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Prioritizing People Who Don’t Care About You Can Doom Your Relationships

·966 words·5 mins

I woke this morning thinking about a conversation we had five years ago — even though I haven’t spoken to you for almost that long. And even though I walked away from that conversation with a completely different focus on what we talked about at that time.

It leapt into my brain this morning while I was caffeinating and letting my cat idle on my lap, purring in fits and starts like a car that’s warming up on a frigid day.

I had so many reasons to end it with you. You’re not a bad person. In spite of everything, I don’t believe that. But you were utterly wrong for me. And once I saw it, I knew what I had to do. I promised you I would. That once I knew that the relationship wasn’t for me that I’d be honest about that. No dragging things on. No trying to spare your feelings — and damaging them more in the process when it finally had to end.

But even though it’s what we agreed on, you were not on board. You thought I was making a mistake.

And yet… when I told you I wanted to end it, you were ready and waiting with a litany of disturbing revelations. Times when you’d lied to me. There were many. You said this was evidence that there was something wrong with me. That I was too sensitive and it forced you to lie.

(Surprised by this information but wanting to make sure I wasn’t missing something important, I did check in with my other partners who were very confused by this and find me easy to open up to.)

The Concert Incident

But this wasn’t the conversation I was thinking about this morning. This morning I was thinking about the time you promised to help me with a book event. To be my ride and help with setup and tear down. And how at the last minute, you canceled to go to a concert with a new girl — one who didn’t even want you to go with her.

You told her in the comments of her Facebook post talking about an extra ticket that you would go with her. She didn’t respond there. And instead, I watched as she posted a brand new Facebook status about the concert, asking if anyone wanted to come with her, only this time with you filtered out. Because she didn’t want to go with you and didn’t feel like telling you that.

And yet you canceled your plans to help me just in case she did.

At the time, I sighed and made other arrangements. I drove to the book event myself and got some friends to help me with my setup and teardown. I didn’t confront you about it, on how disappointing it was that you would drop a promise you made to me for the potential to pursue something with someone who didn’t want you. Instead, I adjusted.

Maybe I should have. But I was so busy and focused on just getting my job done. Plus, I knew that knowing what she did on social media would hurt you immensely, the status with you filtered out. And I didn’t want to do that.

What you did to me hurt of course, but it was important information, knowing how you’d prioritize in that sort of situation. We dated for a while after that, but bad things kept happening, more logistically troubling issues (one incident endangered my elderly cat) — and those I did bring up to you. When I did, you focused on arguing with me that I shouldn’t be upset instead of meaningfully engaging with what I was troubled by. And ultimately, that’s probably the biggest reason we aren’t together anymore.

It Can Doom Relationships When You Prioritize People Who Don’t Actually Care About You

Anyway, I found myself thinking this morning about how I could have exploded over the concert thing when it happened, about your canceling on me like that, but I didn’t. I let it roll off my back, wrote it off as a one-time weird thing, because it was the first time you did something like that. And yet you still told me I was too sensitive for you to tell me the truth.

The best I can figure is that this is the way you had to explain our relationship ending to yourself to keep moving forward. We all need to find a way somehow.

Perhaps if that had been all that happened, I wouldn’t even remember it now. But it wasn’t the only time you did something like that. Another time you pretended you were sick so you could cancel your date with me and go out with someone who was harder to schedule with. The dishonesty was troubling with this incident. You confessed to me after your date, but apparently only because you saw friends of ours, and you were worried they’d tell me they saw you and blow your cover. (This date you lied to me over didn’t result in a second one with this person.)

You also texted with a new interest while you were supposed to be driving us home from a concert (which was a safety issue). You never ended up dating her.

Was I annoyed whenever I was lower priority? Sure. But I mostly took it in stride and was more irritated about the other issues involved. (Dishonesty, safety, etc.)

However, all these years later, trying to wake up on a random morning, I can honestly say that you’re the most dramatic example of a very important lesson: Prioritizing people who don’t care about you can doom your relationships.

It’s something I’ll carry with me forever, regardless of which side of it I’m on.


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