Sunday, January 16, 2011

The trees in the forest

Dreamy and I went up to Maine for a quick visit this weekend, along with my sister and her recently-promoted boyfriend (now fiance), the Sensitive Bostonian. On the drive home, Dreamy began querying me about different important relationships I've had in my life, both romantic and non. He loves doing this, just as he loves looking at the photographs of me as a child scattered around my parents' house; it's clear that he could listen to me talk for hours -- a very good trait in a boyfriend.

After he was done, Dreamy began responding to my descriptions, and I immediately laughed because he sounded so much like a therapist. "I notice a parallel between your relationship with X and your relationship with Z," he began, and went on to pontificate on the ways in which I have felt helped and hindered by various important people in my life. At the end, he queried, "Was that too therapist-y for you?"

"A little," I replied honestly, and went on to explain. What I was feeling as Dreamy talked was the same frustration I often felt during sessions with my own, now sadly neglected Wise Woman: Any description I could give during a car ride, or an hourlong session in a therapist's office, of a 4, or 8, or 31-year long relationship is bound to be an oversimplification. People are complicated, and relationships are complicated, and I find it next to impossible to describe a relationship without afterward remembering a gazillion examples of interactions that completely undermine what I just finished saying. For instance, what Dreamy gleaned from my tales was that I felt empowered during my relationship with my Italian ex, l'Artista, because he encouraged me to try new things and to be independent, and I felt stifled by La Moustache because he protected me too much. But l'Artista could also be very protective of me, and I can easily think of any number of things that I would never have tried had it not been for La Moustache.

I realize that it's a necessary skill to see past all the details and make decisions based on the forest, and not the trees, but it's one that I have trouble with, especially since I tend to live in the moment and be quite distracted by whatever tree happens to be right in front of me. I notice the same thing with Dreamy: 99% of the time he's wonderful and thoughtful, and he constantly says sweet, cheesy things to me, like "I just got shivers all over my body because I like you so much." However, he can also be a huge space cadet (as I may have mentioned once or twice), and can be quite thoughtless at times -- not because he means to at all, but purely for lack of noticing that he's being thoughtless. For instance, sometimes he forgets that his chin is scratchy and hurts me when he kisses me (I know this sounds innocuous, but seriously, his 5 o'clock shadow is CRAZY SCRATCHY -- as evidenced by the rugburn I got when we first started dating). Or, the other day he had to work late and I offered to bring him dinner after work, but he got hungry and decided to have a snack to tide him over, which turned into a full-fledged dinner -- and then he forgot to inform me that this had happened, until I started to unpack my overflowing tupperware filled with delicious home-cooked food, at which time he finally mentioned that he was stuffed.

Dreamy always feels terrible when he commits these faux pas, and apologizes profusely. Most of the time, even when he's being a bit clueless, I feel like the positives far outweigh the negatives; after all, if all else fails I know that I have only to tell Dreamy what to do to make me happy and he will spare no effort to do it. Still, there are moments when he behaves cluelessly and completely lose sight of all the great things about him.

And on that note, I'm off to watch the Patriots game and try really, really hard to like football, for Dreamy's sake.

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