Things You Wish You’d Learned Earlier – #1
I expect this to be an ongoing series of posts, so I’m labeling this as the first. From time to time, I think about what my life would be like had I known what was coming, or in a broader sense — had I known what to do to gain an optimal outcome to past situations that ended badly for myself. Understandably, we must all go through those situations and hold our own ‘lessons learned’ evaluation in the aftermath. That’s a part of life, and it’s instrumental in helping us grow and become who we are today.
But dammit, I want to document the major mistakes I’ve made in the thirty years I’ve been on Planet Earth. So here goes nothing.
One of the major blunders in my life has been my love life. Right now at this very moment, it’s pure bliss, but it took me years to get where I am today. And even today, my mind wanders to thoughts of… am I missing out on something better? Yeah, men and women both know this rub. It can be constant. It’s exactly how the ending to High Fidelity goes. In the end, however, it never pays off. You always end up regretting the decision to leave, or worse — watching a woman you truly loved love someone else.
I haven’t had to experience such a horrible death to a relationship. I never strayed from the pasture, if you will. I’ve thought about it from time to time when I was in other relationships, but I wasn’t sporting six-pack abs and the physique of a Calvin Klein underwear model. The ladies weren’t exactly knocking down my door. I did do well for myself though, I must say. I guess that nerdy/jock/intellectual thing is such an unique hybrid that it can work. And before you call bullshit, I was a Comp Sci major who played both soccer and hockey in college. Suck on that!
My first girlfriend came my sophomore year of high school. Sex came about a year later. In retrospect, the relationship lasted so long because… hey, I got sex for the first time and it was wondrous. Unfortunately, it lasted far past that. We dated for 3 years, and I didn’t realize the relationship was a disease until we moved in together.
All the warning signs were there. She tricked me constantly in high school with pregnancy scares to keep me on a leash. She played mind games with me constantly. I stuck through all of this so I could fuck her at a rendezvous point that we met up at after we partied with our friends. That kept the relationship going, and once I hit the breaking point three years later — I couldn’t believe I hadn’t ended it sooner.
That was the first glimpse into what I wanted in a woman. She couldn’t be a manipulative, controlling person who would play twisted mind games with me. Unfortunately, we slept together on and off for about two years after the break-up. It was a friends with benefits thing where I didn’t realize she was holding onto hope we would get back together. This turned into a psychotic obsession for her, stalking me down in parking lots after I was off work or following me in her car around town. I was stupid. It even got to the point where I cut off contact when I began dating another woman, and she would confront this woman at my job, screaming at her in public.
Then there was… we’ll call her Jane. I met her when I transferred to a four-year university to complete my degree. She was tall, dark, beautiful, and had a killer smile. We connected early on as we both lived on the same floor of a co-ed dormitory. We watched movies together, went to the same parties, met up later and hung out, and eventually got intimate. She would pleasure me, but I wasn’t allowed to get that close. It was a red flag I completely ignored.
Jane strung me along for months, stating that she didn’t want anything serious. I should have given up at that point, but this was the start of the second serious relationship I’d ever had. I was an idiot, a little puppy wandering into the wild. She was still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, who happened to live about 4 floors down. She made friends with guys and strung them along too. But through all of that, I was by her side. I was the ‘nice’ guy that she wasn’t sure she could love. I wasn’t the bad boy.
Eventually, I got stuck in the ‘friends’ zone, and we drifted. I moved on.
Then there was my son’s mother, let’s call her Erica. Erica was a smoking hot blonde who was down to Earth from a country town similar to my own. Great, right? She was a fitness freak and enjoyed just hanging out with the guys. She was one of us, and nobody could believe I snagged her. Today, I can safely say… there was a reason nobody had snagged her before.
She had deeply-rooted issues from her past. She took beatings at the hands of ex-boyfriends, and her parents were a mess. Her life, up until now, was a mess. I ignored all of that, thinking I could help stabilize her life. It was a noble cause, especially since I fell for her so quickly. But the problem was that I took it too far and stayed too long. I even got back together with her after I begged her to come back after she had dumped me for the third time. She kept dumping me because she wanted me to find someone better. She knew her issues would break us before I did.
I won’t delve deep into the details of what went wrong. The point is this. I wish I had learned how to see those red flags, process them, and realize that, hey man… you don’t want to deal with this. This isn’t something that you value in a relationship. I wasted so much damn time on relationships that were bound for the grave. I realized early on in some of those relationships that the red flags were there, but my dick was the top priority over my brain.