Leaving the Perfect Man

Hello Handsome:

It’s been a while, I know. Contrary to what you may believe, there was no one else, this was not sudden and it did not come out of nowhere.

We stopped being the Perfect Couple two years into our six year relationship. Somehow along the way, you stopped being the man who inspired me for more which became okay because I became more without you. By the time you noticed this and made ceremonial attempts we both knew were temporary anyway, I had lived with the shape of your void long enough to know your absence wouldn’t require irresponsible amounts of alcohol, drunken phone calls or even a text message. Six years ended with a sense that this thought-provoking experience didn’t provoke much of anything at all.

It’s a shame really, Luv. You were the tabula rasa of my dreams. You followed studies conducted by the World Conservation Union, used “propitiate” in a sentence and knew what it meant, navigated me through crowds with military pressed shoulders and (and!) shared my predilection for sex and cameras. Before you, no one complemented my strengths, compensated for my weaknesses or laughed as hard at personified vegetables. There were bed partners who shared no discernable interests other than movies, eating, staying in and going out. We used to laugh about these drive-by relationships, commiserate in the inability to invest in something so shallow. But in each other (at last!) we’d found a partner in crime, someone with whom the other could bounce against, learn from, and conquer the world with. I was proud to be your girlfriend.

But somehow, along the way, you changed or rather refused to.

You see, you stopped growing with me. Occasional late night viewings of The Simpsons and ice cream became de rigueur and early morning runs were pushed back until you no longer “had time” for them because you had to be at work by 11 AM. I never pointed out that you would have had plenty of time had you put down the Playstation the night before. I’m your girlfriend, not your father.

No longer concerned about career trajectory or even a career at all, work became just that: work. . You were irritated yet mollified with a pay grade that barely covered your mortgage and respect that barely covered your pride. At some point, I became the man you should’ve been. I listened to your problems and complaints about inept managers who had no vision and co-workers who couldn’t carry a ream of paper, let alone their own weight. I kept internal what everyone but you seemed to realize: it wasn’t your family, your friends, your boss, it was you and your refusal to grow a pair. I nodded, I uh-huh’ed. I was supportive. I once even offered solutions but I know better now. I’m your girlfriend, not your psychiatrist.

Then there were the things you said you’d do but never did. We didn’t remove the blue tape protecting our crown molding because you said it might compromise the new paint. It’s been two years, the paint must have dried by now. The brass number “7” was never replaced so our address read “2 56.” Months went by and the oil remained unchanged, the pipes unclogged. I’m a woman, Luv. Surely, you can’t expect me to marinate in four inch, standing water while I’m showering for six months! But after reminding you once, I never reminded you again. I don’t nag because I know nagging isn’t sexy. I’m your girlfriend, not your mother.

And oddly enough, although your faults were legion, they were forgivable. What I could not overlook, however, was the one thing that chiseled the most cornerstone pieces away from us: the opaque glasses you chose to view life with. You had to be the Devil’s Advocate in every conversation, never realizing that the Devil shouldn’t be represented the very moment I shared my dreams with you. That perhaps citing statistics of failure and reiterating how futile my efforts would be weren’t the responses of someone who loved me. You forgot that I completed three years of law school because of a stupid promise I wanted to, yet didn’t, break. I teethed on tenacity, Luv. I told you this once but you dismissed me, which is okay because I’m your girlfriend, not your life coach.

Our Couples therapist said you suffered from low self-esteem but you knew better. You told her you could run faster, invest better, build more than everyone else if you really wanted to. Of course, your conclusion was backed by years and years of talking so it must have been true and sensible. Even though I was paying her $225 for each of our 16 sessions, I wanted to donate an extra $20 so she could purchase herself a pair of hip waders, your imagination was so deep.

I thought to lead by example, that perhaps in doing so my efforts to build our future would inspire you to see things could be different. So I worked harder, sought for more. My ambition became so tangible that I’d hoped you would touch it, hold it to your face and rub it against your cheek. And you’d surprise me sometimes with unexpected hope! You’d wake up one day, resolute to update that resume dammit and send it out today which became tomorrow and then next week until…..until I stopped believing you. I couldn’t listen to another excuse or feign understanding of someone who became inexplicable to me. Co-existing with you required me to close one of my senses like those three monkeys on a log.

Put simply, I couldn’t be with you any longer because you stopped inspiring me. I didn’t want to be better for you maybe because I knew I was already better than you. Even at my most apathetic, I knew I wanted more. The small, last-minute gestures you offered to sustain us, while sweet, just couldn’t replace the bigger, more pressing needs. Preparing an occasional meal or picking up the random dry cleaning do not a relationship make when at the end of the day, Luv, a woman wants a man, not a broken wife.

Love Always,

Your Ex-Girlfriend

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