As soon as I saw this article, I had a physical reaction. As someone who tends to invest in relationships so much I look for payoff and insight down the line, it held an immediate (and I’m gonna assume) lasting appeal. It also held with it a palpable sense of terror. While I think I know better who I am now than I did, I’m well aware that’s something I’ve always thought. In all likelihood I probably always will unless I somehow find Zen Buddhism. I know who I want to be, but it’s often not until recollection crashes in that I realise how drastic the disparity between who I think I am as a partner is from the reality. After a relationship crashes and burns, the dust eventually settles and I’m left with the stark view of its burning wreckage. The faults at play become all too real. Who was I and how would it look from the other side? How was I to date? It’s been 4 years, let’s see if I can have a guess at her perspective:
Now that it’s over, it feels notable that we’re not friends. We don’t hate each other, but we don’t talk. We almost never did afterwards. We certainly hadn’t beforehand. We were great while we were in love or lust, but outside the relationship we didn’t really exist. We spent years together, a ton of quality time together, but I wonder if we were really ever true friends. I don’t know if you even wanted to be. Throughout the whole relationship I always had the feeling that there was somebody you wanted who wasn’t quite me, but you wanted me to be. You pushed movies, music and television on me like they mattered. I have no doubt that you cared about me, but you also cared about your opinions, tastes and feelings just as much. It was arrogant and you knew it.
We were young, I was younger and I always think you held that against me a little. Like age automatically meant maturity or something. There was this slight layer of knowing smugness you often wore, like I’d “understand once I was older”. I’m sure we both you needed to grow up more than I did. You drank a lot. Like, A LOT. I think you had an easier time being social and outgoing than dealing with your shit. To be fair, you tried with me but I didn’t really know how to talk about it.
I say all this like it was a bad relationship, but that’s not fair either. We loved each other and did grow together. We had fun, we played and you pushed me to try things I wouldn’t have otherwise. We took care of each other. There was no “his and her friends”, our friends genuinely become one another’s friends. You invested in my life and put effort in. We were good for each other’s development in different ways. You did listen and try to act accordingly, sometimes after a little repetition. The sex was great. We can both say that without reservation.
Towards the end when we were practically co-habiting, long term ideas started to come into play. I thought about them and I think you wanted to, but that’s all they were to you – thoughts. I wanted something tangible that would last. but you never did and that’s what killed us. When I broke up with you, you never pushed back, never raised an objection. You’d wanted to leave and I think you saw this as your chance, as if you needed my permission to think about your future. YOUR future, not ours. Would I date you again? I think we’re better off because of each other, but definitely without each other.
Is that the most narcissistic thing I’ve written here so far? No wonder we broke up.