Two hours later, I called him under a business pretense, but really because I wanted to talk to him.  We ended the last one okay, but it had been painful and I was reeling a bit.  Plus, I was pondering sending him an email telling him why my friends had felt so comfortable labeling him as my SO, aside from the fact I’ve been dating him for NINE months.

He answered right away, very happy to hear from me, and I told him at the beginning that I figured out why my friends would have said the SO thing . . . his fault from his stupid email to the three which used his very private nickname for me.  (Hot Neighbor, who was a recipient said two days ago:  wow, kind of embarrassing, but very flattering.)  BFD laughed heartily and said, no, you can’t blame this on me . . . you told them!  It’s all your fault!  More laughter.

I said, I am a protocol girl, and we hadn’t discussed it, so I’ve been uncomfortable saying it . . . and he laughed and still said it’s all my fault.

The laughter surprised me.  His easy manner about it.  It’s funny, we spoke at length about the dinner last night and he was very comfortable and said not a word about the SO thing, which must have weighed on him enough that he mentioned it.  Now that I think about it, his employee’s husband was there . . . and I wonder if that was the source the next day: “um, girlfriend?” when he probably never mentioned a status.

We spoke business, and clarified something important and perhaps launched the business for me he has always wanted me to launch . . . and ensure we’re still in each other’s lives for a long time.

By the end of the first conversation, I was not unhappy.  Still stunned we had to go there and have the talk and he had to kick his “I’m too fucked up to be in a relationship” bullshit to the girl with whom he’s in a relationship, but not unhappy.  Disappointed would be a better descriptor.  Not in his feelings or lack thereof because I don’t necessarily believe him and I know it’s stress driven because we’ve done this dance before and when his life sucks he withdraws and sort of falls apart. He just goes underground and powers through whatever is happening.   (He repeated several times to me — and to JF who was at the dinner — that yesterday was his single worst day in the year and a half he’s been here — so bad in fact he would not tell me what happened because he did not want to relive it.)

The second conversation was comfortable and relationshippy.  He called me pet names tenderly and we talked calendar in so much detail I wrote down where and when, etc.  We may try to see each other this weekend, but I accepted an invitation to a gala before I realized he might be back on Saturday for a few hours.  Oops.

Anyway, he was adorable and lovely and comfortable in conversation #2, you know, like he’s my boyfriend.

The SO/not-SO thing has to do with public proclamation on the most important level.  That, I accept.  We live our life openly and affectionately.  We’re not secretly together.  We’re not hiding.  He holds my hand in public, puts his arms around me, and is very intimate and affectionate. We’ve taken pictures with my friends with his arm around me and my hand on his thigh.

In a business context, I am certain he’s kept things on the dl.  I am working with him now and he is probably not shouting from the rooftops that his outside contractor is also his girl.  But anyone who knows him or hears him speak about me (as I have on conference calls) knows we are together.  He glows when I speak.  It’s adorable, really.  My guys’ debrief consisted of “wow, he’s in love with you.  He’s like a little puppy . . .”

So, I think he was surprised, probably not even last night, since he did not mention it last night.  Probably this morning when his employee said something to him.

It’s hard to say what’s really going on.  Again I don’t think he’s dating anyone else because he doesn’t think he has time to date me.  He’s difficult and troubled and everything, but I think it helped him to hear how I felt about him.  Throughout our relationship, I’ve been the one holding back.  So I told him everything but the love thing and the future thing.  Okay, so I basically told him that I’m with him and not going anywhere, despite the fact it’s bad right now.  I said that to him Monday, too, in writing, and I think that’s helping.

His stress is overwhelming and he needs to get through this month.  In August, we’ll revisit things and see where we are.  At this point, we are most definitely in a relationship, despite his discomfort earlier on.

The difference from the end of this conversation compared to the beginning of the first one was night and day.  The first one felt horrible.  His tone was even and not accusing, but it was tough.  This conversation was sweet and light and fun and almost normal.  Tender, affectionate . . . all of the things I love about him.

I will be so glad when we make it through the next 3 weeks.