I’m over 40 and twice divorced. Obviously, relationships are not my forte. I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember. Have a child from my first marriage who’s grown.
Met a girl a few years ago who had a young child. We began dating but I always had doubts about the durability of the relationship. Early on, she was much more into me than I was with here. She would try to bring up our future together, but I would always dismiss it in a sense. Nevertheless, we both worked hard and trying to build up and improve one another—to see in ourselves what the other person saw. She followed me into grad school and we both graduated with honors. We grew closer—and I very close to her child—but without the commitment she wanted, the relationship ebbed and eventually ended. We never moved in together, so it wasn’t too logistically difficult at least. However, we said that we’d remain friends. Early this year, I took a job out of state and we would continue to text and FaceTime on occasion. Usually, she’d call every week so that I could chat with her kiddo.
Perhaps it was foolish or sappy of me, but I would buy them little things on occasion throughout this year. She was a single mom. She worked for a non-profit, so the money isn’t great, and I knew that groceries and new clothes for her child can be expensive. Eventually, the calls/texts dwindled, and she began seeing someone, which stung a bit, but I understood and accepted. Being quarantined and socially isolated gave me a lot of time to think, so I wrote her a long letter basically stated how I appreciated how much she tried to do for me during the relationship, and how she was a better and stronger person than when we’d first met. Wasn’t so much a saccharine letter but just a thank you and to let her know I was proud. She never acknowledged the letter, and I stated in it that she didn’t need to, but it still irritated me. While I sent her a card and gift on Mother’s Day this year, I didn’t hear from her until 9:30 at night when she texted, “I’m an asshole. Happy Father’s Day.” Said she forgets that I’m a father at times because my child is grown.
The point of all this is what took me too long to realize: Shared sufferings in life are not to be mistaken for compatibility. We met at what were low spots in our lives. She saw things in me that I couldn’t/wouldn’t see, and she worked hard to get me to see myself in a better light. And I worked hard to help her become a better version of herself. However, while she saw a future in our deepening connection, I saw my role as a friend who worked to make her life better. Certainly, we loved one another, but she felt deeply in love with me. Yes, I know that I should have communicated things in a better way early on and throughout the relationship, and I’ll chalk that up to a lesson learned and personal growth. However, I think what I picked up on early on and throughout the relationship was that she was selfish. Perhaps I was selfish too because it was nice to be in a relationship versus being alone? She did a lot for me and tried to get me to be a better version of myself, and maybe that is what people do who are in love. Yet, there’s just this nagging feeling that I had to be there for her no matter what. And despite her wish to remain friends, I think I realized my irrelevance—even as a friend—when she met someone else and nearly forgot Father’s Day.
Maybe this post comes across as naïve or pathetic, but I’d like to think I’ve grown from this relationship, and that can’t be a bad thing?