Since I’ve known Handsome, I had a child with another man (whom I love deeply and dearly, but that’s another topic for another day). When my son was about 20 months, Handsome and I reconnected and it felt redemptive, like the reset we had both been seeking. Our balance was better — I feel redefined, more confident, and more complete as a person in his presence. He asked me, sitting on a Brooklyn rooftop, if I felt we had closure before. It had been over two years since I’d even communicated with him, let alone seen him. Until he asked the question, I thought there had been enough closure for me not to look back.
Since then, we’ve had a number of trysts — difficult to arrange (he works too much, making up for lost time after having been laid off and unemployed for a couple years, which really did damage to his ego; I have a kid) and while I started out feeling hopeful about our future, I feel old patterns of passive aggression (in his radio silence) and imbalance (my desire for him being insatiable) creeping in.
The rub is, I’ve cut things off with Handsome, clearly and painfully, two times in the past because I felt then I needed more from him. This time, I went in committed to being patient, loving, accepting, and open with him. After all, where am I going so fast? Nowhere, and I do get what I need sexually from him and only him. But I get so frustrated when he doesn’t ask me out, or doesn’t even communicate with me, and then I “jam it” by making arrangements for us and being persistent about it working out. He goes along with the plans and makes sacrifices, and claims to hate dating others. (As for my part, I HATE dating others, too — I want every date night to end in Handsome’s bed).
Is he just being lazy and selfish with me and giving into the convenience? Am I enabling this? What do I have to do on my part to give us a real shot at giving a relationship a go? Or is it doomed? Do I have to step back and create space for him to act? Do I have to say no? Do I have to date others? What signs should I look for him in him or questions should I ask to know if our relationship means anything lasting to him?
And finally, why can’t I just be Lena Olin’s character (Sabina) in the “Unbearable Lightness of Being,” wearing that sexy top hat and in control having a lifelong love affair with a man without wanting to possess him. In my dreams…
— Lustful and Lonely
I’ll answer your easiest questions first: yes, Handsome is being selfish and giving into the convenience of your availability and eagerness to be with him. Yes, you are enabling his behavior. And as for signs to look for to determine his level of commitment, I’d say they are pretty obvious if you simply pull your head out of the sand and look: he never makes plans with you; after being dumped by you twice before, he is STILL not putting any effort into keeping you around this time. It would seem that, yes, the relationship — at least the relationship you want with him — is probably doomed, I’m sorry to say.
I know how hard it can be to accept a reality you don’t want. But this IS reality. It’s not fiction and you aren’t a character in a novel or a film and the faster you embrace that and take some control of your own narrative the happier you will be in the long run. Think about it: you are a grown woman — with a child! — and you are waiting for someone else — someone who has a history of disappointing you — to give you what you want. And while you wait — indefinitely, it seems — taking whatever crumbs he offers you, you are potentially missing out on other story lines — personal narratives that could make you much happier than your current one. Because while it’s nice that Handsome fulfills your sexual needs, it’s quite obvious that those are the ONLY needs he seems to be fulfilling. And not only is he not fulfilling other needs, he’s likely depleting your reserves of patience and love and, frankly, happiness. How much disappointment will you put up with before you’re ready to MOA?
I’d be curious to hear the story of your child’s father. If you love him deeply and dearly, is he someone who could fulfill your desire for companionship and true partnership? If not, then I’d suggest cleaning the slate and starting fresh. Handsome may occasionally keep you warm on cold nights — when it’s convenient for him, of course — and I’m sure, as a single mother, you find that especially welcome. But he will leave you cold more often than not. And worse, he will leave you feeling like you’ve done something wrong or that, if you only knew the right words or the right moves, you could make him be the kind of partner you crave. But you can’t. Because this is real life and the only person whose behavior you can control is your own. So take some control and decide that starting now you won’t accept less than what you truly want in a relationship. The only kind of “possession” that I’d call that is self-possession, and that’s the best kind to have.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.