Social media has been a wonderful platform for spreading messages about, well, everything. Feminism, Black Lives Matter, politics, nutrition, and, of course, relationships. I’ve seen a lot of lists and articles from women in my life speaking about how women don’t need to put up with men’s shit. And I agree with them. Women, or anyone for that matter, most certainly do not need to be in a relationship that is not positive for both sides.
Now, I always thought I was doing the right things (for the most part) in my own relationships. Hell, at one point, I would have even called myself a hopeless romantic.
Or so I thought.
As I’ve read through all of the content being published about relationships, I had a realization. I’m that guy. I was the “him” she didn’t need. The one that didn’t care enough. The one she needed to tiptoe around. The one who didn’t put in enough effort.
I’m the guy you should break up with.
I promised myself for a long time that I would never be like my father. I saw how he treated other people, specifically my mom, and I grew to loathe the moments I knew I was mirroring his actions. However, despite how self-conscious I was about this, I didn’t change.
I let myself get aggravated over the smallest things. I left all the time to do things on my own. I made her feel embarrassed to be around me because I was, to put it nicely, a grump. I was condescending, mean, distant—in short, I was a terrible person for seemingly no reason, which really dilutes what happened, but I don’t know that I should go into it all here.
I also let the words “I love you” be the sole indicator of my feelings for her. I didn’t act on my positive feelings and, instead, what she learned was that I was just angry all the time. That’s the only emotion she interacted with; that’s who I became to her.
Worst of all, I started to change her as a person. She stopped loving the things that made her who she was—painting, yoga, challenging herself, doing new things.
When she left, I felt an obligation to explain to people how bad I was. I didn’t want to it sound like she was the bad person here who just got up and left one day for no reason. Despite that, though, they didn’t believe me. They thought I was exaggerating, that she was the problem. The thing is, I know I was, and I wish she could explain it to them, to everyone. Over the last seven or eight months, I’ve gone over every stupid thing I did, multiple times. Every pointless argument, every grumpy, sour moment—five years of me being an absolute horrible human to one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met. If you’re reading this and I know you, trust me when I say I was the problem and she should have left years ago.
Despite this garbage dump worth of screw-ups, there are a couple of shreds of positivity in all of this. First, and perhaps most importantly—she’s happy now. We’re not in touch anymore, which has been hard considering we started our adult lives together, but she seems happy from what I can tell. I hope every day she’s able to go back to the woman I fell in love with all those years ago so someone else can see her for what she really is, not what I turned her into.
Second—I’m changing. It took losing someone I thought I would spend my life with, but I realized that if I ever want to have something half as good as what I had, I need to become a more positive, emotionally connected person who puts down his guard and isn’t so uptight. A friend of mine said it like this: “This is your get-out-of-jail-free card. You’re young, you’ll have another shot at this love thing. But next time, you can’t fuck up. You mess up like this again, no one will have sympathy.”