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arneal

Starting to Tread the Deeper Waters ... between budding and fully committed ...

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Hi all!

 

For the past several months I've been in a great discussion topic here on budding relationships -- the NG (new guy/new girl) thing is past the initial get to know you but hasn't reached a place of comfort enough to necessarily be what we'd call a full on relationship. Or something  :o ;D

 

Personally, I am sneaking up on two years with my NG (God willing it will be two years on Memorial Day 2018) and in December we got to a place of identifying as boyfriend and girlfriend. These are deeper waters for me for sure, having been married twice and widowed twice but not having much of a dating history (if you visit some of my other posts, more on that out there so I won't bore you here!).

 

What is this space like in the relationship? What does 'fully committed' mean at this stage? I suppose it is different for all of us, where some expect marriage while others tick the fully committed box at moving in together, or even earlier?

 

Rambling perhaps but I'm trying to learn to swim and appreciate each of you for your insight  :-*

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Okay, I'm in!  NG and I officially identified as boyfriend/girlfriend in December  :D  so I guess I qualify for this thread.  Thanks, arneal - this will be a good place to hash our stuff out  ::)

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Here's the conclusion that i came to and the advice that I have given to my middle aged divorced friends.  This time around is not about the things a partnership was about in our twenties or thirties.  Most of us have "done the firsts"  - bought a house, gotten married, had a child, insert other firsts here.  Priorities, at least for me, were different this time around.  As my relationship grew more serious and committed, I realized that what I wanted was a companion.  Of course there was/is chemistry and intimacy but more than anything else, it was that we just had so much fun together all of the time and in this relationship, I have enjoyed a level of mutual trust and respect that I did not in my marriage (my short marriage was a happy one so this was probably because we were too young/naive/it didn't last long enough because he died).  Its been almost four years now since Andy and I met, and I still feel that way, even though for us it has been a long, uncertain and stressful four years involving two continents, three children and two complex careers.  For what it's worth -- long winded way of saying (and sounding much older than I like to think I am), for me, I just knew I would still want to hang out with this person 20, 30 or god willing 40 years from now, and that I could trust him to stick it out with me (and my daughter) through the good and the bad. 

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Here's the conclusion that i came to and the advice that I have given to my middle aged divorced friends.  This time around is not about the things a partnership was about in our twenties or thirties.  Most of us have "done the firsts"  - bought a house, gotten married, had a child, insert other firsts here.  Priorities, at least for me, were different this time around.  As my relationship grew more serious and committed, I realized that what I wanted was a companion. 

 

Very well said, Toosoon!

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Agreed, Toosoon: for those who have lost a spouse or significant partner, the learning comes not just from the loss itself but from being able to reflect on the time spent with that person. Good or bad, we take away something and can apply that knowledge of what we seek to the next thing.

 

I volunteer nearly every weekend at a food ministry for those dealing with homelessness. One of my now-favorite attendees asked me last time about my NY resolutions; I told her I didn't have any, other than to be happy and to make others happy as well. She said her prayer for me this year was that I would get married. She seemed surprised when I said I am good with being in a committed relationship and I surprised myself when I said 'and I am in one' ... I guess it's been most recently that I've recognized I have something solid with my boyfriend (there's that word again. LOL) and it's okay that it's not what others think it should look like and that it doesn't look like anything I've experienced before.

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Rethinking what I envision.  I THINK I want the simple and familiar.  But I am not really ready to jump to marriage at this point in my relationship with NG.  GOOD THING, because it is complex with his custody battle in March.  Not there.

 

He sent me the meme:  What is the difference between “I like you” [and] “I love you”? Beautifully answered by Buddha. Buddha’s answer was so simple. When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.

 

A bit super sweet, but at least he shows he listened about my concern about nurturing our relationship or it will die out.  He appears to be trying harder to give time.  Hasn't missed a work out unless he is picking up his kids for the weekend visit.  His oldest is asking for more time, and he is having some rebellion with the mother.  It is complex.

 

I know comparing loss is not necessary or helpful.  But I am putting this out there, good, bad or indifferent.  I KNOW he wants more time with his kids, 50/50.  And is genuinely in pain from lack of regular contact.  And the best way I have learned to cope with my loss of DH is to focus on the positive of what I have had, gratefulness.  So, I sometimes think but do not say, " Your kids have a great and involved living dad AND mom and 4 grandparents who love them, too.  My kid is fatherless, and my DH was an only child, and my kid  has one living grandparent in poor health.  HIS kids are so fortunate. I DO not say this, but it is truth.  I know, he can't understand from my point of view and I will never perhaps, get his pain either.  But there are some facts there, and he is logical...

 

So, by far not ready to move to marriage.  Much to work through. We are committed to each other, love each other.  But not that simple, either.

 

 

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Thanks for sharing, tybec. We all are lugging around our own baggage, aren't we. BF has been feeling extra hurt about his family not caring about him; he is estranged from siblings (weird parental dynamic from Mom, who is deceased) and one of his daughters and has been mulling it over quite a lot I am sure due to the holidays ... he's sort of an all-or-nothing sort so when things are bad, everything has a gray cloud over it. I occasionally want to push back about letting go and do, gently, via my own separate social media which I know he sees. I applaud you for not saying what was on your mind about how fortunate your NGs children are. I know I am not in a marriage position. I wouldn't mind sharing space and would entertain the conversation if it came up but even that will require more work on my part. There are things I need to accomplish and can't be involved in trying to mesh expectations under the same roof at the same time  :o

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tybec  I relate to the children issue, boyfriend's children and mine are young adults, his are independent and mine are in college - no custody issues.  His kids in effect have three parents - bio mother, step-mother and Dad.  My kids have just me.  When he complains about the logistics of sharing his children, I've gently reminded him and do say to him that my kids are not so fortunate.  What a gift to have three living, loving parents in a young person's life.  I struggle with being the solo parent - envision how I can lessen my chances of dying so that I don't leave my kids alone.  It's a different mind-set, he listens with compassion but it's something that he doesn't really understand.

 

The relationship with my boyfriend has shifted since the holidays - we had a couple weeks of down time due to visiting family, and as a result have taken a few steps back in the closeness that we shared prior to Christmas.  He's trying to get back what we had, inviting himself over and wanting to settle into the nightly routine of sharing dinner together.  I'm looking at him with a different perspective, the early fairy tale moments are fading away and reality is setting in.  It feels like this is the time to set boundaries in how we move forward, and I'm not sure what this will be.  It will be good to have some deep conversations about this and I'm not looking forward to it.  He's a methodical, fix it if it's broken kind of a guy, and we're not broken.  Hmmm ......

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trying2breathe and arneal,

 

Thanks for your feedback.  I  appreciate it.  I wish it were black and white to make choices, but know life is full of grays.

 

NG and I had that difficult conversation, I believe, Nye's day.  He appears to have stepped up.  He has only missed one work out with me, and that was the weekend he  got his kids.  He stayed all this weekend, BIG Football watching, and we were iced in, so that was nice. He went to church with me, which is big as he has a church home.  He is with his kids today, as their weird schedule gave him MLK, not the whole weekend to make it a 3 day.  CRAZY.  I declined again his activities, caving in a national park.  It is free today, all national parks.

SIDE NOTE:  But  I made arrangements for my son to be with a friend, so there is that.  His friend lost his dad the SAME yr. as my son, and they play the same instrument, enjoy the same video games, same activities, are 3 days apart in age, and his mom is a professor in early childhood education, so she and I can talk shop, as I am a kid therapist.  She has been very welcoming to me and my son.  :)

 

Not sure how things are going to go.  I vacillate between we are not "all in" so this relationship will not work, to "give it time, as there are many factors (people) to consider here, not just us two."  I am feeling stronger about what I will and will not accept, and I know that is good for me and mine.  Time will tell.

 

Glad I am not alone in this journey. 

 

Saturday is my sadiversary.  He has his kids this weekend, so it is good, really.  My son and I may drive to the cemetery to lay flowers and see some friends possibly there, surround ourselves with those who KNOW us, knew us as our little family. 

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So right, tybec -- it is not black and white.

 

Interesting issue, dealing with one another's children. BF had a big (and I mean BIG) blowup with his daughter yesterday. I had gone over on Saturday and he had mentioned that there was something she had not been wanting to discuss with him about her sister/his estranged daughter. Left it at that and the evening went on. Daughter and her BF came in, she said hello sort of over her shoulder (side note -- I had given her a gift card for Christmas, which she got because BF put it under their tree since I did not see her that weekend. Not even a mumble of thank you ... I felt rather irritated by that. Even in his selfish sort of way, my son says thanks, even if it's through his care home mom) and that was it. We went on with our evening and as it got later, I prepared to leave since you need a permit to park in the development. He told me about a place just across the street where I could park and where other people park so I could stay, which I did. In the morning, all was well with my vehicle (no one else parked there that night and I get weird about that sort of thing!) and while we had coffee he offered to make a bit of breakfast if I could stay. I said I needed to dash because of my dogs (who had been inside all night alone and would need the bathroom) and to go to Sunday service. All was well with the dogs when I got home; by the time I got to church, BF and daughter had gone to war on social media. It was basically one post and her response, but he vanished for the rest of the day. In the first few months of our association I noticed that he would do that but it was never behind anything this volatile. I mean the things that caused it before were serious enough, but this ... I reached out but as of this post have heard nothing. I hope he at least went to work. My dear friend, who is so close that we call ourselves sisters, is on the same social media thread and sent him a private message, which she says he read but did not respond to, which is in its way a good sign. However, there will be a difficult conversation about letting folks know that he is ok, even if he doesn't want to talk. Such disappearances do not work well for me after the losses I have had. Here we go.

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I've been widowed almost 11 years.  February 15, 2018 to be exact.  Six years into widowhood I was tired of the loneliness and decided on online dating.  None of my family or friends had anyone they could introduce me to.  So unbeknownst to them I took it upon myself.  After chatting with scammer and other creeps I finally accepted an invitation to coffee.  I suggested a place closer to his home in the event it didn't turn out and I found that I would probably not venture to that spot in the future. 

 

Needless to say the 3 hour coffee date turned into a date at the ballpark that evening.  There I met his adult daughter and her boyfriend, his granddaughter and grandson, and even his ex-wife; mother of his children.  Yes he's been married before. 

 

The following weekend he met my best friend (who introduced me to my DH).  Later that night he met my daughter.  They hit it off from the get go.  She was very close to her dad so needless to say I was hesitant that she would not like the idea of me dating again.  But she has told me over and over again she is happy for me. 

 

I can't believe how different this man is vs my DH.  Yes I've heard we shouldn't do this.  But that is easier said than done.  He does things for me that my DH never considered doing for me.  Even the simplest things without me even saying anything.  Just today as I was doing laundry he went out to shovel the sidewalk as I had mentioned I would be going out tomorrow to get gas in my car to go to work on Wednesday.  BTW I've been sick with a horrible cold that I can't seem to shake. 

 

In September of 2016 I had to have hip replacement surgery.  He was my caregiver for everything.  I told him he did not sign up for this.  His answer to me?  We'll get through this.  He had told me something similar when not even a year in our relationship that I didn't deserve someone like him.  His answer to me?  I'm not going anywhere.  He has proven his love and care to me more times than I can count.  Makes me love him even more.  He's widowed too so he gets it.  Yes his late wife passed away from breast cancer 13 months before we met.  Yes he was very much in love with her.  I know that as he told me before we even met.  It makes a difference dating a widowed person.  We both have visited each other spouse's final resting place. 

 

As for marriage plans.  At this point I don't believe marriage is in the works.  We both are OK with that. 

 

To make a long story short.  About a year ago he moved in with me.  We plan on selling our places, buy an RV and travel.  When I first told him this he was all for it.  Later this month will be our 4 1/2 year anniversary since we met.  We celebrate each month by announcing to each other "Happy Anniversary". 

 

 

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Thanks so much for sharing, patswife22 -- brought me to tears. Not difficult to do today as I have been crying over the situation between BF and his family pretty much all day. I think because we have been in more regular communication lately that the 'radio silence' between yesterday morning and today is paining my heart.

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Arneal:  I had absolutely no idea the 2nd time around I would be where I am today.  If someone had told me at this time 10 years ago I would be where I am now, I would have thought they were nuts.  We never know where our lives will take us to.  My mantra since my husband passed is go with the flow.  I can't think of what might happen in a week, a month or even a year.  I still live my life one day at a time.  In those early days of widowhood my thoughts were all over the place.  How will I live......money-wise and how will I live....period. 

 

I also came to the conclusion that I count first.  Before my child.  My other family members.  My friends.  Even my boyfriend.  I love them all but still.  I've been taken advantaged by family and friends and it broke my heart they would do this to me.  But I've moved on and they are no longer a part of my life.  After so many times forgiving and again being taken advantaged of I had to come to the conclusion "enough's enough. 

 

As I go into my 11th year of widowhood I don't know where it will take me.  I love the adventure of where my life will take me.  I always loved a good adventure.  Wish everybody thought this way. 

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I agree, patswife -- I have been widowed twice and both marriages were night and day, as were the losses. I was my DH's caregiver the last few years and did not take care of myself. I have shut the door on a few folks, more from DH's family than mine since I am not close to them anyway. BF wants to be close to his family but they are not interested it seems. His eldest daughter has been estranged for some time and now the youngest is pulling away strongly. He says how he feels, how he hurts, and everyone takes it personally rather than trying to understand his perspective. I don't think he's used to having anyone who listens and who doesn't push for their way.

 

In taking care of myself, I find that I too am open to possibilities. With BF, I have had experiences -- simple to many I am sure -- that I did not have in previous relationships. I don't have the time or energy to try and bend his words to mean what I want (I know people in my life who do that ... if the issue isn't about them, it doesn't exist or is unimportant). I do what I do. However, I plan to tell him as much, to let him know that I am not in this for just the sunny days and smiles but to be down in the muck as well when times are tough. He knows it but it never hurts to hear it.

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I've come down with whatever bug is going around - a mild form of some kind of flu. I've taken much of the week off and have had a lot of down time.  Boyfriend is supportive and yet he's not - brought me chicken soup this evening but dropped it at the front door and ran.  Not for wanting to avoid germs as he has insisted on kissing me the past few days - but instead avoid whatever wonky stuff is still going on between us. We're off and it's not better, I'm getting cranky with him and it doesn't feel good.  We've had a couple of conversations about the relationship, and it hasn't changed anything.  I'm getting the feeling that he's telling me what I want to hear and not how he really feels.  sigh ...... February 2nd would be one year for us - not sure if we're gonna make it.

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t2b, remember when you are sick it is much easier to get cranky over things that under other circumstances wouldn’t bother you!  :)

Sounds like you do know what is truly going on but I bet that doesn’t make it any less difficult.

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Thanks, jgib - it's a good point about feeling lousy and being cranky.  I won't make any decisions until I'm feeling better - it's best to hold off on any serious discussions too.

 

Hope everybody is staying healthy - this flu thing is no fun!

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Oh, trying2, I am sorry to hear and agree with jgib -- I know I get more sensitive when I don't feel well. This is so funky and complicated!!! I wonder if it's winter blues? I don't know. Trying to think on the bright side. BF and I will be two years come Memorial Day.

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Happy Saturday, all: I heard from BF this morning. He's had a rough go but sounded really good; he's been working out the issues, which was most necessary. I didn't have to say a thing -- he started the conversation (we talked on the phone, a weird thing that isn't typical for us lol) by apologizing for not calling to let me know what was going on. I ended the call with 'sending lots of love your way,' to which he replied 'I love you too.' We will get to talk more tomorrow. Progress.

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Glad that you connected, arneal - good that he's aware of the lack of communication and brought it up.  I do hope that you follow up with another conversation on how much it did bother you.

 

Update on boyfriend - I'm feeling better and we've had a few good conversations and are doing okay right now.  The air has cleared a bit and this weekend we seemed to settle into a good routine, hope that this lasts.  Maybe it was winter & post holiday blues, combined with being sick - glad to be moving forward and out of this funk.

 

Hope everybody is staying healthy!

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Hey everybody, just read through and caught up on what's up and all of a sudden I feel more normal again.

 

Just past the 1 year mark with NG and the up-down, yes- no feeling I get continue and I think intensified as the 1 year mark approached. It was kinda like , if I'm still having some issues and it's one year maybe this isn't a match made in heavenand I should exit and try again. But alternatively i was acknowledging it is pretty darn good and maybe perfect is not realistic. As i mentioned definitely a period of flipflopping.

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Hey klim! Ugh, it's the unknown that is so hard! Is this the one, is it not ...

 

I am at BF's now. We talked out a lot of things. It was harder for him than it was for me, frankly, because I didn't have to say anything. He worked through his lack of openness and his sharing of where he was emotionally was certainly deeper than I could have guessed. This week was one of serious introspection for him and in addition to coming to terms with where things are with his daughter right now, he talked about how he is grateful for me. Humbling.

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Just past the 1 year mark with NG and the up-down, yes- no feeling I get continue and I think intensified as the 1 year mark approached. It was kinda like , if I'm still having some issues and it's one year maybe this isn't a match made in heavenand I should exit and try again. But alternatively i was acknowledging it is pretty darn good and maybe perfect is not realistic. As i mentioned definitely a period of flipflopping.

 

klim  My thoughts exactly as I approach one year in early February with BF.  I think that if I'm still having doubts right now, should I just call it quits and move on?  You're right that perfect is not realistic, I do love him and we are comfortable with each other.  We're working through some issues and right now things are good.  When I think back on my marriage with my LH, we had struggles and there was a time when I thought about not staying with him. This reminds me that regardless of the relationship there will be some conflict.  I'm taking it day to day, and not trying to overthink it.

 

arneal  So very glad that you talked it out - you mentioned not having to say anything but I hope that you will have your say.  There's a way to be loving and supportive and still get your point across.  My boyfriend tells me that he appreciates it when I call him out on his s#&t  ;D  and I also want to be called out on mine.

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Thanks, trying2. We did talk last night. A lot. It was amazing, actually. There are elements I won't share here because of how difficult a time this was but I am happy with the progress. I don't expect miracles. I made my point clear and he was in a place to hear it. <<< That's it right there, being in position to hear the issues. Without this thing happening with his daughter, I don't think we'd be where we are today. I am sad that it took that, but am glad that I was able to help him express his thoughts as I expressed mine. Like you, trying2, I love him and know that he loves me. Just being able to say that to one another is a big step. Now it's a matter of a continued positive trajectory. Onward!

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arneal  I'm glad that you had a great conversation and that you feel progress - sounds like a corner has been turned and that's wonderful.  It's essential for me to keep communication going with BF and I'm thankful that he tries with me and it's taking us to a new level in the relationship.  Onward indeed!

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