Monday, June 13, 2016

Adapting To Reality

Photo credit: Phil Hearing @ Flickr
Love is a complicated business - that's for sure. I restarted writing here in January, having split up with The Climber, then rather quickly got back together with him. Since then things have variously been okay, bad, wonderful and routine. This is probably like most relationships though I have difficulty understanding why things can't always be wonderful if you will it so.

I am nearly fifty eight years old. Fifty eight! How can I not get my head round relationships at my age? It's true that I'm not very experienced in love - only one (very long) serious relationship before this one; my son is more experienced in relationships than I am...

We talked over the weekend, The Climber and I. I had steered our early-morning pillow talk around to living together and how people decided to start. I didn't have an agenda (at least, I don't think I did); I was genuinely curious about how people decided to move in together, what drives the decision and whose house/flat do they choose? But quickly we moved on to our own situation. We look as though we live together: we spend a couple of nights at my place then a couple at his. This has been the pattern since we met three years ago. At my insistence, we now have a couple of nights apart every week - more about that another time. So we look as though we're living together but we aren't. We've had the marriage talk a few times. He says he wants to marry me some time but not yet. I try to wrap my head round the logic of it but mainly just feel hurt that he doesn't love me enough to risk committing to me.

I feel as if I'm on trial with him - prove myself not to be unreliable, or a mad harpie, don't let myself go and he'll consider putting a ring on my finger at some point. Every time we fall out, every time I get emotional about something or seem to him unreasonable, I know that date is being pushed further and further back.

Am I painting him in a bad light? He isn't horrible at all. He's lovely, and fun, and laid-back and attentive. I know that the main reason he doesn't want to commit is because he's had (very) bad experiences with the women in his life before. Just before he met me, he found himself free for the first time in twenty years - it's no wonder he isn't keen to tie himself down again. As far as he is concerned, things are absolutely perfect as they are: he's got a gorgeous girlfriend (that's me) AND he's got the freedom to come and go as he pleases; he's got someone warm to hold at night and someone to do the cooking half of the time AND he has no responsibilities to that person. Why on earth would he change that arrangement?

So anyway, I decided to find out whether he had grown any closer to being ready to commit in any way. It was clear from his response that he had not. He loves me, he likes being with me, he just does not want to 'ruin' it all by formalising the arrangement. I was disappointed that his feelings had not altered at all since the last time this was discussed, quite a few months ago but what can I do? I can't make him want to marry me. I certainly don't want to bully or wheedle him into it - what would be the point of that? So, as I see it, I only have two options - end our relationship at some point, probably sooner rather than later, and find a man who wants to be married or accept our relationship for what it is - fun, loving, sexy - but give up investing my whole being in it - in other words, begin to build more of a life for myself rather than waiting to build a life with him.

And this is what I've decided to do. It's a choice made reluctantly. I've always been the marrying kind and since the death of my husband, all I've really wanted is to have that kind of bond with another man. It's just who I am. But I'm sure I could have a good life without the safety net of marriage. It might even be better - the idea of no responsibilities and lots of freedom works for me too - so what I'm going to do is to start to do more things on my own, make my own plans instead of waiting to see if they fit in with him, do some courses and career development, maybe even go on holiday on my own to places that I want to go to, doing things that I want to do.


Gretel said...

Hello dear Puddock! Your previous post had me thinking a lot; as you can imagine a few things resonated with me, but there were so many thoughts that I would have written an essay if I commented and bored us both to tears. I think my essential thoughts, for what they are worth, boiled down to 'we all die alone' (yay, cheerful!) and that so long as are prepared for the really awful things in life, we can probably deal with them better. Because I can't take a shiny cheerful outlook on life, but take things as they come and enjoy the happiness while it lasts.

Anyway, after those 'uplifting' observations, I am glad to catch up with things. and for what it's worth, I think you've made the best decision. to get on with things - I am never going to be as reliant on one person as I used to be, and there will always be a fiercely independent part of me that I keep apart from everyone. I'm not in the habit of dishing out advice, as I can't abide it when that happens to me, but sending good wishes to you and cheering you on. xx

Puddock said...

Hi Gretel. It's always good to hear from you ...and you wouldn't have bored me at all if your comment had been longer - I could happily talk about this topic for hours too!

This thing about never relying again on that one person is a lesson I'm trying hard to learn. I so want to be married again. I ache for it. But a) The Climber is definitely not the marrying kind and b) I'm not sure I'm suited to living and sharing and compromising with another person any more.

I find it very cheering to know that you keep a part of yourself separate because I do that too. The good thing for me is that, now that I am coming to realise that marriage is not on the cards in the foreseeable future, I really cherish that private part of my life - the time on my own, doing my own thing, thinking my own thoughts...I wonder if this is part of growing older?