Despite the romance going on, I still knew the guy I had in front of me; I still knew he was the one who rushes and pushes himself into new experiences with surprising perseverance and then withdraws with even greater dullness, as soon as he smells the risk of a dream come true.
But the explanation I had always given to myself for his behaviour was that he gave up that frequently and that easily, just when he realized he was going to fail. I had always deemed it a self-preservation thing, through which he protected himself from the pain of an upcoming failure.
To this regard, I knew he was not going to fail with me; I was sure about my feelings for him and I was trusting his for me. So, I was expecting no withdrawal.
At the same time, thanks to therapy, I had realized and finally accepted that half of our relationship was in his hands and, acknowledging that I had no control over it, I was slightly comforted by not being completely responsible for it all.
In other words, I was experiencing complete trust for someone else and an unprecedented wish to enjoy the moments of our relationship without any interference by expectations of any kind. I was feeling free and connected to him at the same time.
But, irrespective of my attitude, his withdrawal showed up.
At first, it came as a mild discomfort: he started finding out some excuses that could keep him far from me and from our relationship, both physically and emotionally. It was nothing that I couldn’t stand, I kept trusting him; ups and downs, uncertainties and hesitation are a pretty well-known subject matter to me.
Then he switched to the phase of indifference and apathy: he explicitly told me that he had just entered a period in which “despite myself, I’m not able to feel anything”. I could understand that too. I had always known him as a guy prone to melancholy and even pleased by his own gloomy side; I was determined to be there by his side supporting him if I could, or to just stand next to him, waiting for better times together.
Apathy soon turned into provocation. He started trying my patience by saying and doing everything he could to make me snap. I did snap from time to time, but most of the times I just kept my disappointment and anger for myself.
Provocation anyway didn’t work much on me, since my patience and my self-control proved stronger than he (and I) could imagine. Therefore it came the time for complete couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude. He could spend days without seeing me, hearing from me, calling me, or texting me; not even to say Hello or to ask how I was. I managed to bear this too: if he didn’t call, I did; if he didn’t ask how I was, I did; if he didn’t text me good night, I did. And I constantly paid attention to not overdo, not to call him too frequently, not to ask him out too persistently, not to ask for explanations too firmly. When I asked him whether he preferred to have a break from our relationship and take all the time he needed to clear up his mind, his only reply was: “I don’t really think I would be better without you.”
Last bit was pure hostility: whenever we met, I called him or texted him, he found a way to blame me for something, invariably making up pretty unfounded and illogical accusations.
This escalation from discomfort to hostility took a couple of weeks. I spent four more weeks trying to understand why I had just been downgraded from girlfriend to a stranger he didn’t want to have around. Then I asked him for an explanation; I was ready to be told it was over, I was ready to take responsibility for any possible mistake, but he proved unable to provide any cause, any explanation, any comment to that. He disclosed a side of him I had never seen before that clearly: in front of my request for the reason of his behaviour, he just blabbered some inconsistent and incomplete sentences, confused, coward, selfish and childish at the same time.
I let some more days go by before taking any resolution. In the meanwhile I put my thoughts together and sketched up the sequence of actions and reactions that had occurred in our relationship until then.
- He had started out complaining about my inability to express my feelings, basically as soon as our relationship began. He always started his sentences by “Something I don’t really stand about you is that…” and then completed it to his liking with some of my emotional weaknesses. He was right after all, and, as I realized I could trust him, I also learned to open up to him. As my inability to express my feelings faded away, he switched to something new.
- Next target was my femininity: one day he texted me (his worst side, his most disturbing and mean comments were never expressed face-to-face, but always via some technological medium) that he wanted a “definitely way-more-feminine woman” than me. It was therefore up to me to show him some more femininity or I wouldn’t have been enough for him. He changed his opinion about my femininity as soon as our relationship became more intimate, but, of course, he had already found out some other obstacle to place in our (in his) way.
- This time it was our own health condition: we were both experiencing dizziness from time to time. I had just gone back to my everyday life after my breakdown and I was therefore still adjusting. He knew the feeling very well, since he has been experiencing anxiety-related vertigines for years. One morning, while we were having breakfast, he said: “You told me you’re experiencing dizziness again and I am too. I don’t really think this could work between us.” He realized by himself that the dizziness excuse was too lame, especially because the source of our vertigines was external to our relationship, both for me and for him. Therefore he moved to a more inscrutable subject: his own mind.
- One morning, while we were lying on his bed together, he told me “I’m feeling like I just entered a dead-end street with you”; he told me he was feeling trapped. To make himself clearer, he spent the entire following weekend repeating that he had completely lost his faith in the female sex gender, in the female population as a whole. Few days later he revealed to me that his real ambition was to live in a harem with all of his ex girlfriends, because he couldn’t get any of them off his mind, intimately needing to know that all of his ex partners were still suffering because of him. I’m stubborn and I realize now that I was way more patient than I could have ever expected (and also way more than I was supposed to). I knew how prone he is to wreck anything that could make him feel happy, or even relieved, so I swallowed his blabbering and kept standing beside him.
- His new expedient was then to explicitly test my endurance: in any occasion in which we didn’t agree on the smallest detail, he never missed the opportunity to say something like: “Well, if that’s how it is, we better stop it right now”, where “it” was our relationship. My endurance succeeded, therefore his plan had to move forward.
- Whenever I reacted to his hostility or asked for the reasons of his behaviour, he treated me at his worst. He told (he wrote it, actually) that I wasn’t allowed to ask him for any explanation, because I had no idea what he was going through and that I had to stop stressing him out. He said I wasn’t ready for any relationship at all and he climaxed when he revealed to me that when he mistreated me, he sort of liked it.
After having completed the scan of his destructive behaviour, at the beginning of August, I called him (there was no other way to reach him, since he had started stepping back from whatever we were) and told him: “Our attempt to be together has failed completely. I thought you had bigger balls than this, but I was wrong. I don’t want to be together with someone who can’t decide whether he wants a relationship or not, with someone who can’t decide whether he wants me or the rest of his ex partners. I don’t want to have to do with someone who treats me as I am part of the problem and doesn’t even have the guts to tell me what kind of problem I am and why. I don’t want to be with someone who keeps pretending to himself that his behaviour is going to get him everything and everyone, while in reality his attitude keeps pushing everybody away, constantly leaving him miserable and alone.”
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