My ex-partner liked to say that I was needy, clingy, and dependent.
When I started dating someone new, they told me that I was incredibly autonomous, self-reliant, and independent. That they were used to their partners leaning on them a helluva lot more than what I asked. That they were used to relationships being one-sided, with them doing all the work. But with me, I tried. I cared, and I showed it via effort. Not only that, but I expected very little in return and always seemed grateful for what they did.
My ex-partner called me high maintenance.
Next Partner was thrilled that I was willing to go camping. That I didn’t mind going a few days without a shower if it meant experiencing nature. Noted that I kept my clothes for a long time and that I bought things secondhand. Cooked rather than expecting to go out every night, like their exes.
Ex-Partner said I was exhausting to talk to and only wanted to talk about boring stuff.
I spent hours with Next Partner easily talking back and forth about all sorts of minutiae. Some of it was from our personal lives, our backgrounds. Other stuff was gossip about our social circles. And sometimes we just geeked out on trivia, traded facts and theories.
I found them fascinating. Loved the passion in their eyes as they spoke.
And I found that well after our talks, they would remember what I’d shared, bring it up in conversation.
Ex-Partner rarely listened or remembered. Every day was Groundhog’s Day.
Ex-Partner would make promises that never went anywhere. And when you brought it up with them later, that they’d promised to do something that never materialized, they would start unrelated arguments to distract you from actually addressing the issue at hand.
Next Partner followed through. Without having to even be reminded.
A Bad Partner Fit Made Me Feel Worthless
It’s easy to come up with differences between those two relationships. And it would be hard not to see them, they were that striking.
I try really hard not to compare people to one another — or at least to not assign values to those differences.
But the one fair comparison I can think of is comparing myself to myself. How I felt in one relationship versus how I felt in another.
Because the biggest difference of all was not between those two partners, but in me. In how I saw myself when I was in those relationships, in how I felt.
When I dated Ex-Partner, I felt like a bad partner. Like I was annoying and being tolerated. A bad partner fit made me feel worthless.
But with Next Partner, I felt like someone who might be good to date. Someone who had positive qualities and was fun to be around. I felt worthwhile.
It was insane on a certain level. Because I was the same person all of that time.
But I can’t deny how striking the difference was, being in a bad fit versus a good one.