Relationships Are Hard Work

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It was a rainy Tuesday night and Robert and I were huddled under his umbrella walking through midtown to one of our favorite restaurants. Our dinner that night was a last minute decision after work, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to get things off my chest.

We made small talk for a while as we waited for our food. I took a few small sips of wine and tried to remember the speech I’d been preparing but I couldn’t, so I took a deep breath and jumped right in, while praying that my words would make sense.

“So… I’ve been thinking– I date a LOT, but its hard for me to fully pursue things with other guys because of what I have with you.”

I took a breath and kept going, “I know you’re not like, my ‘boyfriend’, but I feel like we’re more than ‘friends’ and… we’re in this kind of… like, grey area… so I just figured I should bring it up, you know– so we could like, talk about it.”

(Yes, I say “like” a lot when I’m nervous.)

When I finished stumbling through my speech Robert just stared at me, stunned. He didn’t say anything for what felt like hours. “I think what you’re asking is completely fair,” he began. “I’ve been thinking that we should have this conversation too….”

“Okay,” I replied slowly.

“I like you… a lot, and lately I feel like my feelings for you have been getting stronger…” I nodded quietly as Robert continued.

“I’ve been holding off from starting a relationship since my last one ended because relationships are hard work, but you constantly make me reconsider that,” he said, looking me in my eyes.

“So, why have you held back?” I asked.

“Because relationships are hard work…”

My heart sank, “so you don’t want us to be in a relationship.”

“I do want us to be in a relationship, but I think our timing is important. We have something, I just want to make sure we don’t mess it up, so I think we should take some time and figure things out… together.”

As we began to talk through what we wanted and what we needed, I started to realize something about myself. Although I date constantly, an exclusive relationship isn’t something that I have a lot of experience with. I assumed a relationship meant that Robert and I would hang out, make out but basically keep things exactly as they were. Robert brought new things to my attention. He said that if he were in a relationship with me, he would begin to take me into consideration when making decisions and it wouldn’t only be about “him” and “me”, but it would be about “us”.

I hadn’t considered any of those things… to me that type of thinking comes more with living together or marriage, but if Robert takes relationships that seriously, I would need to asses myself and see if I was up to the task. When I broached the topic of a relationship with Robert, I thought it was something I was ready for, but now I wondered if I needed to slow down a little bit.

Luckily Robert was ready and willing to give me (I mean… us) time….

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  • http://twitter.com/girltrueheart Lusty Sagittarian

    I’m confused about my own reaction to this post, and I think it is partly because I feel (I know it is silly) somewhat protective of you, like you’re my little cyber sis.

    I want to bounce up and down and be wildly happy for you. Kudos for even getting the words out there. I’m sure they stuck in your throat like dry toast.

    Part of me winced when Robert said “timing is important.” Yes, it is. But every day life goes on. True, a relationship isn’t something to enter into lightly. But doesn’t he know you well enough by now to know if he’d like to take you into consideration when he makes social decisions? It makes me think Robert is hedging his bets or waiting to see what else pops up around the corner.

    I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t wait patiently. But that’s me, not anyone else.

    Of course, if his reaction gave you reason to pause and reflect as it did, then perhaps it is all for good reasons, and time will tell the true path to take.

    I hope the day comes when you and Robert decide together to seize the day.

  • http://thetaleofgoingnatural.blogspot.com Leslie @ The Tale of Going Natural

    I think one of the hardest things about being in a relationship is to go from thinking “What is best for me” to “what is best for us.” It is something I consistently struggle with, even after almost two years of marriage.

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  • http://www.knightramblings.blogspot.com Knight

    It’s about damn time you started this conversation. Now that it is out in the open you can continue to address it and see where it leads. Who knew he took things so seriously? It sounds like what you really wanted to tell him was “I want to make out with you” and then move on to “exclusively” but not to “at our wedding”. At least you know he doesn’t take things lightly but he needs to know first comes LOVE and THEN comes marriage. Don’t skip steps.

  • Shachar

    Relationships are hard work for selfish/independent people. I’ve been married for ten years and I still struggle to find balance in my life. There are times that my husband doesn’t want to go/participate in certain things and I find myself doing them alone almost as if I was single. The thing I miss the most about being single is the ability to take off at a moments notice with out checking in with someone else, that was precious to me. But having a partner that is there when you are most vulnerable is great too, relationships are trade offs.

  • juliette

    I think that Robert is totally on point. The fact that Cece wasn’t in the same place in her thoughts means that he was probably right to proceed cautiously. I think that it’s really cool that he has a serious perspective about what relationships are and was able to communicate it so clearly. I’m surprised that some think that his perspective is rushing it – it seems the natural progression from where they’ve been to me. I hope that this works out Cece, he seems like a good guy who’s really making an effort to communicate.

  • Bethany

    Yes, they are hard work! Maybe the talk you two should be having is moving into exclusivity. No need to put the pressure of the relationship on each other yet, but by this point (frankly) he should respect you enough to be able to agree to that. It will help keep things clear – without the distractions of jealousy, extra people and all the associated baggage. Besides, if it’s all about the right timing and seeing if it’s worth the hard work, then other girls shouldn’t have much appeal to him!

  • Marsha

    One question: If he takes it so seriously why didn’t he approach you in a serious manner before and tell you how he felt rather than send mix signals?

    I hope this works out for you, but I was in a situation where the guy said the same thing. The difference in my case was that ultimately he was just trying to give me as little as possible to keep me interested, while he continued doing his own thing. Robert’s actions after this will mean much more than his words. If, at any time, you feel like you are again alone in this thing you have “together” it will be time to reflect. Again, best of luck to you!

  • http://zombieloveaffair.blogspot.com Danielle

    When I first started reading this and he said “Timing is important” I immediately starting thinking that he was going to put you on the back burner. I also do not have much experience with relationships and had until recently started dating someone that was sailing into relationship city. It SAILED into it, is what I’m saying. Yes, it is hard trying to fit someone new into your life and think “we” instead of “me”, however it just happens.

    Its not like you guys are talking about marriage right now. I think that the idea of dating exclusively should be brought to the table, see how you two manage and if it doesn’t seem like something you want to do with him, then end it.

  • http://lamprophony-me.blogspot.com/ Hilde

    Hi. Today Im home from work because of my knee (cant move it) and was searching through internet as I often do, and suddenly your page came up to my attention. I read through your blog and I really like it :) So Im adding you to my bookmarks , so I can read your blog everyday :) Im a 26 years old woman from Norway, so now you got a fan from Norway, Oslo :) If you have some stores, coffe shops or other stuff you really like, I would be happy if you wrote about it. I really want to travel to New York this year, lucky you who is living there :)
    Hope everything will work out for you and Robert, just remember ; Follow your heart :)

  • the78msj

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that serious relationships were practice for getting in the mindset of marriage and shouldn’t be entered into lightly bit that’s my opinion.

  • Curvy-Ness

    OMG CeCe!!! It creeps me out how alike we are in where we are in our lives. Reading this is making me rethink the convo I was going to bring up with the guy I’m currently dating. I was totally thinking the same way you were about relationships. To me, it’s just exclusive, we make out and hang out more… no serious planning, no seriousness, just what we have, but better. I’m a firm believer that everyone is put in our lives for a reason, and from what I know of you, Robert is an especially important one in your life. It’s great that he really does want to think this over so seriously, but at the same time he should at least give you exclusivity. I agree with Lusty Saggitarian (hehe cute name) that he may be holding off to see what comes next. But it’s all in God’s hands.

    I’m very proud of proud of you for bringing up this discussion. Now to build my own courage to do the same thing.. In the back of my head I wonder though, shouldn’t he be the one asking me? Eh, I’ll take matters into my own hands. I guess we always have to be careful what we ask for, we just might get an answer… I can’t wait to read what happens next!!!

    xoxo, V

  • Lauren

    I don’t often times hear about guys that are mature and have their head on straight but the things he said are a really good sign. If you’re not a bit cautious when it comes to commitment, then you don’t know what you’re getting into. I agree with Juliette that he gauged Cece well and proceeded wisely. Real relationships are work and sacrifice but this guy is starting to sound more and more like a winner.

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  • http://colormeneurotic.blogspot.com Nikki

    I am the exact opposite of you. I’m used to being in a relationship but I am terrible at dating, so terrible that I have been ruining potential relationships because of it. I hope whatever happens with Robert that it is for the best and makes you both happy!

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