So here is what is up.
Zen Master and I have been getting into a lot of fights over more or less the same issue. Our relationship isn’t so zen anymore. Nothing has changed per se, but I think it’s more so that I’ve come to realize how inflexible of a person he is… and that actually he resembles many of the autistic traits that I saw in Volleyball Coach.
On my birthday, Zen Master plans nothing. He wakes up at 6am to do nothing. Coming into 10am when I wake up, I ask him if he would like me to make steak and eggs for breakfast, to which he didn’t seemed enthused about, except he doesn’t make any other suggestions – to order in, or to go out for brunch, nothing. So I say that’s all I have in my fridge and we agreed to eat that for brunch. After we eat… he goes to sleep. What was I supposed to do? I felt cornered, I’m stuck in a house with this guy that made no plans for my birthday and because he’s sleeping on an alternating schedule with me, I cannot even leave my house. We do not live together, if he’s going to be like that, he should have just gone home.
Notable to say that he did get me flowers, wine glasses, a bottle of wine and cake for my birthday. But it’s like he feels like he’s done his duty with these things, when I got mad when he woke up, he literally pointed at these things and asked for credit… it’s not like I didn’t acknowledge the gifts, it’s that it doesn’t make the situation different.
So, I left and drove an hour out of town to see The Divorcee. I had not seen him for nearly half a year due to covid and because I’m busy with Zen Master. I come over, he has dinner waiting for me, we get high and drunk, and he picked some 90s songs into a list and mix it with my DJ mixer. It was a fantastic night, nothing happened, just a fun time.
Zen Master calls me back into town to watch a basketball game, which he knows nothing about. He tried, he really did try to pick a sports bar to go to… but in the end it was my suggestion to stay in. I was tired by now and just had a night in with him, we don’t really talk much about how he fucked up on my birthday, but I was fine with that. I stay over and the next day during lunch, complete disregard for me… he eats food all morning, doesn’t offer me any. Then, he proceeds to making instant noodles for lunch. He said he tried to ask if I wanted some and I said no… probably true. So I’m sitting here, not sure if he is making lunch for me and I’m starving. He finishes making the food, and gives me a small sample size of his dish… I was so hungry by this point, I’m eating this sample sized noodles, watching him eat the bulk of the food. I felt so disdained.
So I say that’s an unacceptable lunch to him. Still, nothing, and he tells me that I can eat whatever is in his fridge. I go in his fridge, and it’s filled with uneaten leftovers, some of which has been in there for a week or more. I bail, packed up all of my work stuff and left fuming at him.
So at this point, I’m still thinking that Zen Master is just an idiot that doesn’t have common sense, isn’t attentive, probably lacks generosity. He just doesn’t have a lot of experience in romantic relationships, but I can train him – but it’s not until after he came over and we have an open conversation do I see him for what he is; someone that is inflexible, lacks social skills, and is stingy… but with good intentions.
Although he says he’s sorry and that he thinks he can change, the bulk of the conversation is of him explaining why he’s not attentive, caring or generous. So I’m hearing all about how his parents are immigrants, and they just put food out for him to help himself, etc. He’s justifying why he is the way that he is, and the person that he is today. He’s justifying why he’s lacking in certain traits… when really I wanted him to really address how he was going to try to be more caring towards me.
I try to gear the conversation towards how he could develop this soft skill of being caring and attentive, not just to me, but everyone around him. And he goes on to say that his friends don’t really treat him with this level of care. He really doesn’t have any close friends at this stage of his life, which should have been a red flag for me. Everyone loses touch with some friends as they grow up, but making new friends and investing in and maintaining meaningful friendships is a healthy trait. I realize that he has never had this level of care for anyone in his life. Actually, earlier on in our relationship I was actually more generous to him, but I quickly felt resentful when I realized that it wasn’t being reciprocated. I realize that I’m capable of more compassion and generosity than I am currently giving, and that I’m holding back because I really don’t think he sees it and is also not able to reciprocate.
The example here is earlier on in our relationship, I used to ask him if he wanted groceries whenever I went for myself. I was hoping to save him a trip and expected that he would reciprocate in other ways such as buying me dinners or doing the same the next time he was at the grocery store. Although he did, I felt that he was holding back and I was giving much more. He would ask me to get him really heavy items at Costco without thinking that this would be difficult for me… not to mention that these bulk items were not cheap. On the other hand, when I asked him to pick up some fruits and meat for me, he would omit items that he thought were overpriced. He once omitted pork belly, and then when he finally got it from another location, he didn’t even give it to me – and he said that I could come over to his place to cook it for him! Excuse me?! Another example of this that irks me is when he brings items to my place, he takes it back, as if he’s actually possessive of these small things. I ask him to bring some dill over to my place, and after we finish using it, he brings it back home. He buys an entire chocolate cake for us and instead of giving me some of the cake, he would freeze the cake and only take out slices for us to enjoy together… as if I’m some sort of dog waiting for him to serve me treats.
In our conversation that night, he asked me if I just wanted him to leave a platter of food out for me all the time as a way of feeding me. He said it in a way that he felt that this was extreme. My response is that is a bit on the side of excess, but a bit more on that scale of things would be nice actually. He asks what if he was poor and could not afford to buy me takeout food all the time. He’s really harping in on this money thing, and I got very offended. I’m not asking him for money, I’m asking him to try to develop this skill in being caring for others.
After the topic of money came up though, I realize that the argument that we’re having not only has to do with him not having a lot of experience on how to care for others, but also that we have a huge value misalignment when it comes to money. I always knew that he was more conservative with money than I was, but for me, I am generous with my money when it comes to close friends and family. He talks about how he brings “other things” on the table. Meaning, he isn’t forthcoming when it comes with money, and he tries to put efforts in to give back in other ways… but couple this with his shortcomings on being attentive and not being caring… this leaves him short when it comes to giving. So, ultimately, when it comes down to it, he really does have good intentions but he doesn’t have a huge capability to give back.
I should have recognized these traits earlier I admit. We went on a trip out of town with a few of my friends. He seems perfectly fine that I paid for the hotel, the hotel parking, and I also end up picking up and paying for most of his meals while he’s there since he was working. No offers to repay me for any of this. Granted, he did drive us in his car, it’s not really a fair trade-off, but he he says nothing. We barely see each other because he’s tending to a work emergency and also stuck on his own schedule that has him waking up at 6am to run for 8km. By the time we get to the main evening event with my friends, he’s says he’s out of it mentally and physically… well no shit. He doesn’t really contribute much, doesn’t even notice that I am carrying the bulkiest item and that only my friends are helping me carry it. He’s useless when it came to directions and led us astray. Then on the last day, he makes a suggestion for a nice lunch spot… and he wants credit for this suggestion. Who paid for lunch? Me. So that’s one trip, and it’s this continual deficit not only monetarily but also in the amount of care that just continues to build up and makes me resentful. I’m not one to keep a tally, but if it’s constant, yeah it weighs on me… and the fact that this doesn’t even occur to him.
So, why do I like Zen Master? It’s that he makes me feel calm, and he seemingly listens to what I say. He does a lot of nothing, and honestly, sometimes nothing is what I need. For someone like me who is typically more overwhelmed by social activities and other things, his offer of nothing is actually quite nice. Companionship, he’s always available and willing to do things. Drive up for an adventure 3 hours out of town? He’s down. Lazy night in, get high and listen to music and ask him to massage me? He’s in.
Another thing I realize during this conversation? He doesn’t actually fully comprehend what I say. He processes things very literally, which I think is helpful to kind of sum things up but he doesn’t extract information out of these anecdotal stories that I tell him. We some how got to me asking him, what he knows about me? What kind of person am I? He starts listing out some really superficial things about me, what kind of job I have, the hobbies that I have, how many pets I have… this is how his mind processes things. I say, no, not superficial facts about me, how about me as a person? What are my aspirations? He doesn’t know the word aspiration, looks it up, and then proceeds to say that he doesn’t know my aspirations and that I should tell him… leading to a conversation about how we should talk more. God, I talk so much. Of course these anecdotal stories of mine are a bit embellished, or biased, but it still tells a lot about me. He says we should just sit down and have a drink and just tell each other about our aspirations… I tell him that I know enough about him to know what he is about, what he stands for, maybe not completely accurately, but it’s a good picture of who he is a person, from my perspective. He doesn’t have this about me, and that made me disappointed. I feel like the whole time I am talking, he isn’t able to read between the lines to see me for me.
I think it’s hard for me to let go of this because the past few months while locked down during covid, I needed someone like him in my life. It was wonderful to have someone to go on adventures with, and spend lots of time with indoors watching movies and kind of just killing time. I just needed someone to kind of go with the flow with me on things – go on an adventure, stay in and get high, go for a walk. He’s good for these things, but in a long-term partner, he lacks some essential qualities: emotional intelligence, attentiveness, compassion, generosity and also, communication skills.
He has good intentions and I truly believe that he loves me for being someone who can vibe with him, someone who is generous, caring, cheerful… for qualities that he isn’t even aware that I have. He likes me for reasons he isn’t able to clearly identify either, he sees a future with me, but functionally, I can’t see it working.
I try to picture my life with someone who is extremely structured in his sleeping regimen, very conservative with money, constantly stressed out by his work, lack of social skills, lack of friends, an unrealistic view of the way the world ought to work, constant frustrations of his living situation… and I wonder how I can vibe with that.