Cut to the Chase, Part I

This scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding is on my mind today. More and more in recent years, I have found myself being the chaser, rarely the chasee {or, if I was, the chaser was less than desirable and I was likely to keep running indefinitely}. Something happened last night that was both unexpected and yet somewhat predictable, and I don’t know what to do with the way I feel about it.

Charles is someone I met online a few years ago. I really liked him right off the bat and could see a future with him under different circumstances. He’s a family man, seems to really have his act together. Cares more about spending quality time with his family than going out and partying. He was a refreshing change to most of the guys I had met {and have met since}.

He lives here but works out of state, coming back and forth whenever his schedule allows. He didn’t look me up every time he was home, but did on occasion. I always wanted more from him but was somewhat content with what we did have. Even though I’ve gone on plenty of dates with other guys and have even gotten at least a little serious with a couple of them, part of me still held out hope that somehow things would work out with Charles. We’ve kept in touch, seeing each other very sporadically, but his genuine care and concern kept me from letting him go. Without ever meaning to, I began to love him. I subconsciously compared other guys to him, and they usually came up short.

Sometime last year, I found out he had serious heart problems. I can’t say I was surprised. He was under a huge amount of stress, working full time out of state and regularly driving back and forth eight hours each way to be there as the head of his family. His kids are here, as is his grandmother, who is in poor health. I was genuinely concerned for him, telling him more than once that he couldn’t continue like this. He was slowly driving himself into the ground in an effort to be there for everyone else.

Around Christmas, he told me he’d had quintuple {!!} bypass surgery on his heart and was in town recovering at his sister’s house. I was glad he’d had the surgery but it was still scary to think of him going right back into the same situation that got him there in the first place. It bothered me that he only just got around to telling me after who knows how many weeks here. Granted, he was recovering from serious heart surgery, but if I meant anything to him at all {other than a friend with benefits, which I strongly suspected was the case}, he would have contacted me much sooner.

Late last week, he said he’d be going back to work soon and wanted to see me. He didn’t say when, and I didn’t ask. After feeling like I’d been chasing him for the better part of our ‘relationship,’ I figured that if he really wanted to see me, he’d make it happen.

Earlier today, we were texting about Mardi Gras, and he asked if I’d ever been to New Orleans. I said that yes, I had been there twice and would love to go back because it’s such an amazing city. His response was that I should find us a nice hotel room and we should go. I was utterly speechless. Was he saying I was more than just a friend? You don’t just invite a woman to go on vacation unless she means something, do you? My mind was reeling. Finally, I said, “You really want to go on vacation with me?” He replied, “Why not?” {A confident ‘yes’ would have been nice, but whatever.} I decided to put it out there. I said that I had thought I was nothing more to him than a friend with benefits. He didn’t respond for an hour or more, so I said, “Maybe I’m just reading too much into it,” to which he quickly replied that yes, I was reading too much into it. Then he said, “We can even get separate beds if you want. I just want to go on a real vacation.” I felt like he had punched me in the stomach.

We’ve really shared some emotional times, like more than once when he was on the verge of tears over missing his kids, like when he was genuinely concerned for me at times when I was sick. On more than one occasion, his kids were there when I came over to see him. I thought that meant something, somehow. He has told me more than once that if he was working here, he’d want me to be his woman. But I guess all I am is a convenience to him. I’ve found myself in this position before…realizing I’m nothing more than someone to pass the time with. Why is that? Because I’m a nice person? Because I foolishly allow myself to become emotionally invested in people?

I think, where Charles is concerned, the blinders have finally come off. I’m forced to see things for what they are, and it hurts. I guess I’ve known all along there was a strong possibility that nothing long-term would ever come of this relationship, but I can’t help feeling like we might have been good for each other as more than FWB. I’ll never know. I can be his friend, but I won’t ever allow myself to drift back into that gray ‘benefits’ category. As much as I enjoyed spending time with Charles, I need to have enough respect for myself not to be convenient to him anymore.

On the bright side, something else is brewing that could {possibly} make this a moot point. When Charles first mentioned the vacation, I knew that had he brought this up a year or two ago, I probably would have jumped through hoops to make it happen. Now, I’m not so delusional, and I realize the grass is not really greener on his side of the fence. Stay tuned.

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One thought on “Cut to the Chase, Part I

  1. Pingback: Cut to the Chase, Part II | Kissing Frogs

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