*This article was written by one of my GORGEOUS best friends, Robyn, a contributing columnist here at Dating Advice from a Girl. She is a dog lover, animal activist, and one of the most generous people I know. She is also one of my adopted sisters and the friend who dropped everything to drive with me from Texas to Seattle to be with my love. For that, I will be eternally grateful. Today she is going to share a story with us.
how it all started
Think greek god who stepped off the cover of GQ. Chiseled cheek bones, angular jaw, piercing blue eyes, perfect skin topped with dirty blonde hair and muscles on top of muscles.
I was on my daily walk with my dog at our apartment complex, and he was in our area. My dog pulled on the leash to get closer to his German Shepherd and my gut pulled on my digestive system to get to a bathroom. I took a deep breath, I mean, I’m 33 years old, why should I be nervous to talk to Adonis embodied in a mortal man?
I smiled, trying not to look like a troll or high school groupie and asked him if my dog could say hi. Conversation flowed easily, and the grip on my stomach loosened. His smile was genuine and kind. He had just moved here from Louisiana for a job and didn’t know anyone except his mom and her husband. He was 30 and loved dogs and working out. He had a laugh that made me lean in closer and want to say something funny.
We were friends for 6 months before he made a move, or maybe I made the move. By that point he was at my place every evening to make dinner together. Our weekends were spent on hikes and at dog parks and even our grocery shopping was a joint effort. When we finally started dating, it was so natural; we fit together like beans and rice, and I was enamored.
the job situation
About 3 months after we started dating, he made a joke about not having a job, which caught me by surprise. He drove a very expensive car, and I had assumed he was paying his mom rent while he stayed with her. After a long conversation and a pretty big argument, I found out he had not been working for about 2 months. He thought I knew because, “What working person can hang out as much as I do?” By the end of our conversation I thought I was wrong for not knowing that he was unemployed.
He explained that he hated the work, even though it was excellent money. The doctors he supplied were rude and had thrown things at him and insulted him. He was tired of being treated like nothing. He explained he was going to take a break from the work grind because of how much he had saved. He wanted to figure out what he was passionate about, what he really wanted to do, take some time for himself and start new.
I accepted what he said. I mean, who was I to say anything? I was not paying his bills, and he had legitimate points. So, I left it alone. For months. And months. And months. And then a year and another year.
the living situation
Sometime during our relationship he stayed with me for about 3 months. He didn’t ask me. He kind of slid in and didn’t go home. It dawned on me after a month, and I mentioned it to him. He laughed and explained there was tension in his mom’s house. He wanted to let things cool off. He said he was figuring out what to do, finding an apartment or looking for work. I was glad to help him; having him at my place made me feel loved and secure, like we were moving into long term territory. And since it wasn’t permanent, I thought it wasn’t a big deal.
My apartment had never been so clean. My meals in the evening were healthy and delicious, and my dog never missed morning or evening walks. It was like having a maid, a cook, and a dog walker, but I didn’t want those things. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted a man that I didn’t feel like I was supporting. I wanted a man that wanted to share his life with me, not one that expected me to provide one for him.
how it changed me
My attitude changed in those months. I missed having time alone. I hated seeing him on my couch doing nothing. I started resenting that I had to go to work, and he could hang out at my place all day and do whatever he wanted. I started expecting that he would clean instead of appreciating it. I complained if he didn’t run an errand I needed done or if he didn’t want to walk my dog. He became frustrated, said I was being mean, and I probably was. I hadn’t signed up to live with someone and was feeling taken advantage of. Toward the end of the third month, I came home from work and just like he had slid in, he had slid out. His was gone and so was his gym bag.
Life continued for us. Him not working, living with his mom, always free to hang out. And me, swallowing my frustration, pretending it was ok that he didn’t work, and trying to build a future together with the man I loved, but was not satisfied with.
what i’ve learned
Looking back I can clearly see the relationship was doomed. I can see the dark clouds looming on the horizon of happiness. I can see my actions, trying to delay the inevitable, trying not to deal with the way I felt, and pushing down the problem I was having in hopes that it would change.
Eventually we ended. It wasn’t a discussion we actually had. He got mad when I didn’t tell him which way to go leaving the parking lot from a movie. I got mad because he was mad and foolishly tried to get out of his car to walk a mile to my house. “I need the exercise, don’t worry.”
I knew I was being irrational, so I closed the door and sat quietly and awkwardly for the mile that lasted an hour to end. He dropped me off in my driveway without a word or a glance back. We didn’t talk again for 6 months.
A year and a half later I realize that although many good things came from that relationship, it was ultimately a waste of time.
I did some internal reflection and saw that my problem was not with him and how he chose to live his life, but more because it did not fit into my needs as a person.
Had I known this about myself, I would have seen that we were doomed to fail as soon as I saw he had no work ethic. I realized that I needed to evaluate what type of person I wanted to spend my life with, so I would not find myself in another long term relationship that was not sustainable. I did not want a check list of qualities and accomplishments that a man must have to be a candidate to date me, instead I wanted to do a kind of self-examination of my personality and the key elements of who I was and what I needed and wanted. I used my knowledge of myself to help me determine my needs in a partner.
now, when I consider dating a man, I look for 4 things:
1. Good character
2. Strong work ethic and life purpose
3. Quality time and touch are important to them
4. Laid back and has a sense of humor
So, while I say dating my greek god was a waste of years, I also see that it was a necessary stepping stone for my growth. Our break up opened my eyes. Because of the time I invested, the effort I put into it, and the failure I felt when I was not satisfied with such an amazing man, I knew something had to change. I realized I needed to know myself, so I would be able to understand the type of man I could respect and ultimately love.
Have you ever been in a similar situation where a relationship taught you a fundamental thing you didn’t realize about yourself? I’d love to know!