stopped taking it all personally, it doesn't bother me much.  He basically pulls away, gets grumpy ... .then repairs and resumes.  I'm fine with that.

And no -- I wanted to "get him to the table" to make sure he knows that I am NOT OK with continued intimate connection under a "friends" framework and/or if he wants to see other women.  He could conclude the contrary given that I had told him we'd have pretty superficial contact as long as those were his terms, and then he pushed hard for more intimacy, and I stopped resisting that.  Before I redoubled my commitment not to be intimate without a commitment, I wanted to be sure (as he's asked me to do before) that I was reading him right.

The issue of telling him that I can handle his reactions/behaviors ... .that is only coming up because several posts on this thread have asked me why I think things could change for us.  I think, someday, when we can really hear each other, this is something important for me to tell him.  That is NOT what I had in mind for the conversation he is presently declining to have.  I think he knew this talk was a "more than friends or less contact" talk and he doesn't feel like having that.
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« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2015, 11:29:25 PM »

I think he knew this talk was a "more than friends or less contact" talk and he doesn't feel like having that.

P&C,

Thank you for your response and clarification. I see your dilemma now. I wish that I had something of value to suggest as a means to open the communication channel. If you don't ease your relationship needs he may never come to the table; if you do ease them, you may be seen as weak or indecisive.

This is just an assumption on my part, but since the NC has been going on for awhile now, I assume that he is getting his emotional/attachment needs met by someone else. If that is indeed the case, he may not come around until that changes, even then there is no guarantee that he'll re-engage. This is not a suggestion, but, if you have reservations about establishing contact, your only option may be to wait him out. Again, not a suggestion, but you maybe could play the "less contact" card as a means to get the "more than friends" option on the table---minimal contact iniated by you but without "the talk" for awhile. Of course, if he crosses your "less contact" boundary or "no intimacy without a commitment" boundary you'll have to address that.
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« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2015, 06:19:01 AM »

Phoebe, that's such an interesting answer. I do think it applies here. But what does it suggest about what I should do now? The insistence on talking doesn't seem helpful. I really am fine with so much about how things go with him. I tried being open and not imposing a bunch of stingy feeling boundaries, with the intention of clarifying my quite limited needs in order to continue like that at some point so he's not confused. I get that he needs me to take care of myself and I was/am. But as a result--I think as a result of his assumptions or fears about where I was going with the "talk"--we're dead in the water now. And somehow i've become "the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship." Am I missing something about how to take care of myself that could avoid this impasse?

Is there truth in you being, "the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship"?  Are you the type of person who likes to talk about the state of your relationship, needs clarification or to clarify?

"Acceptance" will take care of itself.

The issue of telling him that I can handle his reactions/behaviors ... .that is only coming up because several posts on this thread have asked me why I think things could change for us.  I think, someday, when we can really hear each other, this is something important for me to tell him.  

How well are you handling "his reactions/behaviors" now?  Because as MaybeSo has said, THIS is your relationship, right now, you're in it.

And no -- I wanted to "get him to the table" to make sure he knows that I am NOT OK with continued intimate connection under a "friends" framework and/or if he wants to see other women.

I'm pretty sure this is coming from my own values and judgment, I don't mean to offend, I'm curious... .

It's been 2 years since you've seen each other in person.  How are you so sure that you want or will be content in having an exclusive, committed relationship with him?  Is this in a way, putting the cart before the horse?



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« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2015, 09:08:07 AM »

Excerpt
I guess what is keeping me engaged -- why I got back in touch with him, why I wanted to talk -- is that when he was explaining why he "can't be trusted," his explanation was that "no one can handle my reactions." But I think I can. And he has no idea that I think that, or might be right. And it seems such a shame to just give up, if that's true. He's assuming it's just futile.

This is the pattern.

You make attempts to communicate something, and he goes away... .sometimes for months. And gets involved with others.

In this instance, he agreed before hand that he would be willing to speak with you about this... .but when push came to shove... .he reneged. So this is something he will continue to do, he is showing you what he will do.  Now he doesn't want to talk.  And you are getting the cold shoulder.

So when you say you are willing to deal with his reactions in a manner no one else is able to (his words) this is part of what he is talking about and this is what you are signing up for.  Right?  I keep getting the feeling you are saying you are willing to live with and be fine with his reactions as they happen in 'the future'  that you want him to know you are okay with his future reactions... .but it's actually happening right now. It' not in the future, it's here right now.  He is reacting right now.  Are you okay with his reaction right now?

If your true intent is to make clear to him that you are fine with everything he does (other than fidelity) than you need only live it while he is does what he does. Right now. He is reacting right now like he often does and will continue to do so.  It will be over something else next time, but it will be a similar reaction.

This is part of what he does.

Part of the pattern is your sense that this could have somehow been avoided (and this engages you)... .that it's always a misunderstanding or something you did that pushed him away that could have been avoided if only if only if only... .when really it's not.  It isn't about you.  Yes you have your own part in it, but bottom line he is not up for the intimacy you are asking him for.  That includes having grown-up talks that couples sometimes have.  And certainly not about grown-up stuff like commitment. What he is doing right now... .is part of what he is talking about when he says no one can handle his reactions. Most people are not going to put up with this b/c it's just so limited and when he bails it's so disrupting.  That makes sense that most people don't put up with his reactions.  

You say you are willing to do this and not have the kind of response you had in the past.  You know he will get grumpy, pull away, and eventually come back. You are fine with this. That's good cause he is doing it right now.

Are you handling his reactions differently than you have in the past?

How does it feel to you to be in this place again?

Are you really fine with this?

You know my opinion is that any experience can be beneficial if you frame it a certain way and if you are digging into your own growth edge.  What is your growth edge here?

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« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2015, 09:29:05 AM »

Phoebe, that's such an interesting answer. I do think it applies here. But what does it suggest about what I should do now? The insistence on talking doesn't seem helpful. I really am fine with so much about how things go with him. I tried being open and not imposing a bunch of stingy feeling boundaries, with the intention of clarifying my quite limited needs in order to continue like that at some point so he's not confused. I get that he needs me to take care of myself and I was/am. But as a result--I think as a result of his assumptions or fears about where I was going with the "talk"--we're dead in the water now. And somehow i've become "the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship." Am I missing something about how to take care of myself that could avoid this impasse?

Is there truth in you being, "the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship"?  Are you the type of person who likes to talk about the state of your relationship, needs clarification or to clarify?

No, I don't think so.  More the opposite.  I was definitely guilty during the few three+ years of all this of not discussing it at all.  Assuming I knew.  That was the very request he made of me this spring -- that in the future, I please not assume I knew what he felt, but tell him how I felt, so he'd have a chance to alter his behavior so as not to lose me again.  That appears to have been the kind of person he wants to be rather than the place he's really in now, but no, I have been the opposite of the woman who wants to talk about the r/ship.

Excerpt
"Acceptance" will take care of itself.

Phoebe, can you explain what you mean here?

The issue of telling him that I can handle his reactions/behaviors ... .that is only coming up because several posts on this thread have asked me why I think things could change for us.  I think, someday, when we can really hear each other, this is something important for me to tell him.  

How well are you handling "his reactions/behaviors" now?  Because as MaybeSo has said, THIS is your relationship, right now, you're in it.[/quote]
i"m handling this OK except for the part where I feel like I painted him/us into an inadvertent corner and wish I could figure out a way to let us out.  My life is intact, I'm engaged in it, I don't feel rejected by him, all is OK -- except I feel like I derailed us.

Excerpt
And no -- I wanted to "get him to the table" to make sure he knows that I am NOT OK with continued intimate connection under a "friends" framework and/or if he wants to see other women.

I'm pretty sure this is coming from my own values and judgment, I don't mean to offend, I'm curious... .

It's been 2 years since you've seen each other in person.  How are you so sure that you want or will be content in having an exclusive, committed relationship with him?  Is this in a way, putting the cart before the horse?

We did actually see each other about three weeks ago.  He came up here and visited--his initiative.  As always, it was lovely.  That isn't really the core of your question though.  I'm not in a position where I'd sign up to marry the guy tomorrow, if that makes sense. We'd just be re-learning each other and what being in an acknowledged r/ship is like.  We have in fact been in an intimate r/s off and on for four years, so I don't think it's a question of not knowing each other well enough.  I do ask myself a lot whether it would be best to just start off without any assumptions or promises and see where it goes.  The problem for me is: I did that already.  It was beautiful.  And what he did with it, and with the gift of no strings and no promises, was he moved, and he started see other women.  What works for him is to have me as the super intimate emotional "wife" and to explore explicitly romantic stuff with other women.  I need him to know NOW that that will be the end of our super intimate emotional partnership (we've been down this exact road before, I withdrew, he was so hurt and mad, it was 4 months before he tried to reconnect and 15 months before we had a meaningful conversation).  I think this is the point where we know, and we are making meaningful choices about what to try.  I tried the Leonard Cohen-style undefined thing.  I don't need a label, ring, to live in the same house, or the same town.  But I do need him to understand that he needs to "choose me" and that other women are not compatible with this, for me, no matter what we're calling this.



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« Reply #41 on: August 16, 2015, 10:03:02 AM »

But I do need him to understand that he needs to "choose me" and that other women are not compatible with this, for me, no matter what we're calling this.

p+c it is exactly this that is at the centre of all your threads, he can't give you what you need, he has told you this through his behaviour over and over.

What might be important for you to explore is what prevents you from hearing and accepting  this.

I'm not suggesting it is easy to hear or accept what you so badly need from him, but it seems to me your stuckness is within you, not him.
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« Reply #42 on: August 16, 2015, 10:19:45 AM »

Excerpt
i"m handling this OK except for the part where I feel like I painted him/us into an inadvertent corner and wish I could figure out a way to let us out.  My life is intact, I'm engaged in it, I don't feel rejected by him, all is OK -- except I feel like I derailed us.

It's good that your life is intact.  That's key.  However... .

You feel YOU derailed this?

YOU. 

Meaning... .in essence... .you have the power or ability to fix this or prevent him from doing what does?

I think this is part of your growth edge.

I would give this some serious thought and really question the veracity of your assumption. There is a bit of fantasy or magical thinking going on here.  If you had the power to derail this... .then you are also indicating you have the power to fix it or prevent derailment.  I don't think you have that kind of power or control.  Not even a little bit.  You were feeling much the same way in the past... .if only, if only... .

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« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2015, 10:22:00 AM »

. . . he needs to "choose me" .

Hi, patientandclear,

I think I've read about 1,000 of your 1,955 beautifully written and intricately painful posts over the last three years.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't for one moment believed that he needs to choose you or that he ever has. (But certainly do believe that he would greatly value continuing to have you in his life. Who wouldn't?)

Is there any way you can let go of the "choose me" requirement?

(Cross-posted with MaybeSo, who's throwing you all the good questions.)





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« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2015, 10:44:00 AM »

Excerpt
I guess what is keeping me engaged -- why I got back in touch with him, why I wanted to talk -- is that when he was explaining why he "can't be trusted," his explanation was that "no one can handle my reactions." But I think I can. And he has no idea that I think that, or might be right. And it seems such a shame to just give up, if that's true. He's assuming it's just futile.

This is the pattern.

You make attempts to communicate something, and he goes away... .sometimes for months. And gets involved with others.

In this instance, he agreed before hand that he would be willing to speak with you about this... .but when push came to shove... .he reneged. So this is something he will continue to do, he is showing you what he will do.  Now he doesn't want to talk.  And you are getting the cold shoulder.

So when you say you are willing to deal with his reactions in a manner no one else is able to (his words) this is part of what he is talking about and this is what you are signing up for.  Right?  I keep getting the feeling you are saying you are willing to live with and be fine with his reactions as they happen in 'the future'  that you want him to know you are okay with his future reactions... .but it's actually happening right now. It' not in the future, it's here right now.  He is reacting right now.  Are you okay with his reaction right now?

If your true intent is to make clear to him that you are fine with everything he does (other than fidelity) than you need only live it while he is does what he does. Right now. He is reacting right now like he often does and will continue to do so.  It will be over something else next time, but it will be a similar reaction.

This is part of what he does.

Part of the pattern is your sense that this could have somehow been avoided (and this engages you)... .that it's always a misunderstanding or something you did that pushed him away that could have been avoided if only if only if only... .when really it's not.  It isn't about you.  Yes you have your own part in it, but bottom line he is not up for the intimacy you are asking him for.  That includes having grown-up talks that couples sometimes have.  And certainly not about grown-up stuff like commitment. What he is doing right now... .is part of what he is talking about when he says no one can handle his reactions. Most people are not going to put up with this b/c it's just so limited and when he bails it's so disrupting.  That makes sense that most people don't put up with his reactions.  

You say you are willing to do this and not have the kind of response you had in the past.  You know he will get grumpy, pull away, and eventually come back. You are fine with this. That's good cause he is doing it right now.

Are you handling his reactions differently than you have in the past?

Very good points -- that this is it, this IS the pattern, and it isn't some exception brought about by a bad choice on my part.

I'm not handling the reactions differently than in the past, no, except it IS different from the very beginning, before I understood anything about any of this.  I'm good at handling this reaction, meaning, I don't draw big conclusions about him or us (many friends IRL would say I don't draw sufficient conclusions) and I go about my life.  My life is just fine in his absence.  I miss him, of course.

But ... .

Excerpt
How does it feel to you to be in this place again?

Are you really fine with this?

That is a really good question.  It feels crappy.  The guy told me to tell him what I need, told me he was up to discuss, I tried to, and suddenly, he's too fatigued by my demands and those of unnamed others to bother.  And, as both you & Apollotech pointed out, he's almost surely getting his needs met elsewhere. I'm not loving it, no.

Excerpt
You know my opinion is that any experience can be beneficial if you frame it a certain way and if you are digging into your own growth edge.  What is your growth edge here?

That is a very good question.  I will ponder that.

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« Reply #45 on: August 16, 2015, 10:47:22 AM »

But I do need him to understand that he needs to "choose me" and that other women are not compatible with this, for me, no matter what we're calling this.

p+c it is exactly this that is at the centre of all your threads, he can't give you what you need, he has told you this through his behaviour over and over.

What might be important for you to explore is what prevents you from hearing and accepting  this.

I'm not suggesting it is easy to hear or accept what you so badly need from him, but it seems to me your stuckness is within you, not him.

Possibly.  But what makes this not so clear is what he says when we do talk.  If it were a case of him being happy with how his cycle goes, it would be as you say, but as he sometimes explains, he sometimes is very much not.  He sometimes wants this to go otherwise, and wants us to go otherwise.  I know it's been several years but our communication about this has been very episodic and generally has contained a lot of assumptions about what the other person wants needs and prefers.  He has called me on that and I think that is fair (though it's also why I'm finding his current decision not to discuss somewhat ... .odd and crappy).

In other words, if I become more sure that this is just how it is, I won't be stuck.
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« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2015, 10:54:20 AM »

Is there any way you can let go of the "choose me" requirement?

Hi KC!

That's what he would love me to decide, for sure.

No, I don't think so.  The kind of vulnerability he achieves with me and the kind of intimacy he seeks, which is also what I enjoy about the r/ship, isn't compatible, for me, with him making love to another woman, telling her what he tells women -- that she makes him believe again that a deep true connection is really possible, and previously, he just picked the wrong women.  (Including me.)

I'm worth choosing and we are worth choosing.  Being a side dish isn't compatible with what I give him and what he asks me for.

I've certainly considered over the past couple of years whether this is necessarily true.  I've considered whether my stance on open r/ships is something I could let go of.  But.  I know what it felt like when I knew he was in bed with this other woman on Christmas Eve, was sharing my jokes with her kids, but wanted to Skype with me on Christmas Day after.  I had no one in my bed and there was no one telling me I was the love of his life.  It felt like crap.  I don't think I can sign on to that, and I think it's essential that he be clear on that.

Fundamental to all this stuff, I think, is truly knowing where our necessary boundaries really are.  I need not to feel used or taken for granted.  I need to feel I am worth some sacrifice to the person I give this much of my heart to.  That's just me.  Someone who felt differently would make a more convenient life long muse for him.  But it will strip something important away from me to sign up for that.

I hate Leonard Cohen, which pretty much sums it up. 
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« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2015, 11:04:16 AM »

P&C,

I am not clear in this, is he refusing communication or are you unwilling to open communications?
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« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2015, 11:41:51 AM »

P&C,

I am not clear in this, is he refusing communication or are you unwilling to open communications?

Excellent question.  I guess the best answer is that we are both choosing not to communicate at this time.  I'd set aside this past Friday to go see him but that came and went with no word from him.  His last messages to me said his capacity to discuss this had long been exhausted and he wants us to be friends; and (separate message) he thanked me for something else I sent, and said this was an example of how it would be a shame if we were not friends.

My response to the first was that I heard him; that I had misunderstood his willingness or desire to discuss this; and to let me know if he found he was able to talk.  [Whence my concern that I made talking into an unintended ultimatum.]

Nothing since from either of us.  It's a quiet not very angry break.  On my part, I'm not mad, but I don't want to be confusing and continue on as we were if he truly wants to maintain terms where he can see other people and call us just friends.  On his part, I'm guessing he resents that I am conditioning our continued relationship on having this unwanted "talk," and is uncertain whether there is any level of communication I would welcome short of having the talk.  (I'd be OK with low level stuff, but neither of us finds that satisfying, we've long identified that that isn't really worth the effort.)
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« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2015, 11:50:12 AM »

I hate Leonard Cohen, which pretty much sums it up. 

Smiling (click to insert in post)

But, man, you are so tenacious! I think you have the sheer power to outlast all these "unnamed others" and be the person in bed with him when he's old and frail.

If you "choose," of course.
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« Reply #50 on: August 16, 2015, 12:15:00 PM »

patientandclear, I hate to see you struggling with this.   Your pwBPD reminds me in a lot of ways of my exBPDbf. I understand the 'if only' thoughts.

He is important to you, and you care a lot about him. You want to have him in your life somehow. There's nothing wrong with that at all, and it's very understandable.

I just think it might help to step back a little and look at what you're saying. In your own words.

the kind of intimacy he seeks, which is also what I enjoy about the r/ship, isn't compatible, for me, with him making love to another woman, telling her what he tells women

Being a side dish isn't compatible with what I give him and what he asks me for.

You know what feels right for you. You know what your needs and boundaries are.

The question you are asking underneath it all is - can he accept those needs and boundaries?

I don't think I can sign on to that, and I think it's essential that he be clear on that.

The truth is - I think he is clear on that.

That's why he's behaving the way he is. He knows what you need, and he also knows that he can't give you what you need.

I need not to feel used or taken for grantedI need to feel I am worth some sacrifice to the person I give this much of my heart to. 

Do you believe that a relationship with him - as he is - would leave you not feeling used or taken for granted? What, besides pledging fidelity, could he do that would make you not feel this way?

What if he can't give you what you need? Where do you go from there?

Someone who felt differently would make a more convenient life long muse for him.  But it will strip something important away from me to sign up for that.

A relationship where you're compromising your needs and values will indeed eat away at you. You deserve a relationship that doesn't do so.

You're saying, in short, that you can't sign up for what he's able to give you.

I'm worth choosing and we are worth choosing.

 

You are worth choosing. You believe that your relationship with him is worth choosing. I have no doubt that he wants to keep you in his life. You're an absolutely lovely person, and he would be a fool not to want you in his life.

But does that mean he feels that a monogamous committed relationship is worth choosing? Regardless of who it is with? This isn't personal to you. It's not necessarily that he doesn't feel you're 'worth it' - it's that he just can't do it.

On his part, I'm guessing he resents that I am conditioning our continued relationship on having this unwanted "talk," and is uncertain whether there is any level of communication I would welcome short of having the talk.

You're treading into mind-reading territory here... .and no good can come of that. Instead of trying to figure out his assumptions and what he might be thinking - look at your own thoughts, assumptions, and needs.

I know you love him and want him in your life, and that you are strong enough to deal with his behavior. But what if there's truly no way that he can be in your life in the way that you need? Are you willing to redefine your expectations to have a relationship with him? That's certainly doable.

However, what you seem to be saying is that you are firm in not redefining those expectations, because to do so would make you feel like you were sacrificing an important part of yourself and your self-worth. You need to protect and take care of yourself - it shows a lot of strength and self-awareness to not want to sacrifice your values.

Even though he may want to give you what you need, as he is now, he cannot. The chance of him being able to change is very minimal.

This seems to be the real roadblock. Not miscommunication about a 'talk.' The impasse that you find yourselves at is that you fundamentally need different things. Neither of you is willing or able to redefine your needs to bring them into alignment.
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« Reply #51 on: August 16, 2015, 12:44:52 PM »

The impasse that you find yourselves at is that you fundamentally need different things. Neither of you is willing or able to redefine your needs to bring them into alignment.

HN, thanks so much for posting.  I always appreciate what you write and often identify with your reflections.

Here's the thing.  If this guy were wandering through the world saying he wanted to be free to be non-monogamous, to have open relationships, yeah, I could just say that doesn't work for me.  A man I was somewhat interested in about three years ago presented me with that package.  Easy for me to say no.  What he wants and what I want don't match.

I have now written and said the words "what we need and can give don't match" to this BPD guy in my life quite a few times.  He does not agree.  He does NOT accept that he is a person who can't be monogamous.  Like the guy MaybeSo writes about, my person is saying there IS a woman he will be monogamous with and not react this way to.  He just hasn't met her yet.  Meanwhile, I rock and am awesome and we have an amazing relationship ... .so, let's do this thing!

My dilemma is that I don't think he knows what he wants.  Or rather, what he wants is not a real thing.  We ARE a real thing and we ARE pretty awesome.  Except for this non-alignment of how we should set up our expectations and how we should think of what we do.

Again, easier to walk away from that if he wasn't saying he DOES want exactly what I do.  He just has decided we cannot be the ones who do that thing because I'm a real person, not a perfect woman who never makes him feel weird or scared or controlled or rejected or hurt.  From among those women who DO make him feel that, I'm definitely just about his favorite.

AND ALSO, he says ... .please please please please don't throw away our amazing relationship just because it's not certain I can allow it to become something else.

Is it really so obvious how to handle this or what my stance should be?  I decided this spring that rather than being so black and white about it, I should engage and let the back and forth be a learning process for us both.  I'll show up honest and more or less unafraid, and we'll see where we get over time.  I don't see this guy as a finished product, I guess, and the "he won't change" thing ... .well, he won't change unless he wants to change.  I can't change him.  But I can be a good reason to consider changing.
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« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2015, 12:45:06 PM »

I'd be OK with low level stuff, but neither of us finds that satisfying, we've long identified that that isn't really worth the effort.

P&C,

This ^^^^ is what I was speaking of in an earlier post. This "limited communication" may be your entrance into getting the "no intimacy without a commitment and monogamy" talk onto the table. I understand that this type of talk is superficial and not engaging, but it is communication. It is the doorway. Are you perhaps avoiding this avenue as a means to not get a concrete answer? That would be defensive hope at play. The side product of said defensive hope is anxiety.

HappyNihilist has made some excellent points and has raised an excellent question: What are your plans if this talk does not produce the results you hope that it will? To add onto that thought, have you explored other opportunities, dated other men in the three year NC span?
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« Reply #53 on: August 17, 2015, 11:01:32 AM »

Staff only


This thread has reached its post limit, and is now closed. This is a worthwhile topic, and you are free to start a new thread to continue the conversation. Thanks for your understanding... .
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