You Don’t Really Know Someone Until They’ve Broken Up With You—I Know

Fact: someone can be completely different when they date you versus when they dump you. Unfortunately, I learned this first-hand after my last relationship ended.

  1. I was dating Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. I just didn’t know it yet. Quick relationship stats: I was dating (who I thought was) a sweet, loyal guy for about six months when he started acting strangely. He was so irritable around me and didn’t really listen. Whenever I spoke about myself or my day, his eyes would glaze over. It was so annoying and made me stop talking as much as I used to. I just couldn’t figure out what his problem was.
  2. Unsurprisingly, he broke up with me soon after. One day, we were having coffee at our favorite restaurant when he told me that he wanted to break up with me even though he loved me. Just like that. It was such a shock, but it certainly explained why he’d been acting so weird lately. I wanted to burst into tears but fought them back for the rest of our outing. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
  3. We agreed to be friends. I didn’t see why this wouldn’t work. I mean, it’s not like infidelity had broken us up. He just wasn’t into me anymore. I know that sounds painful and it was, but I wanted to maintain a friendship. I wanted to be mature about the whole thing. He really had been a great guy to know.
  4. Um, where did he go? I thought the friendship would be awesome, but then a weird thing happened: he turned into a total stranger. I know a transition from relationship to friendship can be tricky and take some time, but this was different. It was like he was a completely different guy as a friend when compared to how he’d been as a boyfriend.
  5. The breakup changed him. He was less interested in me when we were hanging out as friends. If I’d been put off by how he’d frozen me out towards the end of our relationship, this was much worse. I’d just assumed that he’d pretty much go back to being the same guy that he’d been when we’d been dating. Was that so unrealistic? I was the same person he dated after all.
  6. I had nothing he wanted anymore so he wasn’t interested. I realized that when he was courting me and in love with me, he treated me like gold. But now that he didn’t need or want anything from me, he didn’t have to put any effort into our friendship. Ugh. Other guys I dated or who’d dated my friends had behaved in a similar fashion, so it wasn’t such a surprise, but damn, it’s quite a horrible thing to realize.
  7. He proved the theory. I realized that my thinking had been spot on. He’d say that he’d text me in the week so we could catch our favorite indie band play live but he never did. When we hung out in the same social circle, he was polite but then he’d move on to where the potential dates were so he could charm them the way he’d charmed me when we’d first met. Ugh. It often felt like he didn’t give a crap about me.
  8. Which guy is the real one? I could say that the way he’d behaved when we’d dated is who he really was, but that’s not necessarily true. Maybe he’d been putting on an act to get what he wanted. What if this impatient, irritable guy is who he really was, and he was comfortable with showing me this dark side to him because he knew it didn’t matter now that we were friends? It wasn’t like I was going to dump him or something because we already broke up!
  9. It called our whole relationship into question. Do I regret dating this guy? Well… sometimes I do. I mean, seeing this other side to him made me wonder: if I’d met him and he’d shown me this side to his personality straight off the bat, what would I have done? Would I have dated him? I highly doubt it!
  10. He was like this with everyone. It wasn’t just me that he treated in such a cold way because we’d dated. No, I saw him treat many other people and so-called friends of his in the same way. Of course, around his new girlfriend, he was always on his best behavior. It was so weird to see him like that. I wanted to shake her by the shoulders and say, “Wake up! This isn’t him!” but of course I didn’t. She’d have to discover the truth about him on her own time.
  11. I was done. I tried the friendship thing but it didn’t work and I didn’t want to try make it work. I just didn’t get along with my ex and that was that. I didn’t want to put myself through the experience of seeing him fake his way through life. It always made me feel so mad and I didn’t need that toxic energy in my life. Who would’ve thought that the breakup would be a blessing in disguise? Damn, it really was.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.