Yesterday I wrote about one of the most bizarre and uncomfortable conversations I can recall having. Today I will reflect a bit more deeply on this discussion and the relationship minefields it brought up.
A day later, I’m still flabbergasted that this friend, the thought of whom has not crossed my mind since I addressed holiday cards, believes me to be harboring some sort of feelings for him. What might have given him that impression?
I am a firm believer in taking responsibility and in karma and, for all those fools who wonder why there’s so much drama in their lives, I say it’s because they attract it. But I have shed need for drama in my life…so what part do I have in all this? And what do we owe others in relationships — platonic, romantic or committed?
- First let’s look at my own questionable behavior. I was not entirely respectful toward Genna, Adonis’s live-in girlfriend, when I last saw her several months ago. That is to say I did not treat her as the woman of the house. My friendship with Adonis goes back many years to when he lived in the same home with his wife, and I simply defer to him as the homeowner and host when I visit. Still, being a woman, I suppose the most appropriate course of action would be for me to communicate primarily with Genna and treat her as the hostess. Are such rigid social roles necessary in 2011? Oh, all right, I suppose rigidity is neither here nor there, when one has behaved like an insolent brat.
- In my defense, while keeping up a friendship with me, Adonis has not been forthcoming with updates, such as “I’ve been seeing Genna for a few months now” and “Genna and I are living together” or even casually bringing her up in conversation. And these are the sorts of things most of us tell our friends. In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that it was disrespectful of Adonis to fail to bring up the critical fact that “this is now Genna’s home, too.” Add to this that Adonis has made it clear he does not intend to get married (this is fine with Genna). Are the ways in which he behaves towards her providing me cues about how to behave toward her, as well? I can say with certainty that I want my mate to let others know when we reach relationship milestones, such as moving in together.
- What would compel a man with whom I haven’t spoken for a few months (and with whom previous conversations were related to cars) to believe that I was holding out hope of a relationship with him? I wrote recently about having a “high water mark” among my single friends — and Adonis, while a beautiful specimen — is not him. Even if we’ve flirted in the past, isn’t this a classic case of Narcissism? And if I have a tendency to attract Narcissistic men, does that mean I am also a Narcissist? Or is my awareness a critical first step along the path to healing?
- I’ve been so busy trying to figure out how this misunderstanding happened that I forgot to bring up probably the #1 Cardinal Rule for Men and my biggest relationship pet peeve: Do not ever tell a woman how she feels. Ever. Or assume you know how a woman feels. (My ex was the master of this misbehavior: he assumed and he never bothered to take the time to verify. p.s. He also didn’t bother to address his own feelings. He just projected onto me.) A woman is much better equipped to know her own feelings, even if so many of us have been socialized to suppress them. Or even if she doesn’t know them, it would be better to begin with, “You seem upset…” Adonis could have handled all this weirdness in a much gentler, less offensive way. He might have asked, “Are you sure you’re not mad? Because I was sensing some… and I observed… and last time I saw you, you said… and so I thought…” Telling me how I feel is never going to get a positive response.
- I’ve been told that I have a very “sultry” energy about me, something alluring or intriguing without being full-on sexual, a certain je ne sais quoi. (Mostly I’ve been told this by other women.) Truth be told, I am not often conscious of having such energy, nor do I feel adept at using this to my advantage. Is this cluelessness about my own feminine energy causing confusion among others? Have I been casually and unconsciously flinging signals about in all directions?
- Folks in the Midwest are known for indirect communication. Often, things I’ve said quite plainly have been interpreted to mean something wholly different from either what I said or intended. I once remarked to a man that he had beautiful eyes and was immediately told by a bystander that this man was married. Is it really a crime to compliment someone simply because he or she is married? My goodness! I sincerely meant that the bloke had beautiful eyes — nothing more! (And I’d like to think that others would see my compulsion to blurt such things out as innocent and disarming.) By the same token, when I suggest we go out for sushi, I’m merely suggesting that because we both like sushi, we might grab some sometime. It’s not an exclusive sort of invitation, nor is it a suggestion that “maybe you want to step out on your girl in favor of me…”
- There are surely some lessons in this experience with which I can and will use to cultivate my own maturity:
- curb the social drinking, particularly when functioning brain-to-mouth filters are necessary (I have an under-developed filtration system as is)
- be more conscious of cultural boundaries
- use provocation cautiously and reserve it for intellectual discourse
- don’t flirt with men in relationships, particularly in front of their S.O. (you’d think this would be obvious, but some of us are apparently slow learners)
- communicate with as much clarity as possible
Bottom line? I still think my conversation with Adonis was outrageous, and I continue to be befuddled at how it all got so convoluted. Is Adonis projecting his own feelings onto me? It’s pretty clear he has regrets. I admit, accept and take full responsibility for behaving badly toward Genna.
What do you make of it all?