And then, we were alone together, not belonging to anyone.
Recently, one of my friends had a pretty explosive breakup. She was in a relationship with this man for a couple of years, and they had planned on getting married until the breakup happened. The split was not easy on her, especially when he was out screwing everyone else in sight after the break.
The thing about their relationship was that it was extremely abusive. He would put her down, dangle commitment in front of her like a carrot and basically just make it very clear that others came before her. She had even told me that she hated him, and hated the way that he treated her. Her friends were all very worried that she was going to end up killing herself due to the stress of the relationship.
In a word, the man was about as good for her as poison. Even so, it was clear leaving him wasn’t easy. One day, she had called me and told me she was thinking of going back to the abuser.
“Dude, why?” I asked.
“I honestly don’t see myself getting anyone else, or at least, anyone better,” she said. “I miss him.”
“No, you don’t miss him,” I explained. “You miss the idea of him and the idea of being taken. You don’t miss worrying about whether or not he’d end up burning the house down when he’d cook. You don’t miss him ogling other women in front of you. You don’t miss him 'subtly' hinting you need to lose weight. You don’t miss crying because you had to convince him to marry you, or anything like that, do you?”
“No, you’re right,” she said.
“You don’t miss having to basically beg and plead him to treat you like a part of his family, despite how long you’ve been together, do you?” I asked.
“No, I don’t,” she said.
“You don’t miss him making you wonder if he’s actually that bad, just because he kept insisting that he’s great and you’re seeing things, do you?”
“You don’t miss having to wait 3 hours while he gets ready to go to the club, do you?”
“No, I don’t.”
“You know, a person is only the sum of the actions they do and the things they say, and how they make you feel. Did he make you feel good?” I asked.
“No, not at all, but...”
“But nothing,” I interrupted. “You don’t miss him. The person he is is viscerally disgusting as a human being. He treated you like sh*t. What you miss is this idea that you could be in a relationship that would eventually have lead to marriage and kids.”
“How do you know all that?” she asked.
At this point, I shrugged and told her the truth. “Because that’s why I was so ready to go back to my ex. We’re in the same boat. But the thing is, if we go back, we’ll end up more miserable than we would have been alone.”
“You sure?” she asked.
“Honestly, I’ve seen it with you. All of us were worried that we were going to watch you die because of all the emotional abuse he unleashed on you and we didn’t know what to do to get you away from him,” I said. “I don’t want to have to see that again.”
We sat there in silence and thought about it all. We both had dumped guys who were terrible for us, and we both felt alone. But at least we felt alone together, with people we loved, rather than with the men we hated.
Being single, when marriage is your main goal in life, isn’t easy. It’s heartbreaking. But being with a man that saps the life out of you is far, far worse than singledom, and we both knew that at that moment.