Thoughts, Unlovability and the Friendzone

For the first time ever, I was immediately attracted to a man at a conference I attended in January. The way we connected was really special and we both agreed that we had locked in on each other at first sight and spent a few nights together while there. In reality, we live in different states. We planned a tour de conference for basically the rest of the year, where we would see each other at least twice a month. We talked regularly, developing emotional intimacy. Then one by one all the conferences we planned on attending were cancelled. We continued to develop emotional intimacy and I felt really close to him despite being separated by COVID. I suggested we meet up despite the cancellations, however he said he was looking forward to getting to know me more through the conferences because they added a layer of casualness. But that was never going to happen!

When we finally we both agreed to make a plan to meet up, he blew me off for two weeks. I probably filled a whole notebook with models. I wanted to thinking lovingly of him and honor our connection. When we finally talked he said he wasn’t ready to take it the next level, which made me realize I was really thinking we were building a special intimacy, a partner-like bond. He also brought up a time that I texted him that I was really happy for him and he actually interpreted it as I was pissed off. I was stunned. He said he should probably be more communicative. We both agree it’s very confusing.

At the same time, he also said he wanted to find projects we could work on together professionally, suggested we co-write an article. I told him I don’t want a non-romantic relationship with him and he said he didn’t want to stop our connection. Clearly not a want match. But we both agree that we are very special to each other. (Might be worth noting this same pattern happened with my last romantic partner. )

The way love was modeled to me as a child was conditional or completely absent. I’ve been really working through lovability and the model has proved to be a genuine godsend (I joined Scholars using the model and found out I could like myself).

I guess my main question here is around connection. I am really struggling with the pain of hearing he doesn’t want to romantically connect, but wants to maintain a connection.

My models swing from:

C: not a want match
T: why didn’t I see this earlier?
F: stupid, embarrassed
A: self blame, black and white thinking
R: beat myself up, feel unlovable, disconnect from him completely, plunge into despair

C: not a want match
T: I got to practice unconditional love
F: sad (rather than anger or victimized)
A: process emotion
R: be able to maintain a connection

It’s just that logically I sort of believe the intentional model and I don’t know how to grieve the loss of romantic connection while maintaining some sort of other connection.

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.