Aiight, time for the Davis update.
I hadn't found a good time to talk to him about my move-in decisions. Stuff kept getting in the way, like other friends being around or it being super late (he's expressed a preference for not having important discussions when he's tired because he's not very good at it).
We were driving to a friend's party when we fell into a not-unfamiliar-lately pattern of him saying something that bugged me, me telling him, and him getting annoyed that I took his comment in a negative light when he didn't mean it that way. I don't remember what it was about exactly. But instead of going into the party once we arrived, we sat outside and kept talking for at least an hour, both realizing that the conversation had become something way more important than a brief squabble over wording or tone.
We talked about the problems we've had with comunication, as illustrated in the paragraph above, and where they might be coming from. Over the course of the conversation he shared a realization that he'd had while we were talking -- that he's been putting up barriers because until he sees more commitment from me (such as a promise to move in together), he isn't able to believe that I'm serious about this and he doesn't want to get too excited and passionate and vulnerable only to have me break his heart again.
On my end, I haven't been willing to commit to him more because, among other things, I've felt as if he's not really "there" in this as much as I've been... which, in fact, we now both understand he hasn't been. I don't want to entangle our lives and build the logistics of making this a real primary partnership until I feel like I can believe that it'll work and enrich us both, and for that I need open and strong communication. Catch-22. :/
One recent incident had been worrying me the most, and he and I rehashed it during our talk. It was several weeks ago, we were in bed together getting ready to fall asleep (this is where the "no big talks late at night" rule ended up coming from) when I finally got up the courage to say "I'm worried that we have different, like... I'm not sure, core values, life goals, ways of living?... and that this might make it hard for us to work out in the long term." His response was to try, poorly, to cover his irritation, and to reassure me that this wasn't worth worrying over and that the proof would be in the pudding... that we should just go for it and find out rather than trying to guess the future.
I felt offended at his irritation and like I was being dismissed, while he was annoyed at feeling blindsided by what he saw as some vague neuroses he couldn't hope to address. I feel like it's fair to say that I could have brought it up in a better or clearer way. To some degree I guess I was just trying to get *something* going in the way of serious conversation because I was feeling uneasy about things and I thought a serious talk could help with that or else confirm that something was actually wrong. Being cut off in that context didn't feel pleasant.
What really bothered me, though, was that he didn't bring it back up in the days or weeks after that to try to check in with me, to make sure I was feeling more ok about things. I don't expect my partners to be mind readers, so it seems unfair to say he should have known to talk to me about it, but the way I saw it I was bringing up fundamental concerns about our relationship and even if he didn't think they were valid just the fact that I was questioning things at such a deep level should have been reason enough for him to try to engage in dialogue with me and work it out. Personally I didn't feel up to bringing it up again because I felt like I'd already been shot down once. Him not pursuing it made me feel like he didn't care.
When I explained all this he said he thought I'd bring it up again myself if there was really anything to talk about, and he was confused and offended that I might possibly think he didn't care. I told him that it wasn't a rational thing but that I NEED to be allowed to be a *little* insecure now and then and to get reassurance from him in those times, not indignation.
Maybe it's just that, having dated a woman for a good long while now, I'm completely unused to someone who's more "male", who's not all about processing every feeling. It frustrates me especially because I used to feel like communication was one of our strongest points. We talked SO much and collaborated so well when it came to figuring out how to handle the mono/poly thing. And now I feel like I keep running into these fucking barriers when there's stuff that *I'm* insecure about.
He said something that really surprised me, even though it shouldn't have, given all the mono/poly stories I've read here. He admitted that he's been afraid that I see him as interchangeable. Rather than getting offended at this (coughcoughDavis... bleh, I can't stop sniping at him for that even now, it just annoys me so deeply), I explained to him why it wasn't true and it seemed to help him. One thing that's freaked him out is that he's felt at times like I'm weighing my options, like I'm not really committed (back to this concern again), and the thing is, he's not wrong at this point. I admitted as much, that I do NOT know yet if I'm willing to build my life around this relationship. But he is still absolutely precious and unique to me.
Rather than bring it up as a list of demands, I ended up scattering my concerns about the trio of health issues (mental, physical, and financial) that might keep me from feeling comfortable moving in with him throughout the conversation. On the money thing, he outlined the debts that he's cleared and talked to me about what he's currently working on (a mix up with his old insurance provider). I'd like a more thorough accounting of all that, but I wasn't going to ask for it just then. It sounds, at least, like things have been much better. On the health thing, he explained why he hasn't done it yet (fear, basically) and said he would do so when his insurance kicks in for his new job, in a couple of months. Good news!
On the therapy thing........ that was kind of a no go.
He said that he's working on his issues every single day, that he has things more in control than he ever has, and that he knows that if he goes to therapy when he doesn't feel ready it'll just be a waste of time and make him feel resentful. He said that he's absolutely certain that he'll return to therapy at some point, but that now is not the time and I need to respect his self-knowledge and trust him on that. He also said that he doesn't like feeling like he's on trial and like I'm picking at his flaws all the time.
I'm just not so sure. :/ I want so much for him to take the offensive on this issue in a way I can visibly see... him saying he's fighting the good fight internally is all well and good but it doesn't assuage what I think are my very legitimate fears the way knowing he was checking in with a professional would. I told him that this in particular could be a barrier to me wanting to co-habitate. In response he told me that he doesn't like ultimatums, and I explained the difference in my eyes between an ultimatum and a boundary. We left it unresolved for now.
So much negativity... it just leaves me not feeling the romance or passion in our relationship right now, the things that would provide the glue to hold us strongly together as we work on these things. I'm not giving up, but I'm feeling discouraged, even as we manage to make progress (just understanding the Catch-22 we'd gotten ourselves into is huge).
I wrote up and sent him a draft list of relationship agreements for his review, covering the various things that have caused us friction that we need to avoid and that have bonded us together that we need to continue, covering Communication, Time Spent Together, Sex, and Other People. He hasn't responded yet, I'm VERY curious to see what he says. It's kind of crucial to me right now that he take this seriously and give me at least some feedback... so, we'll see.
While all this has been simmering, I've still been seeking out fun events to go to together and keeping an eye out for people who might be a good fit to take over my current lease if I do decide to move into a new place with him. Still working on this even as I wonder if it should be so much work. I remind myself that we don't have the nre that would normally help people ease into a new relationship without fear, and that what we DO have works really well when it's working.
Edit (additional thought): It may be worth mentioning that Davis and his roommate Blaine have been having serious issues. Blaine is an immature, non-chore-doing ass, is what it comes down to, and I know him well enough that this is not even me choosing sides -- others who know him have also strongly affirmed that he's the one with the problem here. Davis can be abrasive, but I shudder to think of having to live with Blaine, now that I know just what it would be like. They live in a small apartment and neither is able to move out at the moment so things are sort of smooth on the surface, but very tense underneath. Davis has said that this is making everything more stressful and that he's not in top form because of that. So maybe I should cut him some slack. But there was the depression and now there's the roommate thing, so, well... when do I get to be with the "real" him, not the him who's down because of some issue? Or will there *always* be an issue or two or three?