I have recently undergone my first breakup. If I am honest, it has been a long time coming. We have been in an on-and-off relationship for three and a half years, and it has now just become too painful. And I still love her more than life itself.
We started dating at university. Lets call her M. M had recently found out her last boyfriend had cheated on her. It destroyed her. I remember waking up one morning to see a missed call at 2 a.m. from M. This was a surprise, as although we were friends, a call like that was a big deal. So, I met with her for coffee the next day, and she told me what had happened. We spent more and more time together, and it was not long before we started hooking up.
I will never forget the first time we kissed. She was clear from the start; she was not in a place to be in a relationship, and this was merely a friends with benefits arrangement. I was still a virgin and not great at figuring out my emotions, so I thought the arrangement was a pretty good deal for now. Then we started having sex. Interestingly, even though we both wanted it, she was reluctant to because she felt my first time should be with someone who is special. Well, we eventually had sex anyway.
Suddenly (in my eyes at least), she said to me that she liked me, and that she wanted to be together officially. I was not sure what to do, which in itself should have told me something. I was also 20, lonely, having sex for the first time, and kind of liked this girl. So I said yes, and we started dating.
Looking back now, I shudder. She was the perfect girlfriend. She was so in love; that infatuation, honeymoon, complete devotion kind of love. And I was this little shit who was not brave enough to confront my emotions. I was not brave enough to actually look into myself and see if I actually loved this girl with my whole heart. And so I strung her along. I remember so many conversations, about how I just didn’t seem to care, how I seemed distant, how I didn’t respond to messages. It is with so much irony that I found myself on the other side of those conversations 3 years later, but more on that later.
It did not take long for us to have problems. Some fights were her overreacting to things, as strong feelings have you do from time to time. Some were me being an insensitive dick; not listening to her, not taking her side. But we started the cycle of breaking up and getting back together.
We both came to the relationship with our own baggage. M, craving the validation of men, and definitely not over her ex's infidelity. I brought my extremely low self-esteem, insecurities about my body, and my extreme repression of my emotions. These fed into each other perfectly. We would break up, begin to confront our issues, and then one of us would cave. Sometimes it would be me, sometimes it would be her. After a few weeks, we would be back together. Looking back, I am not sure when her feelings for me began to dull, or when mine began to run so deep. In our gaps she saw other people while I, with my low self-esteem, went on few dates which, no surprises, went nowhere. And I would always be there for her when those guys let her down.
When I write it out like that, I really do seem a limp, sorry figure. And then there was one big incident, which shook me to my core. It involved the guy she was seeing at the time, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. I remember literally shaking while she told me about what happened. But, to my surprise, I was able to completely put aside how I felt at the time and just be there for her, and have my focus completely on what she needed at the time. To this day, I am proud of how I handled that situation.
That might have been the turning point for me, or maybe it was before that and the event just made things clearer. That was over a year ago, and since then, I have been all in. I have loved M completely. Unfortunately I could not see, or would not see, that she no longer was.
And so began my year of devotion. And now, I was on the other side, expressing how I felt she just was not connected. And how I wanted more than anything to connect with her.
And it was a few months later that she would cheat on me while she was away. This time, we were actually “on” when she slept with the other guy. I say “on” because it seems like the only right way to describe the shadow of a relationship we were in. I suspected it long before I knew. I can usually read M so well. And eventually I confirmed my suspicions by reading her messages. Twice. That was a turning point for me, I was becoming disgusted with the person I was being.
We started seeing each other again when she got back, but that was hardly the end of it. M had arranged with this guy to come and meet her and spend the weekend. And, she still went through with it. I nearly lost my mind that week he was here.
And coming to the present, M is away again. This time there were no boundaries set before she left. The communication was strained, and I began spiraling. Eventually, she said these words to me “... I can’t be your partner”. That was what I needed to hear. I don’t want to be with you. That changed everything.
Writing this out, there are so many things that missed. There are so many signs, I just chose not to see them and clung desperately to my illusions. I am not assigning blame for anything that happened. There is so much that I have left out, because how can you accurately write out three years of an intimate connection between two people.
For every transgression or betrayal one did, the other had their own. I have forgiven M for everything, while thankfully having scraped together enough self-worth to say that I need time and space to heal.
I dearly hope that one day, I can be part of her life again. At the same time, I am scared of the real possibility that I try too soon, and start the whole cycle again. The one thing I have to fight this is the knowledge that, deep down, she does not want to be with me. There is a quote from somewhere (Grey’s Anatomy) that I will paraphrase: “Being with a woman who can’t love you back is way lonelier than being alone”.
At the end of it all, I cannot help but be so thankful. This amazing person fought through all the bullshit I put up at the start to show me what love was. And I am so grateful that I eventually learned to love with my whole heart.
So now it is time for me to work on myself. All that bullshit that helped hide what was really happening. My low self-esteem, my insecurities about my body, my belief that no one will ever find me sexually attractive (that has to be wrong by statistics alone).
Although I think writing this all out is a sign that I have already taken the first steps. And still, I love M from the bottom of my heart. I know that will fade with time, but a little piece will always be there. I know she has her own demons to fight, and I support her completely in fighting those, even though for the time being that support is only thoughts and prayers. She is an absolutely amazing, wonderful person, and I have faith she will be fine.
And M, if you ever read this, I love you. Now and always.