The Dandy comes off as…simple. That’s not a polite way to say “stupid” – The Dandy is wicked-smart and has an encyclopedic knowledge of a vast range of subjects. I mean, like…emotionally he doesn’t seem complex. He doesn’t talk about feelings much and seems kind of derpily oblivious/optimistic with regards to the weird polycule we have going on in the house (I’ll try to tell him about a weird vibe I feel or a potential storm I see brewing between the three of us and he just kinda shrugs and smiles). He’s always on an even keel emotionally – just blandly cheerful. His life appears to consist of working, decompressing from work by shopping online or watching nerdy things on YouTube or Netflix, and snuggling Dandette and I.
TBH, emotional openness and emotional intelligence are huge turn-ons for me and the main things that bring me closer to someone, and with The Dandy he just always seemed kind of…opaque. I love him, in the basic way that a cat loves its owner: he is warm and he pets me and he provides for me and is pleasant to be next to. But it never really went deeper than that. I mostly consider my living here to be a “marriage of convenience” sorta thing.
Somehow, though, on our recent trip to Dandette’s childhood home (after she went off the rails mentally and had gone upstairs to have an angry-sleep) The Dandy and I slipped into a big giant talk about our childhoods and our psychological scars and what we both need in order to feel fulfilled in a relationship. And it was him driving the convo.
He told me that his parents gave compliments for big, above-and-beyond things that people did, but rarely if ever did they compliment someone for the little things, for being cute or sweet or smart or kind or just for kinda being who they are. He says he has huge self-esteem issues and feels like he’s never good enough because he’s so rarely heard good things about himself. He also said that giving compliments is hard for him because it’s not a behaviour he saw modeled at home. We talked about The Five Love Languages a little and confirmed that affectionate touching and compliments are the two main ones he needs to receive, which is good because those are the main ones I give.
He told me that when he was a kid, if he was ever upset about anything, his parents’ attitude was that negative emotions were a sign of weakness and he needed to fucking pull himself together right now. “I suppose that probably explains a lot about me,” The Dandy said. I was like OH…EM…GEE it sure does. Specifically, what it explained to me is why he was so resistant to the idea of the three of us going to therapy when I suggested it – admitting to negative emotions is failure, to him. A bit later in our conversation I gently said (not pushing or anything) that therapy isn’t a failure – it’s how some people get their shit together. Repressing your feelings isn’t getting your shit together, it’s just covering the shit over. Therapy is realizing you have to get your shit together hiring an expert to teach you how. The look on The Dandy’s face indicated that this was an interesting viewpoint that hadn’t occurred to him. His main hobby is acquiring the best designer clothing, the best shoes, and the best personal grooming tools; paying top dollar to optimize himself is relevant to his interests. I hope he can start being more open to the idea of therapy at some point.
He told me that he has a terror of disappointing people. I was like “yeah, no kidding, I’ve noticed you have a hard time saying no to me. But for the record, if I ask you to do a thing and you giggle awkwardly but don’t actually answer me, I notice. You’re not cleverly avoiding conflict like you think you are.” The Dandy looked caught out. 😛 He said that when he disappointed his ex wife she’d go ballistic on him and if he disappoints Dandette she pouts, so he just really really avoids doing that if possible. “Do I react like either of them?” I asked. The Dandy conceded that no, I don’t, but avoiding saying no is an automatic habit now and it’ll take a while to break. Fair enough.
I told him that I feel he’s hesitant to ask for things he needs emotionally and that I worry this will result in him resenting me. He said no, not really; his biggest emotional need is touch/snuggles, and he feels free to just grab me when he needs that; Dandette can be prickly so he won’t initiate so much with her, but with me he knows it’s fine*. I brought up the time recently when his aunt had heart trouble and I asked if he needed Dandette or I to go with him to visit her (in another city) and he kind of couldn’t seem to decide. I opted not to go (I don’t know these people, after all) but was terrified that at some point he’d throw back in my face that I wasn’t there when he needed me. But he didn’t ask me to be there so how could I have known? He said he’s not one to hold a grudge and that he didn’t really need support there. Basically, his old training of “get your emotional shit together” kicked in and he was a robot for that visit, just there to support his family. Dandette or I would not have been needed there to help him with his emotional stuff because he was not allowing himself to feel anything. I get that. I did tell him though about the various times my husband didn’t ask for my help or support in a crisis but later rubbed it in my face over and over and fucking over that I should have just known that he needed me, and rushed to his side. So I have baggage about that stuff. I need people to be very clear with me about what they want. He reassured me again that it’s very very unlikely that anything I do or don’t do with him will come back to bite me in the ass later.
So overall that was a fantastic talk that (Now! After dating him for half a year and living with him for a month or more!) makes me finally feel like I’m getting to know him. And it made me finally start falling for him and feeling that closeness I wanted.
Also, though? Aside from that talk, he did observe to me, once, that Dickface the Kitten is at her most relaxed and cuddly when there are no other animals in the room – something I honestly hadn’t noticed. He’s told me some things about how Dandette works, emotionally, that make it obvious he pays attention and notices things. I think he has a lot more of an inner life than I’d been realizing. He’s more emotionally intelligent than he lets on.
I want to pry him open and see everything inside.
Challenges like that always turn me on.
*That’s the first time I realized that he’s kind of afraid of Dandette, too. And TBH it threw me for a loop. The more I observe how he is when her mental health is messed up, the more it seems like he’s a kind of hostage to her. And he got back together with her? On purpose?! This is what I mean about him being derpy and optimistic. Chick was on psych meds for a month or two and apparently The Dandy went “yay! Everything’s okay now!” and jumped in with both feet. Or…could he have only gotten back with her because her distress over wanting him back was irritating to deal with but he doesn’t have the balls to kick her out of the house? On a related note: I have made the fascinating realization that I’m not jealous of metamours if I understand why my partner is with them. When Dandette seemed mostly sweet and fun and awesome (just with occasional panic attacks) I was fine with their relationship. Now that she’s being a complete moody terror though I find myself thinking, “This is who I share my boyfriend with? I get less of him because he feels obligated to go cater to her bullshit? Fuck that.”