Don't do what's easy. Do what's right.
I knew I wasn’t in love with her.
I suppose. It’s easy to know that I knew now, of course. Hindsight and all that. But I think if I would’ve been deeply, brutally, compassionately honest with myself… I knew we were over.
But that was a horrible thought. So I ignored it. And I pretended that things were ok. Does that ever work? Pretending that things are ok?
When I eventually gathered the courage to do it … honestly, it was worse than I even thought it would be. I’d been completely delusional in thinking that she’d at least understand it, even if she didn’t like it. I don’t think I could’ve been more wrong. She just … broke. She fell to the floor. Her tears went everywhere. She was pale. Her face was distraught. I wanted to hug her and hold her and kiss her head … but I didn’t. I didn’t want to send the wrong message. But maybe that was wrong of me.
I felt relieved when I walked from her house, eventually. I knew I’d done the right thing. It was one of the hardest and most emotional things I’d ever had to do … but I’d done it. I’d been strong. I was convinced that was it. That we were over, forever.
I didn’t envision a different end to the story. I also didn’t envision that I’d conveniently “forget” how to be strong. But I did. And here’s what happened:
1. We stayed in touch.
This isn’t necessarily bad. Especially if you break up amicably, and both people at least understand what’s happening, even if they don’t like it. But—if you’ve been paying attention—my break up wasn’t amicable. It was horrible. She didn’t want to break up even a little bit.
I can’t remember who got in touch with who first. I have a feeling it was me, which I’m not proud of. But before I knew it we were texting all the time, talking on the phone, sharing our little inside jokes. It felt like how we were before. When we were together. Sometimes it made me feel sick. What was I doing? Why wasn’t I putting a stop to this?
Well … this lead nicely to my next point:
2. We kept having sex.
Our sex life was amazing. It was definitely the best sex I’d ever had. The way I could make her feel, the things I could do to her … the power was intoxicating. For both of us. So when she told me she missed having sex, and that she didn’t like the idea of picking up random guys in a club, and that we could maybe meet up and … see how we felt … I gave in. I was thinking with my dick and I couldn’t seem to help myself.
I sort of knew it was wrong, I guess … but she’d suggested it. She was asking me to fuck her. Where was the harm? The sex was as good as ever. I could have it almost on demand. And it didn’t come with any other “obligations.” Who wouldn’t take that deal?
3. I took advantage of her.
It became clear after a while that she thought us having sex might lead to us getting back together. I knew we’d never get back together. Ever. I just didn’t feel that way about her any more. Also … I was getting to have sex with her without being in relationship with her. It was the perfect situation for me—at the time. I knew she wanted to get back together … but I did nothing about it.
You could argue that it’s her responsibility to ask directly for what she wants, and then if I say no, to stop seeing me. But she never did that.
Maybe I should’ve just stopped seeing her. Maybe that would’ve been the kind thing to do. The right thing to do. But … that would mean I didn’t get to have sex with her any more. And I did want to have sex with her. And I guess that meant more to me than treating her right.
4. We got back together.
Yes. I know. I said we’d never get back together. But we did. Because I’d forgotten that being strong is hard. I’d forgotten that it’s a hard choice.
We got back together while we were both naked in bed, just before having sex. Is that the right time to get back together? Is that the right time to make any life changing decision? I couldn’t seem to help it. She was telling me about how much she still cared about me, and I got emotional, and I was telling her about how much I still cared for her, and that … I guess I did still love her. She was so happy. Her little face lit up. She was about to get the one thing she’d really wanted.
Maybe it was the control I liked. The power. The ability to make her happy or the ability to crush her. We got back together. Officially. We were boyfriend and girlfriend —again. After all of that. We had sex. It was incredible, as usual. After we both finished, I felt awful. I didn’t want to be with her.
5. I did what was easy over what was right.
It was easy to stay in touch with her. Easy to keep having sex with her. Very easy to take advantage of her. Easy to get back together with her. I knew what the right things to do would’ve been in all of those situations. I pretended I didn’t … but I did.
If I’d given myself no choice but to be honest with myself, I would’ve known exactly what to do. I did what was right over what was easy because I didn’t choose to be strong. I chose to give in. I chose to give in to having sex with her, to taking advantage of her, to missing her and getting back together with her. Because giving in was easier—so much easier—than being strong and doing the right thing.
At least, at first it was easier. But all of those things—having sex with her when she thought it was leading somewhere, taking advantage of her, getting back together—they all led to pain. Eventually. Because they all led to us breaking up again. Well, me breaking up with her again. After all the pain of the first one, all the tears, all the heartbreak … we went through it all again.
So … did I really make the “easier” choices? Because they only led to us going through the same pain twice. Does that sound “easy”? They seemed easy, at the time. That’s why they were so tempting. That’s why I gave in.
But they all ended in pain. Like— very deep down—I knew they would.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.