The End of the Love Affair (Part 3)

"I really needed that break, but I'm ready to go again. We might actually come out with something constructive if we work at it."

"Well, I'm always happy to be involved in something that's constructive. That's what relationships are all about: being constructive. We all want something constructive out of life, and our relationships are a big part of our lives. My relationship with her was very important to me, and I suppose that that is why it hurts so much now."

"But your relationship with her was based on so many things that most people would find laughable: you are nineteen years older, you are over 1500 miles away, and you two have never met face to face. How can that be a relationship?"

"I could not begin to calculate how much time we spent with each other, online, on the phone. For months, we talked several times a day on the phone; in the evenings, it was nothing to spend two or three hours on the phone with each other. We could spend an hour or two just playing checkers or dominoes or some other game online. We shared everything about ourselves: our pasts, our present, and what we dreamed about for the future. She was going to get me to go whitewater rafting, and I was going to take her to New York City, things that I had never done, and things that she had never done, and we were going to do them together, and she was going to make sure that I didn't drown and I was going to make sure that she didn't get mugged, and we were going to spend all our time together doing things and loving each other, and we were going to be happy."

"Spending time online and on the phone is not the same thing as a real, flesh-and-blood, up-close-and-personal relationship. It does not determine your compatibility with the other person. It's like a freaking lab experiment; it has no real-world qualities -- it is artificial, dammit, don't you see that?"

"Well, I don't think it is artificial at all. It seemed very real to me. We were intimate, and apparently a perfect fit for each other in that respect. And we shared our innermost with each other, and we laughed with each other, and we cried with each other, and I think we probably know each other as well as any two people can. And I think we were far less artificial that those couples who are like two ships passing in the night -- who sleep in separate beds, who pass each other on the way in or out of the door, who go to bed angry at each other. I think we were a lot less artificial than those folks."

"But a real relationship requires intimacy that you can't achieve when you are 1500 miles apart. It requires physical touch. It demands that you be in close quarters. Women, at least, need that, and I suspect that men do too. Sometimes a woman just wants -- needs -- to be held."

"I didn't say that it was perfect; it was far from perfect, mostly in the ways that you just mentioned. But we both knew that, and we dealt with it; we probably worked a good bit harder as a result of it; but we were enough in love that it was a sacrifice that we could make for the shorter term -- we could put up with being physically apart, comforted by the hope that we would soon be together. You know, you have to understand that when she and I first started emailing each other, and even when we first started calling each other on the phone, we had no intention of falling in love; it just happened after a while. We started out as two people who were writers, and who were both going through some major life changes as the result of separation and divorce, who both had three daughters, who just had so much in common that we quickly became very close friends, and then, as things went along, we fell in love. Actually, I think it was me who fell first, but I'm not really sure. But we both fell at about the same time. And the whole physical distance thing was always a problem, it just wasn't that big of a problem, and put up against everything that we had in common, and how we felt about each other, it just wasn't that big of a deal. And it probably still wouldn't have been, if our situations had not kept us apart."

"I still don't think that I can buy your description of your relationship. I still do not think it was a real relationship. But you intrigue me with your mention of your 'situations.' So, if I am understanding you correctly, since your situations are not going to change anytime soon, that is what directly led to the breakup, is that it?"

"I think so. I mean, my situation is being here, taking care of my mom, who is legally blind and 87 years old, and her situation is being there, raising her kids. We are a little out of sync with the kid thing; hers are 15, 14 and 11, and mine are 21, 18 and 16. So she is going to be doing the kid-raising with her three daughters for at least another seven years, until the youngest graduates from high school, whereas two of mine are in college and not at home anymore, and the third is a junior in high school. So our 'situations' are not going to change tomorrow, and we are where we are for the foreseeable future."

"Ah, I've got you now: you left something pretty significant out just then; you left out that she is a young, attractive woman of 35 who might want to get out there and date some men that she can actually touch, who can actually hold her close and kiss her."

"Ouch. You sure know how to cut to the quick; you'd make a lousy manicurist. Okay, maybe there is a little element of that going on, I don't know. I do know that she told me that she was always very satisfied with me and with our time together, and that always seemed to be the case to me. But I suppose you might be right. I don't know; you would have to ask her. But to be honest with you, I really don't think that she is shallow like that, and I know her pretty well."

"Dammit, that is not shallow -- that's reality. That is physical needs that cannot be denied. That is compulsion, that no matter how long and hard you try, you can only suppress for so long. Eventually, there has to be a release. Can't you understand that?"

"No, actually, I can't understand that. Because the same argument that you just made could be used to defend all kinds of awful things, like child molesters or rapists or murderers -- 'physical needs that cannot be denied'? What are they? 'Compulsion' that 'you can only suppress for so long'? What the hell is that? 'Eventually, there has to be a release'? What I am hearing you say is scary. And I can tell you for sure, that she is a lot more in control of herself than that. She can handle it. I know she can."

"I think that you are trying to kid yourself now. I think you realize that what I am suggesting to you is very true, and is very likely what pushed her over the edge with your 'relationship.' I think I have got you nailed with this one."

"Well, now I think I need a break; a chance to regroup and collect myself."

"Fine. We can pick this back up later. I'm happy to give you some time to rationalize it. Take as much time as you need."

[to be continued]

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

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