I’m 25. He was my first everything. He told me all the good things and everything I needed to hear including “You have nothing to worry about, I’m going to take care of you for the rest of our lives.” We had only been together for just over a year, but I was sure I wanted to spend my life with him. Then came D-day, that was 2 months ago. I finally put my foot down and got him to show me his phone (after months of lies and manipulation), and found what I had been suspecting.
I don’t think he ever physically cheated, but what I read was enough for me to end it and walk out immediately. What followed was a week of pathetic attempts at getting me to reconsider, which started with gaslighting — “It’s not what it looks like, I would never cheat on you, we are just friends.” (Which, might I add, could’ve been true because the OW also supposedly had a boyfriend of her own, but that didn’t stop either of them from crossing boundaries) and ended with a shallow half-apology — “I messed up, it was like an internal battle in my head, I don’t actually care about her and I only hid it because I was scared of how you’d react and you were already insecure, this is just how I talk to all my friends.” (Which again could’ve been true because I’m pretty sure he had an inappropriate relationship with at least two women) “…but I won’t do this ever again, I’ll stop talking to her if you think it’s necessary.”
What a joke. I blocked him and have been no contact ever since. The first few weeks were agony, but I am so grateful I found your blog. It gave me reassurance that I’d made the right decision in leaving him, and helped fuel my anger to push through. It also helped me recognize the RIC bullshit from the therapist I met with.
Overall, I think I’m doing pretty okay. I am spending more time with friends, focusing on school and on myself, trying new things I’ve always wanted to. Most days I feel fine. But here’s the catch – even though I Trust That He Sucks and don’t ever want to get back with him, I can’t help but miss him. The thing is, CL, he was my best friend before he was my boyfriend. We’d known each other for nearly a decade before we dated. And he was everything a friend should be — he was caring, supportive, offered me comfort and guidance whenever I needed it. He was my safe space — and I truly went into it thinking I knew everything there was to know about him.
Even though I have accepted that I was wrong and that he couldn’t be the partner I needed him to be, I still can’t wrap my head around how okay he seems to be with losing a longtime friend. I find myself wondering why it’s so hard for him to actually apologize and try to retain the friendship, or at least to part with some form of civility/peace from both ends. But he’s made no such attempt and from what I hear (through other mutual friends), is going about living his life like as if nothing happened. How is it that easy to move on with your life without receiving forgiveness from the person you know you’ve hurt? And more importantly, how do I stop waiting for an apology that might never come?
These are all classic chump, untangling the skein questions. Why doesn’t it hurt him to hurt me? How could I have been so wrong about this person?
Because he’s not that deep. What you see is what you get. The remorse isn’t there because he doesn’t feel it. And what he can gin up (for impression management, or to avoid losing a kibble source) is full of blameshifting excuses.
Look, no one wants to admit they fucked up or were wrong. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be — but he PUT himself in that space. Moreover it doesn’t seem to discomfort him. So, that leads me to conclude that either a) He doesn’t think he really fucked up (he feels entitled to cheat and it’s a bummer you discovered it). Or b) He thinks he fucked up, but lacks the maturity and depth of character to make meaningful apologies (no blameshifting) and behave with humility.
What would that look like?
Respecting your boundaries.
With great pain, but clarity, said this behavior was a deal breaker for you. And you acted on that — you dumped him. Sorry accepts this consequence. Not sorry fights with it. He proceeded to tell you not how HE was wrong, but how YOU were wrong.
I only hid it because I was scared of how you’d react and you were already insecure,
The problem isn’t what he did (have inappropriate relationships with other women while letting you invest monogamously in him) — it’s your reaction to it. He blames you for his secrecy. He blames you for an imagined reaction. (You’re scary!) And he insults you. (You’re insecure.)
This is not a person who has the raw materials to be your best friend. He cannot be honest with himself, or with you. Moreover, if we judge him by what he just said — he doesn’t think you’re a worthwhile person. He doesn’t believe in your best self. No, he thinks you’re an insecure ogre who controls him.
And here’s another red flag, Anon.
He told me all the good things and everything I needed to hear including “You have nothing to worry about, I’m going to take care of you for the rest of our lives.”
You don’t need a man to take care of you for the rest of your life. That’s some patriarchal bullshit. You aren’t a Disney princess. You can take care of yourself quite nicely, thank you. Those “life time” patronage offers come with strings. Like second class citizenship to He Who Takes Care of Everything.
Relationships should be mutual. You bring things to the table. He brings things to the table. You support each other. That’s how friendships work, and healthy romantic partnerships are the same. No one is The Giver of All Good Things and you the grateful supplicant. Because God giveth and God taketh away. Don’t give some narcissist that power.
Also “take care of you for the rest of our lives” is over the top. Only bullshit artists say over-the-top shit. You are the sun! The moon! The stars!
You want grounded, authentic people in your life. Those people are prone to awkwardness, not hyperbole.
I saw this advice posted recently. If you’re a young, straight woman, heed it.
Can I get an AMEN?!
And to the good guys out there who may feel slighted — this goes for you too. You don’t want a person who needs external validation so badly. You want someone who loves you for you. Everyone at every stage of life should be investing in their best selves, but especially when you’re young. Go build your education! Your career! Your true friendships! Go galavant around while you’re still free of large responsibilities!
Anon, don’t waste two seconds on whether this fuckwit misses you. His acceptance of you, the value he puts on your love does not matter. He shat on your love, which is stupid. Do you want a stupid person’s opinion of you?
We all miss what we thought we had. That’s normal. The trick is to go build a new life that eclipses your old life. I say that a lot here. But you have the advantage of youth. You’re learning painful lessons some of us invested decades before we learned them. Stop waiting for “sorry.” It’s not coming and if it is, it’s meaningless. He did it because he COULD. Because it doesn’t hurt him to hurt you.