My ex-boyfriend and I had a phenomenal Sunday routine: wake up around noon, smoke some weed, eat some bagels (extra veggie cream-cheese), take a nap, eat some more, go back to bed. It was glorious –- the break from a full course load in school, an internship, a part-time job and several extracurricular activities.
The problem? It wasn’t a vacation from reality or a chance to relax for him. It was his everyday routine. While I stayed up countless nights cramming for exams, he played video games. And while I spent my extra time writing for free, he spent it shopping for designer hats that he couldn’t afford.
So, after two years, I had to call it quits. And although our breakup was due to several reasons like constant bickering, occasional lying and habitual snooping, his general lack of ambition and unwillingness to grow up was like a persistent fly buzzing in the background -– I couldn’t ignore or kill the fucker, so I had no choice but to walk away.
It’s not that I was unaware of my ex’s overall laziness. We started dating when I was a sophomore in college and the fact that he'd dropped out of high school and flopped around from one part-time job to the next mattered less than the fact that he made me laugh and had a cute crooked smile (although that went out the window when I realized he often “forgot” to brush his teeth).
But as I got closer to graduation, I realized that his subpar grades and occasional failures in community college, which I begged him to attend, and failure to create a realistic plan for the future -– which, I’m sorry, does not include being an international rock star/DJ -- kind of mattered. In fact, it bothered me a lot.
I’m no fool when it comes to relationships; I’ve learned that you can’t change someone no matter how much you nag and nag and nag. But I thought, maybe, if I helped him realize his full potential or pushed him toward his goals, that he would have even the smallest self-revelation and start taking steps in the right direction (i.e., actually see an adviser about transferring, fill out a job application out on his own, do his laundry before he ran out of any underwear).
Alas, I was wrong. Toward the end of our relationship, I asked him over dinner what his biggest passion was in life, what he really wanted to do. His answer: “I mean, I guess I really like riding bikes.” He’s currently going to school for music. And when I asked him why he wasn’t doing his homework or studying anymore, he replied, “I’m just not into it.”
I wasn’t into trying to understand economics or spending half my day in the classroom either, but I also realized the value of hard work –- something so foreign to him that the thought of where he would be in just one year freaked him out so badly that he just had to light up another joint.
Am I being completely superficial for expecting a boyfriend to at least have a vague goal for some type of steady career? Am I crazy to expect him to be financially stable enough to move out of his parents’ by the age of 23? I mean, I really wouldn’t give a shit if he had been crazy obsessed with taking trash out and was absolutely dying to be the world’s best garbage man. I just wanted a hint of motivation, just a dash of initiative.
I wanted to believe that we could have a future together, one where I wasn’t the babysitter. Plus, his laziness started to directly affect our relationship, not just his own wellbeing.
He missed lunch dates and didn’t answer phone calls. He forgot to get me a birthday card and showed up halfway through my dance performances. When a close family member was in the hospital, he broke his promise to visit. Instead, I returned teary-eyed to his apartment, only to have to sit outside, banging on his door for an hour because he “accidentally fell asleep,” which was “not his fault.”
I’m not some crazy psycho girlfriend with a list of relationship rules and regulations. I’m pretty lax, I think. I make a lot of mistakes, and I expect others to make them too because we’re all normal humans who are fucked-up in one-way or the other. But there comes a point when mistakes turn into bad habits that become inexcusable.
Maybe I would of stuck around if his laziness wasn’t so extreme, but even so, I doubt I could ever let it go as a simple character flaw –- of which I have plenty, including high expectations and perfectionism. It’s just, as I’m getting older and attempting to better myself, I foresee the things I once found annoying yet tolerable (i.e., thinks weddings are bullshit, hates to read, refuses to have a dog) turning into total deal-breakers.
The shittiest part about the break-up? My realization that, no, love is not enough. Cause while love is all wonderful and crazy and amazing, it sure as hell didn’t save my relationship. No matter how hard or how much I loved that little shit (and trust me, it was a lot), it wasn’t ever going to be enough to get him up off the couch or to make me OK with his permanent indent on that couch.
I’m still not completely sure if I’m being too picky, if I made a mistake in giving up someone I care about because ambition isn’t one of their strong points, or if higher standards just come with each passing birthday. I guess I’ll find out next time I fall in love. Or the time after that. But one thing’s for sure: I’d rather get out there and find out than sit on my ass and have someone tell me what a relationship’s supposed to be.