Ahh, that perennial relationship black hole of Calcutta, the Asshat.
- They don’t call when they say they will.
- They don’t show up when expected.
- They brood at social gatherings with friends and family.
- You’re fairly certain they’re cheating on you in office cubicles, toilet stalls and perhaps even in your own bed.
These are all the signs of an abusive relationship.
There are some people for whom the dyed-in-Charmin Asshat holds no charm.
These emotionally healthy people kick Asshats to the curb once they’ve disappointed them for the very first time.
Then there are the rest of us. We will suffer Asshats gladly for weeks, months, nay years at a time
I was an Asshat-magnet for approximately ten years. Asshats could sniff out my needy co-dependence from 100 miles away, as the crow flies.
And one of the things that kept me trapped in my Asshatalicious relationship FOR FIVE YEARS, was my ability to take the Asshat’s bread crumbs and whip them into a rustic loaf, because I absolutely wanted to make a case for staying in the relationship.
I was embroiled with Mr. Cruelly Handsome for five years, two of which we lived together, because I was certain that grappling him into a shared domicile would soon evolve into a marriage proposal.
I thought once we made it to the altar, all of our problems (his moping, lying, cheating, stonewalling; my nagging, bitching, spying and auditioning for wife with acrobatic sex) would all go away.
Yes. Marriage is the answer! Throw in a couple of kids and we’re Family Of The Year.
Unfortunately, once Mr. Cruelly Handsome moved in, we ended up moving backwards.
He moped even more, hedged against making any plans with me and started taking overtimes ad nauseam at his fire station.
(And, I’m fairly certain now, some of those overtimes were taken between the legs of willing firefighter groupies.)
In the end, he was pretty much rarely home.
Our first Christmas together, I tried to harangue him into helping me decorate our home for the season; thinking if we hung tinsel, wreaths and garlands together, we’d morph into a “normal” couple.
The problem was, Mr. Cruelly Handsome always managed to be busy whenever I wanted to decorate.
With Christmas Eve fast approaching, I decided not to wait for him and decorated the entire house and tree alone. (Are you weeping for me yet? I was such a sad little sack).
When he came home from overtime 5,460 I scolded him for not helping me (and you just imagine how desirable scolding can be).
I awoke the next morning to find him leaving for yet another overtime.
After he left, I rolled out of bed to start yet another co-dependent, obsessive, tiny little day when I discovered his contribution to our holiday home.
There on the mantel above our fireplace he’d hung a teeny, tiny, fig-leaf sized Christmas stocking.
HE’D HELPED DECORATE!
That diminutive red stocking, with the white faux-fur trim, made my heart swell.
- He was trying.
- He loved me.
- He wanted to make me happy.
- Just look at that microscopic, imperceptible little boot!
My friends, I was the Giada DeLaurentis of making bread crumbs into rustic loaves. Any infinitesimal gesture on Mr. CH’s part were polished to a fine luster in my heart, until I began to expect less and less and less.
Until finally, I gave him credit for really nothing at all
If this resonates with you, I’d like you to do 3 things.
1. Write down every single thing your Asshat does that you consider to be a positive contribution to your relationship. Once you’ve done that, make the next list.
2. Think about a person with whom you have a very simple, loving, reciprocal relationship.
This is a relationship that buoys you up; makes you stronger and more self-confident.
It could be with a family member, a co-worker, a lifelong friend. But it must be an effortless, good relationship.
Now, write down all of the ways this person contributes to your relationship.
3. Finally, compare the two lists.
This should give you some clarity about what you need in your romantic relationship and what you’re not getting.