Patient or Patsy?
Patient: able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. “be patient, your time will come”.
Synonyms: forbearing, uncomplaining, tolerant, resigned, stoical.
Patsy: a person who is easily taken advantage of, especially by being cheated or blamed for something. A patsy came to mean an easy target, someone who can be suckered into doing the bidding of more strong-willed people.
We’ve been in a relationship for a year. We live 10 miles apart. We have so much in common that it was a little Twilight-Zone-y to discover those similarities. We have been on some lovely dates. We’ve spent relaxed time together. We’ve traded household-help favors. We have said we love each other, and we mean it. We have met the important members of each other’s families. And yet…
You have an open invitation to dinner, or drinks, or just hanging out at my house on a weeknight or weekend if you don’t want to be alone. But that almost never happens, no matter how gently I phrase an invitation, how earnestly I desire your company, or express my understanding of your complicated life. You don’t feel well; you are busy; you have to take care of yourself; there’s a family issue; you have household chores to do; but mostly, you “won’t be good company”.
Due to your complicated life, I do not have a similarly open invitation — a casual “hey, can I come over and hang out later?” gets me a squinchy-faced, shruggy, “Sorry [not sorry]; I’m [whatever].” I understand you have some major complications, and I am very willing to accommodate them. I just don’t understand why even the most minor inconveniences take priority over me — even when we already have plans. You would rather disappoint me than an acquaintance or a stranger.
You say you need a partner, soon.
You are on a timetable — you hear the
relentless ticking of the deathwatch beetle.
It haunts you.
Despite your self-imposed timetable, you tell me to be patient. You have things to do; things to sort out — your job, your family, your house. You have issues to deal with… but you don’t have a problem when it comes to doing what you want to do, like take your adult children for a long weekend holiday, or go to happy hour with colleagues on the night you said you’d have dinner with me (“sorry [not sorry]; I didn’t mean to stay so long and now I’m just too tired”), or spend a spontaneous week in the islands alone.
You recoil in horror when I suggest I might spend even one night — at my expense, on the couch — at your family holiday, hoping to begin integrating into your life (after nearly a year together). After all, your children’s friends will also be there, and they will still have two days exclusively with you. Because I don’t have children, apparently I don’t understand anything. So you ungraciously blurt, “NO! You can’t do that! They would hate that!”
Of course “they” would.
Your daughter’s boyfriend’s redeeming characteristic, according to you, is that “he’s good at fading into the background”. I guess I’m not so good at that,
even if I’m there less than 24 hours and sleeping on the couch.
I invited you to Christmas with my family, and tried to work around your schedule when they visited. They bought you gifts, because they believe that everyone should have a present or two to open. They asked me especially what you might want or like, so you would feel included — would know that they understand you’re not a random date who’s just hanging around for now. You tell me you like them, and I believe you. If they knew how you treat me, I’m not sure they would like you so much.
You don’t need to entertain me when we’re together. My daily life is not a party. I lounge around in my sweatpants in the evening and read or watch movies. I simply want your companionship. Sitting on the sofa together. Making dinner together. Tidying up. Taking a walk. Setting plans for the weekends we’re not doing our own things. The beginnings of getting used to each other’s daily rhythms, moods, wants and needs.
After a year, we are still working through
our preliminary checklist,
and the conditions for takeoff
are becoming more ominous.
I implore you for your time — knowing your honest limitations, I ask only for a few hours, perhaps overnight, maybe one weekend a month. I ask, and receive no reply. I ask again, closer to the time, and am rebuffed or told maybe. All depends on how you feel at that moment and whether in the interim I’ve not made you feel crowded by text or email, while acting sufficiently considerate and deferential to your needs. If I react “badly” to your rejection — point out the rudeness of last-minute negating any trouble I’ve taken to assure your comfort and convenience — the next interim will certainly be longer. Because now I’ve made you grumpy and it will take time to get over that.
You have taught me that no means no; maybe means no; and I now understand that yes also means no… if you aren’t feeling it at the moment. You have a dozen reasons why it’s too much trouble to drive 10 miles (or let me drive 10 miles) for a good meal and/or fantastic sex, unless you want one or the other or both, at that moment.
You booty-text me at 6am and check your Fitbit-whatever-watch
every 10 minutes while we’re fucking to make sure you get to
your morning fitness class on time.
I have not been perfect. I said cruel things that I’ve regretted. I have argued with you and been pissed off at you and called you out on your shit and sometimes unfairly criticized you. You have been justifiably enraged at me. I have been arrogant and a know-it-all asshole. I have been a flawed, undeserving, persevering human.
But I have never tried to hide my relationship with you,
or turned away from you in public,
or cautioned you to not touch me in front of people,
or made you feel like you are less than worthy of my love and attention except when there’s no one around who knows me.
All I want for now is a little of your love and attention. A bump up on your priority list. Clearance for takeoff.