#HERstory: Why I Stopped Blaming Myself for Break-Ups
We've all played the blame game with ourselves. When a relationship ends, unless there's blatant evidence to support the other party's failure, we often look to ourselves as to why things didn't work out. I've been single for 8 years now, so I definitely used to put a lot of the blame on myself. I'm the one who's single; it must have something to do with me, right?
I decided to do some research by asking my exes the cause for our break-ups, and the answers, while all vastly different, had one thing in common: it had nothing to do with me. Well, most of them.
I met Brian a few months before I turned 21. He was well-dressed, well-mannered, and the first guy to open the door for me. My mama loved him. I wasn't very attracted to him initially, but I had never talked to anyone who treated me so well, and he won me over. I didn't have the highest self-esteem, and I was honestly a little intimidated by him. His mom had a nice house, I'm from the hood. He dressed nice, I liked to thrift. He spoke well, I was a little ghetto. When I met his mom, I was very nervous. She came off as sophisticated and well-traveled. I had been on some family vacations, but never out the country, and no further than 5 hours away as an adult.
Brian didn't seem to care. He coached me, taught me to speak up and say exactly what I mean. Even taught me about cooking certain things. I liked being with him because I felt like I was with a real man who was teaching me what it was to be a woman.
Brian joined the military and left for basic training on my 21st birthday. He left me a voicemail to tell me good-bye, and said he loved me for the first time. Everyone told me that we should break up for the 7 months he was gone, and see if we still wanted to pursue a relationship when he got back. But that voicemail let me know everything I needed to: that was my man and I was staying.
I wrote him a letter literally everyday. Updated him on my life. Missed him. Cherished his phone calls. Rode with his mom 16 hours to South Carolina to his basic training graduation. While I was there, he barely kissed me.
While he was on the second part of his training in San Antonio (9 hours away), I went to see him. Things were different. He was romantic, the guy I knew and missed being around. Then he graduated, and his mom and I rode there to see him. He drove his truck back home, but made me ride with his mom. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't want his girlfriend to ride with him back home.
For ten days, he completely ignored my calls and texts. I was baffled. I held him down for 7 months, only for him to act like he didn't want to talk to me?? By chance, I was dropping off a book to his mom, and he was in the driveway. Finally he told me, "I don't see you as someone I would marry." And I was dumped.
I felt super stupid for waiting for him. Everyone told me not to wait, and I did...and look what happened.
What Really Happened
Brian and I are very close friends, so I just asked him, "what did I do to make you wanna break up with me?" He said "I felt like you'd do anything I ask and I wanted someone stronger. Someone who challenged me and made me a better man. And I was interested in my ex." He tried with the ex, and it failed, and I can't say I'm upset about it (petty, sorry). Now back to me.
Honestly, he's right. Because I didn't have that much confidence in myself, I would've been completely submissive to him. I thought he was better than I was, and I hung on every word, never challenging him on anything. My how I've grown. Brian said he was thinking about this before he left for basic training, and the time alone also found him thinking more about his ex. So was this break-up my fault? Nope. We were just looking for different things.
I met Andre a few days after I moved to Ohio, 16 hours away from anyone or anything familiar. We immediately bonded over things we had been through (drug-addicted parents, taking care of ourselves). He helped me move into my house. We went out, I met his frat brothers. Then a few months later, he graduated from college and moved 3 hours away. I wasn't super concerned; 3 hours is nothing. I went to see him frequently, and absolutely loved being in his presence.
After a year or so, I started wondering why we hadn't made things official. I loved him, loved his aunt, wanted to be with him. But every time I asked, it would all boil down to his being afraid to be hurt. He had lost both his parents, his grandmother, his uncle. Every time he got close to someone, they died. This made me want to stick around even more. I wanted to do whatever I could to show him that I would never leave him, that he could open his heart to me and trust me with it.
We were supposed to ride with 2 other couples to New York. He was going to drive up to my house and we leave. Well the day of, he stopped answering the phone and wouldn't reply to my texts. Needless to say we missed the ride. And the money I spent on the hotel was wasted. I was beyond pissed. And since we weren't going to the Big Apple, he was getting ready to leave my house to go to his aunt's in Michigan. I ran to my room in tears, shocked that I meant this little to him. He came upstairs and I just started yelling, "Why won't you trust me?!? Why do you keep trying to hurt me???" He said "I wish I knew why..." And then he burst into tears. I held him and said to him, "this is all I want to do. I'm here. I'll always be here."
So why in the hell did he leave the next morning?? I was thinking since we missed NYC, we could get some breakfast and just spend time together. Nope. He was out. Eventually I realized nothing would change, and it hurt me more to try and convince him to love me. So on Mother's Day, after 2 years, I ended whatever it is we were doing.
What Really Happened
Andre was the first (and so far only) person I've ever been in love with. The pain of his not wanting to be with me felt never-ending. How could I have fallen for someone who didn't even want me? Why was I so stupid? Turns out, I wasn't.
We're still friends as well. So I asked him, "after 2 years, what made you not wanna pursue anything with me?" He said "it had nothing to do with you. It was my youth and immaturity." I believe him. As we got older (this was 8 years ago), I saw him grow up. I was so proud of him for getting into law school, handling his business, and just generally being a better person. I told him, "you're the man I knew you had the potential to be." He said to me, "I'm who you needed me to be, back then." So was the break-up my fault? Hell naw. I can't help that I matured quicker than him.
When I met Darius, I was almost 30, into my career, happy, and things were good. I knew what I wanted and how I deserved to be treated. He served that purpose and more. He was open, honest, funny, supportive, and put it down in the....he was a great guy lol. I went to church with him a few times, he came to support me at my events, we went on dates..he even met my birth mother when she came to visit me. She loved him.
When I was around him, I only had eyes for him. It was obvious he felt the same for me. I was okay with taking my time and really getting to know him before I committed, but I knew this was where I wanted to be. He appreciated my natural hair, told me I was beautiful, held me close. Okay that's enough.
So anyway, 6 months into dating, he started to become distant. I wasn't about to have another Andre situation, so I asked him, "what's the problem? What's changed?" He said "I don't have feelings for you to pursue a relationship." I was crushed, but more confused. Things were going well, then literally like a week later, you don't have feelings for me? My initial thought was, what's her name?
A few months later, I moved a couple hours away, and Darius started hitting me up again. Like, 4 months later, I'm getting "I miss you" texts. Now I'm more confused than ever. You didn't miss me when I was 20 minutes up the street, but you miss me when I'm 2 hours away?? My theory was, he met someone else, curved me for her, it didn't work out, now he wanted me back. But once again, here I am, alone because something about me wasn't good enough.
What Really Happened
Exactly what I thought! He told me "It wasn't you at all. My ex...and I got back to talking for a while and things just really didn't work out. And when I tried to get back to talking to you I had already messed up. But you were perfect. I would have definitely married you."
Well I'll be damned. I'm marriage material.
After every break up, I always thought, what did I do wrong? What's wrong with me that makes them not want to stay? After 8 years of the single life, it's easy to think it's your fault. But one thing I've learned is that people's actions have very little to do with you; it's a reflection of their reality. I know I'm a catch. And I also know that as long as I keep putting positivity into the world, and I prepare myself for my husband while living my best life without him....he'll come. Maybe it'll be my fault that he finds me.
*Names have been changed to protect the exes. But you know who you are...LOL