A long time ago, I heard of a study of couples, done by John Gottman, who claims to be able to predict which newly weds would divorce based on micro-expressions on the couple's faces that are not visible to the human eye, but can be clearly seen on slow-motion video.
And as I was looking it up, I found this video of John Gottman himself, talking about building trust.
Around 3:10, he talks about CLalt (Comparison Level for Alternatives), where he said:
"Once you start thinking that you can do better, then you begin a cascade of not committing to the relationship, of trashing your partner instead of cherishing your partner, of building resentment rather than gratitude, of lower investment in the relationship, less dependency for getting your needs met, not sacrificing for the relationship, and escalating conflicts so it becomes an absorbing state."And that hit home. CLalt was that "bar" that Impy raised.
When I first surrendered to Wolfgang as his sub, he was very reluctant to add Alt#27's name to his profile to say that she is under his protection, as is customary in BDSM circles. Even though he had other subs, he never placed anybody's name in his profile. I had to argue that me putting his name on my profile as being protected by him wouldn't hold water if he doesn't confirm it in his own profile.
Impy wanted a partnership, specifically because he wanted my name in his profile officially.
I think I had asked Wolfgang to create an alt just for me since the beginning, but he refused because of his own philosophy about his own alts. He didn't want a throw-away alt; he didn't want an alt that he would put to sleep after the relationship is over. So when one of his subs threw a tantrum because he had my name in his profile and not hers, he removed my name. I again asked him to create an alt just for me. He argued against it again. And it was the same time we argued about the tracker as well. To appease me, he said he didn't definitively say "no." And eventually, he relented and created an alt, but warned me that he probably won't give that new alt his essence.
When I suggested that Impy create a new alt for me in order for us to have privacy, he did so the very next day.
Wolfgang refuses to explicitly say that he loves me, not in any language. He said that he prefers to say "I like you," but he never said that to me either. He said that his actions should be enough. And yet, one of his former friends started harassing me because she mistook his actions as romantic, instead of platonic. He pointed out little clues in our RP, but am I supposed to accept his RP as real?
Impy is emotionally expressive. Not just in his actions, but in his words as well. I don't remember a day when he forgot to say he loves me, whether in English or in Spanish.
Wolfgang hates to talk by voice. Impy loves to listen to my voice.
Wolfgang never read a single blog post that I wrote. He picked up my book long ago, but he still hasn't read it. Impy inhaled my blogs and my book, because he was very curious about who I am.
Is it any wonder that my CLalt zoomed upwards?
Granted, I'm not Wolfgang's best lover either. He says I read things into what he says and I argue too much.
When he mentioned that all his other lovers were devoted to him alone and that I'm the only one with other lovers besides him, I took it as a complaint. When he talked about starting a diet to lose a few pounds, I took it as an insult about my RL weight. When he refused to arrange to have someone notify me if anything happened to him, he said that only his family and his RL friends would know when he passed on, and none of his SL friends would, ... well, what right did I have to assume I had at least some importance to him?
He enjoyed "sensuality" like dancing with me half-naked. When I told him that those things usually aroused me and that I was left frustrated, he indicated that I should be able to find someone to satisfy me, even though I insisted that sex without emotions was not as satisfying and it was always difficult to find a good partner. I started to tell him about an ex-lover who made a point of arousing me then logging off without satisfying me. That was when he said that he's not my other lovers. So I never got the chance to tell him that I broke off that relationship precisely because of that repeated sexual frustration.
I am not ignoring the wonderful things he does for me. I am not forgetting that he refuses to do something if it doesn't also give me pleasure, that he compliments the work I do, that he gives me his time even while he's working, that he hurries back from lunch because he knows I am waiting, that he has confided in me more than he has confided in most people.
And I cannot dismiss the fact that I love him. And he has, in fact, become a bit more expressive lately, more tender, more caring.
I still don't know what to do. If we leave things the way they are, we'll eventually break up and just be friends, which means I'll just ignore him.
Maybe this is just growing pains. But growing how? If I'm just another "SL friend," is it worth investing more time and effort in this relationship?