Flowers for unexpected reasons. Romantic dinners. Spontaneous getaways. Compassion. Understanding. Heart to heart talks. Laughter. Smiles and most of all a true partner.
This is what I expected before I got into my last relationship. But what I got instead was depression, heartache, and a lot of excuses for why he couldn’t be the man I needed, wanted, and deserved. During our eight-month relationship, I traded in my voice for his, shelved my own needs, and prayed for the day that my fairy tale relationship would materialize. But even though I temporarily lost my power, I uncovered an inner voice that I not only heard, but I finally let speak.
I had every explanation for my boyfriend’s inadequacies and why I had to downplay my own generally happy existence. I told myself he is going through a hard time; he has a lot on his mind. His checking account is virtually empty so he can’t see that I am living a comfortable lifestyle. His business isn’t doing very well so he can’t know that I just got five new clients. He is depressed so he doesn’t have the emotional space to hear about my day. But it is okay; once he gets back on his feet he won’t be so miserable. We will be able to go out more. He will romance me more. I won’t have to be his therapist.
Or so I thought. Not only did nothing change, but it actually got worse.
The relationship never blossomed into its true potential. His problems were more than just financial, and my needs were never met. Ironically, he ended it right at a period where I was having a lot of doubts. Although I did endure a few days of hurt and confusion, I was surprised at how free I felt. I spent time with friends and I actually enjoyed it. I was able to return phone calls and truly listen, and I spent a weekend without tears.
My relationship had been all consuming and completely draining. Because it was so one-sided I felt like I was pouring dirt into a hole that grew bigger and bigger each day. I could never give enough and I was constantly exhausted, so I never had time for me, for my previous life, or the ones I loved before him. After our ties were broken, I was able to really see that.
About a month after our breakup he wanted to maintain a friendship and I started to realize that we had never really had one. A friendship requires two people listening and being there for one another. It requires balance.
I realized I needed to address the issue of “friendship.” I used to be so afraid to express my needs for fear of asking too much and ultimately losing him. But this time there was no risk—he was already gone.
So we finally had a conversation that gave me my power back. I told him that I couldn’t be friends with someone who didn’t bring balance into a relationship. I told him I couldn’t be there unconditionally. He had to learn to give and he had to learn to recognize someone else’s needs. My needs are no less important than his.
Every relationship is give and take, whether is it is a boyfriend or a friendship. I finally seemed to speak his language. He finally heard me, or maybe I finally heard me.
My conversation with my ex-boyfriend paved the way for me to stand up for myself with all of my relationships. Recently, I ended a friendship that had stressed me out for years and I now can say that I truly have wonderful, balanced relationships in my life.
Today, I am grateful for that relationship with my ex because it has given me confidence in my own needs and I now know when to speak my truth. I also realize that when you believe you deserve more you will never settle for less.
Although I realize that my ex and I are not ideal romantic partners, I do believe that we have the potential to be friends. Today he calls just to ask how my day was and he is careful not to dominate the conversation. He text messages just to say have a good day. He is trying and so am I.
That is all I can ask for.
By Nicole Glassman for SingleEdition