Moving On From A Relationship
“Maybe he’s not the right person for you.”
My jaw dropped open– long enough to catch flies. I couldn’t comprehend why my ex-boyfriend’s mother was saying that to me. I had been with her son for a year and a half at that point. She and I had shared quality time–even gotten mani-pedis together after her son decided to ditch me on a visit to his hometown to get drunk and play video games with his childhood friends for fourteen hours straight.
Only months earlier, this same woman had thanked me for helping him mature. Now, I had come to her with a problem and her solution was that we should break up? It made no sense when I was in my early twenties and in my first long-term relationship.
Back then, the thought that he wasn’t the right person for me was unacceptable–there had to be a way to fix the problem–to fix him, in order to make our relationship work. I’d already invested 18 months of my life with him (again, it seemed like an eternity from my youthful perspective). He was the first man I’d lived with. After college, I’d gone straight from my parents’ house to living with him–a move I do not recommend. He knew things about me that no one else knew, even my closest friends. I was emotionally and physically attached to him and terrified of having my heart broken for the first time.
So I disregarded his mother’s input and focused on eliminating the problem. I did everything in my power to curb the drinking and video games I felt were tearing us apart. I hid the Call of Duty disc. I conveniently “forgot” to buy beer at the grocery store. I channeled my own frustration into writing an erotic short story about two girls who hook up with each other after their boyfriends abandon them in favor of playing video games–not that he showed any interest.
Eventually, I went so far as to issue an ultimatum that it was me or the video games. You can imagine how well that went over (cue eye roll).
My behavior only made my ex angry and more determined to down beers and shoot his computer-generated enemies. For months, we fought and made up on a daily basis, each one tearing the other down with our words. Neither one of us wanted to change, nor were we ready to let each other go. It was toxic and emotionally draining for us both.
Looking back, his mother’s advice made perfect sense. But back then I was too blinded by my fear of being on my own, and my emotional attachment to see things clearly.
It was my judgment that he needed fixing. He didn’t.
I needed things he couldn’t give me–mainly connection and intimacy. After sex, he would regularly roll right over, jump out of bed and go into the other room to play video games for hours. There was no time spent cuddling, talking, or just being together. That made me feel disregarded–like a vessel in which he relieved himself on the way to his desired pastime. I didn’t feel like a woman he appreciated making love to and wanted to know on a deeper level.
When I explained my concerns to him, he dismissed them, labeling me “too emotional” and “too needy.” He hurled insults about how dramatic I was. But he didn’t break up with me.
Being called “too emotional” not only hurt but also made me question myself. Was he right? Was I too needy? Was I too sensitive? Was I asking for too much? Was I wrong to want more after sex, at least some of the time? Was I a pain?
Of course not! Just like he was not wrong to want to play video games all the time. But it’s very easy to say that in hindsight.
Instead of taking the space and time to reflect on his response and tend to my own well-being, I immediately went into action mode. I decided video games were the problem. If there were no video games, he would have a deeper connection with me. Makes perfect sense, right? (Cue second eye roll).
We cannot fix anyone. We cannot force them to change. The only thing we can do is work on ourselves. Our happiness is our own responsibility, even when we are in a relationship. I wish I’d understood that back then. Instead of focusing my energy on making the relationship work, I should have channeled it towards making myself happy. Then, either one of two things would have happened: 1) I would have found a way to be happy in the relationship, or 2) I would have had the strength to move on.
One of the other mistakes I made was taking his behavior personally. It wasn’t personal. His behavior was a product of where he was in his own development, as was mine. Unfortunately, back then, neither one of us had a healthy sense of self.
Our relationship dragged on for a couple more months. We planned on moving to a different apartment together that I had already signed the lease for. Then we got into another blowout via text. To this day, he never responded to my last message. He left me with a one-year lease and no closure. My heart didn’t break, it splintered.
His mother was right. He wasn’t the right person for me. And I wasn’t the right person for him.
Had I focused my energy on myself, we probably would have ended our relationship a lot sooner, and on better terms.