Normally, I love to know people’s backgrounds. Where they came from helps me figure out why they are who they are. I don’t often ask questions, but usually let things come out organically, only asking questions to supplement that.
My partner Trydaen is, well, fairly closed up about his past – not that I think that it is an on purpose, to spite me thing. It seems to me that he doesn’t find it terribly relevant to the present – which is almost exactly opposite of how I see the past, but I can understand it fairly well. I’ve found that the more time I spend with him, the more little tidbits come out about his childhood through his 20s – including about his marriage.
He was technically married (but separated) when I met him and several years later when we started to date, but I never met her – I know nothing about her, short of the little bit I have gleaned from stories/context from him. It seems that she was not relevant anymore to his relationships at that point in time, so why bother? This has bothered me more and more over time – this was clearly someone he cared about enough to say yes to marriage when she proposed it and spent a large chunk of time with. Why? What happened there to sour him to notion of ever doing it again? It clearly didn’t sour her – she was remarried six months after the divorce was finalized.
But I have never known how to ask about that. How do I treat it? As I would, with all the curiosity I have? Cautiously? I don’t actually know whether it is a sore spot for him or whether it is simply no longer relevant, so no longer worth speaking about?
So I am trying. And I am proud of myself for that. When we were watching an episode of Bones a few weeks ago and (spoiler alert) Booth and Bones get married and Bones’ dad gives her away (after a speech from her about how it is just to make him happy and not a symbol of the passing of bride from father to husband) I got up the courage to ask whether his ex-wife had been given away by her father. He didn’t remember – didn’t think she had, but didn’t remember.
So that’s one thing. But what other questions can I ask to get to the why?
Yesterday I went to Red Robin and had dinner and drinks with my first boyfriend (and first ex), from way back in high school. We haven’t seen each other at all for a little more than two and a half years, and the last time was about five minutes a couple months after we’d broken up so I could get back my stuff from him–plus some stuff that was ours that he didn’t want to keep. It was not out of the blue, however. We have been casually talking on Facebook for a few months and we were going to meet up and do this sometime this summer anyway.
It was interesting, to say the least. I had planned to arrive early, so I could be the first one there. That didn’t work out so well because I had to stop at Target and get some Tylenol for my splitting headache. So I only ended up arriving ten minutes early and he was already there and had ordered a drink. My mom had given me twenty dollars earlier, to buy us our first round of drinks, because, as she has said to me before, she really does like him, and just thought that we should break up because it didn’t look like he was going anywhere significant with his life. I got a lemon drop and after a little bit of talking we ordered food.
The conversation stayed pretty casual the whole time–there were things I was not going to mention to him and I’m sure there were things he wasn’t going to mention to me. We talked about how our types (in regards to people) have changed and solidified. I decided that it would be wise at that time to come out to him–he was a little surprised and said if he had known that back then he would have jumped on it. I was shaking my head that time–that’s not your nature, you wouldn’t have jumped on it, it would have not worked out well–but I didn’t say anything because I figured it wasn’t worth it. We ended up talking a little bit about sex after dinner–I think it was obvious on both sides that we had slept with other people since we had broken up, and that’s no big deal. It’s natural.
Overall, I think it was a worthwhile adventure. I thought for a while it would be awkward, but it wasn’t. We got along fine. Looking at it, I realized both why I had been attracted to him at the time (actually physically looks better now than then, so that obviously wasn’t a part of it) and why it was best and appropriate that it ended when it did. We have both grown as human beings since then, in ways I don’t think would have been possible if we had stayed together, so I have no regrets on that front.