20 out of 10
Pairs really will with some delicious Earl Grey tea. It’s more refined, it’s energizing, and it’s definitely a treat.
During my last therapy appointment, I spent an extraordinary amount of time lamenting about my exes and the amount of labor I had put into our relationships. I talked about how much I gave and how much they took. I went over all the ways I exhausted myself for my partners. Confession Corner: This had a lot to do with my most recent ex.
This ex and I were together monogamously for about a year before moving in together. We found a house and made our space and everything was good for a few months. During this time, I tried very hard to establish a routine of airing problems we had. I wanted to get coffee every other week or so and talk about boundaries, cleaning, or problems. It was going to be a safe space. This way, I wouldn’t just be making lists of what I needed help with or needed changing, and he would feel safe to bring up his issues too. Well, this idea never got off the ground, and it took me a long time to figure out why. It was such a good idea, why wasn’t he excited about it?
Well, after living together for 9 months as his emotional support, financial support and all-around mother figure, I got tired of it. He made the bed once in the entire time we lived together. And the sheet was on inside out. He didn’t really plan meals. The meals he did plan went as far as meat with flavor and instant mashed potatoes. I did all the shared laundry like towels and sheets (though I made him wash his own clothes). I pushed him to find a better job, make goals, and generally grow as a person. Perhaps that was where I went wrong. He did not want to grow, and I should have accepted this and moved on. But I loved him, so fuck me, right?
Well, after 9 months of that travesty, I finally got fed up with it. Even though he offered emotional stability, and a shoulder to cry on, I still felt like I was a grown adult with a dependent. So I kicked his ass out of my house and we tried to make it work while he lived at his parents (because in that time, he had not saved money despite my paying both of our rents for several months BUT I DIGRESS). After his losing another job (number 6 in as many months), I got fed up, and broke it off completely. It was heart-breaking for me. I was hurt, and I was disappointed.
After two months of pain and hurt, we got back together. This probably would not have happened except that we had to be in touch because he owed me over $2000 and we were communicating about that regularly. But here we were again. Trying to make it work. We had been monogamous for so long, and I felt like I was just trapped in this stupidity. I had no sexual freedom to explore and all the talks we had about threesomes or others were fruitless. He was just never ready, and I got the feeling that he never would be. So I wanted to try polyamory. In a polyam dynamic, maybe I could feel less attached to him, and give myself some fucking freedom. He agreed to try it with me. But he also continued his trend of not wanting to communicate with me and we never established boundaries or determined what our brand of polyamory was. So when he suddenly had a new “partner” (not a date, but a partner), I got uncomfortable and scared. I tried really hard to communicate that I felt this way. I tried to explain that I was worried he couldn’t take care of himself, or me, and it felt awful that he pulled in someone else under those circumstances.
So he left me.
Yeah, let me write that again. He left me. For her. After months and dollars. After emotional nights and so much labor. After giving so much of myself to make this relationship work, he walked out. Because it was hard and suddenly I was asking too much.
Now, it’s been about 4 and a half months since then. I’m still hurting because this was my first long-term relationship. I’m hurting because it was really unfair. I’m still hurting because I didn’t set boundaries and maintain them. I’m still hurting because I was betrayed by myself and my partner. I have lost my faith in other humans, and now I need to rebuild it somehow.
What about the money, you ask? Well I’ll tell you. A few weeks ago, he sent the last payment (fucking FINALLY), and that’s why I need to write this. My last tenuous, stressful connection to this partner is gone. I get the chance to say “Payments complete. Bye.” This one moment in text form will be the last thing that he and I share.
The cleansing feeling of letting go after trying to hold on for so long and investing so much of myself is…complicated. On one hand, this was stable in its own morbid way. It was one person who was consistent (not something I have a lot). It was almost a comfortable groove, even if it became toxic in the end. It also had hope for so long. “Maybe it will get better. Maybe if we talk enough. Maybe if I go to therapy more. Maybe if I can make more money.” Well, maybe I just need to move the fuck on and stop dating people who need me to take care of them.
So I hopped back onto my OKCupid account. I started swiping on Tinder with more interest. And I met someone too! He was a great switch, good in bed, funny, a chef, emotionally dependent, told me loved me after one date, wanted me to meet his partner, consistently needed reassurance, and when I told him I needed space, he felt guilty and placed a lot of emotional baggage onto me. Now, I love people who ask for what they want. I love people who are open about needing reassurance and who cry when they need to. This guy did all of that. AND he had all these silent expectations that I would sweep up his emotions after he was done. He assumed I wanted to meet his partner and make agreements. He assumed I wanted to have this long term relationship. And I just…didn’t. With time, I probably would have, but the pressure completely drove me away.
So I went from one mediocre human needing a mother to another human needing a mother. Neither of them are inherently bad. But all these little things that make them mediocre add up and suddenly, I’m the parental unit they need to feel secure. I just thank the gods every day that somehow I was blessed with the strength of will to leave relationships I do not like, and that’s what happened (to some extent) in both cases. Things were bad, so I changed them.
I once heard a joke: Sex is like pizza. Even if it’s bad, it’s still pizza. I thought this was funny when I heard it because I imagined that sex would always be pretty good. After all, I’m good at sex. I applied this same way of thinking to relationships too. Even if a relationship is bad, hey, it’s still a relationship. As a result, I put up with mediocre people in my life. I put up with mediocre sex and effort.
Recently, I have started sleeping with more people semi-regularly. I have one bang buddy that is kind and intriguing. She’s made it clear from the beginning that her intentions are just to have good friendships with sex. I have another who has proven to be supportive and attentive to all my requests. I’ve moved on from things that aren’t fulfilling. I am single now, but I want to be in a relationship again. I like having someone consistent. But until a better human comes along, I’m going to wait.