Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bait And Switch

The rate at which single girlfriends call me for relationship advice, I think I should set up a Paypal payment plan, skip the day job (and town for good measure) to find a myself a retreat by the ocean where I can meditate in peace on the question of human relationships.

The inevitable happened. Steve and Poorvi broke up and I was in the know within hours. I have to admit I get good news pretty fast as well. So its not as if I am remembered only in the darkest hour which would be terrible. I had been informed when they had decided to "go exclusive".

Best that I knew, Poorvi was not really seeing anyone else even before the exclusivity had been declared - she is just not good at multi-tasking men given the demands on her time. Between her modeling gigs, dance performances and job time is invariably scarce and the little she had left she religiously gave to her boyfriend of six months.

We had a long discussion about the events leading up to the break up. Women have no peace until a dead relation is exhumed and autopsied to their complete satisfaction. Mainly, they are trying to answer the question "Did I do anything to precipitate this or was it not meant to be ?" At an emotional level they find it impossible to accept the later hypothesis i.e. it was never meant to be and the signs were writ large if she had wanted to see.

At an intellectual level the post mortem is a lessons learnt session accompanied by much self-flagellation. "How could I be so dumb ?" is a recurring refrain in these discussions. Once that is over, they recount the sequence of events and I listen closely. Much of my
analysis will depend on the data provided.

Apparently the wheels of karma if you will had been set in motion about a week ago. She had text messaged Steve "Call me. We need to talk" and he when he did, they had decided to end it. He had shown absolutely no interest in giving it another shot, resuscitating what had been for the most part a wonderful time together.

In as such, Poorvi felt like she had given him the opportunity to bail out. She had raved and ranted at him but before signing off he had said "Let's try to stay friends" At this point there was a pause I both know to expect and dread.

"And you want to call him ?" I asked.

"You think that would be wrong ?" Poorvi wondered aloud.

"Not if you want to engage in great make up sex. This would present the perfect opportunity. Better still show up at his doorstep with a batch of homemade cookies." I replied sighing inwardly.

In the course of the next one hour and a half (note to myself : always switch to the hands-free when girlfriends who are in a relationship call on Saturday evenings. It is rarely if ever good news and never gets done before a couple of hours) the cause of the break up became more apparent.

Steve had expended considerable time, effort and not to mention money on this relationship. Lately, he had been talking about introducing her to his family. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago she had chatted with his older brother on the phone. Poorvi had apparently made it clear that physical intimacy was not part of "going out", "getting to know each other", "having a great time together" in her book.

He expressed his frustration at this arrangement but had been going along with it just fine. It took him a month to be able to kiss her properly - all efforts until then had been met with resistance or cheek instead of mouth. This did not bode well and I would have told her as much had I known before.

Every time the relationship got into a little trouble and they "talked" about it (There was a theme here too. Invariably it was Poorvi who became aware of the trouble and Steve was surprised to learn of it) He would tell her how he was not able to bridge the emotional distance in a relationship where no physical intimacy existed.

Each time thereafter, Poorvi would go further than she really wanted to. To quote her, they had been making "incremental progress" towards the end game of making love at his place one Friday night. I gather that defined relationship Nirvana to Steve. I was disappointed to hear her admit quite candidly that if he had persisted with her until she had met the parents, she may have gone all the way. She was surprised that he did not care enough to persist with her till then. By now, I had heard enough.

"You tried a bait and switch on him and that clearly did not work. On the one hand you tell him that sex is not okay before marriage and then you turn around spend the night with him at his place, let him go only thus far and no further. What's more he gets to go a little further each time he tries. You have clearly not conveyed a consistent message to him" I said.

"But I did only what I thought felt right. And I wanted to be fair to him as well. If intimacy was that important to him, I figured it would be okay to go along with that to a point that I felt comfortable" Poorvi said to justify herself.

"You got him all confused about the kind of girl you really are. What you do with him is going to form his idea about what you have done and will do with a dozen other men. He might have started out thinking you were conservative and viewed marriage as sacrosanct. That would be consistent with stereotypes he may have had about desis and our moral values. I would not be surprised if that had not been a key factor in his interest in you as a potential wife. " I theorized.

"If you had maintained your initial stance about intimacy, his impression of you would not have changed. On the other hand if you believed that physical intimacy is a natural progression in relationships and did whatever came naturally whenever it did, he would have been okay with that too. It would burst his little bubble about the Sati Savitri desi woman but he may have gotten over it. What you did was to bait and switch and that is wrong in more ways than I can count." I explained patiently.

"So what did he really want ? He sounded serious about getting married relatively soon" Poorvi asked

"He was most likely serious about getting married sometime soon atleast logically. I doubt his emotional readiness. He was confused about what he wanted and would not even recognize it if he found it. I guess guys like to think intimacy will bring them closer to understanding if they have the emotional connection with a woman. Unfortuately women feed this delusion instead of calling them on it " I said.

"You think he might have been lying about marriage and getting me to meet his parents just to have sex with me ?" Poorvi asked.

"Maybe and maybe not. It is hard to tell. He did not look like a player but then I hardly know him. Maybe he really thought intimacy would help him make up his mind about this relationship. Needless to say it would have done nothing of the sort. Once he is really ready for marriage however many years that takes, he won't need anything to help him make up his mind. Least of all sex. The timing was just wrong for you guys" I concluded.

In a way I am glad this is over, that Poorvi did not suffer too much. Hopefully there were lessons learnt from this mistake that she will find use for in later life. Better still be able to dispense advice on the phone to other girlfriends in need. After a while we all become wise.


Ricercar said...

even with the closest friends, these session scare and/or tire me to death. you never really get anything across. rather, people dont wanna listen. they already know what they want to think. they just want you to listen and hmmm along, when ur itching to say 'well, i cud've told u so' :(

Heartcrossings said...

You are right. People mainly want validation and affirmation. After its been talked to death they might just turn around and do the exact thing they were adviced not to do :)