The two of them finished their drinks and soon bid each other farewell. Zhao Chen didn’t bother to get in touch with Si Tao about Mo Fang either. He felt like his talk with Linghu Jiahao had already provided him with enough insight.
When he returned home that evening, he got some food ready, and then sat down, his thoughts swirling. He had gone into that conversation with the hope of better understanding Li Ming’s ex and the relationship he had had with him through that. He had hoped that it would allow him to evade some pitfalls. Now though, he felt like he had taken something more important away: He had discovered his own insecurity.
He wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem right away. Instead, his thoughts circled around everything Linghu Jiahao had said and also around what he had noticed while he was with Li Ming.
What was it that made him feel so strongly about this situation even though he was completely aware that there was no reason to worry? At the end of the day, ‘insecurity’ and ‘jealousy’ were the only two words that managed to summarize this.
The problem was probably two-fold: Knowing the story of how Li Ming and his ex — complete from the very beginning when Mo Fang chased after Li Ming, to how they got together, and to how they finally broke up — he realized that there were too many comparable points.
Mo Fang had chased Li Ming until he relented and now, he had done the same. Even though Li Ming clearly hadn’t noticed at first, it should have become more apparent. And honestly, even after he explained himself, he always felt that maybe there had been some reluctance on Li Ming’s part.
Rationally, he knew that this reluctance stemmed from his failed relationship from two years ago, as well as the relationships that hadn’t worked out since he started dating again half a year ago. But just because you knew something, that didn’t mean that your heart wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
He wanted Li Ming to be enthusiastic about this, unhesitant. The reason he liked the type of man he did was not just because of the shared hobbies but also because they were usually very open. They might not talk much but they didn’t hold anything back. He wanted that. Unfortunately, Li Ming couldn’t fulfill this wish because he had been burned too badly before.
If it was just this, it wouldn’t be a problem. While it made him feel slightly worried, he wasn’t the type to think too much. He’d just give it time, see how it went, and then the problem would likely solve itself after Li Ming realized he wasn’t like his ex. Over time, he would become more comfortable in their relationship.
But then, he had now seen the kind of energy Li Ming could have. Clearly, while he had been with Mo Fang, he had been different. He had opened up, loved to explore the world, and given his all. Part of that was surely because this had happened before the breakup and he hadn’t felt like he needed to hold anything back. But considering Linghu Jiahao’s description of Mo Fang, part of that might also be that Li Ming had been inspired by him. And that thought … it was hard to take. Especially because Li Ming’s strong reaction to hearing about Mo Fang suggested that this energy was still there.
Zhao Chen leaned back, quietly sipping some water. He knew it wasn’t Li Ming’s fault, he didn’t blame him either. He hadn’t lied when he told Linghu Jiahao this. He still hated this situation though. He also wanted to be with Li Ming in this way. He wanted to be able to reach the same heights. He didn’t want to worry about his boyfriend constantly second-guessing everything they did.
The latter was especially problematic. He saw himself as a patient guy but who knew how long he would be able to do this? With every single point Li Ming noticed that was similar between him and his ex, those doubts would surface again. Could he take that? Could their relationship survive that?
For a while, Zhao Chen didn’t know what to think. He realized it would be difficult. Usually, he would tell himself that it made no sense. Li Ming would have an easier time with somebody who was much more different from Mo Fang in his approach to life. That would allow him ease of mind and make their relationship easier to navigate as well. As for himself, he didn’t like it when things were too complicated.
But then, he really liked Li Ming and he hated the thought of giving up. Maybe this was his pride but the thought to pull back because of another man didn’t sit right with him. If they broke up, he wanted it to be because of something he actually did wrong or because they noticed they didn’t fit together as well as they had thought. He didn’t want to give up before he had even really tried. Wasn’t that why he had gone as far as talking to Linghu Jiahao?
Admittedly, he could be a bit perfunctory about his relationships. After breaking up, he wouldn’t think too much. Even while being together, as long as he felt that everything was alright, he wouldn’t put in any effort to try and anticipate problems. His attitude could be described as greeting every single day right on that morning, instead of worrying about it the previous evening. That would make this relationship difficult but he could try it.
They could meet halfway and slowly figure out solutions. As long as he kept in mind why things were this way, it should work out. He just had to remind himself that it wasn’t him who was lacking but somebody else who had fucked up before. Surely, if both of them were serious about this, they could make it work.