I think it’s fair to say that I’m shit at relationships. Or inexperienced at least. I have spent the majority of my adult life single and The Ex was my only relationship that lasted more than a few months. Looking back on that relationship now that I’ve gained a little more perspective through the passage of time and being with a lovely man I can see now that it wasn’t really like a proper adult relationship should be.
So I feel like I’m in my first one now. Trying to learn how to do that communicating thing I hear talked about so much. And the whole emotional vulnerability shiznit. Struggling with that one rather a lot.
In all the relationships I’ve had in the past I’ve felt like I’ve had to hide my feelings. Terrified that if I revealed that I actually cared, that if I admitted I might want the relationship to last then they’d take it away. Which is silly and as well as probably showing a need for some serious CBT is possibly a large part of why the relationships failed. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t actually show them that they care about them? It’s odd though because I am so liberal with my affection and declarations of love in all other aspects of my life. I love you is used in lieu of goodbye on most of my phone calls and if a loved one does something daft, amusing or kind it usually prompts me to tell them I love them.
Yet I can’t do it with boys I’m boinking.
I’ll want to. God, will I want to. They’ve been bubbling up, just waiting to burst out when manfriend blames autistic badgers for eating my cereal or when he makes me dance around the kitchen with him. But there’s just something that stops me, a fear that makes me not blurt it out. The worry that he’ll say, “ooh that’s a bit serious.” That I’m not allowed to love him.
I have told him I love him three times. All while drunk. And he didn’t say “ooh that’s a bit serious” but he didn’t just parrot it back. The first time he told me that he found it a hard word to say, which was fine because I don’t need him to say it. I know how he feels about me. Being told I’m delightful and he’s glad he found me on the Internet is enough. I just need to be able to tell him that I love him without the fear that it’s going to be a thing every time I say it.
The second and third time I said it, I was so drunk that I couldn’t do my own drunk dialling and was lying on the toilet floor thinking I may die. I decided I wanted him there and got my cousin’s girlfriend to call him for me. 10 minutes later he was holding my hair for me and and stroking my back, while I kept thanking him for coming and chucking in the odd I love you. He said, “I know,” the first time and “I love you too,” the second, possibly worried I was going to just keep it up until he said it.
I’m choosing to believe him – what man who doesn’t love you would drive over to look after you – but I’m still stopping the I love yous that build up behind my lips when I’m sober. I suppose in part because I don’t want him to think I’m saying it because I want to hear it back and feel pressured.
Despite the lack of I love yous I have let myself be more romantic and expressive with him than I have previously so I am slowly getting through my delayed onset emotional puberty. I hid post-its around his flat listing reasons I like him (which he has kept and stuck to the frame of his mirror) and I will use proper terms of endearment (usually in German though, let’s not get silly), which I’ve not really done before.
I’m learning to communicate about the little things too. I’m not saving up my niggles and questions for when I’m drunk so much anymore. One of his friends who he talks to quite a lot refers to me as “Online” and I found out the other day that he calls me it back to her (“If I call you Leigh she gets confused and thinks I mean [friend called Leigh]“), which bothered me a bit. I think it’s sort of rude that she doesn’t use my real name – my friends don’t still call him The Man From the Internet, because he’s a person now and an important one to me. And that deserves the respect of using his name. Or maybe I’m overthinking it. But it upset me, made me feel unimportant.
So I told him. Via text of course, and in relation to something else. But still, it’s progress. And obviously, because he’s not a dick, he said that didn’t realise it bothered me and that he would stop. Simple. I’m beginning to understand why people recommend talking to your partner so much.
Maybe we’ll get a grown up out of me yet.