Asking For What You Want in a Relationship

As promised in the comments of Who Gets to Choose: the story of the time I said no to a break-up.

Long ago when I was a different person–not entirely, but quite a bit–I was dating an enchanting, vivacious woman who told me, “I don’t think we should date anymore.” This was not a huge surprise to me, there had been other hints dropped. During this moment I realized that I had no desire to stop seeing her, and since she used the word think I asked her to walk me through the reasons why.

At core it came down to the fact that I wasn’t the kind of person she saw herself marrying. Since her goal timeframe for marriage was still the better part of a decade away, I made the argument that there was no necessity for us to break-up. In fact I said, “No, I don’t agree to break-up with you. I am going to treat you the same in the future that I treat you now.”

So, how do you think that worked out? I followed through on my promise by inviting her to see a move the next Friday. That dinner and movie ended the way most of our Friday night dates ended. I continued to stop by to see her during the day when I was in the neighborhood (this was during the time that I didn’t have a phone), and continued to send her e-mails when I thought about her, and invite her to do things. For many weeks very little changed. We spent less pre-planned time together, but we still had a very intimate connection.

I don’t think that she liked this period of our relationship as much as I did. In the end she took the step necessary shutdown my behavior. She got a new boyfriend. Honestly, that didn’t stop me, but it did give her a much stronger reasoning for saying no to invitations (only dating one person at a time) and soaked up a lot of the free time that offered me opportunities to interact with her.

I know you may be wondering what this has to do with asking for what you want. Both of us put our cards on the table: “I don’t want to marry you,” and, “I don’t mind, I am going to preserver until this is over.” In the end I think we both got what we wanted: she did eventually marry someone who isn’t me and I got to not change my behavior.

As far as who chose our future I would say that I think she did. She was in a position to decide how much contact and opportunity I was given to win her over to my side. You could point out that I had an opportunity to up my game and win her heart, but I don’t think that was a real possibility, even if I had become a different person it would have fizzed and I would be in same place, and maybe resentful of what happened. You could point out that I could have actively pursued her later on, and maybe I could have, but I don’t think she would have liked it.

Ultimately, I made one really big bet. I bet that if I was open to whatever the future held, things would eventually come around. In many ways I think that they did. I would still consider her a good person, I suspect she would do the same. That reminds me…I need to write some songs for our epic supporters!

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