Dear Therapist… Is This Love Or Are You Just Nuts?
Are you with a guy who you believe was supposed to be just casual sex?
Reading self-help books does not help. Not really. Some things we do in relationships don’t follow any logic.
After some months of hot sex and a few common trips, you say to him: “I like you blah blah, but I feel we’re too different and if I met someone else who’d fit better, I’d leave.”
He says: “In that case, I am off.”
And you panic. You don’t want to lose him. You cry. You beg.
So he stays. He wants a relationship from day one.
Does it sound familiar?
But let me start from the beginning. Maybe you’d find yourself in my story.
I fell for this guy a year and a half ago.
Here are my reasons why I did (the reasons I am conscious of):
1) I was back in Slovakia after 13 years living abroad and traveling. Which means I felt a bit lost, even bored and eager to get physical with someone. I just freshly discovered the power of exercise. I never looked hotter and finally open to the idea to have casual sex because I was actually confident and I was on top of my game! Physically.
2) I liked him physically too, I liked the way he carried himself. He was so handsome! (Yes, that’s how vain/selfish I am) But I liked him especially because of the way he looked at me and made me feel.
Which, I believe, would be okay, providing that it’s universally true that we start relationships liking the way they like us before we actually do like them for who they are.
He was selling coffee on the main square of the tiny Slovak town I’m from.
I thought Oh, how cute, how smart — he has his own business — this little coffee-on-wheels thingy.
But, nope. It wasn’t his.
He was happy making coffee for not even 2€ per hour sitting on the square all day. Living with his parents in their huge family house surrounded by other family houses.
He barely left the town.
Well, for two years he worked with frozen veggies in the Netherlands without learning English properly.
His favorite movie was Lego Batman. He barely knew anything about politics, geography or setting up a bank account abroad, reading philosophy, not to mention a mortgage or whatever else a motivated, driven man would do in my mind.
He was seven years younger.
I didn’t want to see it or hear it.
I went to get a cappuccino every other day for about a week risking getting a heart attack from a caffeine overdose.
I was on a mission to get physical with this guy.
On our first date, we drunk and we had fun, but I was thinking all this time — this guy is mentally still a child. He talked about iPhones and cats and his family.
It was sweet. God knows, I struggled to quit sugar for so long. Even now, I relapse … there’s a cinnamon roll next to me as I’m writing this.
Sweetness gets me. Family values get me. My family was crazy and unstable.
But my brother and I were told to learn and be curious and thrive.
But it wasn’t just the fact that I liked this guy’s demeanor.
I loved the way he looked at me.
It was addictive like sugar itself — the way he adored me, the way he hung on every word I said. He talked about me to his friends and family in the most excited, the purest way I’ve ever seen.
He admired the fact I lived in Austria, in the US or London, he was swallowing my opinions, my globetrotting stories, the fact I left the corporate world like a true millennial and freed my hands to pursue my dream to become a journalist.
But mainly — let’s be frank — he also liked the way I smiled at him, and my titanium ass cheeks, which I was very happy to show off. We had a chemistry that way.
Not a banter — I thought his jokes were dry AF, but I didn’t mind. I could shoot shit because he made me relaxed.
It felt like a one-way street trying to talk about topics he never heard of. I felt even a bit old. I knew he would not discuss them with me. I led monologues.
But back to the heavenly sex that glued us together. We did not wait too long. We jumped at it.
It was too sexy to resist. Too flattering. He was like a doctor. Slow and thorough. I felt like a queen.
Whatever, I thought, I’ll just enjoy this and then I’ll leave at some point.
And yet, here I am. A year and a half — voilá. Still here, living in Prague together. Yes, that’s my boyfriend, I say, sometimes reluctantly.
“What? Are you still with that guy with the trashy hat you showed me last year?” My friend who was getting married in Italy asked me this summer.
I nodded. Ashamed. Actually.
“Oh, dear. You’re joking!” She exclaimed. “You’re just comfortable,” she concluded.
Yes, I know. She wouldn’t have dared to judge me like this, had I not described this to her the way I had last summer.
God knows I tried to break up with him. A few times.
He would just hang his head like there was no choice and say: “You’re the best girl I ever had. But I’m not going to stand in anyone’s way or cut your wings.”
I tried, I did.
I had a fling with my ex, in-between. Also with a guy who I respect and look up to, but the sex was weak, so I dropped it. Also, I didn’t want to move back to London for either of them.
I kept coming back to my coffee guy.
I thought I might meet someone new and let go of this but I thought it’d be easier to have the comfort of a warm familiar body in my bed. Let’s go to Prague, I said, and he came along. He started to learn English.
He is now working in a cafe preparing to win a barista championship.
However, no miracles happen.
I doubt this whole thing every single day. I get nervous about what he’d say when we’re hanging out with friends. I can’t help feeling ashamed of him or being embarrassed about him as if he was my intellectual extension.
He’s childish sometimes. He’s not very witty. He’s not very bright or curious enough to care about his mental progress.
Yes, he’s into coffee and everything around it.
Okay, one doesn’t have to read TED talks and listen to Blinkist day and night. I know. It’s about what really matters. Morals, other values, right?
So what does matter?
He loves me.
He’s everything I am not — caring, family oriented, tidy, loyal, reliable, he’s in his heart, not his head, he’s calm, pure, he’s in love without a baggage, he’s simple and thus easy to please, and easy to read.
It’s like a comfort cushion for me. A really soft one. A one you’d take on a plane with you.
Yet, I find mistakes about him all the time. I get bitchy. I feel guilty about getting bitchy.
He shrugs it off elegantly. That makes me feel small. And more guilty. So I am sorry.
Sometimes he irritates me when he makes dull jokes. Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for something to go really wrong so that I can leave.
I get drunk and I tell my friends how it doesn’t work.
I am 35 and I want to have kids soon.
Last week I contemplated the break up so much in my head, I ended up not liking the sex at all. For the first time.
Wow, I thought, this is my way out! This is what I was addicted to and now I’m free.
Now, I have to get out before we have sex again! I will be able to live without the sex, without the hugs for a while! I can do this! I was rolling up my sleeves.
I can get busy and make my life nice even with an empty bed. Without this amazingly caring person waiting for me in my room telling me he’d be rich soon and we can have kids together.
His mum wouldn’t pack apples from their garden when we visit and his whole family wouldn’t collectively congratulate me on my successes on facebook because that’s what they do. They care.
They care but they expect the care back too. They don’t mind someone wants to go to school. Finishing lunch and digging the garden comes first. We helped to build your house, you’ll help with ours. We watch aunt’s kids, she would babysit ours. Tooth for tooth. Old school rules.
I go to a spiritual seminar every now and then and it opens my heart if you know what I mean…and I love myself better. And in those times, I stop analyzing and I feel I love him. But it doesn’t take long for me to come back to my daily doubts.
My housemate says: you can go to all seminars in the world, but they won’t make you respect this guy. And you don’t.
Men who I might look up to tend to be driven, yes, but also with zero interest to have a family or be flexible enough to adjust to my unstable way of life. Also, I don’t know any men like that in my life — this is just a theory.
There was a guy who I admired time ago — my colleague at work, a journalist — but he was almost cruel to me, and I wasn’t able to impress him at all. So I dropped it. I drop it like a hot potato when I don’t feel reciprocity.
If I met someone new who I liked better, I would jump at them. But they’d have to like me back. So that it’s safe.
Feeling smarter with this guy makes me think three things:
1. I am a bitch. Yes, because he’s the good one. The pure one. He means it without the calculation and therefore his love is real. Every audience would cheer him and I would be hissed out of the arena like a witch.
2. I feel like I cannot do better because I actually suck. And this is what I deserve for being such attention whore. Maybe I don’t even look at a guy I would actually look up to. And thirdly, most importantly…
3. maybe I look up to men for wrong, unimportant reasons. Clearly, my values are all messed up.
It breaks my heart when another 30-something friend of mine gets married. I feel like I was single. Like I was so far away from anything like that. From a functional relationship.
You probably think I’m a spoiled, privileged millennial and I don’t know what love is. Touché.
Some of my friends say: “It’s never perfect. It never will be. You read too many romantic books.”
Or: “You have to be happy on your own at first, fight your demons, only then you will be ready and yes, you can have it all!”
But I don’t trust them. I believe being single for a time would just make me more susceptible to anyone I’d slightly like. It would make me more hungry and less grounded in the world of long-term relationships and marriage-hungry peers. In my head, it’s continual proportion: the longer I’m single, the more desperate I get. And yes, the more tolerant and grateful I will be in the next relationship if you like. But is that natural?
Is that the answer?
Meditate. They say.
I keep over-thinking.
I go to a fortune teller. She says: if you want to break up with him, do it this month.
I get scared and a little more anxious.
Then I come home and I look at him. He says: “You don’t have to go to that barista competition with me if you have doubts about us again. But think please before you tell me you want to break up. We went through this a few times already. Tell me and I’ll leave but don’t make me go through this again. First, send me away and then ask me to stay crying. I love you and I know it. It’s you who doubts it all the time.”
Oh yeah? Big news…
He also bought a new sex toy.
Two of those.
I am weak. I forget to think. Finally.
The best sex ever, I say. The best woman I ever had, he says.
And I stay. I’ll think about it tomorrow, like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.
Tomorrow is another day to go nuts.