We finally had THE conversation.
I am still processing it, and I think I will be processing it for a while.
The bottom line is that we are exactly where I thought we were, but not necessarily where I want us to be. I have known his hesitations, his issues, his frustrations and his fears.
He articulated exactly what I already knew. I told him a few things he did not know about me in a way he was not necessarily expecting, and a few things (I believe) he had forgotten about us. We ended better than we started and, as I have always known, it all ultimately comes down to business.
Throughout, we alternated between angry and joking and confident and commanding and affectionate. It was fascinating and mostly enjoyable (especially the longer second part). I wish I had taped it. We frequently interrupted each other, we laughed a lot, we swore at each other (I called him motherfucker and asshole, he called me “biatch,” mostly as an endearment), and we called each other a variety of sweetie, honey, baby, darling throughout. It was affectionate and scary and as vulnerable and honest as we have ever been with each other.
One of the reasons I am glad we spoke on the phone was that I was able to write things down as we went. This is going to be rough because we covered a lot of ground and I know I will forget a lot of stuff.
I ended the conversation smiling and I am still smiling when I think about it — and him. I say this because it doesn’t look as promising on paper.
I feel good and we are good, but as I have known, there is a lot on the line.
We are more connected than we wish we were. Neither of us is going anywhere. He hopes it works, which he stressed forcefully. He wants to be proven wrong. He wants it to work. I know he’s wrong that it’s in opposition. I know that we can make it work long-term, but I also know that unless I perform, he can’t trust it. He needs for me to be his equal. He reminded me that if I do what I am supposed to, what he is going to help me do, I will be a millionaire. To him, this is meaningful and I love him for his care and concern. I love him for needing to see my best, for needing to help me get there.
This is where we are — where we’ve always been. We’re just openly discussing it and trying to pretend that we don’t know that we both desperately want this to work and that we’re terrified it won’t. It’s easier to say it’s about business. It’s easier to shut down the emotion of it, but our enjoyment, our affection, our playfulness, etc. shone through everything.
BFD called me at 846 pm and said, intently “[Plan], what are we doing? And I said, “I don’t know, [B], what are we doing?”
He laughed and said, I asked you first. I tried to demur saying you brought it up, you tell me.
I was sickened at having to have this conversation, and told him “I do not think I am going to be happy to talk about this.”
He said, “how do you know?”
Because I know.
I told him early on, honestly, “I am absolutely crazy about you.” He rejected it, saying he’s so terrible.
I told him “yes, there are things I love about you and things I hate about you.”
We went back and forth, having THE conversation for 15 minutes which sounds short but is an eternity when you are dreading hearing what you don’t want to hear. We spoke quickly and he asked me what do you want? what are you looking for?
I said, look, I want to be happy. The money thing doesn’t matter to me. Which of course set off alarm bells for him. He said, “your answer better be good.” But I explained that money comes and goes, and I do not care about his money at all. I am more interested in doing interesting things.
I told him I wanted someone with whom I was intellectually compatible, someone I respected and found interesting, and a real partner.
He asked what makes you happy?
Then a call came through, and he said he’d call me back in 5.
I thought maybe he’d forgotten we were speaking, so I called him at the 40 minute mark and he did not answer.
After an hour, he finally called me, angry that I’d called him, wanting to know why. I said, well, I thought may you’d gotten distracted by dinner or something and forgot we were speaking. He said, exasperated, “How could I forget????” He explained who he was talking to and why (and it had been important).
The second part focused more on him and his issues.
He said: “I don’t think I can do both [be successful and be in love].” He is too focused on his deal and on its success: “it is what keeps me good and bad at the same time. I know this, it’s as right as rain, and something i’ve struggled with . . . if I’m good in business, I’m bad in love. The two are mutual exclusive.”
He continued, “I say this with full disclosure: when i came to [town], I was about the deal, but the truth is when I take on a partner I have to deliver, which leaves me piss poor for anything else.” He described himself as having a “limited time to kick some ass.”
The challenge is that we are not in a good place right now. We know this. He’s singularly focused, he’s largely absent, he is constantly worried about me. I have been trying to keep the home fires burning, knowing that this is not actually his home. He does not view us as “dating” and he objected each time I reminded him of how long we’ve been together/known each other. It hurts him to be so cold to me about it, but it’s like he cannot process how hurtful he is. He almost has to diminish us to be himself, to do what he has to do. He was very honest about this, though he knows he’s lying to himself about it. He said he didn’t think he could do this — be successful in business and be succesful in love. It appears that he keeps trying to hold on to me by slotting me into the business side of his life, though I keep reminding him “. . . this part is new, we’d been happy and dating for 8 months before that happened.”
Interestingly, since business is the single most important thing in his life, that’s what I am in. I reminded him of when it changed and he fought me on timing and event and my memory of it, but then had to acknowledge that I was right. He thinks of me related to business now, though that’s not where I started. He loves that we are working together in this disjointed way.
Since he views the two things as in conflict (business and love), thinking about me in a business context enables him to keep me here, with him, by his side. We know we both ultimately want the same thing, but we don’t know that we can get there. We’re still figuring it out.
I said, look, this is the thing about love and relationships — he had a sharp intake of air and glitched on “love” calling it a 4-letter word (but warmly) — is that we have issues and damage and our whole thing — especially at our age — is about finding someone whose issues match with our own. I reminded him that I had things I absolutely love about him and things that drive me insane. He said he understood, that he’s impossible. But I reminded him that he’s impossible in a way I understand. Which he gets.
He reminded me that he thinks deeply about me and about everything and I should never think that he doesn’t.
Several times he repeated variations on the fact that he will do anything is his power to help me: “I will do anything in my power to help you,” that “if I can’t help people meet their goals I kinda think I’m worthless,” and “I will work as hard for you as it takes to make something happen.” He also let me know that our relationship hangs in the balance, so he hopes it succeeds. Which, as I reminded him, is something I have always known. He tried to soften it a little, as did I, but it is the truth: “if you don’t deliver, I’m done.” He meant here. I told him that in my mind our relationship was not city-specific, that I wanted to reach that point with him knowing I could leave with him. He said, “I . . . haven’t thought that far ahead.”
Which is and isn’t true. He has thought about me in his future, but it’s impossible right now for him to think that far ahead with so much happening right now.
He teased me that he can only be with a winner, so I had to be a winner. But by this point, we were laughing.
At the end of the conversation, after I told him he was taking me to dinner within the next 5 days — which he tried to extend to 10 because he may have houseguests for the weekend (about which we argued, jokingly) — he said, okay, baby, I will talk to you manana. Which of course he will.