Been having some good time with MD. Just helping, moving, talking, joking etc. A couple of days ago after a long day of moving, we all decided to take the kids to a free concert in town. The kids were acting up, and so we packed up and went to have dinner and beers at MD's new place. We had all had long days, and the kids were extra irritating (as kids sometimes are). FJ had really just wanted to go home and decompress, but decided to join us anyways.
We got my kids settled into bed-MD's new place has more room for them to sleep over
-and the three of us were going to snuggle in and watch a movie. Bug was having a hard time going to sleep, so we turned off the TV and waited for MD to get her settled. When MD came back in the room she was obviously stressed and said she just wanted to go to sleep. I was totally fine just snuggling and sleeping, and was looking forward to all waking up together. So here's where things got weird....
As I mentioned before, FJ was tired and had sorta just wanted to go home. But he felt pressured by me to all hang out, so he stayed. Of course this was just an assumption on his part, I did not tell him he couldn't leave. Because of previous conversations, he knew that I was eager to all be together again, and he felt some sort of duty to make that happen. Which is silly, but there was the essential breakdown in communication. FJ was also uncomfortable because we had talked about him not spending the night when Bug was with MD so that she wouldn't get confused...at least not yet. This was discussed between FJ and I because her history with her dad coming in and out of her life. So all this was in the back of his mind.
When MD came back to bed, FJ was feeling amorous and tried to initiate with MD. When she reiterated that she just wanted to sleep, FJ got up and said he needed to go home. Well, that was really shitty timing, and he didn't communicate all the reasons why he was feeling uncomfortable. So it seemed like he couldn't get MD to "give it up" and that's why he was leaving. He left, and I stayed because the kids were there and I didn't want to wake them after midnight. He texted a few times, trying to explain, but MD was pretty upset. Said she wasn't just a piece of ass, and this wasn't all about sex for her, and if we couldn't just lay in bed without having sex, there was something wrong and she had been wrong about a lot of things. Which of course, I agree with. She said FJ made her feel like every other experience with men she has had. :/
When it came down to it, FJ was just conflicted and uncomfortable with the whole situation. He would've been happy to sit there and watch a movie, but felt like he was responsible for making something happen for my sake. After we talked about it, I told him under no circumstances do I want him to do anything he feels pressured to do or that he's uncomfortable with, and that he misread me. He also expressed discomfort spending the night with Bug there, because he felt like that took him to a new level of intimacy and entanglement in MD's life. A level he wasn't sure how he or MD felt about. He was also just exhausted and wanted to sleep in his bed, not feeling like he'd be able to relax and sleep there. But in the moment, he didn't express any of this, and it was really shitty timing. MD and he have talked about it and will work it out, I'm sure.
So this is the great thing about making sure we have separate dyads going on. When there is a conflict between MD and FJ, it doesn't have to involve me. We are individuals with individual relationships with each other, and she doesn't associate a conflict with FJ as also being a conflict with me. I did a good job of staying out of it and not trying to talk for FJ, which was difficult for me. I know him better than he knows himself sometimes, and I could've guessed what he was thinking/feeling. But that's my history with him, and MD and he will have to build their own history, and style of conflict resolution. It can't be based on my way of dealing with FJ's communication style. So her and I talked about how she felt, and I comforted her without taking sides. It just reinforced my commitment to making sure I'm investing in and nurturing each relationship separately.
We talked more last night, just about her day and stress over money, etc. She thanked me for loving her, and for being there for her. We are spending lots of time together, none of it physical for now, but all of it quality and meaningful. It's building a foundation, more than friends, but not over the top NRE anymore. I'm happy with that, and not obsessing about every little thing has been the best thing for our relationship ever. So thankful that little break did the trick to open my eyes.