I had a girlfriend once who told me that all her exes ended up being narcissists and that’s why she was single.
Her longest relationship in the prior decade was about three months.
I’m not blaming her for anything.
We ended up dating for 10 months and then I felt we were just different people and ended it.
For a while I was angry at myself. I wish I had stood up for myself a little bit more to some of the things she said to me.
Some of it had to do with my relationships with my children, who are very important to me (most important!). Some of it had to do with moments when I felt her actions didn’t fully connect with her words.
And some of it I found myself slipping into bad habits.
Like I would think to myself, “I did THIS and THIS for her, so why won’t she do THAT?” I really wanted to know. I wanted to know the answer but I never got it.
I was keeping score. After we ended, a good friend of mine told me,“Once there’s a scoreboard, you know it’s over.”
I’m grateful he told me that. It hit me in the head how TRUE it was.
But I was insecure and wanted her to like me and didn’t want to cause problems.
And I felt we seemed to others like a good couple. And I was in desperate need for the external validation of that. Which was part of my insecurity.
And finally I thought I had made a commitment and I believed the adage, “Good relationships are hard work.” And I kept thinking to myself, “Man! They were right. I have never worked so hard! This must be a great relationship!”
I said to my therapist after, “Why did I put up with all if it?”
I looked back through my emails to my therapist.
I wrote long emails every time there was something that was said to me that I felt hurt my feelings or I didn’t know how to deal with. The emails started about a month after I started dating this person.
Why did she do this? How do I respond to that?
My therapist said, “View it as data. Now you know what you definitely do not want in a healthy relationship.”
Toward the end of the relationship, I asked my therapist, “Do you think this will work out?” And she paused and said, “Hmm… 50/50. See you next week!”
I liked this girlfriend. I loved her. I wanted it to work.
And it’s not her fault. I tell myself now we were just different people going in different directions and at different stages in our lives.
Different values about the things that were important to us.
Maybe I believe this or maybe this is my excuse for, “Why did I deal with what I dealt with?” I am not a martyr. I don’t like dealing with bad things. It’s more like I’m very stupid.
Ending it was very painful, It was one of those things where 90% of the relationship was great and 10% was very bad. So I was afraid I was doing the wrong thing.
But the bad started going beyond what I could accept being with for the rest of my life.
Again, perhaps I could have made her more aware of that. And maybe I even did, in my own way. Or tried to. But it was too many things and it was overwhelming to me. My work, my creativity, my relationships with others, started to slow down.
I wasn’t good in this. I am certainly not the hero. I didn’t put up boundaries. I didn’t know how to express my needs and I still don’t understand why. I’m not afraid to express my needs but in this case I was.
It was sad. She stayed one more evening (we were living together but she had another place) and there were tears.
Afterward I heard that she was telling people I was a narcissist.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Yolanda Sun.