Photo: Emily Long
It’s been approximately two years and one month since the downfall of my long-term relationship started, and two months since I’ve officially let go of our on-again-off-again toxic romance and quit obsessing over quotes like, “Why can’t you want me like the other boys do? They stare at me while I stare at you.” Even so, he still manages to slam back into my mind with the force of a door; a door that I thought I had closed.
Each and every time I think of him, I am surprised by the intensity or maybe just the idea of it all. When I closed this door, or at least believed I had, I said things like, “He’s not the type of guy I want in my life,” “He’s not a good person” and “He doesn’t know what he wants, so I don’t want him.” I said these things out loud to people, believing that it would take away the pain. It didn’t, though and I am thinking of him, but not in the way that I should.
After a big breakup it’s hard knowing that your ex is dating someone new, especially if you haven’t moved on as quickly. My go-to reaction, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, is somewhat jealousy–and not necessarily being jealous of the girl. I may scroll over her picture and glare at it a few times, but I’d say that’s normal. What I’m jealous of is the man. The man I think she’s getting. In my mind, he’s never the same man I had; she’s getting the best version of him. A version that I always believed lived in him, and worked year after year to help surface. The man I should have had, causing me to only think of him in the best form.
I sat down with a glass of wine one night and realized the reality is that she is getting exactly the same man I was given. Yes, their interaction will be different because she may be less emotional, not as aware or vocal as me– and that might be exactly what he needs. Their conversations might be different because she doesn’t have a love for music, books and intimate conversations, but their personalities might mesh because she enjoys being on the scene and partying, whereas I don’t. Their kisses and hugs will be different, and his bed will be different with her in it. There will be straight strands of hair tucked into his pillowcases instead of curly. Together, they are different, but he is not a different man.
He is still the man whose first reaction to a situation is to lie. His commitment issues remain intact. He will still be the man that doesn’t see the error of his ways. He will still be judgmental. He will still be the man that drinks far too much and publicly flirts with other women, because he believes he can. He will still be the man that has an aversion to confrontation. He will deny, deny, deny & then deflect. He is still that man.
Without some intrinsically motivated want for change, a man will not change. Then even with that need, change is a long process, not something that happens overnight. It took a while for me to grasp this concept, but I finally have and want other women to grasp it as well. A woman with bigger boobs, more patience, less issues and a lot more self-control will not change his fundamental nature five minutes after you and he have gone separate ways. He’s not going to tell her everything about himself. He’s not going to be the best boyfriend to her. He still won’t commit and he will continue to binge drink.
I am working on keeping the door closed and changing my go-to reaction. I will not feel jealousy because I think this new woman is getting my ideal version of the man I once loved and wanted. Just because I am out of the picture doesn’t mean the picture has become a highly sought after work of art. She’s getting the exact man I got and that man simply wasn’t for me.