When You’re Constantly Judging the Person You Love

a photograph of a judge's gavel
Image by jkbeitz / CC BY

“I heard you broke up,” she says.

I nod.

“You okay?” she asks.

“Honestly, I’ve been better,” I say. “But I’m getting by.”

“Maybe it’s too soon to ask this, but is there anything I should know?”

“Anything that you should know?” I say. It takes a second for it to dawn on me. “Oh, you want to know what happened. Why we broke up.”

“Mm,” she says. “I’ve been interested in him for a while and would really like to know what I’m getting into. What happened?”

I get why she’s asking this. Reputation is a big deal in poly and kink communities. Word of mouth recommendations — and warnings — can have a big impact. Still, I’m a little surprised. A newly ex-girlfriend is kind of a questionable source for a character reference.

“Is he unsafe?” she says.

“No, nothing like that,” I say. “Just not for me. We don’t work.”

“Oh good,” she says, satisfied. And like that, she’s gone.

When You’re Constantly Judging Someone You Love

After she leaves, I think about the real reason we broke up. The one that would make no sense to her, even if I took the time and effort to explain. The version she doesn’t really want to hear.

The truth is our entire relationship had become an exercise in cognitive dissonance. He was a joy to be around — in many ways, he thrilled and delighted me. But at the same time, he constantly did things that annoyed, disappointed, or embarrassed me. And every time he did, I would judge him. Sharply, reflexively.

For opening the car door and hitting the vehicle next to him and not seeming mortified or even apologetic when I pointed out that he’d done so.

Putting off important time-sensitive responsibilities to go on a date with one of his other partners, inconveniencing me and multiple others.

Prioritizing frivolous things, breaking commitments, being inconsiderate of others, boasting.

None of the events were dealbreakers when taken in isolation. But over and over again, I judged him. Death by a thousand cuts.

Eventually, it became too much to hold both realities in my head — my deep affection for and constant criticism of him.

So I left.

I didn’t want to be someone who constantly judged someone I loved.

He deserves better than that. He deserves to be with someone who doesn’t judge him all the time. Maybe she can be that for him.

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My new book is out!

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching: Advice for Couples Seeking Another Partner 

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