Friday, 4 December 2009

Selfish cad

I didn't treat some of my early girlfriends very well. At that time I was a typical hard, selfish male with little insight into other people's inner lives. It took me quite a while to wise up.

It didn't help that I'd been to all-male schools where I never met any girls and was utterly perplexed when my first job brought me into close contact with the opposite sex.

I treated one particular woman very shoddily. She was a warm, generous person, what in the sixties we would have called a flower child - she wore floaty, wispy clothes, put flowers in her hair, read Lord of the Rings and listened to Donovan.

She fancied me enough to abandon a university course in Birmingham, move in with me in London and then take up a hideously mind-numbing job to pay the rent when my existing job suddenly ended.

I liberated her a few months later when I found another job, but by then our relationship was going downhill, or so I believed. Sex was a flop, culturally we had very different tastes, our bedsit was crummy, and I couldn't cope with her extrovert personality and messiness.

But in those days I simply didn't know how to express my thoughts and feelings. So instead of voicing my frustrations and talking them through with her, I bottled them up and said nothing. And decided that I would simply end the relationship and move on.

Which is what I did, with no explanation and no discussion. I told her it wasn't working out, that we had to split up, and that was that. Of course she was hurt, baffled, crushed, but she agreed to break up and move out.

I saw her a short while later, now going out with a lovely, gentle, thoughtful guy who seemed very good for her. So hopefully the sad experience of our own relationship was soon put behind her.

But ever since, I've pondered over how incredibly immature and insensitive I was then, and how things might have gone if I'd been more open and more aware. A lot of unnecessary heartache could have been avoided.


  1. Don't beat yourself up Nick; we've all had relationships like that in our youth. It is youth and inexperience which dictate the course of such things. Selfishness is the human condition, after all. You say in your profile that you have a longstanding relationship with Jenny- so you must have learned from past mistakes- that is a sign of maturity- rejoice!

  2. Well I guess you learn these things as you go along. Well some do, and some of us never learn. It wasn't meant to be and I know you are happy now :)

    I must admit though, bottling things up is never a solution, but it's taken me a while to understand that.

  3. Cinnamon - I don't beat myself up over it, but I sometimes reflect on just how immature I once was. Youth and inexperience indeed. And yes, I guess I must have learnt a thing or two to have had such a longstanding relationship with Jenny.

    Suburbia - You're probably right, it wasn't meant to be anyway. And thankfully I'm a lot wiser now than I was then. Bottling things up never helps, it just means negative emotions fester and multiply and do enormous damage.

  4. Really? I'd be pretty disappointed with myself too, but I tended not to be like that. I was far more likely to simply miss out on opportunities by being completely unaware of the fact that someone might like me. Any relationships I did get into tended to be ended by the lass as inertia prevented me from doing it even once things had run their natural course, saved me the trouble I guess. Alternatively there were the cheap thrill flings of course, but that was always a case of both parties knowing the score.

  5. Ye dirty dog!

    Seriously Nick, I still meet guys from time to time that I was out with 35-40 years ago. I look at them now and think.......... What the heck did I ever see in him? Life is a learning experience that never ends.

  6. It is extraordinary how we grow up and out of our previous behaviors, isn't it?

    I treated men like absolute dirt quite often, when I was still young and thoughtless and a bit drunk on my own heady youth, and got bored quickly (of course, I had my heart broken once or twice too by some notable cads).

    I look back at my own behavior and marvel. This post struck a chord.

  7. Thrifty - I was usually aware that a woman liked me, and I was usually confident about dating her. Sometimes I ended it, sometimes she did. But after this particular experience I was very wary of moving in with a woman in case it all went pear-shaped again. It took me some months to agree to move in with Jenny!

    Grannymar - Very true, our assessments of people can change dramatically. Possibly my ex-lover wonders what she ever saw in me. Maybe she ended up relieved that I called it a day?

    Leah - I often remind myself women can treat men abominably as well, but of course it doesn't stop me deploring my own past behaviour. It's odd looking back and wondering how on earth I behaved the way I did.

  8. I wonder if you could find her now and say something like "Man, i was such a jerk. I'm sorry."

    Might shock her and make her feel good, and you too.

  9. I hear you Nick, I did the dirt myself on more than a few occasions. I could never face up to situations and bare my true feelings. Some I regret, some I have made amends to. But each one was a lesson in striving to be a more honest person.
    And of course, I've been kicked without explanation too.
    One old BF tracked me down, I used to think he was a real soul person, turns out he is Mister Materialistic. He was appalled I didn't attach more importance to stuff.
    Goes to show you!

  10. I avoid relationships like the plague. I'm very much the "it's not you, it's me" girl and I usually say it as soon as I possibly can. Like within the first 48 hours.

    I wonder if I will ever learn?

  11. Meno - That's not a bad idea. But I lost touch with her soon after we parted and I've no idea where she is now. I just tried looking on Facebook but no sign.

    www - It's very difficult to be open and honest if you haven't been brought up that way. But I'm a lot better than I used to be. Funny how often Mr Soul turns into Mr Moneybags!

    Megan - That's a shame, if you find a really good relationship it's quite something. But you can only do what you're comfortable with.

  12. i can hardly believe that you did such a thingbut i suppose we all do stuff that is crazy in hindsight

  13. Kylie - I know, it's shameful. But as I say, my upbringing didn't pay much attention to emotional literacy or the opposite sex. I've been catching up ever since.

  14. Nick it's all part of the learning curve. I've hurt others and been hurt, we all do it. I'm the opposite, until the last 15 years, I said too much . . I've learned to listen and communicate rather than just lash out with the tongue but it took some time I can tell you. If we were perfect at relationships, we'd all be happily esconced with our first!

  15. Baino - It's hard to change such engrained habits, isn't it? Of course it's not just emotional ineptness that can mar our early relationships, it's also lack of judgment about who we're compatible with.

  16. Nick, the reverse happened to me, and hold your breath not because we were incompatible, but because I would not convert to her religion. she moved on, got married, as did I and we both have had fantastic lives with our respective spouses. Nothing immature or insensitive about the whole thing. Her priorities were different and my principles are different. No big deal is what I have to say.

  17. Ramana - All very polite and reasonable! Glad you both went on to other relationships that worked out well. Religious difference is a big sticking point for a lot of couples, but it seems very common for one partner to solve the dilemma by converting.