September 29, 2007

Love, hobbies, and time.

What if you fall for the greatest guy ever and he's already married? I have a friend who has the nicest boyfriend and is so happy with him, except that he's married. Or it feels like he's married. He has a hobby, a fun and good hobby, and she's happy that he has something interesting to do and that he's not a couch potato, but it keeps him really busy and she feels like the hobby is his first love. It takes him away several nights a week and sometimes most of the weekend, and she's feeling "second class." He plans his week's activities and then calls her and asks to see her if and when he has an evening unplanned or for the part of the weekend when's he's not busy with his hobby. And she knows almost nothing about what he does or where he goes and she really feels quite left out, like its all a big secret or that she's not important enough for him to share this with her. She says it feels bad having his left-over time and wants him to put her first, just to have an attitude that she is more important, or at least AS important, as his hobby.

So I have to think about this, like how exactly do we fit a guy into our already busy lives. I have one female friend who is so busy that, if I want to get together with her, I have to plan three to four weeks in advance, and I wonder how would she ever have time for a boyfriend? Should we give up something or it is just an attitude shift? If we really say we value our boyfriend but we don't make time for him, real time and good time and time to do things and uninterrupted time to do nothing together, are we really making him a priority? Gotta think, how would I feel if I were getting the left-overs, whatever minutes or hours were left after he's made other plans?

I hear you saying that maybe we should participate in the guy's hobby, but he doesn't invite us and it appears we'd not be welcome there. And I hear the voice saying, "he's such an amazing guy, why not just tolerate this?" But I've been with guys like this and I remember feeling unimportant and unvalued and it's just not a good feeling. Love can't survive resentment.

Relationships require compromise, we've all heard that. My friend really, really likes this guy - he's fun and funny and attentive and kind. So what's a girl to go? I told her that she needs to have "that talk" about it, to sit down and tell him how she feels. Not point the finger at him or tell him he's been bad, but to share her feelings, that she wants to feel she's important to him and that she needs to see that in action. That she doesn't want to give him up because he really is a terrific guy and clearly she loves him and he adores her and their limited time together is really rich. That she wants to work it out and make this work well for both of them. That she wants them to be happy, him having time for his hobbies and her feeling valued. Maybe he just doesn't realize what's happening because she hasn't said anything about it and that her previous acceptance of their schedule has made him feel that all is well, sort of an implied consent for his actions and choices.

One has to be brave in relationships, willing to state the truth and be willing to lose it all. I hear over and over that honest communication is the key to a successful relationship. And this means really telling the other person what we need and what we aren't willing to tolerate. And this means listening, really hearing what the other person is saying, and being willing to hear something that might make us feel uncomfortable. It's tough to really tell the other person what we feel or what we need, there's such a fear of rejection. Really, what could happen? He could get mad and leave. He could listen and do nothing. He could do something and then revert to his old ways when he knows we're happy again. Or it could be the start of something even more wonderful, when both of you get what you need, when one person feels good about having spoken up and the other feels good at helping to make the other feel good. When both people feel important and loved. Sounds like a win-win to me!


Anonymous said...

I too believe in trying to honestly communicate my feelings to better a relationship. IT isn't easy, but I try. The only problem is that it takes two, and when the other isn't as "communicative", it gets really frustrating.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I found, when I returned to the dating world.
It is like an affair. It has turned my spirit upsidedown.
Someone that is unavailable, will never be with you.
All I can think of, is, one that could survive this long alone, is happy alone.

Those of us that came from emotionally detached families seem to run into this.

You will not understand it, until you are out of it for a while. I was with a wonderful man, once a week, eight months in. Beautiful dinners, theater, roses, wine...eight months in, once a week.

Turns out, he saw his wife once a week, for twenty years!!!
One day he told me he was going to China, for six weeks.

This kind of man will always go to China, he will always have another life, and most likely women for friends, and alot of phone, and internet time....hum...not educational sites

Life is short, get out, so you can spend it with someone healthy.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anything is black or white simple.

I wonder if this is a pattern for the friend, choosing men who don't have time for her?

I am not sure that a "sensitive, attentive" man would be so inattentive and insensitive as to leave her 'sloppy seconds' in his schedule.

For me, when I am frustrated and confused in a relationship, I need to take a look at myself, not at the other person.

Maybe she can get a hobby of her own and see the relationship as one that is part time. He has made it clear by his actions what his priorities are. I am not sure there is a way that you can change the rules.

A long time ago, I realized that letting my heart go before I had enough information was always going to result in heartache for me.

Now I wait before I jump in with both feet, to see if we are a real match on all the levels that are crucial for me (attentiveness, time, affection, compatibility, etc) I don't want to have to beg for anything!

It is either freely given from the heart, or it is not.


Anonymous said...

Sigh. My experience is, that if he is into you [apologies to Berger], he wants to be with you all the time, and if he is not, he will always have something that takes priority over you. I was married to someone like that for nearly 3 decades. So I have decided to look for someone who has consciously worked at making room in his life for another person. And similarly, I am creating a space in my life for a new person...