Looking back on it, she was a great person. She was attractive, funny, smart, and she treated me as well as any woman has every treated me. All of this makes it really difficult to understand why I felt the need to break up with her after only 4 months of dating. But that’s the way memories are sometimes, they show you an altered reality – what you want to see – not what actually was. When I look back on it honestly, I know exactly why we had to break up… I had projected.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. I had been traversing the varying stages of singleness for about a year and I was growing tired. I was tired of going out all the time, tired of feeling like I needed to keep myself spectacularly styled, tired of putting in all the work and effort required to make being a single man fun. I wanted a relationship and it seemed that just as I was coming to this realization, she came along. She would be Lisa. I met Lisa when I was in high school, while working at a woman’s clothing store. We didn’t have the same schedule so we didn’t work together very often, but the two or three times we did, we spent the whole time chatting, joking, enjoying each others company and not getting any work done. After high school we lost touch, but then one day we randomly ran into each other while walking through the mall. We exchanged information and it seemed like the timing was perfect. Summer had just ended, I was coming out of a series of flings and she was about 5 months removed from the relationship she had been in since she was 16 years old.
For the next two weeks we spent our days chatting online and our nights talking on the phone. It seemed like we were trying to fit all of our life’s experiences into each and every conversation. Some nights we’d find ourselves dosing off, fighting to stay awake as we shared some irrelevant tidbit about something we’d seen or known at some point in our lives. As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for us to take our relationship to the next level. We were together and everything seemed perfect.
I can’t remember exactly when it happened but at some point the relationship became arduous. Seeing her was a chore, talking on the phone was a chore, caring about the nonsensical minutia of her day was chore. A couple months prior I was struggling to try and figure out what I used to think about before I started spending all my spare thoughts on her. Now, only two months into exclusivity and I was already looking for a way out and so was she. Thankfully, we didn’t belabor the inevitable. With the writing already on the wall we eventually took an argument that was essentially about nothing, made it about something, dug ourselves into our own little corners and decided that neither of us would budge. We used that argument as the impetus for our break up and as quickly as our budding love had burned, it was now completely and utterly extinguished. We both were left wondering where it all went wrong.
Looking back on it what I realized was that we had projected. When we ran into each other in the mall, the fact that we had “known” each other in high school for a couple of days made it seem like we were long lost friends. When we started talking on the phone, the fact that we stayed on the phone until we could no longer keep our eyes open made it seem like there were endless amounts of things to talk about. When we decided to be together, failure seemed impossible because it seemed like we knew each other better than anyone else had ever known us. The truth was, we didn’t know each other at all. We knew projections of ourselves. I had projected onto her everything I ever desired in a woman and she projected onto me everything she ever desired in a man. We made ourselves believe that we were who we wanted each other to be and that made it impossible for us to ever truly know each other. It made it impossible for the reality of who we really were to ever live up to the fantasy we had envisioned. What I realized was that everyone is interesting when they have their whole lives to share with you. You want to hear about the birthday party they had when they turned five, and about their first kiss and about the first time they fell in love. But the fact that those things are interesting and worth knowing doesn’t always mean you’re compatible. Once you’ve learned all those things, once you’re saturated with knowledge of what they’ve experienced, you have to still find that person interesting and worth spending time with – intrinsically – for the relationship to grow and progress.
Maybe we could have worked. Maybe if we had taken it slow things would have been different. We didn’t and we couldn’t go back. Our relationship ended up in the “it was cool at the time” box with Sega Saturn, half-moon parts and Parasuco jeans with the stripe down the leg. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever found yourself out of a relationship just as quickly as you’d got into it? Have you ever projected your desires onto someone you were interested in?
Lastly, this is the last time I’m going to say this – please download the novella if you haven’t already! You can get it here:
Stay low and keep firing.