Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do.

Not too long ago boyfriend and I had a talk about how he seemed to be holding himself back from doing some of the things he wanted to do, that he knew would be good for him, and that I was encouraging and supportive of him doing.  He was holding himself back because he felt that being 'selfish' with his time was wrong, because his poor girlfriend might have to be alone at home.

Rubbish, I said.  This is absolute rubbish.  Firstly, it's a lot of pressure to be seen as the only regular source of fun in someone's life.  Everyone needs to have their own lives and their own things, a variety of forms of fun and relaxation to choose from.  I can't be your pretty-much-everything-other-than-work, I said, and you're not mine.  No couple can have only work and each other and hope to go the distance because that's a pretty narrow and stifling kind of life, and both people will eventually grow to resent it.

I happen to enjoy much of my solo-time too, so the idea that I could be thought of as some suffering lonely wisp of a female who is nothing without her man by her side is so very wrong, honestly it's kind of insulting and just ... barf.  I told boyfriend that this seems to have been an on-and-off source of angst for him that we've discussed several times.  Each time I've told him I have my own things I can and like to do.  I've said that everyone needs time without their partner to be able to have that balance, to be able to breathe and bring new things into the relationship, to be able to appreciate or evaluate it from another slightly more distanced perspective.  It's important to remember who YOU are, by yourself sometimes and not to always think of yourself as part of the UNIT.  I've tried to encourage him to do things he's said he wants to do, to remind him to look into activities he's expressed interest in... but this has come to feel like pressure for him, like someone pushing him.  Which is rubbish as well, but fine, I can understand that pressure won't help either so I've said less lately about it.  Until last week.

Last week marked the return of 'mopey boyfriend', with his existential angst and questions about what he is doing with his life, and we ran through the same roundabout of assessing what was the matter, and how he feels he's not as happy as he'd like, why feels he's holding himself back from advancing on the things in life that might make him happier.  And when it came around to the idea of him holding himself back over the guilt of leaving his girlfriend at home alone?  I decided to break up with him.  I told him I love him very much, and I'll stick around for now if he'd like, but that clearly there was something in his mind about having a "girlfriend" that was causing him to make stupid choices based on a cookie-cutter idea that is good for neither of us, and certainly doesn't seem at all to align with his ideas of what would make him happy.  If being an 'official boyfriend' is to be an officially unhappy man who makes poor decisions for himself, then that's not really the kind of man I enjoy the company of anyways, so I said as much.

I don't want him to hold himself back, and if even some part of him thinks I'm the reason, I'm perfectly comfortable trying to take myself out the equation.  I told him that I was no longer officially his girlfriend, and that if in 1 year I see that he really hasn't done much to be proactive and to take CARE of himself, I will make my arrangements, and leave Belgium to get out of his way and on with my life elsewhere.  I told him to get out there and to stop worrying irrationally about something that he now has no official right to worry about.  I said "I'm taking a step backwards, I am officially taking this relationship less seriously, for the good of everyone involved."  I said "Maybe you should too, because I don't want you to wake up one day and think that you if only it hadn't been for me, you would have done so much better for yourself in life.  You need to do what's right for you, and you need to realize you're responsible for yourself, for your choices, for what you do or decide not to do about your happiness.  If I'm part of that, fine, but if I'm not compatible with that, or if you can't figure out how to balance these things together, that needs to be figured out, sooner than later for the good of everyone involved."

I asked him if my moving out would help him to focus more on himself, but he said no.  So I reiterated that we are no longer 'together' and that I wouldn't be comfortable being his "girlfriend" until he showed that he was making more balanced decisions in his life, taking greater responsibility for his own happiness by being true to himself, standing up for what he really wants and taking ownership of that, rather than regularly sacrificing himself for his estimations of what might make others happy.

He seemed forlorn for a few minutes, and then it was like some self-protection mechanism of his ego kicked in and he was really... in denial almost.  As though he didn't hear what I'd just said and since I was willing to stick around and observe awhile it must mean I wasn't serious, as though nothing had really changed just then.  And I felt sad as I saw this happen.  He was lulling himself away from grasping at the seriousness of the fact that I don't ... I can't be an accessory to someone stifling their life away on my account... particularly when I'm quite vocal about saying it's not what I want!

So there, I'm a single lady and my housemate is a man I used to be with, whom I go out with on dates sometimes.  I can't help but feel that getting a place of my own might help him to see a little more clearly that I'm serious about this though, about my taking this relationship less seriously.  I really feel it's important to have a partner who knows how to take responsibility for himself, to stop pining for things he isn't doing and start doing them.  I need a partner who knows how to take care of himself, and how to balance that with the care of a relationship, and right now that balance isn't there.

The boy would feel much better (I think) if he could just get past that mental block... that fictional idea of what makes a "good and loving boyfriend" and get out there and live a little more.

Honestly, if you aren't living your life for you... what are you doing with it?


Jessica said...

Further proof of how kick ass you are! I hope he takes your advice and realizes how lucky he is to have someone that cares enough to break up with him so he can be a better person.

Good luck J!

From the other J

Jennifer said...

Really sorry to read this but not sure I should be? It sounds like you are doing what is right for both of you. I too recently (well, 6 months ago anyway) broke up with my (ex)boyfriend. Mainly because he was a selfish creep who didn't treat me with enough respect (and why should he have when he clearly couldn't respect himself!)

Anyway. Good luck, stay strong, focus on chocolate and all the good things in life. x

polka-dotter said...

This was empowering to read and gave me some things to introspect about my own relationship. Hope things go well, you made really good points.


Anonymous said...

I really admire you, all the time :) - you are so strong and know what you want and get it done. Ugh, I can't even imagine using an excuse as 'if it weren't for you, I'd be doing this, being happy!' and even when I have thought that I've deep down known that it was really me just not being proactive enough with what I have. It just sounds as if he has no idea what he wants and yeah, maybe that means he needs time alone.

There are just so many people out there getting up and kicking ass under much more constraining circumstances.

Anyway, hope you are doing well now.. keep us updated!

polka-dotter said...

Hey I heard about the festival and everything... are you okay?