I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I asked him how his relationship was going and he said, “Eh.”
Just a simple grunt of a response but told me everything I needed to know.
I asked because there was a little gossip floating around that he wasn’t happy with her selfishness and irrational behavior. Things most of us are familiar with and things that generally have led us all to leave someone who no longer makes us happy. So I wanted to give him an opportunity to maybe talk with a friend and maybe over Dortitos and daytime television, us two dudes could work through some of his options. Because I guess that’s how friendships are supposed to work.
He wasn’t really known for being the most talkative guy. I had rarely heard him even mention being sad or depressed or discussing any emotion, for that matter. But I thought maybe no one ever wanted to listen or had given him a comfortable opportunity to speak. So we sat and played video games all afternoon.
It wasn’t until I asked if he was going to tour again and he emphatically responded, “Oh, definitely. I just need to get the hell out of here.” I asked what he meant by that and he kind of stammered a bit like he wanted to say something but part of him was preventing his mouth from moving.
“Dude, just be real with me,” I said. “You want to just get away from your lady, don’t you?”
He just looked at our stained rug and slowly nodded.
“Look, man. It’s okay if you want to end things.” I said, “Most relationships are destined to fail anyway. I mean, I thought she was cool and all but if you’re not stoked on the way she treats you, well, you should really say something.”
Sometimes I forget there are people in this world who don’t like over-sharing as much as I do. He just nodded along.
I could tell this was getting to him. I could see the frustration building and how uncomfortable he was sitting there on that couch. I couldn’t read if he was more upset at my questions or his situation or the fact that my questions were forcing him to deal with his relationship problems. I knew he loved leaving on tour for so long because his relationship would be reduced to a handful of texts that he could avoid by using the excuse, “Oh, sorry I have texted back in six hours. This venue has terrible reception.”
He was a large and imposing guy. His size and quiet nature made people think he was crazy but really, he was just one of the most shy people I had ever met. He would go years without dating someone. Not because he was conventionally unattractive but because he just couldn’t open up to anyone much less make an effort to get to know another woman. He was terrified, and anyone who truly hung around him long enough could tell that no one had ever taught him to communicate well with others. That no one had ever really challenged him as a child to open up and express his feelings. Only now, he was a massive tattooed man and those traits come off equally as mysterious as they are intimidating.
So him having an official girlfriend was surprising. We all wanted to know how it happened. And from what we gathered, she basically wore him down until he simply nodded yes when she asked if he wanted a girlfriend and a real relationship. Backed into a corner by an assertive woman, he caved. And none of us knew if it was what he really wanted or if he would have felt guilty by saying no or if he was secretly lonely and just wanted a woman in his life to make him feel good about himself. But that was his business and is journey and even though we were his friends and cared about his well-being, we all knew it wasn’t our right to intrude. That is, until I saw him crunching his was through my bag or Doritos like he was mad at it.
“Dude, I mean, it’s cool.” I said, “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” He said in just under a yell.
I sat back and didn’t say anything.
“She is just so shitty. She never has anything good to say, everything that comes out of her mouth is super negative, and she makes me pay for everything and doesn’t even say thank you.” He paused to let it sink in and said, “I can’t fucking stand her anymore.”
I assured him he was a good dude and that what I knew of her, she was a decent person as well but that they simply were no longer compatible with each other. Then I suggested that he end things with her. I said, “You know it would probably be what’s best for both of you. I think in order for both of you to be happy, you need some space away from each other. And not just on tour, but emotional space.”
He said, “I could never break up with her. She would lose her mind and it would be the worst fight ever and I just don’t want to deal with it.”
I told him maintaining a relationship just because you don’t want to deal with the fallout is the worst waste of time for both people. He said that he didn’t care. I asked him how he felt about the idea of continuing to stay in a shitty relationship and he said, “Oh, I’ll just make her break up with me.”
I said, “Wait, what?”
He said, “Yeah, I’ll just not answer her calls and texts and treat her the way she treats me.”
“Dude, do you think that’s the best way to go about this?”
He said, “Yeah. That way I don’t have to do the dirty work. I’ll just be super shitty to her until she ends it.”
That conversation has always stuck with me over the years. I couldn’t shake it. And sometimes at night, I think about it before I go to bed. I think about the countless people in the world who are cowards. People who attempt to show the world how confident and well put together they are but how absolutely terrified they are of confrontation. How so many people would rather waste another person’s hope and time and future simply because they want to avoid provoking another fight or disappointing someone or because they’re simply terrified of being alone. And none of those reasons are honorable or healthy excuses to maintain any relationship.
And the biggest tragedy is wasting someone’s time that you profess to care about. If you truly loved someone, you would respect that person. And if you respected them, you wouldn’t give them false hope. Because giving someone false hope is cruel and is a thinly veiled attempt to hide the character of a coward.
If it’s broken and can be repaired – work on it with all you have.
If it’s broken beyond repair – tell them as soon as you make the decision in your head. Answer any of their questions and don’t be a coward.
Because the world has enough broken people with trust issues.
And just because you, as a couple, are no longer compatible doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave people better than you found them.