I love him deeply, miss him terribly. He loves me more than anyone he's ever met. We go together like peas and carrots. But I broke up with him over one health problem that he can and would fix if I told him how much it bothered me. Am I nuts?
posted by anonymous to human relations (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
About a year ago, I stuck my toe into the online dating world, after my marriage ended. I was amazed by the response I got to my ads and was dazzled by a few exciting, but ultimately unsuitable men. I fell in love, got rejected, wasted time on men who looked great on paper but turned out to lacking one essential thing: conversation. All the while, in the background, was one man. Let's call him Tom.
Tom's first message blew me away, it was such a perfect mix of enthusiasm and curiosity and friendliness. His photo was adorable and showed exactly the big-hearted, congenial, thoughtful, kind, right-on, interesting, ebullient person I was looking for, and his profile, though not as wordy or well-spelled as what I thought I was looking for, showed that he had the same interests as me. And we could keep a conversation going in a way that I'd never experienced before.
It turned out we had more than interests in common. Our attitude to life, morality, our values and indignations and habits of shouting at the TV were well-matched. The day we discovered that we had had precisely the same weird religious upbringing, not a common thing, we were speechless.
But I never felt a spark. Never fell in love with him. Because there were these other, sexier, more dangerous men too, with sparks all over the place, and they outshone him, in looks, status, intelligence. (Tom has since taught me that it's not about IQ at all - it's about knowing stuff and having the curiosity that leads you to know more stuff, and about being able to talk about it all with enthusiasm.) He was just always there, so easy, so attainable. I thought he was fabulous but I friendzoned him. Tom waited. He just seemed so determined and sure that I would be his eventually, because how could we NOT end up together? It'd be madness not to.
I happened to move closer to him, and we got to spend lots of time together. It turned easily and naturally into a relationship. I grew to love him more deeply than I've ever loved any man, felt more at home and safe, and loved and happy and contented with him than I've ever felt with any other man. We fit together. He got on great with my autistic son, which was both astonishing and heartwarming: Tom was one of the few people my son would bother to say hello and goodbye to. :-) I'm an introvert, but it seemed like he was the one person on earth whose company and chat was never exhausting. He brought me out of my shell, and I made him less insecure - we were good for each other.
Tom loves me like he's never loved anyone before and would genuinely do anything for me. He said he's never met anyone like me before and never would again. He's attractive to me, but not in a want-to-rip-his-clothes-off way. More in a gosh-you're-cute-in-a-hunk-gone-to-seed sort of way. It was just all so lovely, and just what I needed and wanted, but I think I took him a little bit for granted in the beginning and felt guilty about that long after I stopped doing so.
So far so good. Sort of. But...
Tom has a problem. I like my men big. And he is big, but his weight affects his health. Specifically, he seems to have sleep apnoea, with all the symptoms that come with it: shortness of breath, not breathing for a nearly a minute at a time when he sleeps, wall-shaking snoring, falling asleep in the middle of the day. Having spent 16 years with a man with substance abuse problems and the very real worry of not knowing if he was alive or dead sometimes, to find myself lying next to a man I loved, who stopped breathing many many times a night was scary. It's never been a problem to him - he's oblivious to his snoring and apnoea. I never seriously told him how much it worried me. Because of the whole taboo around discussing people's weight I suppose, and my insufferable niceness. I nudged and hinted, but never outright said anything. I didn't think I had the right.
Aside from that worry, even though we could have some knock-out fabulous sex, the snuggly, everyday sort of sex was often marred by his size, and breathlessness and heavy breathing (and not the good sort of heavy breathing either.)
It became such an issue that I was scared to go to bed with him - for the lack of sleep, for the fear of him not breathing again, and for the worry that this time might be one of those times when I wouldn't be properly turned on.
So I broke up with him. Although I'd turned off all my dating profiles, this was making me restless, wondering if this was enough for me. I felt guilty all the time for wondering if there was someone out there who might be more perfect for me, worried that I would hurt him more if I stayed with him and then found someone else by chance. I told myself I wasn't in love with him, that we would never work because there had never been any limerence for me.
We tried being friends, but he was devastated by the break up, and seeing me but not belonging with me seemed to just prolong his pain. I was so confused about him, constantly second guessing my decision, so I asked him not to get in touch any more to maybe help me find some clarity.
I had no idea how much that would hurt. Like almost physical pain, constant sitting on my hands to avoid calling him to ask him to have me back, constant wishing that I could share this or that thing with him, talking about him all the time, missing everything about him, even the bloody snoring. It got worse, not better.
I went back into online dating, and I'm hating it. Nobody seems to hold a candle to him, and I'm finding everyone dull or egocentric or both, in comparison. I have no enthusiasm for it because I think it's actually Tom that I want. I've looked at it from emotional angles and logical angles: I've never been with anyone like him before, and I really don't think I'm ever going to find someone like him again.
If I told Tom what the problem was, he would exercise, look after himself better, eat more healthily, see a doctor about his apnoea. He would probably do anything I asked to be with me again, although I doubt he has the first clue about cooking healthily and would need help. Which I would gladly give because doing things for him makes me stupidly happy.
I think it boils down to two things: I'm scared of being scared about his health. And I'm scared of my restlessness leading to me finding someone else a year or two down the line after he's become even more attached to me. I don't want to hurt him any more than I have.
I came onto askmefi and read every relevant question I could find. Regulars will know what the general consensus is: Leave him alone so he can move on. Don't say it's because he's fat! You can't help what you're attracted to. People can't really lose weight anyway. What sort of monster are you for not finding him attractive?
But is that true? How ethical would it be to just level with him and ask him to lose weight so that his health problems are less obtrusive? Or do I just need to sit on my hands a bit longer and continue to swim around in the murky waters of the dating pool and hope that the pain of missing him fades and someone just as lovely comes along?