Story Time: My Ex’s Red Flags
Woof. It has officially been 3 months since the break up. Let’s get into it.
My ex- let’s call him Andrew, was many negative things, but he was never a liar. He never hid his red flags or tried to convince me that they were not there. This is why I sometimes go back and forth between blaming myself for staying in such a bad relationship for so long (3.5 years with one prior break last summer,) and blaming him for sucking and not being a better person for me.
His faulty qualities spanned many subjects, but they mostly stemmed from just two major things.
1. His lack of relationships with friends and family
2. His addiction to work and things
Today, we’ll just talk about number 1.
Since day one, I knew that Andrew was a lone wolf. He would proudly call himself this as if it were a badge of honor and something to brag about. He wasn’t as bad in the beginning, but throughout the years he got progressively more recluse and Scrooge-like. In the beginning, we would still go to his sister’s apartment to hang out, go to nice dinners with his brother and his girlfriend, and visit his parents somewhat frequently during the summers in Breezy Point. However, by the end of our relationship he hadn’t seen his sister in 2 years (even though she also lives in Manhattan,) would only hang out with his brother at the NYSC gym on weekend mornings, and didn’t even go home for Christmas. I think a lot of this had to do with his ever deepening relationship and commitment to work, but we’ll talk about that in the next post.
It also didn’t help that soon after we started dating, all of his friends from college left NYC to return back to their hometowns for a more typical, suburban life. By the time that Andrew and I met, almost all of his close friends were either married, engaged, or in serious relationships. I took this as a great sign of Andrew’s potential. I assumed that because his friends had prioritized values of marriage and kids, he would as well by association. However, the math on that one didn’t check out correctly, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I think sometimes people misunderstood Andrew’s lone wolf tendencies and would say “Oh, that’s so sad. He must be lonely.” However, this lifestyle of his was intentionally crafted and purposely designed. The issue wasn’t that he couldn’t make friends or didn’t have friends. The issue was that he chose to not want people in his life and to be alone. He would often say that he “does not have time for friends, or need friends.” Andrew could be a charming, funny, and social person if he tried, but he just didn’t want to. He was the type of friend in a group chat that you know quickly scans and reads everything, but hardly ever participates so when his name pops up, you’re surprised. He’s the type of groomsmen that cannot commit to attending a bachelor party because of nonexistent work reasons. And he’s the type of son that does not respond when he gets a “happy birthday” text from his mom.
I misread all of these signs in the first year of our relationship. I didn’t see that these were all troublesome factors that would ultimately render us incompatible. I stupidly saw all of this as a sign that I was so much higher on his priority list than his friends and family. I was over here thinking, “wow, look at all this free time that he’s spending with me versus everyone else. I am the most important person in his life.” I took his disinterest in everyone else as a form of flattery. Don’t roll your eyes at me, I was 25 and in love, okay. Now it is so clear that he took people and relationships for granted. He was able to go on in life without feeling dependent on anyone or ever missing a particular soul. I feel like he wasn’t always this way, but by the time we met and he was 27, he was firmly established in who he was.
From being around his college friends and hearing about his Notre Dame days, I sometimes couldn’t believe that he was the same person. He apparently used to be big into parties, wasn’t the best student, and was always out and about, and seemingly happy. Andrew only had friends from Notre Dame- no friends from before college or after college, which made me question a lot of things. For example, was he only close to his college friends because of the partying and drinking environment? Andrew always loved drinking way too much for my comfort, and most of the biggest fights that we had were due to his excessive drinking. So part of me thought that he was able to form close friendships in college because of the basis of how close friendships are formed in college. AKA partying and drinking. And whenever him and his college friends get together, they just drink and act as if they’re still on campus. I don’t think that I could ever bring myself to write or even fully think about those fights due to drinking because they led to such heartache for me. But trust me, they were baddd. All I’ll say here is that I thought Andrew had a form of social anxiety where he needed to drink a lot in order to loosen up and interact with groups of people.
Andrew is also the most private person that I have ever met. I spent so much time with him and yet never felt like I truly knew him. He doesn’t let people in, and doesn’t like talking about himself on a personal level. Whenever I would ask him simple questions about his childhood, college, previous jobs, etc., he would seem uncomfortable- as if he either had no fond memories to share, or he didn’t see the point of reflecting on the past. It was almost as if he were a robot with a totally empty slate. His brother even told me that Andrew hadn’t mentioned our break the previous summer, and didn’t even know about it until I brought it up many months later. And I’m sure they had many conversations in between where Andrew acted as if nothing was different. Because now looking back, Andrew probably was fine and didn’t feel different without me.
So why is it important that individuals have good relationships with friends and family? Because it teaches you to be selfless, supportive, communicative, and open. Since Andrew never had to prioritize others, compromise, or put in effort, he obviously thought that he could do the same with me. That he could treat me as if I were just as disposable as his friends and family. He often did not play nicely with others, and was used to putting himself above all. In other words, he was extremely selfish because as a lone wolf, you can be. And this carried over into our relationship big time.
I wondered if something happened to Andrew during his 2 years in Denver that made him this way. He didn’t know anyone there and moved for work purposes, so maybe that’s when the hermitage began. Or maybe it was a defense mechanism that he developed at a young age that grew stronger over time. If you don’t need or love anyone, you don’t get hurt. And as I’ve sadly learned, loving someone and getting hurt is so painful that you can feel physically ill for months. Or maybe Andrew just thought that it was a “manly, grown up” thing to be strong and independent to this extreme. Who knows, but if I were a psychologist, I would love to dig into his head. I tried to change him- I thought that he could be happier if he were more like me. And that’s probably when the psychologist would wag her finger at me and say you can’t change people.
Andrew was perfectly happy being alone, or so he said. He really could be happy, but I don’t know how someone could be happy with his lifestyle. He would go months and months without socializing with other people aside from me. And as great as I think that I am, two people cannot live on this earth together with absolutely no one else. I love being surrounded by friends and being out in the world and speaking to people IRL. Andrew definitely does not, so it was a fundamental incompatibility.
My friends had 3 main nicknames for Andrew- specimen, snake, and Voldemort. They all had common themes of being cold, lifeless, and harmful. My friends were pretty spot on and more perceptive than I was. I ignored these huge red flags because I was caught up in the moment and trying to focus on the positive to make the relationship work. I have to say that my friends are amazing and tried to be as supportive as they could be about my relationship even after I shed many tears because of him. But you can bet that they really let it all out after I shared the news of our official breakup.
And now we can all join in on the roasting.