Experiments in Black Dating: A Letter to Alex
As you know, I see Chris and Michelle (among a few other couples) as models for what a relationship can be. I'd include my parents as well. Anyway, Chris once told me that "You don't marry the person you can live with; you marry the person you can't live without". While a literal interpretation of that may be a stretch, here's how I see that. It means that you want to marry the person whom you would most want to keep in your life, the one whom you believe you cannot and don't want to be without.
I find myself incredibly conflicted right now. Part of that is the long week I had. Along with all of the messed up stuff that happened, the woman who had been campaigning the hardest to be my next girlfriend took herself out of the running. You are, again, without competition. But...
I'm also conflicted because I'm wondering how we got here and why it has to be like this. A year ago, WE could have been on the road to the dream. As I've mentioned, when you turned your back on me and told me to move on, I did. I didn't have much choice. I wasn't going to stay stuck, as much as I wanted to, as much as I wanted you. Then you came back and with you came all of these emotions, and honestly, I probably would have agreed to give it a second chance had you shown up earlier. That alone was weird and scary because I don't believe in moving backwards. I was willing to make the exception for you, this one time. But here I was finally dating, without all of the baggage and expectations and other stuff that usually seems to come with dating. I was in a place of freedom and exploration and I didn't want to give that up, though I did want to give us a chance. I told you this and you said you were fine with it. I told you I'd like some time to explore this, and provided there were no significant changes in either of our statuses, I'd again enter a relationship with you. You accepted this and agreed to it. I contend now as then that it is not likely (possible, but not likely) that I will meet someone else to pursue a relationship with before the year is completed.
I want to be angry with you right now. I really do. But I can't. I can't be angry with you any more than a parent of a 2 year old can be angry with their child for drawing a picture of the family on the walls in crayon. I don't mean to equate you to a child, so let me explain.
It became clear around the time that you ended our relationship that you were unsure what you wanted. I can't be angry with you for not knowing what you wanted, or for not knowing what you don't want. While these are things I have explored in my life in quite intricate detail, the average person does not deal with such questions commonly and may never figure these things out.
All along, I didn't want you to be "stuck" for me. I didn't want you to feel that you were just being dragged along, without choice, and hoping for an unpromised outcome. I asked you to wait for me, but since I couldn't promise an outcome, I was not going to ask you to promise anything to me either. I knew that you might also find someone who could give you (right now, if not for the rest of your life) what you wanted and needed in a relationship. While I did ask you to wait for me, if the choice for you became one of waiting for me and hoping or "trying on" a relationship with another partner -- one that might be what you need AND want, one that would be better for you than being in a relationship with me -- then I wanted you not to wait, not to hope, to explore and "try on" a relationship and answer the question ultimately. It sounds like you are doing that, and that makes me upset, sad, angry and disappointed. Not with you, but with myself. The risk if waiting for me is that at the end of all of this, you may still end up being disappointed and hurt. I do not want that for you.
I will say that I hope you are making the decision to move on and explore a relationship with Alex because you honestly and authentically believe that there is compatibility and not just because you don't want to be alone or wait for my year of experimentation to end. I was always clear that I thought I would end up coming back to you at the end of this year, just as Frank has come back to his (now fiancee) after his post-divorce period of exploration. So if you are doing this just because you don't wish to be alone, or you are terribly worried that I may choose a different woman by the time January 2013 comes around, I think you are doing yourself a disservice. I have to say this because I find it curious that you stated yourself that you have known Alex for almost a decade and yet you never had any interest in him beyond friendship. However, now that we're in the unfortunate situation we're in, I'm seeing in you the kind of frustration or disappointment you've shown before. When you have exhibited this behavior in the past (during our relationship), it has been followed by impetuous decisions. I hope this is not another one of those impetuous decisions. I hope this is coming from a place to really explore and determine whether there is enough of a kernel of interest and compatibility to make this relationship potentially successful, long term. If that is what motivates you to enter into a relationship with Alex, I will fully and completely support you from a place of love. If not, then I don't know what to say other than I am disappointed. I hope you are clear about what drives you to do this and that its out of authentic attraction and interest.
From your e-mail the other day, it sounds like you have decided to pursue your relationship with Alex. If this is so, I will support that and support you in that.
While I know that nothing is guaranteed, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think you and Alex sound like you'll work well as a couple. He's everything I'm not, and for all I know, he's everything I am as well. If that's so, then it would be absurd to wait for me if the best thing to happen to you is him. Just writing this is the hardest thing I've had to do in some time, and this in a week when almost nothing has been easy.
I do have one request, if you have decided to pursue this direction. I DO want to be appraised of how well your relationship is going. I do want to know details as much as you're comfortable sharing. Why? Because knowing that, knowing how happy and satisfied and well taken care of you are will validate my decision to let you go. As hard as it will be to hear - and I want to hear it - it will allow me to confirm that you're getting what you need, getting what you want, getting what you couldn't get from me, and that you're happy. Ultimately, that's the most important thing to me. It always has been, as I'm sure I've said.