When I was in my early 20s, I spent two years dating a guy who eventually broke up with me when he came out as gay and subsequently started dating one of his male classmates. While I used to make self-deprecating jokes about the situation when I was much younger and still trying to process it, I was actually pretty OK with the situation all along. Here are a few things I learned when my ex-boyfriend came out to me and ended our relationship:
I wasn’t upset that he was gay, I was sad because it felt like I was losing my best friend. No matter what the extenuating circumstances, rejection hurts. I wasn’t upset that my then-boyfriend was gay, I was hurt because the relationship that had become a constant in my life was ending and taking on a new form. He was choosing to turn his attention elsewhere and it hurt.
The news didn’t exactly come out of left field. When I first started dating him, he’d told me that he was bisexual and had dated both genders in the past, so it’s not like he ever tried to hide anything from me. He was honest from the start and told me that he followed his heart based on the person, not their gender. I always thought that I was his person, so it sucked when I found out that he’d chosen someone else.
Our relationship was never healthy to begin with. To call our relationship “unhealthy” is an understatement. When I look back at the time I spent dating my ex, what I remember most is his anger. Often I felt like I was dating Jekyll and Hyde: one minute he’d be the loveliest human being on the planet and the next, he’d be flying off the handle.
I finally had a (potential) explanation for his anger. It was only once I had some distance from the situation that I was able to see that maybe the reason that he was angry all the time was because he just wasn’t happy. When he broke up with me, I could finally stop blaming myself.
The breakup was completely out of my control. One of the best relationship lessons I’ve learned is that you can’t control someone else’s behaviour. This was his choice. He wasn’t feeling our relationship. He wanted to date someone else. He had to be true to who he really was as a person. I had to accept that this didn’t really have anything to do with me.
I could finally stop trying to fix him. Typical to unhealthy relationships like ours, he always made me feel like everything was my fault. Because of this, I was always trying to find ways to make him happy and to “fix things” (spoiler alert: nothing ever worked). When he came out to me, I knew this wasn’t something that I could fix, nor did I want to. This was who he was. All I could do was accept it.
It would have been more upsetting if he’d left me for another woman. When my ex started dating men, I realized that he was after something that I never could have given him. There’s something strangely comforting in that.
I was relieved. You know those breakups where it feels like you’ve been gutted, but underneath that you’re actually relieved? Yeah, that was me. Him breaking up with me meant that I no longer had to deal with his anger.
He did me a favor. Regardless of my ex’s sexuality, our relationship was not good. Pulling the plug on our relationship was a massive blessing in disguise, even if I didn’t want to admit that to myself at the time.
I was happy for him. In a strange way, him coming out to me felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of both of us. I was happy for him. He could finally be the person he wanted to be and I could finally let go of a relationship that never really worked in the first place.
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