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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

There’s nothing that will ruin a relationship faster than getting to know someone.

May 27, 2023 Saturday Night


It’s the second weekend I have not spent with David in months. In fact, we’ve only missed perhaps three weekends in our nearly eight months.


I miss the quickening in my stomach on those days leading up to when I would see him again. I miss our weekend routine, going to Trader Joe’s Saturday morning. David working the NYT crossword in the mornings while I made bead jewelry. Our afternoons at one of his favorite dives, him drinking Rainier’s and me drinking lemon drops. I miss “us”. Whatever “us” there was. Which I now doubt existed. But I’m feeling sorry for myself this evening. It’s easy to visit the notion it was all a lie. It wasn’t.


It is easier and easier to look back over the weeks and months and see where the physical intimacy waned to nothing. It’s easy to remember, now, in the lookback, the last time he kissed me with any sort of passion. It’s easy to remember the last time he told me he loved me and it was actually believable it was more than friendship love.


“There’s nothing that will ruin a relationship faster than getting to know someone,” I said to a friend yesterday, surprised that specific realization formed in my mind and made its way out of my mouth. I’ve repeated it a few times now.


David got to know me and, in the process, learned about who he is. He learned I am not what he wants. Not just me, the person, although that’s a bit piece of it. But it’s much bigger than that. He doesn’t want the kind of relationship we were building. We were building it together, for a time, then it fell to just me. I was building all by myself. It took me a bit of time to figure that out, but I’m a smart girl. Finally, I pointed to the elephant in the room and after denying it for so long, he acknowledged the elephant was there.


Just now, David texted me.


David:


What are you doing?


Me:


Well, I’m writing. But it’s really fucking sad, so I’ll probably stop pretty soon and go upstairs and lie down. I’m sick. My stomach. My mind. My heart hurts.


David:


I’m sorry… I love you.


Me:


Ya. Me too. I love you. I’m afraid to ask how you’re doing because I’m afraid you’re over the moon happy to not have any demands on your time, to not have me whining and asking you if you love me. I’m afraid you’re happier without me.


David:


No, it’s weird.


Me:


Yeah. But it’s weird because you’re not used to it. It’s not weird because you wish we could go back. It’s really what you want, I think. I’m pretty sure.


David:


It’s possible I don’t know what I want.


Me:


That’s a very honest thing for you to say.


David:


I’m flaky.


Me:


No, you’re not. I just hope you dig in a little bit deeper and figure out what it is that will make you happy.


David:


I do know that I need you… to be there, to talk to.


Me:


Really? You don’t prefer the quiet? I thought you would. I thought you would be happy to be back on your own and quiet and settled and at peace. I feel like I was constantly pressing you to share your feelings, to express love more freely, to be someone other than who you truly are. I feel like I didn’t bring you peace, just turmoil.


David:


That’s not true. I need you to be there to talk to, but also physically.


Me:


What do you mean? For me to visit?


David:


The more abstract of being there, but I hope you visit, too.


Me:


That’s again very honest. And yet, the underlying message is that you don’t miss me being in your apartment every weekend. Maybe after a couple of months you’ll miss my actual presence enough you’ll be ready to see me in person. But it’s far more comfortable for you if I am simply on the other side of your texts. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s disappointing for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you to feel that way. But for me, it is rejection. So, you see why it hurts? That’s not to say you shouldn’t be who you are and feel what you’re feeling. Please don’t misunderstand. But I do want you to know how I’m feeling.


David:


I think I understand.


Me:


A lot of it comes down to a fundamental difference in what makes us feel connected to another person, and less lonely. You have far less need for the physical presence of another person in order to stave off loneliness than me.


David:


Again, I’m not sure. Me:


What aren’t you sure about? Because if it’s not what I just described, then it’s personal. It’s because it was me specifically you didn’t want to spend time with. Me, the person, Coco. And that’s really hard to swallow. Plus I don’t think it was that. David:


It might be how I’ll feel about anyone. Me:


I certainly hope not. I certainly hope at some point you can let someone in. Or you’re going to go back to being as sad as you were when I met you. That’s why I think it’s so important for you to do the work so you can open up your heart to the right person. David, you were so sad when I met you, I was afraid for you. David:


I’ll figure it out. Me:


It is unlikely you will figure it out on your own. Without someone to hold the mirror up to you, to help you understand what it is you’re feeling, you’ll just spin and spin inside. I know this from personal experience. No man is an island is the truest statement that has ever been made. I just got up to go to the kitchen and I was thinking the most important reason why you need to do some of this work on yourself is so that you won’t hurt someone like you’ve hurt me. I know you loved your ex-wife and I know you love your son and you hurt them. I was just the one that came after them.


It’s not right to go out into the world and not know yourself well enough to be able to bring your best to a relationship. Plus, you’re just going to repeat the same mistakes with the next woman and the next woman. Please don’t do that to them and don’t do it to yourself. I’m not trying to make you feel bad or shame you. But I am trying to get you to see that there is some responsibility on you, that it is incumbent on you to do some work on yourself. David:


I’ll be thinking about that…


That was enough of the heavy stuff for the night, so we started talking about John Donne and the “no man is an island” quote. Then the conversation segued into fireworks — it’s the Portland Rose Festival this weekend. Things took off from there and a very satisfying friendly engaging conversation ensued — the type of conversation that kept us together in a false romantic relationship for months. And now, the type of conversation which ensures our friendship stays strong for many years to come.


I Persevere. And life goes on.


"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."


-John Donne



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