Rationalizing

So. . . clearly I’ve been angry. And as much as I’ve been angry, I can’t bring myself to hate her. The whole thing was too confusing and the storyline didn’t make sense. Until now. I don’t know if I’m correct, but I’m going to choose to believe that she was telling the truth, both to me and to herself. And if that is the case, the root cause of why this breakup has generated so much emotional turmoil for me is just something pretty simple. I’d almost hit on it before, but I’ve got it now:

We had two different ideas of the kind of relationship that we were in or the place that we were in our relationship. I felt that we were at a point where we were looking to form a long term relationship. That we were no longer necessarily checking whether this person possesses qualities that I’d want in a partner or whether this person has habits, personality, etc that I couldn’t live with, and were at the point where we were looking at things from a “are we compatible enough to make a relationship work”. Meaning do we resolve issues well together, compromise, provide adequate support for each other, etc.

I now think she was still at that prior point, evaluating me for the potential of long term and hadn’t gotten to the point where she would be evaluating our potential for sustaining a long term relationship. So, with that view of the situation, it makes some sense that I would be out of the loop where it comes to the decision making at that point. Effectively, for her, we were still in the dating phase of the relationship. Even though we’d labeled it as boyfriend/girlfriend, the meaning for her was more along the lines of exclusive dating, and not (as it was for me), moving on to the next stage of the relationship process.

So, while I will probably still feel hurt and anger and betrayal for a while, I think I understand. And I have learned. I need to do a much better job at communicating what I think and feel. Communication must extend beyond just using terminology, I need to explain what they mean to me, especially when the terms being used can be very ambiguous.

Blinded by Love

For some reason, I’m only now fully understanding this. I’ve now gained empathy for those in seemingly bad relationships who don’t leave. How?

Well, as I look back on my last relationship, I see the following:

  • I was in a relationship where during the times my partner says things were ok (for her more or less), I had problems. Problems big enough to bring to her that I felt we needed to find some way to fix. And she didn’t actually put forth any effort to help me deal with these things. Despite us being in a relationship. Despite her saying that she cared for me. Despite me bringing things up numerous times.
  • Even though clearly there was an issue with us, she never shared how she really felt with me. I opened up to her about issues I was having in our relationship, she kept hers to herself.
  • When her issues finally crossed whatever threshold necessary to become problematic for her, instead of wanting to talk to me about it, perhaps find some way to work it out, she jumped straight to deciding whether to end the relationship. Even though the issue wasn’t something that is an “automatic relationship ender”.

Now, if someone else were to describe any one of these scenarios in their relationship. My immediate response would be there is something wrong. This relationship isn’t healthy. Yet blinded by love, blinded by feelings for her, I jumped immediately to any excuse or explanation that seemed plausible.

  1. If your partner ignores or marginalizes your relationship issues and doesn’t contribute to finding solutions. You are in an unhealthy relationship.
  2. If your partner does not discuss their issues with you, but instead moves to deciding whether to end things, that implies one (or more) of several things:
  • That they have already had issues with you that they tried to work out, but failed.
  • That the issue is something so bad, you are incredibly lucky that they’re even considering still staying with you (you cheated, domestic violence, etc).
  • They don’t actually care about you or take you seriously, respect you as an adult, respect you as an equal, see you as an equal participant in the relationship.
  • Or it is quite possible that they don’t know what an actual relationship entails or you have stupidly entered into a relationship where they have quite a different definition of what kind of relationship you were in (I thought I was in a long term relationship where we were looking to see how well we fit together, how we deal with issues that come up, how we work together, etc).

And to add insult to injury, after us having these discussions where I talk about the issues I’m seeing, trying to propose solutions, solicit solutions, ideas, etc and getting nowhere, she now has her stuff come up. . . and it doesn’t occur to her to talk to me about it.

Its like we were both adrift together at see and I’m panicking, trying to find life vests or rafts to save us, but she thought it wasn’t too bad. But despite my obvious panic and attempts to find something to hold onto, she doesn’t even bother helping me, just sees my panic, and raises me – it is not important. But then, one morning, she realizes that we are really adrift and do need rescue and by some miracle, sights a life raft, jumps into the raft and gets to shore. With no warning or even telling me. Just leaves me to be surprised and caught off guard. And by some miracle, I too make it to shore. And she wonders after all that, why I don’t want to remain friends.

Now that emotions aren’t currently clouding my judgment, there is no way I can be friends with a person who treated me like that. No matter what the reason. It doesn’t matter whether she did it on purpose or by accident. I just can’t. I’m not that forgiving, forgetful, or open hearted.

There is some serious self delusion here. How could she be affectionate and initiate physical contact and intimacy for two months, then not because “she’s not an affectionate person”? Either she is deluding herself on that point, or she was faking it from the beginning. So the best explanation is neither. There is some other reason and she’s just feeding me the line that she thinks (or for some reason really believes) would make me feel best about the relationship ending.

Her feeling she couldn’t make me happy or keep me happy due to differing sex drives is bullshit. Many relationships have mismatched sex drives. That is nothing new, different or special. We knew this ahead of time and we talked about it. And, most importantly, the amount of sex we were having was never that big an issue for me. Yes, I’d brought it up once or twice earlier – though in those cases, I’d explained that what was more important and meant was that I didn’t feel we had been spending enough time together. But in the last 1.5 months of our relationship there is no way sex could have been an issue caused by me.

This is perhaps the single best way to thoroughly vaporize any bridge between a person. Create a situation where when they look back over their entire relationship with you without the filter of what they felt for you, they lose the ability to match your words to your actions. At best that I can make out, I was just a glorified friend. A winter beau . . . or fall beau in this case, since winter isn’t quite yet over. It would seem there was never any intent that this relationship last beyond a few months. Perhaps she even tried to tell me that in the beginning of our relationship – she never intended to date me or give me her number.

For those looking for real life examples of dramatic irony, here is one. So I’ve always tried in various blogs to write on a daily basis. If you go to the first few of this blog, you’ll see I even tried that here. But it has never worked. Then I thought I’d finally hit upon a concept that would work for me. A blog where I could talk about things inspired by my own relationship. Perfect right? I’d never beat a loss for material. So no way I’d fall off from daily writing. Just didn’t occur to me that it would be the relationship that could end thus ending my daily blog. Didn’t last past 19 days. I guess this is also an example of cosmic irony too.

And also, this confirms it, school somehow has a negative effect on my relationships. Every single one has ended within a few weeks of the end of a semester. (Yes, I know this is one of the worst posts grammatically for me. Guess how much of a fuck I give).

I’m the Beast of the East and the Best in the West

Seriously, you can look it up. Under Wee Thomas in the dictionary – well, as soon as they get around to adding me to the dictionary or at least creating my Wikipedia page. Frankly, I have no idea what’s taking so long. Short story long, I am awesome. Why am I awesome, let me count the ways:

  1. I have awesome friends. When I last attempted to enumerate people I consider friends – true friends, not people that I know through others and happen to spend time with them because of our mutual friendships – essentially if all it takes for you to disappear from my life (or vice versa) is someone else dying, we’re not really friends are we? (assuming I did not kill or engineer the death of said person) – I didn’t get past using my fingers and toes. And I thought about this for a while and found that I’m mostly happy with it.
  2. I am killer at words with friends (within the current group of people that I play). A lot of my acquaintances and a few friends play the game. Every once in a while, someone I haven’t played yet starts a game with me. There are a few stubborn people who play 5-10 games before they apparently give up – I suppose it can be soul crushing to lose every time. Only those that manage to beat me from time to time continue playing. And those games are awesome. I’m even dating someone in the winner’s circle. . . though she really needs to step up her game. I actually had a discussion with a couple people almost a month ago about playing against women that you’re dating. The unanimous decision, beat them as hard, mercilessly and often as possible.
  3. I’m dating an awesome woman. Seriously, pure awesome. Aside from allergies – just how often can a guy come close to killing someone in a month. I’m going to have to stop cooking until I have a complete inventory of everything on the bad list. There is one issue. . . she’s a dog person, I’m a cat person. I will be getting a kitten soon. Who will be trained to be an attack cat. I’m currently formulating the training regimine.  For now, we’ll see how things go. Frankly, cats are too cute for anyone to resist. Also, my attack cat will be trained in a foreign language.
  4. I’m making progress on my research work. This is good, because progress equals getting closer to being done and being done means that my parents stop bothering me about when I’m getting done, and start bothering me about something else. Frankly, I’m not sure what that something else would be . . . Buying a house? Getting married? Becoming the Godfather?
  5. I can flip like the best of them. That’s right, I bought a “non-running” car with a few cosmetic issues for a song. The issue, blown fuse. No joke. The big cliche in diagnosis – “When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras” is even funnier and more ironic if you knew the full context of the purchase. Sadly, only one other person will ever know this, though by the time she gets around to reading this blog, she’ll probably have forgotten.

That’s the list for now. I would continue, but my good deed for the day is

My Big Weekend

So,

I bought the m3 sedan. It’s a year older than my current one though with about 30k less miles. It did not run, as advertised. . . until a couple hours after I got it home. At the moment, all that is holding me back from having it inspected are the front corner lights, brake lights, reverse lights, and driver mirror. Those are pretty much the only things holding me back from selling the car as well. Even better, my landlord has been on the lookout for a nice sporty sedan. We’ll see how he feels after a test drive later this week. It would be great if I sold it to him. I’m perfectly happy being paid in free rent. And that said, I don’t think my landlord is fully aware of my financial situation. He’s now sent me more ads for potential cars to buy (as in now, before I even sell this one). Or maybe he just forgets, after all I went from selling of parts of my old m3 to deciding to keep it and buy back parts to buying an entire car all within a couple months.

And as happy as hearing that engine purr and being behind the wheel of an m3 made me feel once again, this weekend had more than that. I got to spend a good amount of with the woman (yes, she’s not a girl) I’ve been dating. We’re still learning more about each other and so far, very much like what we’re finding. Well, apparently I could do with a bit less clutter in my life but managing 4 cars comes with lots of parts that don’t really go anywhere else until they’re on the car or sold.

Last week did see me miss a lot of my workouts. And while I’d adjusted my food intake to still generate a caloric deficit, I need to get back on the horse. I’ve set a new goal, running a 5k in 25 minutes with a reach goal in doing it in under 22. The 25 minute goal seems very feasible, extend my initial 5 minutes at 8.5mph to 10 minutes, followed by ten minutes at 7.5mph and the last 5 minutes at 6mph.  I think I could reach being able to do this on a treadmill by the end of November. Next, I’ll need to train myself to be able to set and follow a specific pace while running outside. I haven’t figured out if my phone would be good enough for this.

And my research plods on as always. Which reminds me that I need to call my mom to give her an update on my progress. Hmm, I wonder what car I’ll take to go visit them for thanksgiving. . .

Money and Dating

So, among the taboo topics to discuss on a first date or at all unless in a committed relationship, with the feds while cutting a deal, or Bernie Madoff are finances and money. But yet they factor in so many things. For example, the man is typically expected to do the heavy lifting initially in a relationship and perhaps let things peter out towards parity as time goes on. And mostly, that’s how things have been in my relationships. And likely for that reason, I never really gave it much thought – though I’m starting to think it played a role in ending my last relationship.

But anyway, I’m now in a situation where she pays some of the time and even that some of the time just feels weird to me, especially given that we’re still in the “dating” stage of this relationship. Another thing – I tend to not carry cash. Just a habit that I’ve evolved. So, one way that we’ve handled the inevitable who will pay for this jockeying is for her to suggest that she take care of the tip and me to acquiesce. There is even one place in particular where I’d directly ask her for the tip, because she tends to carry cash, and my relationship with the bartender is such that he either doesn’t charge or under-charges me for drinks, doesn’t let me pay up front, so I much rather leaving him a large tip on my way out. And given that I don’t carry cash (usually), doing this can be an issue if I”m unprepared.

So, anyway, I ask and she hands me some money, but the guy leaves midway through the night and so I’ll have to catch him some other time. But then she refuses to take the money back. And not wanting to make an issue out of it, I didn’t really push that hard. It makes me wonder because this isn’t something that I would think should bother me, yet in some way, it is. And I wonder if it is due more to me typically being the one in the relationship who pays for things or typically being the one in the relationship who makes more money (I’m not at the moment).

From what I know of my ex, she (prior to me) was used to being that person – either the more financially dominant one in a relationship or at least having things 50/50. Just various circumstances around the time we were in a relationship put her in such a position where I was ahead. One thing that I advocate as being bad for a relationship is a significant imbalance of power. That can come from many things, one person moving to be in a new city with the other, having to leave your job to advance the other person’s career, being in very different places life-wise (just starting college versus just entering middle management). And while logically, money should be a part of that, I’d never really considered it.  But perhaps in addition to money being on that list of power imbalancers, there should be a category for perceived or implied imbalance – like what I’m feeling now and what I think my ex felt at times in our relationship.

I don’t for a second think that this is actually an issue or going to be an issue for us, but it does illuminate some things for me and make me question some of my own perceptions and worldview. I have opinions and ideas about certain things even though I have not experienced those situations or have real context to base my thoughts upon. I will definitely give things a bit more thought before doling out advice or complaining in the future.

That Didn’t Take Long: The Answer to Yesterday’s Post

I realized after a few hours of contemplation and reading that I’ve been doing things the right way all along. At the beginning of all relationships, everyone seems promising. That’s the nature of the game (assuming you’re making those initial choices wisely). It is either coincidental that I’ve always just been in the getting to know someone stage at the moment I’ve made the decision to pursue people exclusively or that my state of happiness and satisfaction somehow attracts others – a phenomenon that is certainly not exclusive to me.

But the correct decision is to put an end to other relationships, budding as they may be, and focus on the person who has managed to find themselves a big part of your world. This is no easy feat. Most of us are quite busy individuals. Our typical life schedule doesn’t really admit time for anyone new. Yet somehow, we always manage to find time for her. This isn’t an accident. So, as of today, I’m officially off the market. I’ve shut down everything that was pending or on the backburner. I’ve closed down all dating profiles. I’m now preparing for the next step.

We’ve established that we have big picture compatibility. We have rudimentary conflict resolution skills. We seem to share things (mostly) completely and honestly (some things take time to reveal – you can’t rush intimacy and trust). So now it’s time to check the small stuff. I enjoy cooking, she doesn’t – I’ve never been in a long term relationship with someone who doesn’t cook, how will I handle that (from a rational standpoint, it is not necessary, but many things in relationships aren’t always rational).

Dating: Heading Towards Exclusivity – The Halting Problem

Since my last post, things have moved forward from the eyes open kissing. And by moved forward, I mean that I remember to keep them closed, most of the time. The rest of the time, I work on getting her used to the idea that sometimes they’ll be open. I think what’s happening is usually what happens. We enjoy the kissing too much and start caring less about other things that used to seem strange.

Now, I’ve not said this in this blog, but I feel that romantic relationships pretty much have three stages. Dating, boyfriend/girlfriend, and marriage. I don’t consider friends with benefits, one night stands, or bootycall relationships as being a romantic relationship. They are not. If you are a bootycall and somehow think there is something romantic going on, I 100 percent guarantee that your feelings are completely one-sided. Of the three stages, dating is the most broad.

  1. Dating – this encompasses the period between meeting someone and getting to know them through dating (ie spending time with them in different situations), talking, and learning more about each other until the two of you have decided that you are boyfriend and girlfriend. In the initial period of dating, you may be dating or getting to know multiple people. After some time, you may decide to exclusively date one person, though not necessarily bump up your relationship status to being boyfriend or girlfriend. While people sometimes enter into this part of the relationship unilaterally (without discussion with the other person), typically once such a conversation has actually occurred and both express that they do want to proceed exclusively, the next stage quickly follows.
  2. Boyfriend/girlfriend – now, you are exclusively seeing each other. This is an intermediate stage that should be used to seriously evaluate long term compatibility with each other. During the dating phase, you should have established that your goals, life plans, attraction to each other are compatible – you’d talk  and experience about where you see your careers heading, how many children you’d want to have, how you plan on raising them (education, religion), where you see yourself living, how you  spend your free time, what things are interesting and important to you politically. But in this phase, you are going deeper – does the way he brushes his teeth bother you? Could you be happy sitting in silence for 4 hours while he/she reads a book without speaking to you? Could you see yourself hanging out with his friends for the next 10 years? Do her spending habits get on your nerves. I argue that long term compatibility is about the little things – things which seem so inconsequential and silly when you tell your friends about a fight you had but so important when the two of your were fighting. Toilet seat up or down, brand of laundry detergent, calling you in the middle of the day to say hello, saying I love you. In the dating phase, you’re scanning the big picture for compatibility. Here, you are sifting through much smaller grains – and that’s partially why you will be in this phase longer. (Presumably, you are evaluating spending the rest of your life with this person).
  3. Marriage – this encompasses the period from engagement on. Pretty much, marriage is a legal formality. If you are engaged, that means that you have asked or agreed to commit your life to someone else. So, given that you have already made that lifetime commitment, it seems stupid to me to think that somehow you are not actually committed until married. All that is different is from a legal standpoint, you have a much easier time exiting such a commitment pre-marriage.

So, the big question is how do you evaluate when to move from dating people to dating just one? I have always had this problem. In all of my long term relationships, I have always developed strong feelings and attachment to the women who became my girlfriend just as I was getting to know someone else who may also have been very interesting and had girlfriend potential. In all the cases, I happened to have spent significantly more time with my girlfriends than the other women so I’ve never been in a situation where I can rationally say that I objectively made the decision. And now again, I find myself in the same situation. I’ve gotten to know someone very well and a couple others not as much. And things feel that they are moving in such a way that I should discontinue dating others and just see one exclusively. But without dating the others in a similar manner, am I in a position to make this decision?

What compounds things is that it’s not like I met everyone at the same time and just happened to like one more or we ended up always making time for each other. The others just haven’t legitimately had a chance to make an impression. And given my feelings now, is that even possible?  Does it make sense to impose a minimum time spent dating during which all candidates should be evaluated? Is it important that everyone get equal time or would I naturally gravitate towards the front runner regardless of time spent with her? The whole point of dating is to evaluate multiple people and sort through this whole process faster than going through one person at a time. But then again, is that always necessary? I have this idea that I need to be able to say that I did my due diligence. Though since my last long term relationship, I’ve dated several people. Most didn’t get past the first date. Doesn’t that count as well?

Why is it that whenever I get to the point where I’m seeing someone with girlfriend potential, someone else comes up that is interesting and as interested in me. Before this, it is easy, either I don’t end up wanting more with her, or she with me. Things either aren’t really going anywhere or they’re moving forward with multiple women at once. I’ve never gotten to the “I think I’d want to date X exclusively” moment without there being someone who evokes the “well, if I got to know Y a bit more, I may want to date her exclusively as well” response.

For the non-computer science or algorithms people out there, the halting problem is one of defining how a program or algorithm determines when it has either successfully achieved it’s goal and should end or cannot find a solution (or reach it’s goal) and should also end. With certain types of processes, this is very easy – if I’m adding two numbers, then I stop when I’ve calculated the sum. For others, typically ones that involve search of some sort – the conditions under which you should stop are much more difficult to define. Finding the person with whom you move on from dating to boyfriend/girlfriend is essentially a search problem and like any search problem of actual interest, defining the halting condition is difficult, subject to many interpretations, and specifically in this case, often results in suboptimal results. That the results are sometimes near optimal doesn’t help either because you can’t really learn from experience.

What does that mean, beyond a certain age, assuming you’re not an idiot and you are actually evaluating people for marriage, those that become your boyfriend or girlfriend have a very good shot at being with you for life. So good that for all intents and purposes, if things don’t work out, you can’t really say you chose wrong. The next person you end up with has a similar shot of being the one you walk down the aisle with. To put this into more concrete words, given how close I’ve been to marrying my ex-girlfriends, who can really say that the pattern of my past relationships is actually wrong (and so I shouldn’t worry about trying to even out the dating before deciding who to be with exclusively).