Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Date with a Unicorn Pt 19: Nobody's Perfect

About a week and a half before Valentine's Day, I got a phone call from Mr. U, just as I was headed to bed...

"So, what are your thoughts on Valentine's Day?" he asked me. "Oh, um, I don't know," I replied. "I hadn't really thought of it." Which is true, I hadn't. And this question really caught me off guard. "Because...." he started to talk, then paused. And I knew. This wouldn't be good. "Because, I was thinking....that.... (just spit it out already right!) ....well I want to do something special. Really special. Its just that...Valentine's Day is Monday and I was in this meeting today and my boss implied its gonna be a pretty big day at work. So I was just thinking, we'll do something, we'll definitely do something. But maybe not on the day. Maybe later in the week. Is that okay?"

Is that okay? Was that okay? Hmm. Now based on all of the many, many Valentine's Day posts out there this week, both in favor and against, whether single, or coupled, I am well aware that people have very strong feelings about this day. And I say, to each his or her own. On my part, if you had read my Vday post, which can be found here, you would know that I happen to like Valentine's Day. I like all holidays. I like wearing appropriate color and attire, eating holiday themed baked cookies and breaking up the general doldrums of life with fun and flare and family and friends and on and merry on. But, and there is a but, I could take or leave Valentine's Day - if I had to. However... Mr. U did not know this about me at the time he asked this question. We are a new couple and this was our first Valentine's together. For all he knew it was my favorite day of the year and I was the most romantic, into it person ever and he was crushing my hopes and dreams. For all he knew. So was it a big deal he wanted out of it? Maybe. Not because Valentine's Day is a day to make all men and significant others and singles suffer and because people should have to buy lots of crap and eat lots of crap and be as perfect and over the top as possible just to prove their affections. But, because it was a holiday, any holiday, and for all he knew it meant something to me and he was bailing - because. of. work.

And there's the rub. It's been pretty interesting writing about Mr. U up 'til now as this perfect mythical creature of an eligible man and now boyfriend. I've had my own self at times re-swooning as I chronicled his patience and kindness and planning and sexiness and romantics and biceps and beard and chivalry. So much so - that some of you have started to wonder if he even exists. Or if this relationship has any depth at all. Where are his flaws? His imperfections? Some of you have asked - Don't you argue? Don't you disagree? One reader was "very skeptical of emotions like this," while another wise lady cautiously advised: "normalcy. It's fun to get excited, but almost impossible to meet expectations when you set them so high." Others were on board for the magical ride and described our dates as like out of a fairytale or a movie. Ultimately though, Nobody's that Perfect.

And I'm here to tell you - nobody's that perfect. Not even, Mr. U. It's safe to say then, that the jig is up...

The truth is, he's got a few flaws. His biggest one - he's a workaholic. Day and night. Night and day. Early mornings. Late evenings. And on the weekends. And he loves it. And takes pride in it. He craves that intellectual stimulation and the challenges and just working hard and making things happen. And I can't say I don't like this. As a self-proclaimed workaholic myself I know all about the demands of a corporate law firm and being a young professional in this city - working your way up - being noticed - being a big shot. I know all about wanting to be the best, to make money and that constant ticking inside to go, go, go.

But I can't help but wonder - Is his job really this important and demanding? Is this really what is required of him or is he putting in more time and effort than is truly necessary? Where is the balance? What things might he be disregarding and denying and neglecting every time he chooses work instead? What kind of life would we have together if we ended up together? Because fundamentally, people don't change. Maybe a little. But not really. And you shouldn't go into a relationship thinking that you'll be the difference. Because you probably won't be. So could I live a full and happy life with Mr. U who is also Mr. Workaholic??? Could I also be actively supportive of this lifestyle and make the necessary sacrifices and provide the necessary conveniences to Mr. U so that he can sustain this lifestyle and so that he, too, can have a full and happy life?

I've heard it before. Don't get too far ahead of yourself. Don't over think it. Just relax, breath, have fun. But I disagree with any of those thoughts on this one. We've been dating for months. My feelings are strong. His feelings are strong. I'm 28 years old. If I don't see a future with this man, it's time to cut and run. Really. Before any more time is wasted. I don't want to date, marry and eventually divorce someone because we were fundamentally not a good match, for something I foresaw at the beginning and didn't address. So I'll ask myself again, can I live with a man who is a workaholic?

I imagine the worst. I imagine him missing the birth of our children. Being out of town on anniversaries. Missing soccer games and music recitals. Christmas Eves and long weekends at the beach. Being home too late for dinner. Not helping with homework. Not taking long vacations. Not asking me about my day. And worse - not being with him enough. Seeing him enough. Talking to him enough. Making love to him enough. Will it be enough?

As it is, Mr. U makes plans with me 1-3 times a week. We spend the night together on most of those days, 1-3 times a week. We schedule our dates well in advance and there is usually an exact time and decided upon activity. We do not stray from the schedule. If I weren't Type A myself, I'd tear my hair out - but as it turns out, I'm just as neurotic and this works well for me too. In between our dates, I rarely hear from him. It's radio silence. No phone calls. No texts. No emails. Nothing. When this began to bug me, I came up with the concept of "acknowledging my existence." I told him we didn't need to talk every day or have long conversations but he needed to acknowledge my existence. So he began to acknowledge my existence. One email at a time. 3 words at a time. Like a robot drone. Or provide me with updated information: "Will be hungry." "I'll cab it." "Good luck with another day of lawyering." "Just checking in to see how you're doing!" Or apologizing: "ugh yeah sorry to be short- stuff keeps piling on."

This continued until I told him that when I didn't hear from him for days and then all I got was a four word email saying: "Another dolla dolla day" (yes that really happened) that I had to remind myself, sometimes forcefully and occasionally out loud that yes, this was my boyfriend writing to me, and yes he did in fact actually like me. He said he woudl try to do better but ultimately I know I need to accept that this is just who he is when we aren't physically in front of each other. In person, he can talk all night. About almost anything. Fascinating, interesting, intelligent, romantic things. That I could listen to - for the rest of my life. But when he's in the work zone, doing his thing, not with me - he is working AND NOT with me. And he's not gonna call a lot or text a lot or email a lot. And when he does - it'll be 3 word emails - that are slightly dissatisfying. Again I ask the question - is this enough?

And the answer is YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes and more yes. He may be at work a lot. A lot, a lot. But he makes time for me. More than he probably makes time for anyone else. And he makes sure he's going to see me by thinking of me in advance, plotting time out for me in his schedule, planning fabulous and exciting or simple and relaxing dates each time. And the quality of our time together is extraordinary. We always have a tremendous time together. Laughing, happy, satisfied, sexified, joyous, dancing, singing, friendly, interesting, fascinating, romantic, intelligent, relaxing, delicious, cultural, tremendous times. True - sometimes he's tired and sometimes he's late. But he cares about me. He makes times for me. He always shows up. And he never disappoints. How can I fault him for that?

Nobody's Perfect. Everyone has faults. So which faults can you live with? For me - there are a few faults, quirks, annoyances, less than ideal traits. He tucks in his shirts (sometimes), he is a total dork and not hip with pop culture/entertainment/media/technology/slang at all, he cares a little bit too much about clothes and materialistic things for my taste, he is short with thinning hair, he is friends with all his ex-girlfriends and dozens more girls whom he has strong one-on-one relationships with (which I struggle not to be jealous of), he hates cheese (who doesn't like cheese), he cares a little too much about being in shape (so that I worry when I'm post-pregnancy fat he might be repulsed by me), yet eats a thousand pounds times his weight in food (he is a human garbage disposal and acts like it), he can't carry a tune in a bucket and his dancing is even worse, he is always cold and actually shivers convulsively, he gets carsick and cant read in a vehicle or bus and yes - he is a textbook - WORKAHOLIC. And he acts like one. He ignores me a little and he brings his work home with him. The fatigue. And the stress. It is always on his mind.

If these are my biggest problems - that he works too much, works out too much and hates cheese? Then I know, I know -- I'm one seriously lucky girl. This man is tremendous. Just like our time together. He is an extraordinary individual. Worth learning how to cook without cheese, going to the gym (a little more) and putting up with 3 word robot emails as our only contact in between personal appearances.

Because the flaws, quirks and annoyances are counteracted by the following many, wonderful traits: He is: (1) brilliantly smart (2) fit (3) has a great job and is (4) very financially stable (5) owns his own apartment (6) he's resourceful and handy and fixes his own shit around the house (7) dresses really well (8) decorates his place tastefully (9) is a SUPER NICE guy and has a million friends (9) he's fun (10) generous (11) well-traveled (12) articulate (13) outgoing (14) educated (15) has a nice family that he values (16) He'll make a good husband (17) he'll make a good father and says he wants a family (17) He's great in bed (18) He's patient (19) kind (20) He never raises his voice or says anything mean about anyone. (21) He lets people be themselves and values them for their differences. (22) He is himself (with no excuses). (23) He's not super-religious but more spiritual. (24) Before he turns on any light he says "lights" because he knows I don't like being shocked by bright lights (25) He tells me nice things about me like "You look lovely" and "I like the way your mind works (26) He plans great dates (27) he actually listens to me (28) he sent me flowers on my birthday (29) he is proud to be seen with me and introduces me to all his millions of friends. (30) he opens doors (31) he pays (32) he talks to me about important stuff (33) he's responsible (34) he's clean and neat (35) he knows how to cook a little (36) he sings all out and karaoke even though he knows he sucks at it which is really endearing (37) he has great green eyes (38) and an amazing scruffy beard and on top of all that -he generally treats me like a princess and is a good and decent human being overall.

Who cares about 3 worded workaholic emails when someone has all the rest of it going for them. In truth, he's the total package. If I don't hold on to him, some other girl would snap him up and try to lock that down ASAP. True, he may work long hours his whole life, but he'll be proud and happy with himself in his career, provide for his family and contribute to the community. What more can you ask for?

So if you ask me if this is a real guy I'm describing here or a fictional character from a fairy tale, I'd have to say both. He is real. He is not perfect. But he might just be - my happy ending. I can only hope.

In the meantime, I've made a little progress on the 3 word drone emails. I coached him: "You have to write them like you actually like me." "But I do like you he says. I like you a lot!" Nevertheless, I needed more. And I told him so. So now, here's what I get:
"want to get out of here to be back with you!"
"Looking forward to tonight!"
"been moving 110 mph. very glad I get to stop and see you tonight."
"The night drags on but I'm happy thinking of you."
"you should know that while I am always happy to make an acknowledgment of your existence, I'm thinking about you everyday."
*Swoon*. Has he changed? Maybe a little. But not really. But when a man thinks of you like that, isn't it enough?

So was it okay that Mr. U was too busy working to spend Valentine's Day with me? "Yes," I told him. "It's okay." "Can you swing Sunday night?" I asked him hopefully. "I don't know," he answered. "Well think about it," I said. "If its feasible, great. If it's not, don't worry. But try. You don't have to do anything but show up to my place and I'll do the rest." "Okay," he said.

I mean, he does so much already. Sometimes its my turn to be his unicorn. And so I was. I understood. I was flexible. I did all the planning and all the thoughtfulness and all the romantics and all the work. All he had to do was show up. And he did. And like always, we had a tremendous time.


WashingTina said...

I liked this post a lot. You've done a lot of acknowledging that you aren't perfect, so I'm glad to see that he isn't either. Nobody is . . . but it's what you can and cannot live with that makes the relationship stand the test of time. And what you can and cannot work on to make better about yourself because you care about someone else's happiness. I'm not a neat freak, but I put my stuff away because it makes my WH happy. WH used to not plan things in advance, but he's gotten much better at it. Because we care about each other. Simple as that.

Kissing and Other Disasters said...

I agree with WashingTina, I'm glad to know about his flaws.
I've dated the workaholic and have done the whole "what happens when we have kids things" but I was just jumping ahead of myself. I think the workaholics realize they are ones and make up for it. and at least you get the little emails... i think it is a little cute, that he cares enough to send you 3 words.

Sarah said...

He sounds perfect for you. That's all that matters :)

Toddy said...

Thanks for all the comments Tina, Kissing and Sarah. This was a long post. Not as romantic as my usual spiel but sometimes I gotta talk about the real stuff. you know? and work out some of the neurosis. It happens, T.

J said...

He doesn't like cheese?! What a strange man. Actually my ex was a lactard, and I'm a vegetarian, so many of our meals were unintentionally vegan. I don't miss that! Nice post, as always!

Toddy said...

Thanks for stopping by J! Can't wait for a Cameron update, T.

Toddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jess of said...

Just laughing along with you here because my BF is exactly the same with the communication silence between dates! Or at least he was. It may offer you some hope that he's gotten increasingly better over time. And for my part, I've also gotten better at not reading into it. Different communication styles are fine and compromise can make a world of difference.

Toddy said...

Jess - so good to know I'm not alone, that it will likely get better and that even if it doesn't it probably doesn't mean all that much. oh boys!-gotta love um I guess. Thanks for stopping by, T.