At baseline, I'm terrible with keeping in touch even with uncomplicatedly good friends. This situation is far from uncomplicated, though.
Most people have a relationship that, in retrospect, was a total clusterfuck, right?
Back in early 2007, I got involved with someone we'll call Tom. Over the period of about 4 months that we "dated,"(see: Titles Guy!
) I came to realize that interactions with him necessarily featured his frequent intentional or unintentional vagueness, and avoidance of certain personal topics that to this day I can't concretely name, because anytime we hedged infinitesimally close to them he'd redirect or toss out some cryptic quasi-aphorism that I soon learned not to press him on. We did have several comparatively forthright conversations defining how involved we were going to be with each other.
To cloud matters further, although I was unaware of it at the time, I was experiencing a pretty severe bout of depression, and wasn't interacting or making decisions in a healthy, self-supportive manner. I came into interactions with Tom from a position of idolizing him as this near-perfect godlike being of hilarity, hotness, intellect, and honorable life goals.
In May, a month before he was supposed to move out of the city (which we both knew of), he ambiguously broke things off via email and tapered off his responses to my romantic initiations, without ever actually saying, "Well, this has been fun, but this is it," or anything approximating that. The closest he got was the email where he said he hoped we'd "stay friends" after he left, as I was a "gentlewoman and a scholar." But that email came like a month before he moved away, in the midst of us still hanging out and sleeping over at each others' places, spooning and half-clothed. I was confounded and a little insulted, but I was afraid of stirring the pot and really committed to convincing myself that I was able to be in a "casual" relationship, so I just sat on my bewilderment.
Anyway, fast forward past his moving, my being hung up on him, realizing that I felt manipulated by him and resentful towards his kind of off-hand treatment of the dissoultion to our dating, and slowly realizing he's kind of wacko (like, sincerely claiming he tried to burn his piano down while frustrated with learning a Chopin etude wacko). In the past several years, we've kept in touch through erratic barrages of music exchange emails and the occasional meet-up for a drink, almost always initiated by Tom. He would pop in and out of my radar, going for months at a time without any contact and then sending 4 or 5 emails in one week, or I'd get a text out of nowhere asking when I'd be in the area for a visit. I became accustomed to having only sporadic contact with him. Until....
Last December, while in a (monogamous) relationship I knew I wanted out of, I fucked up royally by fucking Tom. Since "frustratingly ambiguous" is the name of the game when having most personal discussions with him, and I was more concerned at that point with finally ending my relationship with my then-boyfriend as soon as possible to keep from making matters worse, I avoided discussing what had happened with Tom (of note: I'm unclear on whether he knew our hookup was cheating, and still undecided on whether he's entitled to know that it was.)
However, Tom and I were back in each others' pants a few months after that, subsequent to some porny email exchanges and a little planning (since at this point we live in different cities).
Shortly afterwards, I dropped out of contact with Tom because I'd met someone who is totally great, and who I'm still dating at present. I figured: Tom has dropped out of contact with me extensively in the past, without warning. And, I wasn't sure how to address my reasons for ceasing all porny communication. At the time, depressive thinking may have been a factor here ("this is so confusing and exhausting; I'm just going to avoid it"), but I ended up just not giving him a reason, and then not responding, or in one case minimally responding, to various attempts he's made to contact me in the interim.
On the one hand, I think my avoidance is partially out of a "fuck you!" vindication reflex, in retaliation to his having been so confusing when we "dated," and for apparently forgetting we ever did date, or drastically minimizing our involvement in his own mind, as evidenced by remarks he's made in conversation with me since then. I feel like he treated me very lackadaisically, and so now in a sense I'm exacting revenge by proving that he's not especially crucial to my life either.
But, I know this is shitty, and I've reached a point where I would like to clear the air. Actually, I replied to one of his emails the other day, and he's asked what my deal is in response.
Ideally, I would like to stay in touch with Tom a few times a year, and you know, casually comment on each other's Facebook updates, but I have no interest in keeping up a constant interaction, or resuming porn-laden email exchanges, or being best buddies. I do value some things about him - he's a fantastic storyteller, and remains hilarious, and has alerted me to some excellent bands. And I care about his wellbeing, and do have good will towards him. I just don't know how to take the mess of background I've just laid out, and rectify what needs rectifying, to get things back to neutral ground.
Is that even possible? How does that conversation go?
Should I lay out the entire history and inform him that I've always been confused about how to communicate with him?