I recall so many times with various exes just feeling… exasperated. I was irritated and annoyed and snippy and it wasn’t their behavior so much as it was THEM. They could “do no right”.
At the time, I just chalked it up to my mood that day or considered my grouchy episodes ‘typical’ for a long term relationship. I figured that by tolerating their daily annoyances I was engaging in the sanctimonious act of ‘compromise’ that relationship experts were always going on about.
But they really drove me crazy…
My ex and I used to go running together and at the end of every sweaty jog, he’d pat my lower back affectionately and pull me close for a hug of encouragement. “Stahhhppp,” I’d whine, pushing him away. Though he meant well, my shirt would be soaked through with a cold sweat and him pressing it into the small of my back just felt like cruel and unusual punishment after a tiring workout.
Another previous boyfriend used to leave the kitchen light on every night. He’d finish up drying the dishes, put leftovers in the fridge, and wipe down the counters. I was grateful for these helpful chores around the house but then… he’d leave the friggin’ lights on. Every single day. No matter how many times I (nicely) reminded him to flick the switch before coming to bed, he’d routinely forget.
And, most recently, a guy I was seeing, smart guy — solid educational background, respectable job — would consistently text me with glaring grammatical errors. I used to wonder, how could someone who seemed so smart be so stupid? I couldn’t get over his struggle with ‘your’ vs ‘you’re’ and even when I jokingly reprimanded him, his poorly written messages continued… it was infuriating.
But here’s what I’ve learned.
Those behaviors only ever bothered me because, on some level, those men bothered me.
The guy I’m dating now does all the same things.
He leaves drawers ajar, his nail clippings end up all over our bathroom floor, he gives me the same sweaty lower back pats after a run together… and none of it bothers me. I like it, even. It doesn’t feel like I’m compromising on anything. I’m not suffering through his post-exercise affection, or gritting my teeth when a light is left on. Instead, I just feel lucky to be with this great guy who is a nuanced, kind-hearted, exceptional human.
And maybe my rose colored glasses will fall off one of these days.
Maybe the lust will wane and the awe will diminish — or maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ve finally done something right and this is the kind of love that lasts.