I know I want something more from The Pedant than I’ve been getting; it’s been on my mind for a while now.
But it has suddenly occurred to me that I don’t really know what that “more” should be.
I don’t want to be monogamous, to him or anyone else.
I don’t want to bestow the title of “boyfriend” upon him; that’s for people I’m in love with, not just anyone I have mushy feelings for.
I feel like – on my end, anyway – we’re a bit past the “friends with benefits” stage; I do have romantic feelings toward him. So FWB isn’t the right title, either.
You know what I want? I think I want him to be “out” about our…relationship or whatever this is. I want to know that I’m not a dirty little secret.
Here’s the deal: when The Pedant and I were first seeing each other, I asked what the etiquette should be if we ran into each other at a club (since we both tend to go dancing at the same places). He said he was anti-PDA, which made me suspect he was hiding our connection from his friends, perhaps out of embarrassment.
And we don’t hang out in groups, only on our own. On my end, it’s because I don’t have a group of friends, really (the closest I have is Red, who has a huge group of friends whom I enjoy seeing at her group things, but don’t hang out with on my own). I could invite The Pedant to hang with me and one of my friends sometime, but that feels too formal, like I think he and I are entering into a relationship and I’m having my friends vet him. Better to be able to say “Hey, a bunch of us are doing ___, wanna come along?”
I’ve never known why he doesn’t invite me places with his friends (I tend to assume he does have an actual group of friends, since the goth community is pretty tight-knit and he knows everyone). So I came to the conclusion – again – that I am in some way an embarrassment to him.
And now I’m feeling like a dumbass because I just checked my old Facebook messages and here is a direct transcript of the conversation we had about public makeouts:
Me: Oh hey, what’s the etiquette if we bump into each other at a club? Minx and I are fine with public kissings of other people, but maybe you go to clubs partly to cruise and you’d prefer to appear unattached? Let me know.
Him: I do prefer to look unattached at clubs, for a lot of reasons: I’ve got some ex-girlfriends in the scene and I don’t want to ruin their night; I prefer not to look like I’m trying to attract attention; and while I don’t “cruise,” I certainly don’t want to deter all the women who are. That said, I’m not against public displays of affection so long as it’s affectionate rather than couple-y. 🙂
So…sounds like hugs and brief kisses are okay, but hand-holding or full-on making out is not (and hugs and brief kisses hello are precisely what he gives me when we’re clubbing, so his behaviour is indeed consistent with his words). Which is perfectly reasonable! I don’t like to majorly make out with anyone in public, either, and wouldn’t want to hold hands with someone I am not in fact in a couple with. Why did my brain bend this exchange all out of proportion*?
Also, The Pedant did invite me (and Minx) to his birthday dinner last year, along with a bunch of his other friends (although he and I did not present ourselves as anything but strictly platonic**). And not too long ago he mentioned that I should totally hang out with him and some particular friend of his sometime because we all have some interests in common (I said that sounded like fun – I’d met the friend in question at the birthday thing, actually, and agree that he is awesome – but no actual plans have materialized yet).
I have no idea whether he’s told anyone that the two of us are fucking…I’ve been assuming not, but really, who knows? I get to hear about the other woman he’s seeing, so why wouldn’t she be hearing about me? And who knows what he reveals to his friends?
It would appear that I’ve been blowing some things out of proportion and making a lot of assumptions. I may not be a dirty secret at all – or maybe The Pedant is comfortable with people knowing we’re friends, but wouldn’t want them believing it’s anything more than that – impossible to say, really, unless I actually ask him.
When I’m perusing the discussion groups on FetLife, I often see people lamenting that they don’t know what their spouse/bf/gf is thinking, and asking random people on the internet to weigh in on some situation that just happened. And I do tend to respond to these posts with “Why the hell would we know what your sweetie is thinking? Ask hir!!!” But see, we’re talking about romantic partners here. To me, a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend should be your closest person in the world – the one you can tell anything to. If I couldn’t speak my mind with someone, I would never become their girlfriend in the first place (which, actually, is probably the real reason why I’m not comfortable giving The Pedant a title like “boyfriend”).
The Pedant and I have somehow gotten in the habit of not talking openly to each other. I blame him (well, not really, but…): I’m pretty sure his autism thing makes him feel like everyone always knows what’s going on except him, and he doesn’t want to look stupid, so he bluffs his way through things. Meanwhile, he doesn’t realize that everyone has times where they don’t know what’s expected of them (even neurotypicals), and it’s okay to ask for clarification. Possibly, too, he’s been exposed to too many of those women who expect him to just read their minds and actively get pissed off when a dude asks them what they want outright.
Annnnd I have a similar thing where if someone else is acting like they know what’s going on, I don’t want to be the one to admit I’m lost. So maybe The Pedant and I are embroiled in a game of chicken.
I did tell him, long ago, that I like it when my interactions with a guy are quantified and labelled: “We are now officially casually-sleeping-together-on-an-ongoing-basis-and-if-one-of-us-wants-out-for-whatever-reason-they’ll-say-so-and-not-just-disappear” kind of thing. The Pedant said he also likes knowing where he stands like that. It stands to reason, then, that he’d probably be relieved if we had a “let’s define what we’re doing here” discussion. I guess what’s keeping me from starting that conversation is the fear that his take on this will be very different than mine – perhaps so much so that it makes it weird to be around him and I have to end things***. I don’t want to end things.
In a way, it seems like my relationship with The Pedant is one of those “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situations. I don’t need things with us to look any different (except more frequent get-togethers, maybe); it seems like I’m just getting all picky over titles and technicalities. What are we doing? How does he see me? What place do I occupy in his life?
Actually, what it boils down to is that I really like him and I want confirmation that he likes me, too, and isn’t just going through the motions. I’m scared to ask him about his feelings outright, but I’ve decided I need to tell him mine.
Here’s how it’s going to go down: sometime when we’re hanging out together and feeling relaxed and comfortable, I’m going to say “Y’know, when we first started hanging out, I never expected to become so fond of you.”
I am 99% sure that he won’t respond in kind, even if he feels it. He still harbours a certain amount of smug bastardness – perhaps out of self-protection, perhaps out of cluelessness – so probably he’ll just smirk and say something that digs for further compliments. “You like having me around, do you?” or something like that. And you know what? That’s fine. We can’t both keep dancing around, waiting for the other one to be vulnerable first. I won’t expect him to make some huge declaration of feeling for me, but I’m damn sure gonna tell him how I feel. Albeit fairly lightly, so I don’t scare him off.
So the answer to “You like having me around, do you?” would probably be “I do, yes. And not just the parts where we’re fucking! I like the other stuff, too.” I’m fairly sure his reaction to that will be to say “Glad to hear it” and to give me a little hug or squeeze.
This, then, is my way of telling him I regard him as more than just a fuckbuddy. I remember how he once tried to cancel a visit entirely because he had a cold sore that precluded us having sex…I’m guessing because he was unsure I’d want him around if he wouldn’t fuck me. He deserves to hear me say, outright, that I like him for more than his penis (and body…and moans…and pretty, pretty face…). And who knows, maybe if I put my cards on the table first, he’ll eventually become more open with me in return.
It’s seeming increasingly likely, by the way, that sometime after my planned mini-speech I’ll get impatient and burst out with “So what are we doing here, anyway? What would you call this?” but I kind of hope not. If I start that conversation I hope to do it in a calm and controlled way, not via exasperated blurting. 😛 And also, I don’t want to come off like I’m pinning expectations on The Pedant – I don’t want to come off like “I have feelings for you! This necessitates talks and agreements! You owe me things!”
Meh. I’m seeing him in a few days. I’ll let you know what happens.
*Rhetorical question. I know it’s because my brain is a jerk.
**For my part, I was there with my boyfriend so it seemed best not to drool all over The Pedant, for various reasons. Whether The Pedant was keeping his distance because of Minx or for some other reason remains undetermined.
***When I was 19 or so, I had a boyfriend who said “I love you” before I was ready to say it back. My first instinct was to think “Okay, so this is awkward, but I do like being with him and don’t wanna break up or anything.” So we agreed to go on as though the L-bomb had never been dropped – but the pressure of all his unspoken feelings really started weighing on me. I ended up falling for him (possibly out of sheer self-defense) and being able to say “I love you” back, but if I hadn’t…yeah, I would’ve had to end it. The imbalance would’ve gotten too weird. And right now I feel like I’m at risk of being the silently pressuring, too-invested one with The Pedant.