Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Plateaus

Somehow I initially impressed him as someone he felt attracted to. Somehow he initially impressed me as someone I felt attracted to. The more he gets to know me, the more he wants to know me. The more I get to know him the more I want to know him. We have grown closer in what are probably the typical "couple" ways. But over the past seven months, each time we reach a new level of connection and affection, his excitement makes him want to hold me closer, while my response to the new level of affection is to want to take a break. Each time we achieve increased understanding and commitment, he anticipates more firmly clasped hands while I need to step away completely and catch my breath. We keep disappointing each other.

When I express the need for space, I hurt his feelings. When he expresses the desire to spend more time with me, I feel pressured. I know feeling pressured is the wrong response because when you feel closer to someone, you want to spend more time with them and the only people who want to get away from their romantic partners are men and I don’t want to be like a man. But maybe I am the man in this dynamic: I’m the one who wants more space and it makes me feel like a failure as a woman.

After we spent two and a half days out of each other’s presence last week, I found myself actually missing him. It surprised me and it was a great feeling. Since then I’ve told him that I need to spend time away from him so I can miss him. It seemed to me like a reasonable, healthy request, until I recognized it from my John Gray research (the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus books) as a typical masculine need. I’m disturbed to think I’m a healthy man because that must mean I’m an unhealthy woman.

I want to stop wanting to pull away just as the music swells and the lighting comes up. I want to want him as much as he wants me. I want to be like all the other women who can hear this, “I will work very hard to do whatever it takes to make you happy,” and flush with pleasure and the feeling of being cherished. Instead, his selflessness bewilders me. He loves in a way that is foreign to me, with complete generosity and outward focus. When he says, “Whatever you want” he means whatever, no matter how much time, money or effort my needs/wants might require.

I believe I would probably feel baffled by any man who expressed love and devotion for me, but his boundlessness of service is beyond my ability to comprehend. He offers me everything he has with no fear of me sucking it all dry, taking over his life or demanding narrow obsequiousness. He offers me the last bite every time with no future demands or expectations. I once distinguished our basic ways of being by saying, “Unlike you, if I only have one Tootsie Roll on me, I’ll just eat it.”

But apart from our different ways of understanding abundance, he really does feel much more in love with me than I feel with him and it makes me wonder if my heart functions properly. Maybe it doesn't. I wish I could respond to this man the way he deserves, and I wish I could believe I deserve him. After seven months, am I unhealthy to not return his strong feelings for me or is he unhealthy to be so way ahead of me? (He's been married before. I haven't.)

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