Half crazy

He loves me, he loves me not -- why won't he make up his mind?

By Cary Tennis
Published March 10, 2004 8:07PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I'm half crazy right now. I'm half a person right now -- half loved and half unloved. And I've lost the love of my life as a result of this silly dichotomy.

I met the man of my dreams in December. We had talks that lasted for hours, very many things in common, great sex, and a chemistry of a sort I'd never experienced before. I'd met my soul mate, after all.

I nursed him through a traumatic New Year's Eve surgery on his shoulder and I loved him through tales of his confused past. He's a recovering alcoholic; I went to A.A. meetings with him. He told me it was amazing that I did this. He told me he felt blessed.

But he only felt that way about half the time. The other half, it turns out, was spent agonizing about whether to break up with me and thinking I was probably too fat for him. He would tell me he loved me but not reciprocate my proclamations of love. He would get antsy when we spent too much time together.

At a bed-and-breakfast we broke up on Valentine's Day. We got back together a few days later, after we'd slept together and I'd let him move on. At that point, he realized he wanted me back. We had a great couple of weeks, and then he got weird again this weekend.

Tonight, after a talk with my therapist, I called him and told him what we'd discussed. He said his doubts had slipped back, and it was probably best that we ended things.

Cary, I'm smart and funny, I have a graduate degree, I have a cute face and nice curves. I'm a writer, a photographer, an artist, an actress. My friends tell me I should support myself using one of these many talents. But if I could, I'd use those talents just to make this man love me all the time, instead of half the time.

I want to marry him. I told him that I don't think one ever loves a significant other 100 percent, all the time. Even lovers get a little sick of each other. But I guess what he's doubting is more fundamental than that. It's his entire capacity to love me.

Why can't he see the logic of this pairing? He admits I'm more compatible with him than anyone else he's ever met, and at least some of the time I'm sexy. I'm always brilliant, to him, and funny, and he always loves the way I think, even when he doesn't love me. This man wants a family and so do I.

Just Saturday we were musing (again) about moving in together this summer. It's Monday night and based on our talk tonight and how he felt this weekend, it's over.

Why do I fall for men who can't, or won't, love me? Why am I not more angry? (My father's the most distant man I've ever known, and perhaps I'm trying unconsciously to get him back by converting some distant man into my worshipper.)

I know I have to love myself fully before a relationship will work, but I'm doing positive stuff for myself -- seeing a therapist, writing, going on trips, learning -- and at 30 finally a whole person after an amicable divorce a couple of years ago, I am realizing who I am and loving who I'm becoming.

He told me I deserved someone who knew he loved me as more than a friend. This man was the love of my adult life. I would walk through glass for him. He is beautiful in every way, Cary. Why won't he love me?

I would take him back in a heartbeat, but this time I would take nothing short of flowers, mariachi serenades, and his pledge of undying, unconditional love. So far there have been no flowers, not many mariachis and, since the beginning, no pledges at all.

Wanting Full-Time Love

Dear Wanting,

I'm sorry it didn't work out. You met your soul mate and then had to give him up. It's painful to receive such knowledge, but that's what happens: Soul mates bring knowledge of your being; they don't often hang around to get married. Soul mates are messengers, bearers of brief ecstatic news; they arrive, change your world, and depart.

The soul mate is not the marriage mate. Indeed, the soul cannot be married; only the body can marry. You don't live in your soul. You live in your refrigerator, in your car, on your bed, in your chair: You live in your body. Where your body brings you is where you stay. You couldn't bear to live in your soul. You'd burn up. The searing intensity of pure knowledge of being -- it would whiten your bones and leave you on the road, tumbling like the husk of an insect. So you meet your soul mate and he ignites who you are and you live in that flame for a few minutes at a time and that seems like an eternity. But neither of you could stand in that flame for long. Did you not know that? Did you think you could stand in the summer of his gaze without cracking?

Again, I'm sorry, and I'm sad for you, but I'm also rejoicing, as I wish you could as well. Because brief as it was, it ignited something in you that will keep burning. So here you are, lit up in a new now. That kind of gift does not disappear.

But you still need some practical guidance, don't you? You're still in the world of How do I find a man who will love me and be my husband? There is much to be said, but here is one thing germane to your situation: Beware of the ecstatic union that promises eternal bliss. Marriage is much about problem- solving and living in the world as it is.

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Cary Tennis

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