So, I’m now convinced that being friends with my ex is not a good idea. I DO believe people can do it, and I have done everything in my power to be one of those super ex-couples who can make it work. And I think that X and I did a pretty good job of it…for awhile. But like I said: it’s ME that has done everything in my power to make it work. And in doing so, I have kind of let X walk all over me.
Here’s the thing I’ve found with exes being friends. We let our exes get away with more than what we’d let our “real” friends get away with. At least, this has been the case for me. It didn’t happen all at once, but over time I noticed what was happening – I was give, give, give and he was take, take, take. Really, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me because when I look back now, the same thing happened in our relationship. I was young, it was my first serious relationship, and I was really in love. I had waited so long for ‘this’ to come along that I lost myself trying to make it what I wanted it to be. In the long run, X and I were not meant to be for many reasons, and had I stayed with him the way things were, I think he would have slowly kept chipping away at my identity. Not on purpose of course. Despite the fact things didn’t work out, I never doubted for a second that he loved/cared about me, but I think it would have happened nonetheless. X is not a bad guy. He’s just not a good boyfriend – at least, not for me.
It doesn’t help matters that X has changed a lot and is not the same person I knew when we broke up 4 years ago (or even a year ago). I think he’s struggling with some of the same things I’m struggling with (he’s 5 years older than me, and has virtually no single or childless friends). But – he would never admit to being lonely, and instead of looking inwards to deal with it, he’s acting out in ways that are not like him. I told him as much, quite harshly actually, when we had our falling out a few months ago – but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in. And it’s unfortunate, because I can’t help but care about him and it sucks to see him struggling.
The problem is, getting out of the habit of worrying about him and trying to ‘save’ him is what makes being friends so hard. Looking back on our relationship, I think I was always trying to ‘save’ X. He has SO much potential and I DO really believe in him, but he lacks self-confidence and ambition to make anything happen for himself. I think those around him recognized that I was a positive influence – trying to push him to grow-up, and many of them have pushed to see us together again. But I (and they) need to understand that X has to do this on his own. I can’t rescue him from himself and I don’t want to – it’s too exhausting. I can’t wait around for him to get his shit together – he has to do that himself.
I’m tired of being let down by X, even at the simplest of courtesies and respect – which is what happened this weekend and prompted this whole rant. We’ve had the conversation over and over again about how I feel that he doesn’t appreciate me or our friendship. I’m surprised I don’t have a bruise from all the times I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a wall. And I need to take accountability here – I LET him do this to me. Over and over. And no one can take advantage of you without your permission, right? Sometimes I can’t believe that a strong, independent, smart woman like myself, would let a guy do this to me!! I KNOW better. I KNOW that X does not treat me with the respect that I deserve. I KNOW that he doesn’t appreciate my friendship. I have HAD this conversation with other girlfriends whose boyfriends have been jerks! And yet – here I am. Working SO hard to not care about a guy who doesn’t deserve my time or my friendship, or even my brain space! If this were any of my other friends, I would have kicked him/her to the curb ages ago.
Sometimes, people will say things in just the right way that it makes the lightbulb go on. After my latest let-down with X this weekend, I had two different people move me to action. During a great girl talk this weekend with E., (who has been around for my entire history with X), she said to me: “You know – some people are only meant to be in your life for a short period of time to serve one purpose. And once they’ve served that purpose, it’s buh-bye.” Could not be more true with X – I just need to start seeing it that way. On the flip side, enjoying a great Christmasy afternoon out with one of my colleagues and new-found friends, I filled her on the debacle with X this weekend. With barely knowing our history, her response: “What a jerk!!” – could not have been more appropriate. So – shout-out to E. and J. Thanks girls!
Of course, there’s no getting around the fact that X will be in my life. We’re tied through friends (and family) no matter what. But I believe I can be friendly without giving up to much of myself and letting people take advantage of me. As someone who is loyal to a fault and gives more than 100% in my friendships (sometimes a detriment – case in point), finding the balance will be my challenge. Remembering the wise words of my friends and family who know I deserve better, will be a good start. This is my New Year’s resolution and it’s starting early this year.
(And for my friends/family who’ve heard this from me before – consider the corner really turned this time. But, this doesn’t mean I won’t need you to pull me back from the edge if I get too close! )