My name is Zoe Hanis and I no longer have a boyfriend.
Last night Guy and I broke up … and yet we didn’t.
Redefining relationships was something that he had been talking about from the beginning – the idea that it is not necessary to end a friendship when a romantic relationship is over. Personally, I always thought his idea was full of shit. Whenever my relationships end, they end in explosions. Since one or both of us can’t stand the sight of the other, there is no possibility of a continuing relationship. Endings were true endings, not the start of a new relationship. Yet this time, he is right.
The last several months have been an emotional roller coaster. Actually to be totally honest, the entire relationship has been an emotional roller coaster – more highs than lows, but a stress just the same. I think in actuality, we may have liked the idea of the relationship better than the relationship itself. We fell into the trap that so many couples do, we tried to force what was a wonderfully close friendship into a traditional model of a romantic relationship. The problem is neither of us is traditional and trying to pidgeon-hole what the relationship “should” be was destroying us.
After every fight, we would talk about what it was that we wanted and what our goals were. And even though they seemed to line up, we would end up back to the same place a month or two later. It was strange because we could modify our behavior so that we didn’t fight about the same thing, but we would still end up at “do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
Over the last couple months things have gotten steadily worse. He was having issues that led him towards a depressive state and I was fighting my own clinical depression. I felt him pull away – physically, mentally, emotionally. I felt like I no longer mattered; that I was uncared about, unloved. I began to blame myself for this disconnect – for surely there was something wrong with me, something I should have or could have done better. Wasn’t that the way it had always been, rejection by the one that I wanted love and acceptance from?
Here I was failing in yet another relationship. So I tried harder; I began to push for more attention; I clung tighter. I did not want to lose a part of my family, a part of my heart.
And it made me miserable. Analyzing every interaction; chastising myself for any possible mistakes. I found myself crying at the drop of a hat; many times for absolutely no logical reason. I tried to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself; the idea of telling him, of possibly upsetting him terrified me. After all, he had his own issues to worry about. But not for one moment, did I give any thought that *I* could be one of those issues; that he could be just as worried about losing me as I was at losing him.
The evening before last was the worst. I found myself communicating via im during my “real” job (ie. the one that pays me); tears running freely down my face as I read “… I want you in my life. I want you as a friend.” Now having been told before not to read into things – to pay attention to what is actually there, I saw the words. Could I be /only/ a friend? How could I still hang out with him and not feel the pain of rejection? How could I see him and know that I was a disappointment as a girlfriend? I truly believed that I had failed once again to maintain a relationship.
But the answers were far more simple than I realized. The fact was that there was no rejection. There was no failing. We had tried to make the relationship into something it was not meant to be.
We are happiest as close friends; as partners. We can retain the parts of the relationship that we enjoy; the love, affection, emotional intimacy and familial bond. We still have similar goals and there is no reason that we can not work together to achieve them.
I finally realized, here at the end of the relationship, that I am as important to him as he is to me.
And so it begins…
Sounds like a FWB situation to me. I am in a similar situation right now. Don’t know how it’s going to pan out in the end, but it’s the only thing I can come up with currently to have her in my life.
Brava! I have been where you were and did not handle it nearly as well. Good luck in making it up as you go along. I think we would all be much happier if we could admit that is what makes sense to do in soooooo many of our relationships. If we could loose the ‘shoulds.’