It was amazing how comfortable things were after HB moved into the house. He seemed very much at ease with the fact that Stu and I were "courting" (probably much more so after he realized that we did not have a physical relationship - I know now that HB was jealous and trying very hard to be supportive of me and my choices, but it was a huge relief to him that we were not kissing or sleeping together. To him, it likely made the relationship Stu and I had much less "real", whereas for me it felt as though it was the first time in my life that I was approaching dating the proper way). HB and Stu got along well, they respected each other, and HB spent a lot of time either at work or in his room on his computer, so he fit in well with the house's dynamic. My kids knew HB and were tolerant of his being there, although they definitely thought it was odd that he had moved in. I was worried to tell my friends and family, and many of them thought it was a bad idea, but I also had support from quite a few people, who knew that I was comfortable with what Stu and I were developing and also that HB and I had a great friendship beyond our emotional connection to one another.
At that point, I truly did feel as though the emotional ties that had bound me to HB for so long had been severed. I knew that what I had with Stu was what I wanted, and I was grateful for the many hours we talked and what we shared with each other. I truly didn't feel as though a love triangle existed, because we all had utmost respect for one another. It was probably one of the more mature things that HB ever did, silently grieving what we had while seeing my relationship with Stu, without talking to me about how he was feeling. I am grateful that he was able to keep what he was feeling out of the equation; I'm fairly sure I wouldn't be able to do it. In fact, I know that when the situation was later reversed, I was way less respectful of HB's choices and attempts to move on than he was while I was with Stu. However, that is another story.
After we had been courting (I can't call it "dating", because we really were still in the stage of getting to know each other well enough to decide if we were going to move on to "dating") for a couple of months, Stu began to express his hesitation to enter into a committed relationship when he was so used to being on his own and doing his own thing, without consideration for another person - let alone four other persons, when you consider that my children are included in the deal. I listened and tried to allay his fears, because I wanted to be supportive of him, and I also wanted him to know that being together wouldn't mean that we always had to be within sight of each other at all times, or that he would be responsible for me and the kids. He did take it that way, though; he believed that if we were to be together, then he would have to change his entire life. I'm sure it scared him. Though I understood and did my best to soothe him, I once again reminded myself that I did not want to be in that position where I had to convince a man to be with me or stay with me. I wanted him to make that choice himself.
|"You must choose, but choose wisely, for as the real grail brings eternal life, the false grail brings death."|
And Stu`s two weeks away turned into three. And then into a month. Disaster after disaster piled upon him as he dealt with the company he worked for...he would call with his horror stories and frustration with the people he was dealing with - it was a tough time for Stu. His unconventional looks often made people suspicious of him, and although he found people`s preconceived notions amusing, it must also have rankled him when he was doing his best at his job. He finally came home after nearly five weeks away, and I was overjoyed to see him. Now that his out-of-town job was over with, we could get back into our courtship and see where we were headed.
However, unable to say no to the company that had hired him, he turned around and left for another job a few days later. And then another.
Stu was gone for much of the time between October and January, leaving a very small window for us to celebrate Christmas and New Year's together, and leaving me alone in the house with my ex-boyfriend. My feelings for Stu were still there, but the hope of spending our future together grew more and more diminished as time went on and he made less of an effort to contact me while he was away, and sometimes didn't even come to see me during the few small blips of time when he was back in town. Our "courtship" was a sinking ship.
HB and I kept our distance out of respect for Stu and the attempt he and I were making at dating, but there was no doubt that sharing a living space was bringing the two of us closer together. I am happy to be able to say in all honesty that HB living in my house did not in any way contribute to the end of my relationship with Stu, and that he never once tried to interfere with what Stu and I were working toward. Although I did feel incredibly comfortable having HB there, I wanted to pursue something with Stu, and I prayed every night that God would make it known to me if Stu was to be The One.
In January, Stu finally wrapped up his distance career, and we finally had the chance to spend a bit of time together. Although I was already becoming aware of where he stood in our relationship, Stu finally made it clear when he told me that he just wasn't ready for a commitment. The time apart had been good for both of us, in that we were both able to clarify in our hearts what we wanted and were able to handle, and although I was slightly disappointed that he wasn't going to be the man I was to marry, I was pleased with how the whole courtship had gone. We got to know each other, we built a great friendship, and physical intimacy didn't get in the way and create those false feelings of intimacy I discussed earlier. We parted ways with some regret, but because of the slow, steady and cautious way we went about getting to know each other, Stu and I have been able to maintain a good friendship. We still see each other at church - the church he started bringing me to - on Sundays, and I am grateful to him for having introduced me to the church family I now see as so very precious and supportive to me.
I don't know if, after all this time on his own, Stu will ever be able to relinquish his solitude and independence and get married. I don't know if eventually he will be in a place where he and I could pick up where we left off and try again; I know that there is definitely a foundation there. What I do know is that I would love to have another opportunity to develop a relationship in that way: slow; steady; supportive; and rooted in shared faith.