Now that The Pedant and I have been split up a while and I’ve been processing everything, I’m able to articulate the thing that pisses me off about our breakup.
For our entire relationship, I knew on some level that he is essentially really, really selfish and that this was his motivation for just about everything he ever did. Our weekends of sex and sushi were awesome – I couldn’t help experiencing the sex and food as acts of love – but I suspected that really, he wasn’t thinking “I want to spend time with Cowgirl and make her happy through food and naked touching.” He was thinking “I like hanging out with Cowgirl. She sexes me really well. So I think I’ll go over there this weekend. Also I’m craving sushi so I’ll take her with me.” There’s still affection for me in there, mind you. I do believe he loved me. Just…in a weirdly self-centred way. We didn’t share our lives; he lived his life and let me tag along.
There have been many times that he’d told me that his work schedule was too hectic for him to able to see me for a while, but then I gleaned from Facebook that he’d gone to a concert (never the exact same day that I’d asked him over, so it could’ve been worse. But during a general time period where he claimed he would be too drained to socialize). There have been many times that his coming over was conditional, in some way, on a concert or clubbing event he wanted to attend – “I’m gonna see if this concert has any tickets still available at the door and if they don’t, I’ll come over” “there’s a thing I wanna go to in your neighbourhood tonight. I can come over after if you’d like.” It’s not like I expect a partner to make grueling sacrifices for me all the time but I mean…I don’t want to feel like a convenience or a backup plan! I want someone to want to see me, and to want this enough that they’ll happily make plans to come over just for that reason. Not because they’re in the neighbourhood or because there’s nothing else to do.
As I said, my time with The Pedant was usually filled with satisfying things and left me feeling happy and loved. But I was very, very careful never to ask him to go out of his way for me because subconsciously I knew that my internal framing of our relationship was probably inaccurate and I didn’t want my illusions shattered by asking for something and being rejected. The night my friendship with The Veteran imploded and I was afraid she would stalk me, I didn’t ask The Pedant (who knows legal stuff, is a trained security guard, and is generally unafraid of anything) to come over and keep me safe because I had a dreadful feeling that he would just be like “Nah, by the time I got there it would be late and I have to work in the morning.”
So there was this precarious balance where I could be happy in the relationship if I convinced myself that the things he did were for me and not just selfish – but in order to maintain that happiness I had to keep my expectations minimal and kind of shrink myself down so I didn’t take up too much room. If I asked too much of him I would eventually (or immediately, as it turns out) cross a line and then it would be pretty obvious just how little he was willing to do for me if it didn’t happen to coincide with what he wanted anyway.
But sometimes my anxiety makes me paranoid and skews my perceptions of things. And our relationship had been chugging along for around five years, and the few times that I told him there was something making me unhappy, he encouraged me to tell him the issue and he made changes. And in fact shortly before the breakup I told him I wasn’t happy and he paid so much lip service to the idea that we would totally sit down and talk it out, don’t worry, we’d fix things. And despite having told me before that he can’t stand dealing with anxiety in people, there were a few times that I texted him that I wasn’t doing so well brain-wise and he called me and talked me down. I hadn’t asked him to call me; he just did.* So I started thinking that maybe I hadn’t put enough faith in him; clearly my happiness was important to him and he wanted the relationship to run smoothly, right?
So I had the wacky, wacky hubris to ask him to use my spare keys I’d given him** to let himself in when he’s late, and to maybe try to sometime in the future not be hours late for every fucking plan we ever made. This was the first real change or sacrifice I’d ever asked of him. After five years with him I finally had the confidence to do that.
And he broke up with me over it. Getting keys cut and showing up on time was apparently too much for me to ask of him.
And I’m so fucking pissed off.
*But I realize in hindsight – almost exclusively during his commute home from work. And when he reached his front door he would sign off. So he was up for helping me with stuff, as long as there was almost nothing else he could be doing but staring off into space.
**Or to get new ones cut, since the keys he had were pink and he was embarrassed to have them on his keyring, which is how he always ended up forgetting them at home on days he was meant to come over. Whatever. The point is he was hours late all the time and I wanted to be able to go places and live my life during those times instead of sitting by the phone waiting for the “I’m here” text.