What just happened in this relationship?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I meet a guy off a dating website.
Things look promising - we have a TON in common, including our education in the past and our current careers (we go to different schools for the same specialized thing). We have very similar visions and desires for the future. And he is HOT, and very attracted to me too.
Our chemistry is amazing, and we have a ton to talk about. He mentions that he has been in the military in the past. Ok, I say, I've never been with someone who has been in the military, but it sounds dark. What are you doing to heal?
He says he has been working to resolve his violent karma for years, and his actions clearly show this. I say I'd be up for continuing to see him if he gets therapeutic help, and he agrees - it's something he's been working towards already, so it makes sense for him. He says he has been seeing someone "for a physical thing" and ends his relationship with them to make space for me in his life.
We go on about three amazing dates and he pulls away without warning, which I find out because I see his profile is back up on the site. In explanation, he says I'm out of his league emotionally, spiritually, physically, and that he finds himself engaging in codependent behavior to try to keep me. We talk and I convince him that I like him as he is; yes, we're a bit different, but that doesn't have to be a dealbreaker. He takes his profile down.
We happily meet again and on the fourth date, he asks if I'll be his girlfriend. A bit fast, I think, but it feels so good to have someone who really means it that he wants me so solidly. I tell him I'm not ready, I'd like to keep getting to know him, and that I am excited that he's so interested in me because I really like him too. He says he wishes I were on Facebook so he could show me to all of his friends. He talks about how we'll be able to support each other during graduation in 3-4 years. Woah, I say; I really like you and am definitely excited about being together, but we also just met each other.
We spend another week together in absolute bliss. He texts and calls every day, tells me he misses me. I think it is a lot of energy to manage, but am not complaining because I really appreciate his solidness in how he is showing up. That and he respects my time and space when I tell him I need it.
After a beautiful weekend together, I am finally beginning to trust that he is serious in his intention; we've acknowledged suddenness of how quickly he has been certain of me, and have decided to roll with it to watch it unfold while acknowledging the "craziness" factor of going on so little actual time together. Alongside all of the momentum, he has moments where he says he is blown away by how much he appreciates and respects qualities in my personality and conduct (and is able to name them directly, so there is sincerity there).
I have a really stressful day and tell him so. He acknowledges that it was rough and comforts me. Then he suddenly messages me to tell me he's having second thoughts - he has been compromising about how I'm not vegan and he is, and he has come to the realization that this may be a dealbreaker. What??
"It's related to very violent experiences I've had in the military. I feel I can't tell you about them without hurting you. We better end things now so they don't end horribly later."
The next day his profile is back up on the site. He says, "I thought I could make it work, but I mean, look at my track record! Every serious relationship I've had ended because I sacrificed a personal value of mine. There is a third of my life that I'll never be able to share with you, and I'm sick of relationships ending over this. I'm feeling the benefit of us not seeing each other any more. I appreciate that his must be hard for you, but I don't want to talk in any strong emotional context because I feel that would be hazardous for me right now; only text and chat will do. I want to be with a strict vegetarian or vegan who has committed to this lifestyle before meeting me. Someone who is as deeply outraged about eating animal products as I am."
I feel deeply insecure and send him multiple emails as I try to make sense of the sudden shift in energy. We agree that we shouldn't be in a relationship, but that we could be friends "down the road" he says. I'm confused and insecure from the sudden change and still need support.
Finally, he comes over to my place and we talk. He says that immediately before coming over, he was at the Veterans hospital and has been diagnosed with advanced PTSD due to his time in the military-- and that it is directly related to his values as a vegan. He says he is deeply angry every day, has not slept well in over four years, has recurring nightmares about his experiences, cannot even be in the same room as meat without imagining it is the flesh of a human and feeling so angry. I tell him I would be willing to commit to staying with him as he is, whether as a friend or as a lover, and that I have faith that he will heal (because I've seen others heal from PTSD, including myself). He says he doesn't want to heal, doesn't trust others with his process, doesn't ever tell anyone about his issues and it is so very weird and uncomfortable that he has told me. He says I'm his only friend on this side of the nation.
He leaves and I send him more emails over the next day explaining how I genuinely like him for who he is, that yes, I'm uncomfortable hearing about his war experiences and that I am still here. He writes back to say he thinks we shouldn't contact each other any more, says that he is not worth what I am investing.
I have written him a few times since then, days apart, trying to make sense of the situation - it seems he has a history of entering relationships too soon and then leaving them, always because there is a part of him that he feels is unacceptable, which he either tries to sacrifice or hide until it becomes unbearable.
I'm not attached to being in a relationship with this guy, but I mean fuck, can't we be friends? Should I just completely let go of him? I did feel deeply incredible having someone so willing to commit to me, even though it felt so ungrounded, so I know I'm working through some deeper longing I have for a stable partner. Still, I know a relationship between us would not be healthy at this time, but I've offered to be present as someone who wants to get to know him and actually cares about him - independent of the intimacy, we really did have amazing chemistry as friends, and have a lot of potential to help each other through school over the next few years if we stay in touch. Meanwhile I am the one sending him messages after he has said "I don't think we should contact each other any more". Can I get a reality check?