He and I decided this weekend to back up a bit on the “relationship” aspect of us (seeing as we have different views on what constitutes dating versus a relationship anyhow, this is probably a good idea). It takes him longer than it does me to determine how he feels/what he wants, and that lack of consensus has been stressful for us both. Whereas I’m happy just to be with him and live more in the present, he thinks more in terms of the future when asked how he feels, what he wants, or what makes him happy.
Our different cultural backgrounds have made this really difficult at times. The American concept of a relationship is closer to what he thinks of as simply “dating,” whereas dating to me does not necessarily even imply exclusivity (you can imagine that the conversation got a bit sticky last month when he referred to us as dating but not in a relationship). In contrast, his idea of a relationship is in many ways closer to–though not quite as serious as–what an engagement constitutes here. We’ve been dating for six months, which to me is quite a long time to just call it “dating,” whereas for him these conversations have never come so early in a relationship (or whatever you want to call it…). Quite a pickle.
We had several talks about it all this week, culminating in a long one after the concert we attended as my Christmas present to him. I think it’s a good thing for both of us that we’re stepping it back a few notches and focusing more on the friendship part of us, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. In the beginning it seemed as though he didn’t have qualms about this, and he certainly was more ready to be dating than I was. Over time he won me over, and I felt safe falling for him. Now though…it feels like he let me fall by myself. I don’t feel like it’s really fair to blame him, and I’m not angry with him about it, but I wish we had both known earlier on that our views of relationships are so different. I wish I hadn’t let go so early, had daydreamed a little less, been less invested, less proud of who he is and less happy simply to spend time with him. I wish I hadn’t yet trusted that my heart would be safe.
I’m trying to bring my focus inward right now, to concentrate on things to accomplish and areas of my life upon which I can improve. I can run and lift and stretch and work and write and read and catch up with old friends and plenty more…if only I can keep my head above that deep blue water in the meantime. I want to simply let the hurt and anxiety go, let him go if he so chooses, and trust that things will be as they should be and that if he cares the way he says he’ll be back (which is somewhat odd to say, because I don’t think he thinks he’s going anywhere. It sure feels that way though.).
It’s just easier said than done, and I’m scared that he won’t be back and I’ll have to pick up the pieces by myself. Again. But I’m not scared of being single again; in fact, I quite like it and am accustomed to it. I am afraid, however, of the way my self-worth will suffer, coupled alongside what missing him will feel like; I don’t know if I’m strong enough to weather that storm right now without negative consequences in other areas of my life. I used to be so good at tuning out tragedy and distraction and heartbreak by working and practicing until I was too exhausted to think, but without a clear sense of direction I’m just not as driven and focused as I was back then. I guess now is as good a time as any to see what I’m made of.