I Don't Want to Be the Reason My Relationships Fail
A hopeless romantic is searching for answers to better understand why he hasn't perfected the formula for a love that lasts.
Today's advice answer is to a hopeless romantic who can't seem to nail down the fairy-tale romance he's looking for.
Hey Telltale Har,
I wasn’t really sure how to write this without completely destroying my self-esteem, but upon thinking about it, I realized that there really isn’t much left to destroy, and the topic of this email reaffirms that…
I’ve been in and out of serious/semi-serious relationships since I was 18 years old (I’m in my early 30s now). I was always the guy that had such high aspirations for what my love life was going to be like, and how perfect everything was going to be. I was, and still am, an all-or-nothing guy, a hopeless romantic, if you will. I watched far too many movies, and read far too many books, and implanted this image in my head of what a perfect relationship is, or what it should be. This is why my very first serious relationship lasted over six years, even though I feel like there were far more downs than ups. Through all of these downs, I needed this relationship to be perfect. It never was, of course, but in my mind, in some twisted sort of way, I was making it appear to be. And that ultimately led to the downfall of the relationship.
There have been a few more relationships since then, ranging from a few years to a few months. All of them, I would say, were incredibly serious in nature and all ending on terms other than my own.
It has been a few years now since I’ve been in a relationship of any kind, partially because for a while I knew that I needed to take a break, but mostly because I just don’t know that I know how, or am capable of being in a serious, strong relationship. The only common denominator I ever seem to see in all of my failed relationships is me. I want to think that’s just me being the pessimist that I am, but I can’t help but think there’s some validity to it. I’m not entirely sure what my question to you is, or what I intend to gain out of finally typing this all out and allowing someone to hear/read it. Maybe I just wanted a voice, when for so long I feel like I haven’t had one. Maybe I finally want to be something other than the common denominator.
Story of a Lonely Guy
Hey there Lonely Guy,
I see there isn’t much of a question here, but I want to give you my input on what you’ve said.
I want to start out by saying, your self-esteem—how you feel about YOU—is going to continue to impact any and all relationships you have, romantic or otherwise. Your self-worth should never depend on who you are involved with, or if you are involved with anyone. So, you need to knock off the pessimism party—confidence always has been and always will be, sexy.
Now that the necessary things have been said, I’m going to dive in and give you my opinion on all of this. You said that you’re a romance junkie (and who doesn’t love a rom-com guy?) but I have to break some of the worst news to you—real love, and real relationships, are absolutely nothing like what you’re watching and reading. Romance is portrayed to us in the media in such warped ways that we become convinced that that is the kind of love we are looking for. No one is perfect, nothing ever really falls right into place, and ignoring all the red flags about someone just to eventually fall in love with them in the end regardless of all the bullshit they put you through—is just toxic (looking at you, Grease).
The delusion of a “perfect relationship” is quite twisted, like you said, and the more you put pressure on your partners and yourself to maintain a fairy-tale romance, the more you’ll be let down yourself, your significant other, and the relationship as a whole. You cannot sugar coat real issues just because the hard discussions aren’t aesthetically pleasing. And if someone is screwing you over, you can’t wait for them to show up with a new haircut and a new personality before the credits roll.
I know you feel like you’ve been the common denominator in all of your failed relationships—but I’d be interested to know more about the dynamics of these relationships, and whether or not you may have let some less-than-great things slide simply because you didn’t want to break your bond. No one wants to date someone who they can walk all over (unless, of course, you’re actually into that kind of thing.)
If you can—talk to me about this a little more, I’d like to hear a few examples of your past relationships, the dynamic between you and your partner, and how these relationships have ended. If you’re friends with any of your exes, maybe talk to them and see if they can shed a little light on what happened in the end?
And keep your fucking chin up.
Until next time,
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