As he walks out of my apartment, I vow I won’t respond to his next text. I’ll be stronger, I tell myself. I’ll ignore the deep yearning to say yes should he ask if I’m free.
He’s too young for me, much too young — at least one stage behind me and still sorting out the direction of his life. He’s from another culture — a Middle Eastern man. And he’s grown up in a different religious environment — Muslim to my Christianity. A row of checkmarks decorates the negative side of my imaginary Pro & Con List.
That’s not the reason to dismiss the possibility of loving someone, my head and heart tell me. You can overcome these things, I say.
Is this Relationship Healthy?
My friends and life coach urge me to pay attention to how many concessions I’m making when gauging the health of any new relationship. Am I twisting myself into some strange version of me to make it work? Am I compromising my values? Am I sacrificing what’s important to me, such as my hobbies, other friendships, and personal preferences?
They tell me to tune into my body and ask myself how it feels when I’m around this person. Is there the freedom to be me? Do I like who I am when I’m with him? Does it feel good to be in my skin?
Yes, yes, and yes! When I’m with him, I’m entirely myself — not criticized or judged. It’s safe to say what I think. Gone is the sense of edginess as if I must be careful to avoid upsetting him. I no longer feel like I’m a disappointment, failing to live up to some unspoken expectation.
When I’m with him, I feel at peace with myself. Finally, I’m free to be me with all my sentimentalism, silliness, and worries. I feel young once again. There’s a skip in my step, and the air smells sweet.
Why Then, am I Crying?
Why then do I cry after he leaves? Why do gut-wrenching sobs rock my body? Why am I practically wailing as if I’m once again a grief-stricken widow?
Is it because I’m afraid to make that leap out into love once again? Could it be I’m scared to risk so much only to lose it all? That I distrust myself after the terrible mistake of my last relationship?
That might explain some, but not all of my fears.
No, it’s something else.
Reality crashes when I text how nice it’s been to see him.
Just as before, hours pass without a response. A half a day later, he sends a short message explaining he’s been busy with work. Once home, he promptly fell asleep instead of texting, he writes.
“Would you like to come over?” I text back, giving into my weakness.
“I’m busy. Sorry,” he responds.
And just as it’s happened twice before, no other messages follow — another communication blackout. I’m left wondering when I’ll hear from him.
I’m Not Important Enough
The silence tortures me. It says I’m not important enough to stay in touch. Whether it’s because his life is that busy, the demands on him that high, or he lacks the interest, I have no way of knowing.
In the past, it’s been enough to be chosen — if this could be called that. I was content to wait on my former partners’ whims, as long as I’d get to see them again. The importance of those relationships trumped my personal needs. I willingly forfeited feeling sought after and being my partners’ top priority. I’d even forgo some self-respect if it meant they might love me — anything it took to be a plus one.
As I sob, it hits me I’m no longer content to sacrifice my self-worth one more time for the sake of another relationship. I’m no longer going to contort myself into some human pretzel to make it work.
This relationship may be the best I’ve ever had, but it’s still not enough.
I’m Worth More
I deserve more.
So, with a heavy heart, I text him my truth.
Another twenty-four hours have passed, and there’s still no answer — the response I feared the most.
I’m learning something new, though. Age, religion, and stage of life don’t have to be obstacles to love. These things can be worked through if enough support exists between one another, and there’s enough mutual respect. It’s more important to find someone who encourages me to inhabit my psychological and physical skin — someone who brings out the very best of me.
But it’s also necessary that this person be ready to meet me at the halfway point in making our relationship work. No longer am I willing to wait beside my phone in hopes today might be the day I hear from him. And, I’m no longer going to drop my schedule on his availability.
No, this needs to be a two-sided venture, with each person donating an equal amount of time and attention to making it work.
One of my friends has asked if this experience gives me hope. To have found someone like him. To know that such a person exists.
Not today. No, today my heart is pining for what could have been. I still wish he wanted me as much as I want him.
Ask me again tomorrow. Maybe then I’ll find this experience hopeful — just not today.
Previously published on psiloveyou
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