What Peanut and I had was what I call a typical Three-Monther for me. Something quick and intense with peaks and valleys, ultimately running its course within a few months. By then, I usually found I couldn’t stand them anymore or they showed me exactly who they were and I didn’t like it. Something was always being hurt or revealed around the three-month mark and I had to dip.
There were exceptions to this. When I hit three months with Brett I still hadn’t seen the ugly side of him. There were glimpses of course, but the true unlikable side wouldn’t come out for another month. My longest relationship ever was with my college boyfriend who lived in Texas. It lasted seven months and only broke down once the possibility of living in the same state became real. Other than these two exceptions to the rule, every guy I’ve ever dated didn’t last longer than around three months. Lately, I’ve been asking myself why.
I have no problem blaming myself. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I was choosing the wrong men repeatedly. Couple that with my fear of intimacy and I got relationships that were always doomed from the start. But I couldn’t help but wonder, was there something else?
I started running through the list of men that it didn’t work out with. Some were valid, like the part-time pizza delivery driver who texted me back 20 hours after I told him my aunt died. But some were up for debate, like William.
William ticked all my ideal imaginary boxes. He was tall (check), very cute (check), had a great job (check), was half-Jamaican (check), had full lips and a great smile (check, check) and was a big kid just like me (check, check, check). We met on Bumble in the fall of 2016 and after talking about everything from politics to Pokémon, he finally asked if I wanted to spend an elegant evening with him at Dave & Busters. Of course I said yes.
I was extremely nervous for the date. I couldn’t remember the last time I had liked a guy that much. How many black men in Connecticut were willing to spend that much time talking about Pokémon Go AND were cute? Not many, I was sure of it. But the date went really well. We spent the night playing all the games we could and even re-played a few. We bought candy with our tickets and laughed until our cheeks hurt. We may have been two 25 year-olds but we certainly didn’t act like it.
I was smitten. William and I went on two more dates — one to a roti shop an hour away for some doubles and one to the movies, our most regular date by far. At the end of the movie, we huddled closely by his car neither wanting to leave.
“So, what do you think of going to the beach?” He’d asked, turning on the winning smile.
“The beach?” My eyebrows rose. In my opinion, the beach was a girlfriend-type-date not a simply-getting-to-know-you date. In Antigua, going to the beach was no big deal. You just pulled up and that was it. But in Connecticut, going to the beach was a whole ordeal. You had to get up early, load the car with towels, games and refreshments, drive at least an hour, find parking, find a spot on the beach amid a mass of people, unpack, then do it all over again to get home. Needless to say, it was a whole day commitment. And he wanted to spend it with me. I beamed.
“Sure,” I said, trying to play it cool. “Text me.”
William, however, did not text me. That was the last I would hear from him for a while.
I was frustrated. I replayed our dates over and over again in my head. What happened? Where did it go wrong? Was it me?
Once I finally mustered up the courage to text him and ask what happened, I got this response:
We were having a good time but I met someone else I seem to click with more. I’m sorry.
I shrugged and tried to put on a brave front but on the inside I was crushed. I hated rejection. I absolutely hated it. I always tried my hardest to avoid it. And here it was, staring me in the face with nowhere for me to go. I had no choice but to submit to my feelings. I couldn’t cover it up with anger to him (well maybe I could be a little mad at him for trying to ghost me) and I couldn’t be mad at myself either because there was nothing I did wrong. It was just one of those fate things where it wasn’t meant to be. So I had no choice but to tend to my bruised ego while I allowed it to heal.
Fast forward to half a year later when I ran into William again. I was at a bar with my friends when I spied a cute guy in the corner near the bathroom. My heart dropped when I realized it was William. Hoping he didn’t recognize me, I turned to enter an animated conversation with my friend.
I turned and there he was, all bright smile and pink lips, attempting to talk to me again. It all came back; the dates, the fun, the potential, the attempted ghosting, the bruised ego. For a few months after we’d stopped talking I’d dreamt about this moment. Half of my dreams consisted of him begging to get back in my good graces while I rejected him just as he rejected me. The other half of my fantasies longed for a reconciliation and to live happily ever after. I stared at him and wondered which side would come out.
“Hey William,” I said tentatively.
After introducing me to his cousin and catching up for a few minutes, it was obvious he wanted a reconciliation. He seemed pleased when he realized I was still single.
“What happened to the girl you dumped me for?” The question flew out my mouth before I could stop myself. So rejection it was.
“Well…” He looked uncomfortable. “She turned out to be a little crazy.”
I sipped my drink and waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t.
“Too bad. I’m not.” I said, and most definitely sounded crazy.
Before he could say anything, his cousin interjected. “Give it up man, it doesn’t seem like she wants to talk to you.”
And they walked away.
Which left me feeling… crushed. Yet again. Yes, my ego remained intact, but part of me felt like maybe I was missing out on something much greater. I had liked him, right? So why was it so important that I kept my pride?
Looking back at William, I keep wondering, what would have happened if I had put aside my pride? Would he have become a legit boyfriend? Would we have lasted more than a few months?
Was my pride cockblocking my relationships?
Looking back at men who I liked in the beginning and ran away from eventually, I could say it definitely had a hand. There was the songwriter who I cut off as soon as I realized he was dating other people. And the nice anesthesiologist who I took offense to because he wouldn’t look at me during sex. Instead of putting my pride aside and having vulnerable conversations, I cut them both off without saying anything. Instead of tending to my relationships, I was prioritizing my ego and nursing it like a rare plant, making sure it was well fed and watered while cutting off anything that would try to harm it. In order to take care of it, I made sure I ran away from anyone before they could run away from me.
Now, I’ve realized that relationships aren’t about preserving your ego. They can’t be. In the tricky world of dating, your ego will definitely get bruised more than a few times — sometimes unintentionally. What counts is whether you can take the blow on the chin and try again. All relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are about accepting people for exactly who and what they are — people. And people definitely make mistakes. People get sidetracked, can’t read your minds, are on different pages, and in general do not think and act exactly like you. And that’s okay.
As for me, now I’m interested to see what would happen if I stopped nursing my ego and started nursing my romantic relationships.
Tell me about you. Do you nurse your ego while dating? Do you have ‘Three-Monthers’? Is there another reason you think your relationships don’t last? Leave a response and let me know.
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