As a matchmaker, many people feel inclined to share with me how they met their exes. Truthfully, I want to know how you BROKE UP.
Breaking up is rarely a result of something as black and white as cheating or getting punched in the face. In fact, it’s more likely to be triggered by the 500th time he left the toilet seat up (is it that hard to aim?) or that one last time she dropped a huge toothpaste schmear on the sink (and left it overnight to harden).
My longest relationship of three years ended over a loofah. My ex was a dermatologist with a raging case of OCD; he never failed to let me know that I didn’t fold his socks correctly nor rinsed both sides of my contact lenses long enough. He thought he was being constructive, and I felt attacked — but neither of us ever addressed it. It all came to a head soon after we arrived at his parents’ house for what would be our last Thanksgiving together. He gave me a folded towel and a new loofah to use in the shower. Later on, when I was scrubbing away in the tub, I realized I wasn’t sure where to put the loofah when I was done with it. I knew if I hung it on the shower head, he’d think that was gross. If I put it in the soap dish, it might get moldy. I literally spent five minutes panicking over where to put a loofah! Finally, I decide to wring it out and hang it on a hook right next to the tub, promising myself one thing: if he brings up where I hung it, we are DONE.
Flash-forward to an hour later, I’m with his mom in the kitchen, chopping away veggies for the stuffing, when he walks in, exhausted from watching football. “Hey, Erin… just wondering… what were you thinking when you decided to hang the loofah OUTSIDE of the tub?”
I started laughing. Uncontrollably. When I finally came to, I told him that I knew he’d notice the loofah and say something. “Well, CONGRAT-U-F’ING-LATIONS! You know me SO WELL!” he shouted, in front of his sweet, unsuspecting mother, and his traumatized 90-year-old Great Aunt Ruthie who had just wandered in to grab some spinach dip. Sure enough, a week later, we went our separate ways.
How can you prevent something like this from ending a relationship? When you really, really love someone, these things shouldn’t bother you as much because you won’t let them build to a breaking point. When something bothers you, you’ll understand that effective communication eradicates any tension and prevents that deadly build up of antagonism. Saying something like, “I love you, and it would mean the world to me if you’d replace the roll of TP when it’s out. Unless you want me to keep coming back to bed with pee all over my thighs…” Whatever you do, please don’t do something like my loofah ex did to me: text me a photo of the egg yolk I accidentally let drip down the side of his trash can (after cooking him the breakfast made of all of his favorite ingredients I had bought and lugged over the night before). That is not effective communication.
Yes, I was just as much to blame for my break up as he was. While we were obviously not compatible on many levels, I internalized my feelings (both good and bad), and he was accusatory in his attempts to communicate, which only made me retreat further. The right match for you will also be the right communicator for you, too. Building up resentment is one of the most toxic things for not only your relationship, but your health, too. It’s a good thing it’s entirely preventable!