Confrontation & Communication

This weekend, I posted a photo on Facebook of Bryan and me together on our sailing trip. He promptly untagged himself. And I wasn’t surprised. He’d also untagged our Valentine’s photo together a month ago. And he never posts on my wall or really makes any indication of our relationship existing. It’s like I’m his secret non-girlfriend.

Having been on the brink of breaking up with him all week, I decided to call him to confront him for yet again denying any evidence of a relationship. I am normally a sane, rational, cool-headed person. When I operate out of the frenzied crazy place, it rarely ends well. But I was fed up. And he could tell when he answered the phone.

When I asked him why he’d untagged the photo of us in the Grenadines, he reminded me that he doesn’t like other people to know about all of his vacations because he’s being considerate and doesn’t want them to be jealous of his awesome life. There’s that humility coming through.

“I didn’t tag the location. It’s just a photo of us,” I countered.

“It’s clearly on a beach. And I’m Facebook friends with a lot of coworkers. I don’t want them asking questions about how I spend my vacation time.”

“What about our Valentine’s Day photo?” I asked.

“What about it?”

“Why’d you untag yourself in that one, too? Do you not want any of your friends to know about me?”

“No, I’d been asked by someone else to go to that Cirque du Soliel show, and I turned them down. I didn’t want them to see that I’d gotten tickets to go after all.”

“So I shouldn’t take it personally that you don’t want any photos of us to exist for public viewing?”

“Aurora, that’s not why I took down those photos. And anyway, why do you need Facebook photos to validate a relationship?”

I returned his cutting question with stony silence. He apologized a few seconds later. “That was unkind and uncalled for. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t need Facebook photos to validate our relationship. But it would be nice to have some evidence that you exist. You haven’t met ANY of my friends because you’re always busy, and some of them are starting to wonder. I got grilled at the happy hour after work today because I’d invited you, and you didn’t show up.”

“I would have shown up if you’d answered your phone when I called to see if you were there. I was actually planning on going.”

“You called me almost two hours after it started. I was on my way out.”

“Well not all of us can leave the office at 4PM.”

We moved to another topic, and soon I started to wind down the call, emotionally drained. “Well, have a good weekend” (He’d be out of town again). “Maybe I’ll see you sometime next week.”

“Why do you always say it like that? Of course you’ll see me next week.”

“Will I? I am never really sure with you.” Past boyfriends would always set up our next date at the end of the prior date so we both had something to look forward to and could rest in the assurance that we would see each other again, and soon.

Bryan responded, “Well, I want to see you, and you want to see me, so instead of assuming something negative, you should expect that we will make it happen.” Yeah, we’ll make it happen. Spontaneously. Last-minute. When it’s convenient for you, I thought.

“That’s the thing. I’m not sure you do want to see me,” I told him. I hadn’t planned to go there, but the conversation naturally moved in that direction. The gloves were coming off.

“Why would you say that? What does the empirical evidence tell you?” he asked me.

“Seriously? The empirical evidence tells me that you don’t want to see me and that I’m not a priority to you. Bryan, I went on a date with someone else tonight. And he told me seven different times over dinner that I was beautiful. He also added that I am smart, talented and a godly woman. He insisted that we take photos together to remember the evening. And there’s another guy – one I haven’t actually been out with yet – who texts me daily to let me know he’s thinking of me and wishes I were there with him. You don’t verbalize to me that I am cherished and valued by you. So the empirical evidence tells me that you don’t want to see me. Your words right now say that you do, but your actions speak otherwise.”

He paused briefly, possibly hurt, but masking it as always. “And when I asked you to come to that party with me after bible study this week? And then invited you back to my place even later that evening? Those actions communicated to you that I don’t want to spend time with you?”

“Actually, those actions surprised me –”

“Wow,” he interjected.

“–and I hoped they were an indication of a new direction for our relationship, but to guard my heart, I considered them an outlier until more evidence proved me wrong.”

“Actually, I’ve been thinking our relationship was going well and had decided to try something new. Why do you always take a negative stance?”

“It’s a defense mechanism. Believe it or not, I am a hopeless romantic and one of the most idealistic people you will ever meet. But because I am such an idealistically-minded romantic, I have been burned and disappointed by people my whole life. So I’ve learned to expect the worst to protect myself from further disappointment.”

“I can actually relate to you in your idealism and subsequent disappointment, but I have found that holding onto bitterness isn’t healthy for me, so I just decide to be happy and let the inevitable disappointments roll off instead of trying to protect myself from them. I like expecting the best. I’m not telling you how to be; I’m just telling you that I find it to be healthier for me.”

“And I’m just trying to explain to you why I operate the way that I do and help you understand where I’m coming from. I would probably operate less out of that defense mechanism if I felt more secure in your affection. In a successful relationship, both people need to be selfless and seek to meet the needs of the other–”

“I agree.”

I continued, “–and I’ve communicated to you my need for words of affirmation, but I haven’t seen any change. Just the other day, you commented that I looked tan, and when I asked you if the tan looked nice, you missed the opportunity to give me a compliment and instead made some comment like, ‘You tell me if you think it looks good.'”

“You were fishing for a compliment,” he stated.

“Yes,” I confirmed, unashamed.

“And which is more meaningful, an unsolicited compliment or one that is prompted?”

“Honestly, Bryan, at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get! I can count on one hand the number of times you’ve complimented me in the past five months!” The exasperation came through in my voice.

“I told you on the sailing trip that you looked beautiful in your sundress,” he countered.

“Yeah, that’s one of the five.”

In response, Bryan told me that, in his life experience, he has come across a lot of people (“my mother, for instance”) who try to elicit a desired response by baiting him, but he is anti-manipulation and has learned not to respond to the bait in order to teach people that their negative behavior is ineffective.

I could psychoanalyze that to death, but… “And has that been effective on me? ‘Training’ me not to fish for compliments?”

“Actually, yeah.”

“…Do you even want to date me? Look, if you’re just really not invested in this relationship and want to break things off, just tell me. I’d rather know so that we can start moving on with our lives.”

“I do want to date you. We hit a low point right at the start of the sailing trip, but we’ve come a long way since that night you sat in my car crying and telling me you regretted booking that trip with me. On that trip, we were never more than 50 feet away from each other. For ten days. And I think we learned how to be civil with each other even when one of us wasn’t in a good mood. I think we’re learning about each other, and our relationship is moving in a good direction. It’s not perfect, so there’s room for improvement on my part for sure, but I think it’s moving in a good direction. And… for the record… I like having you around.”

I smiled in spite of myself. Why can he so easily flip me from almost ending things to being bought in again? “Thanks. I like being around.” I think.

Authentically Aurora

Meeting Fabio (a Throwback Thursday post)

FabioI recently alluded to my run-in with the one and only Fabio Lanzoni.

At the request of Bitter Ben (one of my favorite bloggers of all time), here is the full scoop on that story!

Several months ago, I agreed to meet a friend for dinner at a local crunchy, granola, all organic, no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-your-food kind of place.

We met for an early dinner, so this hip restaurant was relatively empty as we walked up to the counter to place our orders. At least, it was empty except for this exceptionally tall and broad-shouldered man who was completely blocking the cash register while staring up at the menu behind the cashier, trying to decide what to order.

Internally rolling my eyes at this guy who was so oblivious to the fact that there were people waiting in line behind him, I tapped him on the bicep (he was too tall for me to tap him on the shoulder) and said, “Excuse me. Are you ready to order, or do you mind if we go ahead?”

He turned to look at me, surprised – he had kind eyes – and said warmly, “No, please go ahead.” He gestured with a wave of his arm for us to move ahead of him in line.

So I stepped up to the register, stated my order, and was surprised to see the girl at the register gaping at me. I stared back at her. “What?” I asked.

“That’s Fabio!” she hissed at me under her breath.

I had no idea what she was talking about. You renamed your turkey burger “the Fabio”? That’s weird.

She must have seen my blank expression, because she said again – this time jerking her head in the direction of the broad-shouldered man – “That guy behind you! It’s Fabio!”

Oh. Cool…?

I knew I was supposed to have some kind of a reaction, but I just shrugged, paid, and moved along. All I knew was that Fabio was some guy with long hair who used to pose for the covers of romance novels. Since I don’t read romance novels or fantasize about long-haired men, I was pretty nonplussed.

Soon after my friend and I sat down, women of all ages flocked the tall man, batting their eyelashes and asking for autographs. I looked him up and down, curious. He’s not an unattractive man, but honestly, in person, he almost seemed like a cartoon character. His features are so distinctive and almost disproportionate that he reminded me of a cross between Disney’s Tarzan (facial features/hair) and Kronk (pure bulk).

I hope he appreciated that I treated him like I would have treated anyone else. I imagine it would be nice to feel like a normal person rather than a celebrity to be tip-toed around or used as a prop for Facebook and Instagram bragging rights.

Even if only by one woman and only for one moment, Fabio got to experience a bit of normalcy that afternoon waiting in line at the cafe. And hey, after sitting in a pew with Lyle Lovett harmonizing to church hymns, what’s a run-in with the Icon of Eye Candy?

Authentically Aurora

Wanted: Date or Apology

flynn_rider_wanted_poster_by_ayameclyne-d37lejeWhen Flynn and I had lunch a few weeks back, I didn’t initially post about it because our conversation was too close to my heart to share publicly. It was too precious a memory to display online for all to see.

But I’m ready now.

After bumping into each other once in the parking garage and twice in the cafeteria, Flynn and I had agreed to meet for lunch the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Going into that lunch, I tried to keep my expectations low. I kept telling myself, “Flynn is a coworker. A friend. Nothing more. He has a girlfriend. Sure, we have ridiculous personality chemistry and forged an immediate bond, but nothing can happen. This is just a friendly lunch between coworkers.”

We rendezvoused in the office cafeteria that Tuesday, and my face lit up the instant I saw Flynn striding toward me. I can’t help but smile when I see him. He has an aura of charisma and playfulness that makes my heart feel light. He hugged me hello, and then we each got our meals – a salad for me and sushi for Flynn. He tends to sit in the same place every day (a fact I’d noticed over the preceding weeks), so we settled into his usual place.

We talked about lots of things – work and church and family and friends – and we were both grinning like fools the entire time. Flynn is hilarious. He makes me laugh out loud constantly. And he makes me happy. But every time I started to drift up toward Cloud Nine, I reminded myself to keep my heart in check. He’s spoken for.

After hearing about yet another one of my hobbies partway through lunch, Flynn said with mock exasperation, “Is there anything you don’t do?!” I laughed and told him I’m a pretty terrible swimmer. “But I do great photography, so if you’re going to be in the need for engagement portraits any time soon…” I raised my eyebrows expectantly.

His mood instantly changed. His roguish grin faded, and his twinkling eyes looked down at the table. “Yeah… I wanted to talk to you about that today…” his voice trailed off. He looked up at me then, searching my eyes as he said, “I’ve been meaning to break up with Patricia for a while. Before I even met you, in fact. The weekend before our camping trip, I was going to end things, but I got into a motorcycle wreck and ended up in the hospital.” So that was the reason for his knee surgery. I hadn’t realized he’d gotten into a wreck.

“She stayed by my side the whole time,” he continued, “And I felt like I couldn’t end it then.  And now it’s getting into the holiday season, and I just… I know it will crush her. I know I need to do it, but the timing never seems to be right.”

I listened quietly, letting him share as much or as little as he wanted. I tried to keep my face neutral, but on the inside I was simultaneously flooded with joy for myself and compassion for Patricia. I’ve had my heart broken so many times. Devastatingly broken. And she’s clearly expecting a ring for Christmas. Instead, she’s going to get heartache.

After he finished telling me about Patricia, the twinkle returned to Flynn’s eye, and he teased me, “And why aren’t you dating anyone? You’re quite the catch!”

It was my turn to be somber. I looked thoughtful for a moment; then said, “I’ve found that I tend to intimidate most guys. Everyone wants to take me on a date to try to solve the mystery, but once they get to know me, they get overwhelmed and – in their own words – don’t feel ‘man enough’ to lead me. I’m supposedly ‘too much’ for most guys.”

Flynn raised one eyebrow at me. “I know what kind of man you need. You need a strong alpha male to lead you.” He paused; then continued, “I could be the kind of man you need.”

Woah. I was completely taken aback at his boldness. So much so that I started giggling nervously and blushing profusely. Then he started blushing! He fanned himself comically. “Whew, did it suddenly get hot in here?” We laughed, both embarrassed; then Flynn chucked and said, “Let’s hit the pause button on that conversation for a week or so until it’s appropriate for us to be talking about such things.” I wholeheartedly agreed.

We ended the lunch, and I fully expected to hear from Flynn the next week. Or the week following. But he has ceased all communication with me, despite having both my phone number and instant messaging capability at work. I know it would be inappropriate for us to talk while he’s still with Patricia, but shouldn’t he have broken up with her by now?

This week I finally reactivated my dormant Facebook account to have a look and discovered they’re still dating. Our lunch was three weeks ago. And he’s been meaning to break up with her for nearly two months. I am disappointed… and know better than to keep waiting.

Authentically Aurora