Stop a sec – if you haven’t read Geoff yet, you need to do so now or else this post isn’t going to make a lot of sense.
Moving on… you’ve been warned:
As promised in last week’s post I want to take the next few paragraphs to try to analyze what I think happened. As I do this, please keep in mind that a lot of this, especially as it relates to what Geoff thought or felt at certain times, is all based on conjecture and loose interpretation based on limited facts and behavioral observation. I’m posting it because I want this reminder to be here the next time I get into a situation like this one.
First, I want to start by outlining the first two stages of the total five of a relationship (the other three stages aren’t relevant here because we didn’t make it that far – but will be discussed in future content). These will be relevant as I begin discussing the situation with Geoff in the following paragraphs.
- Attraction and Romance – This is the initial, endorphin-dopamine producing stage of a relationship. This is the stage that makes us so woozy, so convinced we’ve found the person of our dreams. Everything is perfect right now. Note that people who are constantly changing partners often do so to try to remain in this stage.
- Reality Sets In – this is the stage immediately after the endorphin stage, where all the flaws become apparent. The dopamine has faded. The relationship doesn’t seem so much like a fantasy anymore. This is the stage when someone decides they’ve made a selection mistake.
With those things in mind, let’s break this down:
At the onset, as I said in the last post, Geoff and I spent a crap ton of time together at the beginning. I think it’s safe to say that were infatuated with each other. Sure we talked, we got to know each other a bit, but conversations didn’t go very deep most of the time. Other than asking each other why the other didn’t have kids (or have more kids, in his case), and the little bit of information I was able to draw out of him regarding his prior marriage and his most recent relationship (and his comment about being “chronically single”), much of that time, if I’m being completely honest, was spent with him learning more about ME than I think I learned about HIM – because he wasn’t much for volunteering information where it counts. And I? Well… I write a blog called “Project TMI”… so…
He’s like The Professor that way – he keeps himself to himself. Even Cole noticed that when he came to visit – saying that he really had to work to initiate conversation. Not because Geoff is snobbish, but because Geoff simply didn’t seem to want to put himself out there more than just enough to be polite (of course, by the time Cole got here, Geoff had already started to pull away, too, I think, so that might’ve had something to do with it).
Geoff also has more of a “small town” mentality than he wants to admit (at least from what I’ve observed). He’s got his circle of friends, his family, and while he was able to “expand” outward a little, I remember him being quite amazed at how many people I knew all over the world. His circle is… let’s say… unintentionally exclusive. I don’t know if he realizes that or not – or how difficult it feels to penetrate that circle as an outsider. Not because they’re snobbish either – but because this is an area that doesn’t see a lot of transients the way that Florida did.
At any rate, I gave Geoff a lot more information than he gave me. I didn’t let him see EVERYTHING, but I didn’t keep much hidden from him either. The foundation I tried to lay with him wasn’t met with resistance, but it wasn’t equally met either.
And so when the infatuation stage began to fade, I had enough floor to stand on, enough experience to recognize that this was a guy that I liked enough to have shared enough of the parts of myself with. Someone I wanted to build something with. Because he already held some of the pieces. I was comfortable saying that I loved him because I felt like if I could trust him with those pieces, I could trust him with my heart.
The thing is, it wasn’t an equal investment. I’d invested that part of myself. But all he’d really invested, for the most part, was his time (good times, but still… time) and his money. There’s nothing wrong with investing those things – I put my fair share of both into it as well (though the financial part of going out was split pretty evenly). But, when compared to the pieces of yourself that you have to invest in order to establish an emotional connection, time and money is really superficial and (for someone who has plenty of both) investing only that makes it easy to cut your losses later.
As I said last week, it didn’t exactly catch me by surprise when things fell apart – because I had been sensing that things weren’t right for a few weeks – but the explanation that he gave when we broke up was that he’d been feeling that way for awhile but had never talked to me about it because he hadn’t wanted to ruin the trips I’d planned or the visits with my friends.
If there’s any indication that he didn’t share with me the extent to which I shared with him, this was it… we should have talked about it when it started. Whether that’s because he’s not that in tune with his feelings, or simply doesn’t like to talk about them, I don’t know. But I do know that we should have talked about this when things started to change. And we should have done it early. So that we could have adjusted accordingly. Would that have changed the outcome? I really can’t say. But it’s hard to diagnose and treat something when you don’t even know what the problem is – or even if there is one.
Going back to the first two steps that I outlined earlier, the only real explanation that I can come up with is that the infatuation period faded… and because his relationships are (self-admitted) short, it makes me wonder if he is one of those guys that just chases the initial high and then doesn’t create a foundation stable enough to hold himself up with after the high begins to fade. Not knowing how to function past that stage, he just keeps chasing it… again and again… hoping to recreate it but possibly not understanding that it is (at least partly) because of this that they fail. When I told him I loved him, it accelerated the arrival of the “Realism” stage that was already beginning to manifest. Because he’d never built an emotional foundation with me, he was unprepared to work through the “awkward” that came after, since he wasn’t there yet, and because he didn’t feel the same way (and hadn’t invested much to begin with), it was easier to just… fade away.
Again – that last part, I can’t verify. But… it is the most reasonable explanation I can come up with.
Knowing, though, that I cannot change Geoff – nor can I change the past (and I’m not sure I would want to – because honestly if someone can’t work through those things with me, especially when it’s something POSITIVE, then I don’t know if I want them to stick around through the negative), there are some things that I could have done differently. Not because it would have changed Geoff’s outcome, but because it would have either helped me to prepare for, or to ward off, what may have been inevitable.
Really, the foundation of it is simple: I shouldn’t have gone all in so quickly. It’s not to say I should have (or would have) played games – that’s not my way – but I should have gotten to know him better. I should have asked more questions. I should have gotten more of an indication of how much of himself he’d have been willing to reveal.
I think I was honestly so surprised that I was in something that was going well, with someone who wasn’t crazy, and that the situation developed so easily and so quickly that I didn’t question it. I’m not saying that I should have been skeptical about everything – because skepticism is also a self-fulfilling prophecy – but I definitely should have approached this more slowly. More intentionally.
I should have asked more questions about his prior relationships. I should have asked how long they normally last, on average. I should have asked if he’d ever really been in love with a woman before, and when the last time was, and what happened. I should have asked what he was looking for. I should have asked why he thought I fit that mold.
Would it have been like a job interview? Well… yeah… if I’d asked them in rapid fire succession. But they’re also conversation starters. It’s how you dig deeper than what’s on TV or what games they’re playing, it’s how you get past the gate of work and family stuff, and how you push past the hobbies. It’s how you get to the stuff that makes someone TICK. It’s how you show someone who you are. It’s how you become a little vulnerable. It’s how you do that TOGETHER.
And finally, I shouldn’t have gotten so deeply involved with someone so soon after relocating here. I should have taken the time (even if I’d been seeing Geoff) to acclimate MYSELF separately from the time I spent with him. When I look at what’s going on in my life now, sure I miss him, but if I’m being completely honest, a lot of the stuff we did – like the shows we saw or the board game nights, or the people we visited, or the bars we went to, or even the times we were at his place, were because they were directly related to him. If we hadn’t spent that time together, I wouldn’t have been doing anything over the last couple of months any differently than what I’m doing right now.
But, because I was so new to the area, and because I’d spent so much time with Geoff right at the beginning, now that he’s not here, the void is bigger and the place is quieter than it probably would have been if I’d taken that time to establish myself at the beginning. I’m not established enough here, yet, to completely know how to fill that void. But I’m trying.
And with that said, it’s time to trudge forward. Lessons learned. I guess, on the plus side, at least if things weren’t going to work, they didn’t work after months (or years) of trying… or of being in something one sided.