"What's that mean?" Little One asked as we sat at my parents' table and played Magic Fabric.
"Try to center the foam in the middle of the kitty, love," I advised, nudging the creature-in-the-making and nodding encouragingly when she glanced up at me. "Compensation is..." I paused, trying to think of how to explain. "Well, when I help you make this cat, you do most of the work because you want to and you're old enough to do a good job." She nodded in response and her tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth in concentration when she placed the top of the body atop the foam. "But when it's Smallest's turn, I have to work harder and do more because she's not as interested or skilled as you are."
"Oh," she nodded, asking me to unstick an eye sticker from the sheet.
"So my behavior is somewhat defined by the characteristics of which of you is making a Magic Fabric creature. I don't think you have to use this bow - do you want it?"
She did and as she decided where to place it, I glanced at Mom and returned to my original point. "So my observation is that it's a relationship feedback loop."
"Give me an example," she requested, reaching to scoop up Smallest One so she could watch Little One finish the cat, ensuring it was her turn next to make a dog.
"Well, what if Doug is so attentive and sweet and wonderful because I sometimes have a headache or don't want to drive in the snow or consider canceling plans? And Will is a bit of a bunny because he knows I like him enough to let him jerk me around? They react to what I do and I do the same and we hit this odd cycle of behavior where one person does more work. Compensation."
"I want to make the bunny!" Smallest One cried, plucking the sheet from those scattered across the table and hugging it to her chest while Little One protested fervently and said it was her bunny.
"See?" I noted as Mom shook her head. "Bunny is irresistible."
"Momentarily," Mom agreed, for she is rather wise. But that moment? It's so very good. I'm breathless when he walks in the door, which is absolutely delightful (and perhaps a tiny bit annoying).
"How does it feel?" Will asked when I told him he caused this immediate, strong reaction without any effort at all.
"Aroused," I decided after a moment and that's pretty much it. Sensitive skin, dilated pupils, trembling excitement. "And you're so 'take it or leave it' about the whole thing! Like you'd be equally happy if I told you to leave as soon as you walked in as if you ended the evening naked and between my legs." And he reacted either with vague amusement or a thoughtful hum - I don't remember.
But - I don't know - something felt different this evening. We talked and I loved it - he asks insightful questions and has a way of putting thoughts together I find both fascinating and funny. We went upstairs and he's completely sexy and I whimpered when lacing my fingers through his and sighed at the scrape of his stubble on my neck. But when he left this time, I was slightly surprised at my lack of wistfulness.
'Go ahead,' I told myself while I stood at the door and watched him scrape a layer of snow from his car. 'Pine over him. Wonder when you'll see him next. If he likes you a little. If he'll send email or respond if I send him 3 in the next 2 days.' But I didn't pine or wonder or start composing messages in my head. I just watched with a surprised sense of curiosity. (And admired his efficiency and arms. A little.)
After I waved goodnight and closed my door, I ran upstairs to put on pajamas and cheerfully jogged back down.
"I caught his attitude!" I told Chienne and she blinked at me with exhaustion having cried over being ignored for a couple hours. "I'd be happy to see him again, of course, but I'm honestly fine with hearing from him again in a month. Or never." I paused, trying to decide if that was true. "Let's say a month for now," I informed my dog. "And we'll see how I feel about 'never' later."
A similar concept holds for Doug. I would miss him terribly if he went away. He has plans for my birthday that have me feeling rather special and eager. His interest is contagious though doubts remain as to our future past the next month or so.
I'm not sure if this represents progress or regression. Screw it, I just decided - my relationship theories seem completely contradictory anyway.