So, I am recently single. Like, within the last month single. And I can honestly say that my last “relationship” (please let me call it that) brought on the most intriguing bout of confusion, self-loathing, and desperation that I have ever experienced in life, and I’m a black gay man, so I’ve experienced quite a bit of all three. I can’t even surely say that it all stemmed from my boyfriend at the time. It was like being chronically depressed. Maybe I was. There were days where I could not even do work, because my focus was so shaken from the emotional stress of life’s day-to-day shit plus the new shit I was getting from the man I was dating. I think it might have actually been love, or maybe not, but for whatever reason, my “bullshit monitors” were completely defective while we were together. The term “rose-colored glasses” does not do justice to the barrage of fuckery that I blindly tolerated while dating this man.
Vice #1: A Complainer
Now, I fancy myself to be a man with standards. Sometimes. I mean, I feel like my tastes aren’t completely gutter worthy. That being said, this man must have hated my guts, because any romantic deed I did for him was either criticized or disapproved. Anytime I bought him dinner (which was every time, every dinner), he scoffed at either the restaurant or the staff or the food. He would constantly give me a “you should have taken me to this place instead” or a “there’s a better place than here….” or a “I want something else, why are we here.” Mind you, I never got to return the favor, because he never took me out to dinner…or breakfast…or lunch. Hell, he never even offered me a coffee. I even recall several times where he would actually go to buy food for himself, come back, eat it in in front of me, and not make any gesture to offer anything or share.
Lesson: I found this to be a problem, and instead of addressing it early on, I let it go on to the point where I was hurt enough to write an article about it. People will treat you how you let them. I always apply that lesson in my professional life, but for some reason, I left it to the wayside in my relationship. Lesson learned.
Vice #2: A Moocher
Did I neglect to mention the tiny detail that our relationship was long distance? Yes, we shared three hours of travel between us. This definitely heightened our relationship’s problems, and honestly, if we weren’t long distance, it probably would have ended much sooner, so much sooner.
I have had my fair share of financial struggles in the past, and still have a few to date. That being said, I’m very honest with both myself and the person I am dating about my finances, the good and the bad. I have never been the type to try and “keep up with the Benjamins.” Fuck the Benjamins. There is no value in living beyond your means. Anyway, the guy I dated clearly did not believe in transparency about one’s finances in a relationship. Too bad I realized that $700 later. Being three hours apart led to regularly accrued travel expenses. Fortunately, I have my own place, so when he would come to visit me, he would just stay with me in my apartment. He, on the other hand, did not have a place at the time and was couch hopping at different friend’s apartments during the week. Because he did not have a place, we agreed to split hotel costs when I would visit. In the end, how much of those hotel costs do you think we actually split? If zero is your answer then you are one smart cookie. I wish I were smart at the time. Several times, he gave me the old “I’ll pay you back when I get paid” line (never happened), which eventually turned into “I’ll just buy you dinner and drinks while you’re here to pay you back” (also never happened). In these situations, I actually did confront him about it. Who wouldn’t after losing hundreds of dollars on broken promises? When I would bring it up, I was met more bullshit excuses about his outright disregard for keeping our commitment. I certainly didn’t have the finances to spend what I ended up spending on him in the end, but I really cared about him, and I wanted us to be together. I wanted him to be happy. I wanted me to be happy, and I wanted us to work, but we didn’t.
Lesson: Vet your man’s finances before making risky decisions in a relationship. If this turns out to be a problem, end it. This was something I knew, but was too enamored to receive. Lesson learned.
Vice #3: A Playboy
Social media. I hate you. I really do. I should have known that all of his “flossing” and posing for Snapchat and Instagram were not for me. The term “attention whore” would be the understatement of the year to describe this guy. It was as though Snapchat comprised the left side of his brain. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was nothing there at all. As soon as he woke up, Snapchat. When he ate breakfast, Snapchat. When he took a shit, Snapchat. And then, of course, the snap had to be just right, which meant him repeating the snaps of him waking up, shitting, and eating about ten times before actually posting the pic to the app. He did this religiously, as though it were a part-time job. God knows I wish it were, then maybe he would actually pay for things. Social media was very important to him, as he was a total “club-head.” Thursday through Sunday, he would spend every night at the same club. They even had a nickname for him there, “the pretty boy” – what grown man calls himself “the pretty boy?” I get it. We all have to be passionate about something. Snapchat and the club were his passions.
On his Snap, I noticed that he would often message guys that would Snap pics of their half naked bodies. I told myself to trust him and not let jealously take over. Sometimes he was quite open with his “admiration”, showing me pics of these guys’ “assets” on Snapchat and even openly making comments about other guys while we were out and about. I thought that I was being “mature” by not bringing it up (I was actually being quite naive), but the coup de grâce happened one night during a deep conversation. He playfully asked me what I would do if he asked to see my phone right that second. I playfully told him that I had no secrets and then proceeded to give him my phone to peruse as he pleased. He then took my phone went through my messages. Of course he found nothing, because I had absolutely nothing to hide. I then decided to ask him if I could do the exact same thing, and the expression on his face looked as though someone had him at gunpoint.
He literally did not respond for a good three minutes, to which, of course, I began to completely freak out. So, I asked again, and he looked at me and told me to wait second. He stood up, with his phone, and went to the bathroom. I followed him, and he was literally going through his phone deleting things. I was holding back tears. He then comes out, giving me the phone, and telling me that there are certain conversations on there that I might misunderstand, because guys that he would meet out at the club would sometimes contact him inappropriately. I looked in his messages, and he had sent pics, multiple pics, to some of these “inappropriate contacts.” I was livid. Even he couldn’t even deny that he was in the wrong, and I was far beyond hurt in that moment.
Things should have ended there, but as I said, I was blinded by infatuation, so we continued the relationship. A week later, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about what happened. He asked how we met, and I told him through a gay dating app. My friend then asked if my boyfriend had ever actually deleted his profile on the app. I honestly had no idea, as we had never had that conversation. I surely had deleted mine, as soon as we agreed to be monogamous. My mind immediately went into overdrive! I did the sneakiest, most childish, immature thing that anyone could do in that situation: I made a fake profile on that dating app, and searched for my boyfriend’s profile. Did I find it? Yes, I did. Had he checked it recently? Most definitely. I was done. I was ready to break up. I texted him to call me. He did, and what followed was a very heated, heart wrenching argument.
He was very upset with me for making a fake profile and defended himself for having said profile with bullshit statements like,” I didn’t know where this was going” and “I wanted to wait until we were together longer before deleting it.” We were not casually dating. We were in a committed monogamous relationship. So, why on earth would someone have a profile on a dating app when they were already in a relationship, and furthermore, why on earth would they be checking it regularly?! Needless to say, we broke up 3 weeks later. Why did it take 3 more weeks? I honestly believe that I needed to come down from the high of being with him before I could see the whole cesspool of bullshit that lay before me. Better late than never.
Lesson: isn’t it obvious
I can honestly say that I was a good boyfriend, and in the midst of our breakup, he agreed. The one thing I took out of that situation was that I am capable of loving someone the right way (at least my version of the right way) even though, so many times, I have experienced bad love, or non-love, from men who did nothing but leave me more jaded and more frightened to actually open myself up to someone else, and give them my “all” without the fear of being betrayed or cheated on. Feeling alone, dismissed or unwanted within a relationship is a very disgusting feeling. I have felt it so many times that when it occurs, I can’t help but to revisit the mental Rolodex of moments when I allowed guys to make me feel so small and so ugly, when all I wanted from them was affection. It’s so hard. But I want to try again. Hopefully I’ll always want to keep trying.