Last post I began to discuss some of the ways I analyze life. I got sidetracked by yet another fight with the Boy, but it may finally be the one that ended all the others.
Because I analyze and see patterns, it is very obvious to me WHY we fight, but it hasn’t been obvious to me how we stop it. If you ask him, I think he’d say that he has no idea why we fight, but to stop it, we both have to forget the past.
Well, we just passed the third Christmas since we’ve known each other, and while that’s not an astronomical amount of time, there’s been a lot of bad that has happened in that time. Sometimes it overshadows the good by a lot, but some of the good was so good that it’s easy to see why we hold on. Or at least why I do.
I still don’t understand why he “keeps showing up,” as he says. He says it’s because I’m important and that I just have to take his word that he means that, but the reason we fight is that while he’s saying that with his mouth, his actions don’t always match.
They never have.
This last fight, I think he finally, FINALLY saw why I keep saying that. Finally!
Remember how I keep going on and on and on about the gifts that I’ve never gotten or the Valentine’s dinner that he canceled (nearly three years ago), or the handful of other things he’d said we do but we never did? It’s been a large part of our fights for a long time. He says he can’t go back and fix those things, and so I should just let them go.
Problem with that is… he CAN fix them.
At least some of them.
First of all, the ones I’m most upset about are gifts. Gifts can be given at any time. You don’t have to wait for a specific holiday to give them. You don’t have to put tons of thought into them, although the ones with thought are infinitely better than those without. They just have to mean something to both the person giving and receiving the gift.
But denying a gift… Taking one back, or refusing to give it in the first place, particularly after you’ve specifically said you were going to give something… That changes what the gift means.
Hear me out.
Why do we give gifts? Or rather, why should we give gifts?
Gifts are a symbolic representation of a relationship (generic term, not romantic). They are a friendly way of saying, “you are important to me, and I know and understand who you are as a person.” If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know that I have something of a formula for gift giving that involves the amount of emotional sentimentality and the amount of practicality.
You can either give a gift that is something that you know the other person actually needs and will use/enjoy, or you can give them something that just means something to them but doesn’t have any practical purpose, or you can give a gift that is somewhere in the middle, with a bit of practicality and a bit of sentiment, and one hell of a story!
Now, don’t think I mean sentimentality the same way that Rom-Com’s mean it. Sentimentality just means that there is a sentiment behind the gift, an inside joke, or a common memory between the two parties.
A gag gift, one where it’s not meant to be practical, only works if there is some sort of emotional backstory behind the gift.
The first thing that comes to mind would be the classic blowup doll for a bachelor party. The joke being (although it’s horribly sexist and outdated in 2015…soon to be 2016) that once you get married, a man’s sex life is over because, for whatever reason, there’s this belief that women stop desiring sex once married. There’s no true shared memory behind it, but there is a common inside joke. If a married friend gives his soon-to-be married friend a blowup doll for his bachelor party, then well, he might just be saying that the old wives’ tale is true, so, “here ya go, buddy.”
Of course, that’s not the type of gift I generally consider even worth buying. My emphasis is on finding the balance between that common story and practicality. If we look back at the gifts I’ve given to the Boy, each one has a story or a reason behind it, but they can mostly be used as well (except maybe the cufflinks, but those were early on, when we really didn’t know each other very well).
Even the Batman watch, which doesn’t exactly have sentimental value (and I’ve never seen him wear it… It’s probably still on the floorboard of his car, underneath his seat, where he put it when we went to dinner the day I gave it to him), but it does relate to a conversation we’d had. If I’d been able to find one that would fit him, I would have preferred to get him a Hulk watch, because he more closely identifies with that character. The inside joke being that one of the reasons some of our fights never really get resolved is that he walks away before he can Hulk out…
Now, I don’t think gifts should be conditional, or that they require someone to return the favor. I really, really don’t. But… If you’re going to tell a person that you are going to get them something and then don’t, it’s particularly hurtful.
Gifts shouldn’t have strings, unless you’re giving someone a puppet, a pair of shoes, or a kite. To not give a gift that has been promised because of a fight says that the fight is bigger and more important than the relationship. As it relates to the Boy and me, it meant that every time it happened, it ate a little deeper into my sense of calm, because if I wasn’t worthy of a gift, not worthy enough of him to keep his word to give me something as cheap and easy to create as a mix CD, all because of a trivial argument, then what am I worth? And yet, he would say I was important, or that I was jumping to the worst possible scenario…
Well, what other things can it mean if a man can’t keep his word about something as small as a mix CD for Christmas?
Remember how I used to get really pissed at the Artist for saying he was going to call or see me the next day, and he didn’t? We only talked for a short while. The Boy and I were (I thought) at least semi-seriously dating, and he couldn’t follow through on a freaking mix CD?!
Then there is the incident where he cancelled our Valentine’s dinner, while on his blog posting about how he’d get his “lady” a gift… A gift I never received, but then again, by that point, he didn’t think of me as his lady, I guess. That’s why I wasn’t allowed to call it a Valentine’s dinner. It was just a date. And not really even a date. Just dinner…
And then I type those last few sentences (well, more like fragments, really), and I ask myself, “why am I still putting up with this shit?” How can I be so stupid as to think that he’ll ever see me as an equal and treat me with even a modicum of respect when I allowed him to treat me so poorly before?!
But he says this time is different. We’re on the same page. We’re not trying to date, just trying to get to an even place. Trying to get comfortable with each other again because that was something really special. I’ve never been that comfortable with another human being in my life. Not even most of my family.
And because he’s said things in the past and not followed through (i.e. the gifts we’re talking about today), I can’t trust that he means what he says.
And thus I asked for a gesture. A sign. Something that says that he is REALLY trying this time to treat me with the respect I deserve. That he is truly sorry for all the assholic things he did before, and that he is endeavoring not to repeat the same mistakes.
All of our fights stem from the feeling that I’ve been disrespected by him, and that he doesn’t see me as a person worthy of his kindness, his time, or his respect. He shows me this by the way he didn’t follow through with the gifts, and by the way when I would point it out, he would always tell me it was my fault that they didn’t happen. He shows me this by making me beg for a small amount of time with him (although he is already doing better with that). He shows me this by making me defend my reasonings for things, while asking me to take his word alone. When he says “no,” to a thing, I’m supposed to just accept that “no” is the answer and that there is never a reason why we should discuss it or negotiate, and we shouldn’t come to a compromise…
But if I say “this is something I NEED,” note I said need and not want, I have to defend myself. I need proof that this time won’t be like the rest. I need one on one alone time in order to be comfortable with him because when we’re out in public, he wears his masks and so do I. I need him to make this gesture to replace all the gifts and broken promises of the past so I know that he understands how badly he hurt me and is sincere about making amends.
But my needing it isn’t enough. Every time, every single time, I have to defend my position, prove my point, make him see why I need a thing and don’t just want it. And every time, after I’ve proven myself, he begrudgingly relents.
I really wanted him to do this gesture for me without me having to prove my reasonings to him, but that didn’t happen. He said he would, and then we got into an argument… a stupid one…my fault because I’m hormonal… and then we were back to the “we just shouldn’t even be friends” place.
Once we were in that place, he accused me of holding him hostage for a gift. So, again I had to defend myself.
I do have to give him some credit: he has been really good about giving me his reasons lately, as well. So, basically two out of three of things that he’s repeatedly done in the past that have made me feel truly, really rejected, he’s corrected. The gifts are the final step. The trifecta, as it were, of issues that needed to be solved on his end in order for me to feel comfortable with him again so we can get back to the happy place we once were.
And once I stopped making it actually about the gift, and pointed out how it was about him keeping his word (although I’ve said that before, and it never seemed to get through before), he finally understood. He admitted that he didn’t realize that I’d been carrying that hurt around for so long. Remember, three years ago for Christmas he didn’t give me the mix CD that he promised; that’s a long time to hold onto an unfulfilled promise.
Thing is, I’d initially told him it wasn’t a problem, and while it gnawed at me a little bit, I understood he’d been busy and he really isn’t good at gifts… the whole gift giving thing makes him uncomfortable. It would never have been an issue, if it hadn’t have been repeated, over and over and over again. He’d say he’d get me something, or that we’d do something. Then we’d have a small argument, usually over something trivial, or specifically about him pushing me away. Then the thing wouldn’t happen or the gift wouldn’t be given, and when I would ask, he’d say he didn’t want to give it to me anymore because we’d fought.
His gifts are conditional on me proving that I can be what he expects me to be. While I would have told you that gifts aren’t one of my love languages, it seems the denial of gifts somehow makes me feel unworthy. It becomes another way the Boy rejects me as a person because I’m not worth the time, money, or effort to follow through with a promise of a gift.
But he finally saw it, and apologized for not following through on his word. Finally. And so, he’s doing the gesture. Told me to be patient, he’s got to think on it, but he’s going to do it, and really follow through this time, no matter what.
I really hope he means it. This is the last chance for both of us. And although he hasn’t done it yet, it does leave me with a good feeling of progress to start 2016 off right!
Well, that and there’s a new guy in the Tinder cue who has quite a bit of promise. First date is on Sunday, so I’ll fill you in on that later, and we’ll come up with a nickname for him if he passes the conversation test, which I expect he will, as he already has via text several times over.
Meanwhile, if you’re one of the people who knows who the Boy is, you might offer him some suggestions… I have a feeling he could use the help.