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All good things

It's been a week since I last wrote a blog. Towards the end of last week, me and Meg attempted our first ever FWB (friends with benefits) relationship. We knew that neither of us were ready to date, and we also didn't want to run the risk of ruining our friendship. At the same time, on a physical level - things were truly eye opening and emotional.

The intimate and emotional connection started to blur the lines. I've never been intimate with someone and it didn't lead into a conventional relationship. Unfortunately this tends to come with a level of codependency. Meg echoes a similar vibe when she mentioned how she can forgo herself when dating, in order to dedicate herself to the relationship.

When we first ever spoke, I found out that she'd split with her partner the day before. To my mind, that made a relationship out of bounds, as it'd end up being a rebound of sorts. The more I learnt, it sounded like the relationship itself was continuing past when it should've ended. When it becomes an emotional drain and burden, yet the routine still has some flicker of comfort to it. I'm no stranger to those behaviours and situations myself. I was also intrigued that her ex had several similar traits to me - which also served as an internal red flag with regards to a relationship.

People need time after breakups. In my early 20's I went several years without going longer than a month or so single. This wasn't good for me. Whilst dating new people and building intimacy felt overwhelmingly positive at times - it was stunting personal growth and development in other ways. Along with the fact that I was involved in multiple emotionally volatile and traumatising relationships. Yet the past couple of weeks have shown growth, which is nice to see and reflect upon.

At the beginning of last week, we had agreed we can't let this become "too much of a good thing". Perhaps this is where the line began to blur. When I enter a relationship - the fire burns bright. I'm engaging and keenly interested in being around the person a lot. But I quickly realised what I was doing - here is a person who needs space and time in order to be herself and recharge, reconnect and rediscover. Old Romeo over here was layering it on thick at times with language and behaviour.

The flipside to codependency in relationships is how I tend to feel when I'm not around the person - wayward, worried, tense, and switching between elation and anxiety. Feeling rather lost can trigger me to want to reach out to talk more, and then you can get stuck in a cycle of being clingy. I told Meg at the beginning of the week to contact me when she wanted to meet up. As I'm often happy to spontaneously agree to someone wanting to meet up. Although, I'm usually the proactive one when it comes to meeting friends etc. Thankfully, Meg did ask to meet several times last week. What initially began as euphoria when being asked to meet up, gradually calmed down, and whilst I was very pleased - I felt more in control and less emotionally erratic.

On Wednesday I had my last therapy session. She was happy to hear about the personal growth, restraint and the introspection I'd been displaying since meeting Meg. As above however, it wasn't all smooth sailing - but I was able to identify the unhelpful thoughts, behaviours and feelings sooner, and in doing so I could take a step back and look to divert myself from the negative behaviours where possible.

She echoed the risk of codepdedency, but also stressed that relationships with others allow us to grow and develop in life. I described the week before in detail, and she agreed that what me and Meg have is very special, and it's good that we both had the foresight to realise there was a clear and mutual connection between us. When our therapy session was over I gave her a hug goodbye. That felt like a big step for me. It's not since my early 20's when I used to regularly hug people goodbye. Yet it's a nice gesture, and it's good to feel someone's vibe on a physical level. Much like how I knew me and Meg's goodbye hug on the first night could've led to a kiss. The emotion and the intensity and duration in the hug revealed both of us on a whole new level.

Thursday evening we went to the meadow and sat on the grass and using the bench to lay up against. We'd spent a lot less time around each other that week, and I'd been gradually able to talk myself down from the worrisome thoughts and anxious peaks that being away from her had sometimes provoked. That evening we spoke candidly once more. We decided that we were friends first. Truth be told, it was nice to meet her and it not lead to anything more physical than resting a head on a shoulder, and a hug or two.

Our talk was to reduce the building tension I could sense developing during that week. I knew Meg was fatigued, and had mentioned several times how she was overdue a getaway - just her, Lucky and her van. Somewhere remote to relax and recharge. I didn't want what we had to be a burden, or add to pressure or tension. I said that on Thursday evening - if the intimate side was causing undue emotional strain or fatigue, that we didn't have to continue.

On Friday she asked if I wanted to go out for food. We took my parents 2 seater SLK. It was the first time driving a car with the roof down. I got dressed up in a shirt, waistcoat, tie, flatcap, herringbone trousers and my tall, brown DM's. It was a stark look that got me a lot of attention. Whilst I initially felt a buzz from it, after 4 hours of constant looks and several people shouting remarks - I began to feel fatigued.

We went to a seafood restaurant and sat in a courtyard. When I sat down, I was hit by dizziness. After a couple of minutes I saw Meg had an expression of high anxiety on her face. We talked, and I said that we should go. Initially I think she was trying to ride the wave of anxiety, but I could tell we had to leave. We walked to the Mill Pond, sat by the canal and took our shoes off and dipped our feet in the water.

Across the water was a restaurant with a live band playing funk/jazz muzak. It was much calmer, and the mood improved greatly. After an hour or so, we decided to wander into town and go get Five Guys. We sat in the park and ate. A city duck came over - a lot less timid than those in the countryside. I fed it little bits of my burger bun.

The drive back was in twilight. With the roof down and knowing we were returning to familiarity - I felt calm. The cool evening air whilst driving with the roof down was serene. As was driving an automatic. Driving manual for 10+ years really made the ease of using an automatic feel quite exceptional.

We talked candidly on WhatApp on Saturday morning. I apologised that my language and behaviour had been quite intense at times. I explained how I didn't want to be clingy, and knew the risks of my previous codependent relationships. I apologised if I had made her feel any undue pressure, and echoed what was said on Thursday - "friends first".

On late Saturday afternoon we drove down to the river. We went on a paddle board down the river together. Open bodies of water still worry me, and the skittishness of balance on the water did throw me for a while. We nearly capsized twice, but that was in about 45 mins on the river. Not bad going all things considered. When we got back we went for a swim. With the sun down, even though the water felt very warm - I began to feel cold and shivery. We were swimming up to a rope swing up by some willow trees, when I started to feel weeds against my legs. The two times we'd gone swimming had made me realise my upper body strength is really lacking. Whilst I'm happy to cycle, walk or staff for prolonged periods - swimming truly is a full body exercise. Add to that, the tension of being in an open body of water - and I felt fatigue set in faster.

In the end I got out of the river, because the water up to the rope swing was getting deeper, and when the ground was thick with horrid feeling weeds - it started to trigger my fight or flight response. When I got out and walked back to the van I was shaking so much that my vision was noticebly distorting.

After we got dressed we played an ad lib version of Pictionary. Meg had a roll of paper and we drew pictures with a pink marker pen whilst the other person guessed. I noticed a few things she drew, whilst a little vague - I got very quickly. Then others I really struggled with, but we laughed and had a good time.

We spent the night there in the end. I really struggled to sleep that night. However, the sleep issues in general had improved greatly last week. In the morning we ended up having sex. As with the previous couple of times - it was very intense. Truly the connection we had was on another level compared to all of my previous partners. However, during an interlude it became apparent emotions were high. She was tearful, and we hugged and chatted. Once again, this intimate connection, whilst very strong, was really adding to emotional overwhelm and confusion at times.

We talked, and we talked - in the end we decided that we should continue as friends only. We both said later that this was a relief. The pressure had been lifted. A relationship isn't what either of us need right now, and whilst what we've shared has been incredible and memorable - we have to decide what's best for us. Of course, I can't predict the future, and if the timing was right in the future, it might develop beyond friendship again. Yet that's not something I'm going to wish or hold out for, because I have her as a friend, and truth be told, the past 2 weeks have been the most memorable of my life. I think the brief duration of what we had adds to the impression it will leave on me. Whilst feeling a little folorn - I'm just glad to have been lucky enough to meet her.

Friends first. I have a friend for life in Meg. A best friend is something that is hard to come by - yet our synchronicity has gone above and beyond any friendship I've ever had. Admittedly some of that synnergy was also discovered when we were intimate, and yet I'm happy to say it helped us realise that a FWB relationship isn't workable for either of us. Let's not complicate a truly remarkable friendship.

Late morning I went to Cambridge and met an old friend I hadn't seen in over 10 years. We played Tekken 3, Die Hard Trilogy and SNK Vs Street Fighter on his PS2 (although they were PS1 games). Before I left his, he agreed to buy 3 of my limited edition prints. I was over the moon, but also hit by some potent stress related pains and symptoms before I left his.

Yesterday, on Sunday evening I said goodbye to Meg. She's off in her van to recharge out in the woods, and then make her way up the UK to visit her dad later in the week. We went down to the bench in the meadow and we talked. For a moment I got a bit tearful. Whilst Meg had cried infront of me several times, this was my first time. We hugged, and she rested her head against my shoulder.

We talked about all sorts. Whilst the tears were from a degree of sadness, it was also just a release of the past 2 weeks. Grieving that they were over, and yet knowing what a profound impact they'd had on me.

Meeting Meg I can see that I'm growing and maturing. I can see why my therapist warned against shunning relationships entirely. Whilst I know that the next few years are going to be focused on me, and getting to where I want to be - I'm still rather astounded how me and Meg came along for each other at the opportune moment.

Outside of sexual moments - the word love has always felt a little lost and hollow to me. I'd said it in previous relationships and felt like I was lying. Forcing a word or a belief that didn't seem to fit. My friendship with Meg had me reassessing who I've befriended over the years. The pattern of codependency or settling on hanging out with people who made me feel tense or drained.

I think meeting Meg has made me feel the closest thing to love that I ever might have felt. But, as the saying goes "If you love someone, set them free." Being able to talk openly with Meg throughout all this has really helped me realise, adjust and grow.

With the hot weather over the next 2 days - I intend to hibernate. Take some me time and rest, recuperate and realise just how magical the last 2 weeks were. She has inspired me in so many ways, and whilst I'm crying as I finish up this blog right now - I'm not feeling disheartened or broken by this. Far from it - I think yesterday's goodbye chat and hug was the perfect conclusion to the past 2 weeks. I'm glad that she made me realise I'm deserving of more - and I'm feeling more of a drive, desire and belief in myself that my chosen path in life will succeed.

Ed

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Raggamuffin
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