Despite having absolutely the worst relationship of my life with my ex, let’s call him Ex, I regret none of the changes I made for him in those 2 years. He made me feel like a shitty person most of the time, but in the midst of all of that, there were nuggets of truth.
Nobody deserves to be lectured or yelled at by someone who claims to love them. But I think it’s okay to, once you remove yourself from that situation, look back for any truth in it, and grow a little bit.
Here are a few changes that I made for my ex, that I think made me a better person:
1. I Became More Patient. I, by nature, am incredibly impatient. I hate waiting for things. I hate waiting for people. I hate when people are late. I hate when things don’t go the way that I want them to go. Ex hated this about me. He voiced it, a lot. Because I was so blinded by love, or whatever, I adjusted. Instead of getting irritated when he was late, I tried to just be calm and pretend like it didn’t bother me. Eventually, it stopped bothering me so much. Eventually, I was able to just breathe through these moments of pissed off-ness and go with the flow a little bit more.
2. I Became More Thoughtful. I am inherently bad at acknowledging when people do nice things for me that they don’t want to do. For example, when someone cooks a dinner for you and also does the dishes and also brings you wine and also had bought all of the groceries. This isn’t necessarily something that, prior to Ex, I would have found particularly thoughtful or endearing. It also isn’t something that I would have done for another person.
Because Ex was so helpful this way, and because he was so mad at me when I didn’t return the favor, I became much more aware of this flaw in myself. For example, now if I offer to cook a man dinner, I make sure I come prepared with all of the food and pans and knives. I make sure to come bearing wine. I make sure that I don’t rely on him to supply any of the food or to help. Or, should I say, I am working on it a little bit more. Another example, I always try to make the bed in the morning or do dishes if my partner has cooked. These are little things I never used to pay attention to, but because Ex hated them so much, I basically had to.
3. I Became Less Self-Centered. I am a selfish person. Phew, there I said it. I voice my opinions. I want to go where I want to go if there are no other options, I don’t like to do things that sound boring to me, I don’t like to watch football games I don’t care about. I am loud in places where I shouldn’t be loud and sometimes I swear in front of children without noticing it. I just, do my own thing.
Before dating Ex, I thought more people were this way. If you don’t want to go to a restaurant I suggest, just tell me and we’ll go somewhere else. If you want me to do the dishes after you ask — just ask me!
Turns out, people are not this way. Ex taught me that there are people in this world who will let you get your way all the time, and won’t speak up, but that doesn’t mean that’s right. Ex made me pay more attention to this, he made me think more about other people and less about myself. He made me more aware.
Now, I am not saying my Ex was a good guy. In fact, he was the worst. Like worse than Juan Pablo. But, he was not without his good qualities.
While I wish I had been with someone who had been more patient with me, who was able to show me that I had these “flaws” without making me feel like a failure, I am still thankful for what I learned with Ex– for how I changed with Ex– even if I’m not thankful for the way he did it.
Changing for a man isn’t always a bad thing, because you take those changes with you. And you know what? My next boyfriend will appreciate that I am a little more patient, a little more thoughtful, and a little less self centered. But, I also know that my next boyfriend will still love me when the impatient, thoughtless, self-centered me comes out– because that’s all a relationship should be, really.