We ran into his ex the other day. They hadn’t seen each other since their bad breakup, nearly two years ago, so I didn’t know what would happen. But, we simply kept walking, and neither of them acknowledged the other’s presence. It was awkward as hell, but definitely could’ve been a lot worse.
I knew him during the last few months of his relationship with her, and I had met her myself while they were still together. After they broke up, I spent several months as the designated friend for him to vent to. When we finally started dating, about a year after his previous relationship had ended, her influence on him and his views of dating became even more apparent.
When we first started dating, he said it would be at least 10 years before he considered marrying someone. He said that he didn’t want to make plans for future things we would do as a couple. He said that he wasn’t really into holding hands, unless it was some sort of special occasion. He would always profusely apologize when he wasn’t able to pay for dinner for us both, and he definitely seemed confused when I didn’t ask him to buy the anklet I picked out for myself on vacation.
In the mere nine months we’ve been dating, there’s been a big change in the list of things he swore he wouldn’t or couldn’t do. While he does still apologize for not being able to take me out on as many fancy dates as he would like, he knows that it doesn’t upset me, and he surprises me with dinners out and little thoughtful gifts from time to time. As for hand holding only on special occasions, such occasions for us can be as “special” as walking across a parking lot. He’s been talking about our first anniversary (which will be in January) since September, and we talk about trips we’d like to take together all of the time. We’re both in agreement that we should probably be together about 3 years before we even start discussing marriage, which has made him much comfortable talking about his someday wedding and future kids. More than once, he has even talked about marriage in terms of US getting married, before he catches himself.
So, what I’ve learned from this is that the best relationships are those in which you can be honest and open about what you do and don’t want, but in a way that is respectful of your partner’s dos and don’ts as well. He willingly holds my hand in parking lots because I don’t tell him he has to. He openly talks about marriage because he knows I’m not going to push him into it before we’re both ready. I don’t demand those kinds of things from him, so he gives them to me willingly. And he actually enjoys it.
So, no, I’m not her, and I never will be. Our relationship is not their relationship, and that’s a good thing.