“My boyfriend never had any hesitations about being together: He wanted to be with me, live with me, marry me. For years.
One day, I come home to find that all his stuff is gone. He says he’s “confused” and isn’t sure if he loves me anymore. He says he met someone else. He takes down our Facebook pics, and puts her up instead. Then, he starts blowing up my phone, wants to hang out, so I say ok, and then he’s distant again. He tells me I’m his safety net. I know I’m a better fit for him—better looking, his age, with a good job and my own apartment. What gives?”
This is the rock we beat ourselves against, over and over: We think that we know what’s “better” for the person we love and want, and decide our life should be dedicated to proving this fact, or at the very least, suffer endless indignation over it. I have done this many times over myself. Fruitlessly.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: It’s not about looks. Or income. Or your apartment. And what he thought or felt back then has little to do with what he does now, because we live in the present, which has been known to change. You say he never questioned his commitment to you…until he did (though did you ever think your hesitation may have played a role?). We don’t know that what he felt then was real and now is a mistake. He might have just bulldozed his way in because he wanted to. And is backing out now because he feels like it.
It’s not fair. It’s not fun. It may not even be logical. But none of that matters.
Because here’s the thing: relationships are not a logical puzzle that you solve by being the answer or getting it “right.” And the idea that being the rational choice assumes that relationships are rational, intellectual decisions. Hardly.
They are emotional, and based on how we feel, or think we feel, right now, rather than what looks good on paper (and those who go that route aren’t any happier). You may choose to ignore or repress them. Or you may choose to follow them, much to the dismay of everyone else involved.
It can be frustrating, maddening even, when someone you love willingly chooses someone you think is “all wrong” for him (or her, bear with me with pronouns here). Ask any first wife. How many beautiful, smart, capable women have watched partners cheat or leave altogether with women who are younger, dumber, broke, 20 pounds heavier, a smoker.
Good looks, a sense of humor, a string of accomplishments, and a killer bank account are not a vaccine for loss (see: Anyone with even one of those things). And the sooner you realize that, the better.
Men leave women who love them for women who don’t, or women who treat them badly, or women who just suck. And vice versa. Even when it’s deemed wrong or unethical. (Do I have to take you back to Hugh Grant and Divine Brown?)
And that’s why to assume that it’s you, or something you could have done differently, is not the answer, and it’s certainly not helpful—except that, more often than not, it helps YOU because it allows you to decide he’s stupid, wrong, making a mistake. He may be! But he’s making it anyway.
Stop wondering why he so clearly isn’t choosing the “right” fit for him. Because you’re missing the most important part of this picture: Since when was this all about how you fit his life? Don’t you also want someone who fits into yours? Because he doesn’t fit. He walked away.
I can’t read his mind and I don’t know you, Alice. But I know that if you have to build a case for why he should be with you, no case will ever be enough.
I once had a boyfriend who was 100% not a fit for me. At the time, he was earning his MBA from Harvard, and fancied himself a bit of a brainiac. And he was smart. The day I went over to end it, because the whole thing was making me nutty and not in a good way, he talked me out of it. He said, and I quote, I didn’t have a good enough “argument” for breaking up with him.
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t have an argument. I just started to cry. He attempted to intellectually bully his way out of a breakup! I’d never seen anything like it, before or since. It ended not long after.
So do yourself a favor and stop trying to rationalize why he should choose you and acting as if the court should rule in your favor because he has mistreated you. Besides, what do you win? Him? You don’t want him, trust me.
At some point, you have to take ownership of your role here. If someone can’t make you feel inferior without your consent, then no one can make you their safety blanket unless you continue to act like one.
*Alice is not her real name. I paraphrased her very long letter, and disguised the details a bit because she really does not want him to know. Obviously.
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