Where I act like the kind of girl I hate

Posted on December 27, 2006


Before the breakup I tried to prepare myself as much as possible for how I would feel afterwards. And gratifyingly, I was right. It’s a small but effective comfort, in the post-breakup blues, to know that you adequately prepared for them.

So I itemized all of M’s positive attributes and tried to imagine how their absence would affect me. Next I evaluated my chances of ever finding their like (or effective substitutes) in anyone else. However, I also repeated to myself at length that comparing M to any future guy would be to my detriment and the detriment of any future relationship. But why these draconian measures and accountant-like behaviour? It’s because M really is perfect. That was part of the problem. In the masochism so common to my gender, I was irritated by my inability to locate a single fault in him; I saw that, in itself, as a fault. I wanted what I termed “zing” – which I know, in a part of my head I rarely access, means someone who isn’t always nice to me. I call it “a challenge” sometimes, or “push-and pull”, or “edge”. But what I really mean is someone who gives me a hard time. Is that so bad, I wonder? Does it necessarily make me demented? Because I know for a fact that I talk a lot of shit, probably more than other people do, and I need calling on it. It’s not as if M ever let me walk over him – he told me off when I was rude or mean or whatever. But we always agreed on things, and he always understood my point of view even when I was being unreasonable. There was also a sense of humour issue – it’s not that he doesn’t have one, it’s just that it’s not acerbic enough for my liking. There’s not enough teasing. However, it’s absolutely common knowledge that I can’t take acerbic or teasing remarks. I’m one of your typical can-only-dish-it-out’s. So what the hell is my problem? Which brings me back to the masochism. These are not real issues.

Because everything else really was perfect, and I miss him a lot. I read other people’s blogs and hear their stories about their partners and marvel at how very few of their problems I had. I’ve actually forgotten how other guys are, I’ve had it good for so long. When I hang out with guys, I experience a start of surprise (at best) every few minutes at their behaviour. It puzzles me, for example, that some men appear to think that a negative comment on one’s appearance can be taken in good part. There is no constructive criticism from a man to a woman, people. Unless he is gay or a family member.

He was jealous, but never told me what to do. He told me when he thought I was wrong but never belittled me. He never thought anything about me affected his manhood. His ego was never an issue, nor his image. He was flexible but not a pushover. He didn’t talk about himself all the time like a lot of guys. He called when he said he would, which was frequently. He was interested in all the things I was interested in. He loved the Middle East and all things Egyptian. He was always enthusiastic about everything, or disguised his lack of enthusiasm admirably. He actually did have appendicitis when he didn’t call for over a week after we met (urban legend material). He would watch things I liked to watch on TV, like them, and offer thoughtful critiques. He put up with my never-ending complaints about temperature and weather and kitchen protocol. He managed to find my utter lack of fitness and hatred of exercise attractive, despite maintaining himself in outstanding shape. (Regarding that point, by the way, M had a theory that a couple being of a different ethnicity than each other added value to their respective attractiveness. This is why you find good-looking black guys with vast unshapely white chicks, for example. It’s because either their unfamiliarity is in itself an attraction boost, or that one party is unable to correctly gauge the attractiveness of the other because they are not accustomed to judging the type (am I getting this right, M?). This is basically what I think happened with M and I I could never get a guy as hot as he is who was Egyptian, or basically not white. My exoticism seems, to have added vastly to my attractiveness quotient as far as he was concerned, resulting in a puzzling matchup. M always denied that this was the case, but I guess that’s part of the deal with value-added couples – one of them will never know they’re in one.)

I will never again have access to such a body (particularly his almost insolent butt). He was there for me when I was sick or needed things. He always leafed through my chick-lit books with interest and never made fun of them. He read (most) books I suggested. He always loved everything I ever cooked and thanked me as soon as he tasted the first mouthful. He never misunderstood me, and never judged me.

I know I’ll never do any better than him. No one will ever love me as much, think I’m as smart or funny, be intelligent but not a know-it-all, be informed but not aggressively argumentative, treat me with such respect, be so overwhelmingly good-natured and patient, be as wonderful to his family and friends, bring out the best in me, not even recognize my faults, think I’m as beautiful, or be as outstandingly sexy as M. I know it. But I’m not sorry we broke up. It was the right thing to do, and I‘m enjoying consorting with various strongly imperfect guys. Maybe it’s naïve of me to think that 100% happiness is possible, but I know I shouldn’t give up on it right from the start. God, that last bit was corny as shit. Forgive me, I have not the writing skills to make it tolerable.

And now I’ve bared my soul, something that is excruciatingly painful for me. I’ve gayed you out and put a whole bunch of guys off me, most likely. I don’t feel any relief, either, just embarrassment. Still, that’s what’s knocking around in my head, so you might as well hear it.

***I forgot to mention something else. The real reason we broke up is that I am not in love with him, with all that is attendant upon that. I’m sure it means something that I forgot to mention that. What?