The big rehash, part 2

So, like I said, I was miserable, at wits’ end, and about to break things off with The Pedant when I got an email.  It was from him. Here’s what it said (with my gut reactions in square brackets):

Hey, My schedule was pretty fluid up until recently:  I was being trained, so they had to slot me onto shifts with senior guards whenever they could; then I was on call (since I have the least seniority); and as a result of those scheduling issues I was working so much leading up to this that I only had one day off during two weeks earlier this month.  [Finally, an actual explanation of what’s been going on with his schedule!  “It’s up in the air” sounds like vague bullshit meant to blow me off, but THIS actually sounds REAL.]

To make things more complicated, I’ve been unavailable even on my days off — because I was sleeping straight through any days off which weren’t booked up with pressing errands.  [Maybe this is unreasonable but I wish I could be one of his “pressing errands.”  He’s pretty much at that level of importance to ME.] The shifts are twelve hours long, with two hours’ commute each way, leaving me as little as six hours to sleep between shifts if I want to bother showering or cooking food for myself. During the weeks which I had only one day off, I slept straight through it.  [Jesus.  ALL his shifts are twelve hours?  That…leaves him with a lot less free time than I thought he had.  No wonder he’s been so absent lately.]

hey’ve just started firming up my hours recently, as I’ve completed training and they’ve adjusted people’s rotations.  As it stands, the six-week rotation the company uses at that site works as follows:

  • two nights on shift
  • two nights off shift
  • three nights on shift
  • two nights off shift
  • two nights on shift
  • three nights off shift
  • two nights on shift
  • two nights off shift
  • three nights on shift
  • two nights off shift
  • two nights on shift
  • three nights off shift
  • two days on shift
  • two days off shift
  • three days on shift
  • two days off shift
  • two days on shift
  • three days off shift
    How this works on the calendar is as follows:
  • Weeks One and Two — working Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, on nights
  • Weeks Three and Four — working Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, on nights
  • Weeks Five and Six — Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, on days

[Wow.  That seems like it probably took a lot of time to type out.  It does seem like he’s making an effort to keep me apprised of what’s going on with him.  And I’m glad to finally, FINALLY have a concrete schedule for him.]

I’m presently in week six of that rotation cycle — the days I’ve highlighted and underlined are my shifts this week.  I’ve got this weekend off, two days of which are already booked up [Um, the weekend IS two days.  Why are you telling me you have it off and then immediately adding that you can’t spend it with me?  What the fuck kind of tease is THAT?] with errands that I couldn’t get done today or yesterday because I was sleeping off the three shifts I worked this weekend.

If you want to have a look at a hard-copy calendar, you’ll be able to figure out my shifts going forward from here.  Let me know when your free days might coincide with mine and we’ll see if we can arrange to actually spend some time together.  [WTF?!?!?  Not only are you leaving it all up to me to initiate our next get-together, you’re making me do a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT first?!?!?  And even if I DO painstakingly transcribe your stupid schedule onto a calendar, cross-reference it with mine, and find days when neither of us are working, how am I supposed to know whether or not you’ll have “pressing errands” during that time?  You’re just setting me up to chase you and get shot down YET AGAIN.]

So on one hand, it seemed like The Pedant was aware of my frustration with his vague promises and making an effort to fix this by keeping me in the loop.   On the other hand, he was still expecting me to do all the work of orchestrating our get-togethers.  Sure, he went to the trouble of typing out his schedule and telling me exactly how to interpret it, but if he now expects me to do all the legwork involved with figuring out when we’re both free and asking him to come over, that’s still way more work for me in the long run.  It seemed as though the underlying message of his email could’ve been “I’m sorry to have been so vague lately.  I do care about you.  I know you want to know what’s going on.  Here it is.”  Orrrrr, it could’ve been “I’m not really that into you but I could go for a fuck now and then, if I feel like it and there’s literally nothing else to do that day.  I’m not gonna work for it, though.  Here’s my schedule.  Just keep asking me over until I feel like saying yes.”

Plus, now that I knew that his schedule and commute are so brutal, it was obvious that we’d never be able to get back to our previous once-a-week hangout frequency, and so his general lack of effusiveness and lack of communication would be able to fester and drive me mad for weeks at a time.

And remember, I had been so upset I was ready to let him go entirely just moments before.

My emotions were coming to a head.  I was no longer ready to just totally break up with him, since maybe he was making an effort; but I knew I needed some things to change.  And so I replied with this:

Experiencing too many Earthling emotions.  Cannot maintain usual Vulcan sensibilities.  Initiating braindump in 3…2…1…

I’ve been going through a little slice of hell since last night because it suddenly occurred to me that our interactions of late look EXACTLY like the interactions of a smitten woman talking to a man who’s not really into her and just stringing her along for a rainy day: he acknowledges her texts and emails, but doesn’t initiate any; he acknowledges the mushy and /or sexual things she says, but doesn’t initiate any; her requests for facetime are met with “yeeeah, no, things are up in the air right now, but…sometime…”

I literally started wondering whether this is one of those things where a guy loses interest but he’s too chickenshit to say so and just hopes that if he’s passive enough, the woman will get frustrated and drift off of her own accord.  I mean, I don’t THINK so.  I hope not.  But you’re not giving me a lot to work with, here.

Full disclosure: I love you.  I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to say this to you for a few months now.  And although it would certainly be nice if the feelings were mutual, I’ve made my peace with things either way.  When we’re together, I get what I need: the particular word you would choose to apply to your set of behaviours is irrelevant to me.

The problem, of course, is that with both of us working now, we can’t see each other as often.  My main Love Languages are Touch and Acts of Service, both of which you excel at and both of which require one’s physical presence.  So the things that make me feel happy and secure go away when you do, and nothing else comes to the forefront to replace them.  By your own admission, it doesn’t occur to you to contact me when I’m not around, so I have no tangible proof that you think about me when I’m not there.  And you’re not verbally effusive; if I text or email that I miss you or wish you were here or just really wanna fuck you, you don’t say it back.  Nor would you say those things of your own accord.  So, no tangible proof that you have any sort of affection for me.  And so I feel cared for when you’re physically in my presence, then largely forgotten and unimportant when you’re not, and the dichotomy is twisting my feelings back and forth to the breaking point.  This – if I wasn’t clear in my previous email on the subject – is why fairly consistent contact from a partner is important to me.

If you want to keep seeing me, I need to feel like a higher priority than I currently do.  I need to feel like I’m not the only one working to maintain the status quo.  I need more transparency from you.  (Skipping detailed descriptions of each item for brevity.  Ask me.)  I need you to say, right now, clearly and unambiguously, that you have some level of affection for me and like having me in your life, because those sentiments have been conspicuously absent from our interactions thus far and sometimes words ARE as important as actions.  I need you to continue declaring affection to me in actual words on a weekly-or-so basis when we’re not able to see each other in person.

And can we just go ahead and label this a “relationship” (albeit an open/poly one)?  I don’t think we’ve really ever given a formal name to what we’re doing, and this bugs me because I have the kind of brain that likes to compartmentalize.

If you’re not willing or able to do these things, please tell me outright so I can adjust my expectations accordingly (which, honestly, probably means bailing entirely).  If you’re unclear about what exactly I want or why, ask.

Also, I appreciate that you’re being more transparent about your work schedule now, but I’m not going to spend 20-30 minutes figuring out how to transcribe it onto a calendar so that I can keep on chasing after you, only to be told that you have a bunch of errands to run on those days off so I’ll have to try again.  And again.  And again.

I’m assuming you’ve got your scheduling info written on a calendar of your own.  It should be simple enough to compare it to mine [link] and assess mutual availability (if the link doesn’t work, let me know – I’ve never tried to use the “share” function before).  If you want time with me, make it happen.

No answer that day.  The next day I reread what I’d said and felt that I’d perhaps been too harsh.  Yeah, The Pedant hadn’t been saying mushy stuff or initiating contact or outings with me over the last five weeks (or, y’know, ever…) but he had made the time to answer all the messages I’d sent him, no matter how frivolous.  He’d made the time to call me when I was paralyzed with anxiety and needed someone to talk me down.  He did these things despite his ridiculously gruelling work schedule.  I can see that this constitutes him making an effort to keep me happy; he likely meant it as an expression of affection.  The problem is that I can’t feel it as one.  What I need in order to feel cared for and secure in (what had essentially become) a long-distance relationship is words of affirmation or the verbal equivalent of an affectionate touch.  If The Pedant were to occasionally text that he misses me or wishes we were together or even a heart emoticon or a single word like “*licks*,” that would reassure me that he’s still in the game.  I wouldn’t even care if he had to set a reminder in order to do it, and I got a “<3” every Tuesday at precisely three o’clock.  It wouldn’t ruin it for me that he’d be doing it because I told him to and not because he actually had the urge to.  I’d be thrilled that he was doing a thing specifically in order to make me happy.

And if I were getting the kind of affection I needed from The Pedant, by the way, then I wouldn’t need to see him as often.  I got those ridiculous, overwhelming cravings to see him not (just) because I was horny, but because seeing him in person was the only time I definitely felt as though he cared.  If I could feel like he cared from a distance, I wouldn’t need as much contact to reassure me of my place in his life.

Anyway, I realized that it’s not that The Pedant isn’t making any effort, it’s that the effort doesn’t register with me the way I’d like.  It’s nobody’s fault.  But a few small adjustments on his part could change things drastically for the better and leave me feeling much more fulfilled.

The other thing that struck me is how totally, totally shitty The Pedant’s life must be right now.  His work schedule leaves him with practically no life at all – he’s barely even on Facebook or Twitter anymore.  So in a way it’s like he wrote to me to say his life is a living hell, and I wrote back saying “PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEE!” and that’s…not great.

And so, the day after that first ranty email, I sent him this:

[Subject line: Sorry.]

I do realize (now) just how gruelling your shifts are (I had not previously realized how long your shifts or commute were).  It does put a lot of things into perspective.

I’ve been holding on to these feelings/issues for a long time, specifically BECAUSE I knew your life is hectic right now and I didn’t want to add one more stressor to you.  I’ve talked myself down from fits of anxiety probably hundreds of times over the past few months.  But then somehow things came to a head and I couldn’t bottle it all up anymore.

I recognize that you genuinely don’t have time to see me often.  And I appreciate that you take the time to respond to my texts and emails.  All I’m saying is that some minor adjustments would make a huuuuge difference to me…and arguably take only marginally more effort for you.

Huh.  Rereading that message now, it seems a tad incoherent.  I probably shouldn’t have typed it on my phone on a crowded bus, but I wanted to hurry up and register an apology with The Pedant in case he had some big “fuck you” manifesto in the works.

Again, no response.  And then curiosity got the better of me and I took a look at his schedule, endeavouring to figure out whether he wasn’t replying because he was at work, or what.  And in the process, I discovered that he was off Friday and Saturday and Sunday of that week.  When he said he was off on the weekend but two of the days were booked with errands, he must have meant “I have a three-day weekend this week but I have stuff to do on two of those days.”  The fact that he didn’t say which two days might have meant “…Let me know if you’re free during that time and I’ll schedule my errands around seeing you.”  But of course he can never fucking write anything in a straightforward way like a normal person, so I missed his implications.  Or, maybe he didn’t mean that at all and he was in fact pointlessly taunting me again: “I have three days off.  Two of them are spoken for.  But I’m not going to tell you which two!   And I’m not going to ask if you’d like to see me!  And by the time you ask which day I’m available, I’ll have made plans!  Ha ha ha!”

At any rate, it seemed like maaaaaybe The Pedant was trying to ask to see me that weekend, which means he was making a bigger effort at initiating than I’d realized.  Plus his lack of a response to either of my emails was making me crazy and I just really wanted to see him and hold him and talk to him.  Who knows, maybe he couldn’t figure out how to express himself via email and would have an easier time discussing things with me in person.

I had a window of time available on Saturday afternoon, and I knew that The Pedant was off on Saturday and also that he might, maybe, have some free time sometime during Fri-Sat-Sun, so I emailed him: “I have a window of time on Saturday afternoon/evening if you want to stop by between errands and talk in person.”

So, the big ultimatum email happened on Tuesday, the bit of backpedalling was on Wednesday, and the invitation to come over happened on Thursday.  Then I figured I’d done all I could so I just backed off and waited.  Maybe The Pedant would contact me on his two-hour bus ride home from work on Thursday night?  …Nope.  Maybe on Friday, which I knew he had off work?  Nope.  He did, however, go to a social event that night with some chick, as I saw on Facebook.  And on Friday morning he commented on his Facebook wall that he’d had a great time with her.  Not from his phone.  He was at home and on the internet and not writing to me.  Not even to say “I can’t deal with this right now but I’ll write to you in a week.”  Nothing.

On Saturday – which I know he also had off – I still hadn’t heard from him and my brain snapped entirely.  By that point I knew I couldn’t date The Pedant anymore.  I’d told him that although I loved him, I was unhappy and on the verge of breaking things off unless he made some changes, and he didn’t respond to tell me which way it was gonna go.  So either he was fine with the idea of keeping me in an agonizing limbo – which is almost sociopathically cruel – or he’s so fucking out of touch with normal social skills that it didn’t occur to him that I’d be in limbo in the first place and he figured he could just respond whenever – and I really cannot deal with that kind of cluelessness anymore, blameless though it may be.

No, by Saturday I was just holding out hope that he’d give me some kind of belated reply.  If he said “No, I’m not willing to make the compromises you’ve requested,” I would’ve thanked him for letting me know.  If he’d said “Sorry for the delayed message but yes, I do want to work this out” I would’ve told him thank you but it’s become obvious to me that we don’t work well romantically.  Either way, though, there’d be closure.  And also I’d be able to have amicable feelings toward him because he’d let me know what was going on.  Instead he appeared to be pulling a fade, which is about the worst thing you can do to me.  Have the decency to tell me we’re done so I can start getting over you!

I decided to make my own closure:

[Subject line: Well then.]

Your continued silence sends a clear message that you don’t care about my feelings and are not up for any sort of negotiation.  I’m frankly pretty surprised; I thought I meant more to you than this.  Certainly I deserve more.  Looks like we’re done here.

One last thing before I go: when we were first seeing each other, you asked me never to bail on you without telling you why.  The fact that you’re not extending me the same courtesy right now is – I cannot state this enough – complete and utter bullshit.

Needless to say, still no word from The Pedant.  I would imagine he feels relieved that I bailed on him without making him do the big scaaaaary work of using his words to make me go away.  I don’t think I’ll ever be hearing from him again.

I still can’t believe he didn’t respond to any of my messages at all.  Even an email that said “NO” and literally nothing else would have been better than silence.


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18 responses to “The big rehash, part 2

  1. boorf

    Dude, if he emails you back, don’t even respond! I know that’s hard to do but like, don’t waste any more energy on this guy. If you have to say something, just be like ‘no hard feelings but this just isn’t sustainable for me, see you when I see you’ (even if that’s a lie)

  2. Leah

    That’s so shitty. Just,,, incredible, complete fuckery. I’m sorry.

    I’m not even a part of it and his behavior is driving me up a wall and I want to shake him and scream in his face to KNOCK IT OFF.

    This is not to be excused as part of his social skills issues or possible Asperger’s. My life is centered around working with teenagers on the spectrum, and this is nothing like an Aspie would behave (at least if we’re only talking about the behavior the disorder affects – people with disorders can still be assholes of their own accord).

    • Ah, so mostly he’s just being a dumbass?

      That’s extremely useful to know. Thank you.

      • Leah

        Yes. In fact, someone on the spectrum would THRIVE on the hints and instruction you’ve been trying to give (setting an alarm to remember to make contact? Genius!) While the Pedant may very well not understand the concept of “missing” another person, people on the spectrum still feel love and affection and the idea of being important to someone and wanting to make them happy. His behavior has no excuse.

        A REALLY good book written by a man with Asperger’s about bettering his life and saving his marriage is called A Journal of Best Practices. It’s really good insight into how a person’s brain thinks who is on the spectrum. And you will see he has PLENTY of thought of his significant other. And misses her. And works to give her what she needs.

  3. marika baronesz

    I’m glad you say that you could ignore him now (in the second comment). We are in the Free Cowgirl From This Crush program, and I’m glad it’s working 🙂

  4. Ana

    As many others have said, his behavior CANNOT be excused by his Asperger’s, nor is it typical behavior for someone on the spectrum. And from posts in the past, he’s always held some bigoted opinions about women in general… Your emails are perfectly reasonable and it’s really great to see you being so honest, and his lack of response is a response in itself… 😦 I”m sorry you had to go through this even if it was the right thing to do and send good vibes your way.

    • It’s really nice to hear someone say that my emails were reasonable. I mean I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter because the relationship was probably doomed anyway, but whatever.

      I try so hard to fight my paranoid, anxious thoughts and behave in a rational manner. But I often don’t have good perspective on a situation so I can’t tell if I’m overreacting or…underreacting. 😛

  5. Team Pedant

    I hope that the Pedant has cut his losses and run, it sounds like he explained himself and you got paranoid and clingy before spazzing out.

    More power to the Pedant.

    • Kay

      Surprise, if you’re in a long-term relationship, eventually someone will act less than perfect. People have bad days, people get insecure. That’s life. If someone is “too clingy” for the other person and they can’t handle it, that’s fine, but it’s shitty to ditch without a single word. I can’t imagine doing that. Especially not to someone who was a friend.

    • I wanted to lavish devotion and sex all over this guy and didn’t expect monogamy or even care whether he loved me back.

      But yeah, no, he was totally right to run. I’m super mean and demanding and I’m sure he can easily find a better deal elsewhere. *Snickers.*

    • Rose

      Really? Clingy?
      I think the word ‘clingy’ plays into sexist cultural narratives about relationships.
      My ex called me ‘clingy’ and ‘needy’. So I broke up with him. Now he keeps on asking me to move back in with him.
      Cowgirl wanted passionate sex in an open relationship.
      But hey, women, they just want to cling.

      If you want something different from your partner then you can talk to them or break up with them. You don’t refuse to answer their messages or whinge about how demanding they are.

      • Exactly.

        Clingy is right up there with Psycho Bitch in terms of words people use to try to control women. From what I can tell, the definition of either one is usually “A woman who’s not a doormat.”

        I’m glad you broke up with that guy.

      • And isn’t it interesting how a woman can be labelled “psycho” for standing up for herself in a relationship but men never earn that label for ending a relationship through silence?

        I have a friend whose boyfriend broke up with her by changing his number and just never calling her or seeing her again. They’d been together for three years. They were house-hunting together. She’d had no idea he was unhappy whatsoever.

        The Pedant decided to pull the silence thing after two years of us seeing each other. Arguably, he did this the first time I ever expressed an emotion besides affection or horniness (I’ve addressed issues with him before, but always in a much more sterile, Vulcan way). He’s 32 and his longest relationship before me was eight months. It’s become obvious why.

        I bet neither of these guys think of themselves as “psycho” or even that they need to assess their priorities a bit. And yet their behaviour is a lot more fucked up than anything I’ve ever done that got the word slung at me.

  6. Pingback: Love stories | hiding in plain sight

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