When I started seeing someone for the first time after my ex and I broke up, I was amazed that this guy remembered things I mentioned in passing. With some of the guys I’ve dated since, equally ordinary things continued to wow me: showing up when he said he would, being willing to make plans rather than depend on me to figure out everything, making the time to see me even if he was busy, being the one to reach out first because he wanted to talk to me.
Those of you who have been in happy relationships before probably think I’m easily impressed.
But those of you who have been in unhappy relationships before know exactly what I’m talking about.
Like most relationships, my ex and I were happy together until we weren’t. Unlike most relationships that sour, though, we stayed together way past our prime. That, combined with the fact that “attentive” would be one of the words to least describe him but describe me best, meant that by the end, there were a lot of things that we put up with from each other for far too long.
On my end, that meant knowing I had to fight for his attention, daily. That his friends would come before I did, nearly always, even if we had prior plans. That my texts would go unanswered, regularly, and forget about phone calls. That I’d have to tell him things over and over and over and over again for him to remember, and forget about the subtlety of dropping hints because whoosh it always went over his head/ in one ear and out the other. That a time and place for us to meet was always in flux, never certain, and I’d better move heaven and earth in my schedule to meet him when he was available because chances were, he wouldn’t be available to see me when I was free.
It’s been pointed out to me many a time that this wasn’t just bad boyfriend behavior, but bad friend behavior. True, some of us are flakier than others, and not everyone is a stickler for being on time or fast at responding to texts and calls and emails. But at the end of the day, if a person wants you to be in his or her life (romantic, platonic, whatever), they’ll make it known.
It’s something I find myself continuously learning and relearning — amazing what an impact my last serious relationship has had on me, two years after everything’s been and dusted. It’s not that I ever directly compare my ex’s behavior to anyone, because it’s not a comparison and that’s not fair to anyone involved. But my experiences with him make me realize what I expect in how people treat me, and is helping me learn how to pick out gems from the rest. Sure, not every guy who makes an effort to see me will be a gem, no matter how wowed I still get when they get in touch when they say they will or remember things I say in passing on a whim. But some can be gems, and that’s the thing to remember.