Negotiating a ‘Relationship’


Am I a bitter feminist, or what? Maybe just too particular? Is it a self-esteem thing? Or, curiosity unsatisfied?

I’ve written a blog about what a sexual hook-up is worth, in terms of friendship, sexual pleasure, or the remote possibility of a relationship. My theory is that if you won’t or can’t ask questions about anything, or you can’t get answers, what are you really getting?

A friend, and I use the term loosely, has wanted to get together with me after many years of us not seeing each other. When I first met him, I thought there was at least a possibility of ‘friends with benefits’, but it didn’t take long to realize, because he let me know by saying so and how he addressed our ‘friendship’, that he didn’t want that.

It wasn’t just that he had other priorities. He’d cancel plans with me at the last minute, or stand me up. Yet, when we were together, he presumed an intimacy we did not have. I was really attracted to him, but he was ambivalent about me. At least that was the vibe he gave off. Sex did not lead to emotional intimacy, and it did not lead to greater physical intimacy. It didn’t lead to better, more satisfying sex.  it couldn’t. He had an emotional barrier.He was clearly alienated.

He was not the first man I was with who behaved this way, but he was one I let get away with it. To me, if you don’t want to go out with me, if you don’t want to meet my friends and don’t want me to meet your friends, you’ve made it so we are not becoming friends. We are people who know each other, and just barely.

I imagined many reasons why he wanted to keep an emotional distance. Since we didn’t really talk, I never knew. I was a different race, he really didn’t like me as a person that much—but I was available for furtive sex, he had sexual kinks he didn’t want me to know about (or maybe he was bisexual…I have no idea…). Whatever the reasons were, he held them ‘closely to the vest’, and it was emotionally exhausting.

What happened was I started living with a man, a foreigner, who didn’t speak that much English, but who was responsible and reliable. We didn’t have a sexual relationship, but he gave me stability, and I was mature enough emotionally to understand that that kind of dynamic was very important to me. We’ve been together almost 20 years. He’s very generous and helpful. His barrier is physical intimacy, which I know is partly cultural, and this is how it is.

So, sort of out of the blue, this guy wants to ‘reconnect’. There is no possibility of a romance here. He is not a dog lover, and I live with dogs and I’m very involved with the pet industry and people who work with dogs. But is there even a possibility of a friendship? Have his views changed at all? Or is it still the way it was? Where we don’t know anything about each other and he doesn’t want to know anything about me or continue to assume a lot about me? Who else is he seeing socially, or are all his relationships with barriers? I have no idea.

What I do know is that for me, to get together to go out to lunch every few weeks, and pay for it, like a meeting…is bullshit. It’s like unfinished business every time, and I no longer do that with anyone who is not part of my social circle.

 

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