Koh Lanta, Thailand
What a post to write on Valentine’s Day, I know.
I don’t have a good track record with Valentine’s Day, at least not with romantic partners. The only one I can remember well is the one where my boyfriend at the time came home after we’d both been at work; he threw a box of chocolates down on the coffee table, saying, “Well, I hope you’re happy now.” We had argued over whether or not to celebrate it, with me taking the stance that we should use the day as an excuse to celebrate over two years together. In retrospect, of course, we shouldn’t have needed a commercial holiday to celebrate our love, but that relationship was doomed anyway.
While this is primarily a travel blog, I’ve never been shy about writing about other aspects of my life, including romance. There’s a whole series of my past travel romances, for example, and my post on whether or not to choose travelling over a relationship is one of my most popular. I also don’t shy away from the fact that I’m, for lack of better words, single as fuck. There’s no-one I’m texting, flirting with, going out for drinks with, nothing. I’m not particularly active on any dating sites, nor do I actively look for guys when I’m on a night out with friends. For the most part, I’m cool with being single. I love my life in London. I have a great job, wonderful friends, an amazing flat, a close relationship with everyone in my family, lots of hobbies, and I travel nearly every month, if not more. I have a terrific life, one that I’ve slowly but surely built for myself, all on my own. To be honest, it would take someone extraordinary for me to make room in an already fulfilling and happy life. I don’t say that to brag, but I’m proud of being at this point in my life.
If you’ve read this blog long enough, you’d know that I haven’t been in a serious relationship for a while. I’ve dated here and there, and met some absolutely lovely people. I have never considered myself unlucky in love, not at all; in fact, I consider myself extremely lucky in love, simply from the fact that I’ve had the chance to get to know some absolutely wonderful people from around the world. Because I don’t put much pressure on myself to get married or have kids, I’ve been able to date around, have fun, and figure out what it is I truly want out of a partner.
And as much as we all like to think we’re open-minded when it comes to relationships, and we all like to think opposites attract, there are some things I would like out of a romantic partner. He’s funny as hell, of course, and he makes me feel funny as hell, too. He can watch football with me over a pint of Guinness and then go home and listen to records and talk about books and films into the night. He has travelled, or he at least wants to travel. He just… feels right. He fits. He’s my best friend who I also happen to have crazy chemistry with. He’s kind and he’s polite. OK, and superficially he’s taller than me and has big thighs (everyone has their thing, all right?). And while I’ve met many men who have made me very happy over the years, it’s never truly worked out with anyone, nor have I felt I had met the perfect man. Until I met Scott, of course.
OK, that’s not his name, but let’s go with it. Scott was tall and handsome and had a ridiculously sexy accent. He approached me at a bar in London that I went to quite a bit, or maybe we just started chatting organically. Either way, we talked all night – about what, I can’t remember, but I laughed a lot and didn’t want the bar to close. He was hilarious and intelligent and thoughtful and gentlemanly, and at the end of the night we both sort of just stopped, awkwardly, waiting for something to happen, or somebody to make a move. Neither of us did. I left that bar and thought I’d never see him again.
Six months later we ran into each other again. In a city as big as London, this was something of a miracle. We wasted no time. We spend that entire day together, and the next day, too. Over the next couple of months we met up at least once a week. He exhausted me both mentally and physically, which in retrospect was probably not a good thing.
Scott was everything I thought I was looking for in a partner. He was worldly and artistic, and he challenged me constantly. But Scott left me feeling quite hollow, too. He was terrible at texting me back, sometimes disappearing for days on end, or not confirming plans until the day of. He didn’t want to introduce me to his friends. It got to the point where I eventually told him to stop texting me all together, preferring to make plans with him in person, just like the old days.
And then, one idle Tuesday, we met at a local bar. We were going to go for dinner and drinks, maybe check out a movie.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he told me. My heart dropped.
His excuses were paltry. “I like you too much,” he said. “I’m not ready for this,” and “I don’t want to get involved with someone right now.” He claimed he wanted to travel or live somewhere else for a while, and having a girlfriend in London would obviously hinder those plans. Just like that, my perfect man walked out of my life, never to be seen or heard from again.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
I was upset in those first few days, of course. Though we hadn’t dated for very long, I had grown to look forward to our time together. As much as I love my independence and my freedom, it’s always nice to spend time with someone who really gets you. And yeah, I loved dressing up and going out for drinks and sharing my bed with someone, someone who’d wake me up with a cup of tea and a fun plan for the day, somebody who I could talk to about politics and literature and David Bowie and everything in between. I had always fully supported his plans to travel and live abroad, but in the back of my mind I thought that, if things were really as great as I wanted them to be, we would have worked it out somehow. That I would have been enough. When we broke up I don’t know if I was really mourning him, or perhaps mourning the idea of him and what our life could have been.
But then I started thinking about it. You know, it really did annoy me that he didn’t text me for days on end, or that he’d stand me up an hour before we were supposed to meet. Maybe he wasn’t so thoughtful or so gentlemanly after all. Or maybe, just maybe, as much as I wanted to be, I wasn’t his perfect woman, or at the very least a woman who he truly wanted to be with. That, in his mind, I wasn’t enough after all.
That could have brought me even lower. I could have dwelled on it, or let it impact how I felt about life, about love, or about myself. And while I can’t say that I immediately felt at peace with it, over the course of a few weeks I realised that getting dumped really wasn’t so bad. At the end of the day, why would I want to be with someone who didn’t want to be with me? All the pints of Guinness and long talks about the Coen brothers meant nothing if the person I was with didn’t truly respect me, care about me, or see a future with me. Mark Manson writes an absolutely brilliant post about this that I think everyone should read; it’s certainly helped me achieve some clarity in past relationships.
Scott may have, on paper, appeared to be my perfect man. But when he dumped me, he made me realise that there’s no such thing. It’s easy to yearn for the person who’s dumped you, to create scenarios in your head where you fix everything and he comes running back. Very quickly, however, I understood that if he didn’t truly want to be with me, he wasn’t the man for me, pure and simple. He was far from perfect, just as we all are; it’s about finding the person whose imperfections you love just the same. It’s about finding someone who loves your imperfections just as much back.
I don’t think that any of my time with Scott was a waste of time, nor do I feel that feeling sad about him was a waste of time, either. He taught me what I did want out of a partner (laughter, chemistry… and OK those pints of Guinness are really a favourite of mine) and what I didn’t (flakiness, disrespect, uhhhh the fact that he didn’t feel the same way). What would have been a waste of time would be to continue to pine after him, or, worse, if we had stayed together for even longer, with him knowing it would never amount to anything serious or substantial. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have a mourning period after breaking up with someone we care about – that can be very healthy and very necessary, too – but in the end I’m grateful that Scott dumped me, because it paved the way to figuring out what I do and don’t want out of my next relationship.
Since Scott, I’ve gone on a few dates with a guys, in London and abroad. One was really, really weird (that story for another day), one turned out to be a bit of an asshole (OK, a huge asshole), and one, the most recent one, was lovely and kind, but not the man for me. So I’m single on this Valentine’s Day, but not in any way lonely or sad; I had an amazing day with an amazing friend, and I’m so excited about the future I’m creating for myself. I still love my independence and my freedom. Maybe one day I’ll meet that one, you know, that one who makes me laugh and likes my cooking and wants to stay up watching Indiana Jones with me all night, that one who just fits… but for now, I’ll happily buy my own pints of Guinness.
Oh, and by the way? The next time I ran into Scott, he seemed… shorter somehow. And his jokes didn’t land quite like I remembered. Just some food for thought.
Koh Lanta, Thailand (not me, just some random strangers in love)
Have you ever been dumped? What did you learn from it?
I am perpetually single, the classic “forever alone” joke amongst my friends. I think the reason I am that “joke” is because I’m SO comfortable with being on my own. IT sounds like you and I share a similar view on being with ourselves and loving ourselves. I think that is so confident for any young adult, male or female. I had my first huge heartbreak at 22, when the “love of my life”, the boy I was in love with, had bought a house with, and had made life plans with, moved out on me after only 2 weeks of cohabitation. I was DEVASTATED! However, I realize that I could never have done so many of the things I’ve done now with him still in my life. I’ve been to Costa Rica three teams as a leader for an environmental education camp. I spent a month in Europe by myself. I’ve moved to The Bahamas and I’m moving to Australia next month to start the next adventure of my life. I’ve been in love with one other guy since then, and he broke my heart, too. But I’m happier on my own and until I find someone who fits seamlessly into the niche I’ve carved for my heart, there’s no one else I”d rather be with 🙂
I’m really comfortable being on my own, too… I actually think I would feel quite stifled by a relationship where my partner wanted to spend tons of time together. I’m sorry to hear about your heartbreak, but it sounds like it was totally for the best and you’ve had some amazing adventures since!
Thanks for your comment, Rachel, I love your last line. 🙂
When I was 17 I met an Irish boy in Gran Canaria. When I was 22 I bumped into him again, the first time I visited Dublin. I was smitten! I thought the stars had aligned! But it wasn’t to be, because he just wasn’t that bothered in the end. Though I did get the odd phonecall and text from him for about 5 years after! What’s with that?
I wrote a post about it (it’s called Dublin and the day my life nearly became a rom com). I still don’t understand men. But I did marry one in the end! Though I wouldn’t answer the phone to him at first – but that’s another story! Happy Valentine’s!
That does sound like an interesting story! Sounds like you found love in the end 🙂
You are a very strong and
forward lady Brenna, do not look for the love you deserve it will find you soon, on top of that you are a beautiful lady, may the road rise before you.
Thank you very much!
Would you believe I was dumped last night over text message? Yeah. Boyfriend, we always talked about getting married. He said he felt overwhelmed sometimes and some other whatever. I’ve been a wonderful girlfriend and person. This post has soothed me some. I wish I had an amazing flat in my home city. I’m trying to afford one and find another job right now. That, my friend, would do me some comfort and make me whole while being single.
Oh NO! Over text??? That is just plain awful. I’m so sorry to hear that, but I promise it will get better. I’m sending you lots of good vibes so that you find a new job and a new flat!
Haha, so strange, I checked this and never saw your reply. Thank you so much! I did find a new flat that I adore and well, my student money will get me by until I find a job. I have way more ideas and opportunities than I did a few months ago. And my boyfriend called a few days later and apologized (he had been having a panic attack about numerous things–I don’t completely understand, but I’m keeping an eye) and later we got back together! And things have been even better than before.
This post is brilliant. I’ve been reading your posts for a few months now but this is the first I’ve felt compelled to comment on. I’m 23, and recently was left (dumped…for a better word) after a two year relationship. After travelling together in India for sometime with my boyfriend, he returned home whilst I travelled to Nepal with a friend. I came back to what I thought was our normal relationship, it was still perfect to me. A day later he didn’t love me anymore and had cheated whilst I was in Nepal. I’m sure you can imagine how that would crush my wonderlust.. a day after returning home from a long trip and I couldn’t believe what was happening.
For two years he treated me like a princess, and I was deeply in love – he felt like my prince charming. He wanted to marry me, spend the rest of his life with me – that’s what he said for a day short of two years. I was absolutely crushed. Well, I still am and probably always will be. I think that’s okay though.
This happened three months ago, and I’d be lying if I didn’t agree with your post about coming up with fantasy stories where they change their mind and come back for you. As hard as it is, I wasn’t good enough for him. That still makes a sad, but you are right – why would we want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with us? I definitely learnt a lot from the relationship, like yours – who and what I want from a relationship.
I’m in love with travel and have a passion for the outdoors, I’m not interested in dating for quite a while (it seems a lot of effort to go through it all again; and then have the possibly of being heart broken again) and I’m content on working on myself and loving me!
Thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only with those thoughts.
Cheers to travel and love, because there are so many forms of it in life.
Hi Mel, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story here. I’m really glad that you connected to the post. I think it’s OK to still feel bad about break-ups… I still feel bad about some of the relationships I had in the past, even short-lived ones! It’s only natural. I wish you the best of luck but it sounds like you won’t really need it… I think you’re totally on the right track and you’ll be feeling much better in no time. All the best 🙂
I’m so glad that somebody posted about self love on valentine’s day, instead of those superficial too-good-to-be-true, mushy love stories. I don’t know how to say it, but your story seems too familiar to me and I feel exactly the same way as you do. Since my breakup in 2013, (that was the worst in the history of breakup, the guy didn’t even tell me officially that he was leaving. He just stopped being in touch just like that.) I never quite got over the trauma and never felt the urge to be in a serious relationship again. I dated casually, but that’s it. However, I am happy being ‘single as fuck’, and enjoy my freedom very much. Perhaps, having a routine (read boring) life is not my thing and I’m not too fond of kids either. Right now, nothing is certain in my life and I relish the sense of underlying adventure. I am glad that he dumped me. Staying in a toxic relationship would not have been a good experience anyway. I travel. I read. I pamper myself. I am in love with the one person I am most intimate with. And that’s me.
Btw, I love your blog.
Oh god, I never understand why people just disappear. That is so disrespectful (and just terrible karma). I understand your pain in the situation but it’s so awesome to hear that you’re doing so well now! You’re right, staying in a toxic relationship would be so much worse.
And thanks for the kind words about my blog!
Yes. To all of it. Last year I got dumped – for the second time – by someone I loved a lot but have come to realize was not the person I thought he was. We weren’t the right people for one another, we wanted drastically different things out of life, and although we cared deeply for one another, I can now look back and know with certainty that it was not meant to be. It’s taken me nearly 8 months to get to that point, and I am finally comfortable being on my own again. I am living life how I want to live it, and perhaps one day down the line I will find someone who fits into this life and my dreams the way I fit into his. But until then, I’ll be buying my own whiskey 🙂 xx
Thank you so much for your comment, Veena! It’s always amazing to look back at something and finally see it with clarity. Cheers to buying your own whiskey! 🙂
This happened to me in Asia, and it turned out that he already had a girlfriend. When I confronted him, he said he “couldn’t NOT date me” because he’d liked me for so long (we knew each other from way back, before we reconnected) and basically wanted to have a go. So every time he’d flake, or switch his phone off, etc – it was her. Bru-tal.
Ughhhhhhh that is indeed brutal. What a knob!
Thanks for sharing that Mark Manson post!
I can think of no better time in your life to be single (and happy with it). It’s so hard when we’re programmed to meet someone in our 20’s, when I’ve found that I’ve done the most changing (emotionally and spiritually) in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I mean, I’m on an entirely different career path than I was on when my husband and I first met, I spend a lot more time trying to figure out how to be a better person, and (I’d never thought I’d say this), I’m turning more vegetarian by the week. It’s weird. Sometimes I’m sure my husband feels like he married a stranger — especially when I don’t understand why he’s not changing in the same ways I am. Maybe this is something that always applies to relationships throughout life, but I feel like at this age, we’re really just beginning to figure out the kind of people we want to be. Throw someone else into the mix, and it definitely becomes more complicated — and sometimes a bit hindering. If communication skills are lacking, that can breed resentment.
Just be aware, though — I have a serious problem with trying to hook people up. And now that my little sister is getting married to my old boss (from that former career path, no less), I’m on the lookout for a new subject. 😉 In the meantime, I can’t wait to read about weird guy!
I totally agree with what you’ve said here, Katie. I am such a different person than I was even a few years ago, and I am really loving figuring out who I am and what I really want to do in life. I also agree that it can be difficult to do that with another person involved! Thank you as always for your comment and for sharing your insights here.
And hey, if you know anyone who fits the bill and lives in London, let me know. 😉
He has to live in London AND have big thighs? That’s a tall order — I’m on it! Haha
Ha ha I have faith in you, Katie!! 😉
This post is amazing on so many levels! Dating in London can be so sucky, but you’ve found so many positives. Love the non pity-party attitude 🙂
Thank you so much, Lucy! I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂
Love this post. I feel the same. I think that you have to get rid of the bad stuff, relationships, friends, jobs, to make way for good stuff.
I totally agree, Caroline. Thank you for your comment! x
Thank you so much for posting this! At a time where I found myself single and miserable on Valentine’s (aka Singles Awareness!) day, where I am struggling to let go and move on from my latest relationship (my mind monkeys are well and truly going into overdrive over analysing everything and fantasising that things will work out differently), and where I seem to be surrounded by happily married and very pregnant friends (don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled for them!), I really needed an injection of positivity and a shift in my perspective and mindset and you have given me that! Thank you!
Thank you for your comment, Siobhan! You’re right, sometimes it can be hard when we look at what others are doing (no matter if it’s a relationship, job, etc), but I think it’s really important to stay positive. Our lives all take very different paths, but yes, sometimes we just need to adjust our perspectives!
I’m really glad you related to the post, and thanks again for your nice comment.
*applause and standing ovation* 🙂
Yep, I was dumped last summer by a guy who was perfect on paper–he was literally a doctor, too. We’d been together for about three months when everything imploded. I’m glad he dumped me because in a lot of ways I really wasn’t happy with many aspects of the (fairly short) relationship, and I know I would have probably stuck with it for longer than it was worth if he hadn’t ended things.
I’ve learned so much about myself from every relationship/dating situation/makeout buddy (ha!) I’ve had, and I’ve spent most of these 24 years single as fuck, really, often thinking that “the perfect guy” will fix the parts of myself/my life that I want to improve, though I’m realizing, happily, that I’m really starting to build a life that’s uniquely my own, even though guys have come and gone from “the picture.”
I spent Valentine’s weekend in Maine with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, knitting and taking short hikes in the freezing weather and watching movies and playing with their cats and dog. It was lovely.
Thank you very much for your comment, Paige, and for sharing your story here! I’ve learned a lot from past relationships, too, including when it’s time to end things. I’m sure that if I had stayed with “Scott” for much longer the way he treated me would have made me want to end the relationship anyway. And I totally know what you mean about believing a partner can “fix” or “change” things in life… once I realised that that’s not true, and that I have all the ability to fix or change things for myself, I felt a lot less pressure.
Sounds like a great Valentine’s Day! I’m glad you enjoyed and related to the post. 🙂
Love this post! I can definitely relate. It’s always nice to know we are not alone in our crappy experiences!
No, ha ha, we’re definitely not alone! I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂
The universe has somehow lead me to your blog tonight.
I’m a Canadian woman living in London for the past three years about to embark on an open ended trip to India. I stumbled upon your India blogs while anxiously googling what to wear as a solo female traveler.
I really enjoyed reading through some of your posts – a lot of them I felt I could relate to!
Thank you for the inspiration and the chic styling tips ;), keep it up.
Looking forward to more posts x
Aw, that’s lovely Karla, I’m so glad you found my blog! I hope you’ll keep reading, and I’m sure you’re going to have an absolutely amazing adventure. Happy travels!!
[…] On Being Dumped, Or, Why I’m Glad That Guy Dumped Me: Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this beautifully-written story by Brenna of The Battered Suitcase about getting dumped and how she emerged stronger because of it. […]
Thank you for sharing your story with us Bren! Things often look completely different looking back on relationships as you well know. xoxo
Yes… I definitely know that now! 😉 xoxo
Thank you for sharing your story. I have a similar one except I was planning on moving to the uk and I’m glad I didn’t change my plans for him.
And thank you for your comment, Shell! I’m glad that you’re happy with your decision. 🙂
You’ve hit the nail on the head and articulated it beautifully <3.
Thank you very much!
Brenna (and M-dee, veena, Jenny Beverage and all others),
I was sitting at the airport of Medellin, waiting for my flight, killing my time by checking my e-mails. And there it was: my (now) ex dumped me, very unceremoniously, by an e-mail two days before I was supposed to fly back home. This was a man who was talking marriage. When I met him I thought I had finally (at the age of 40+) arrived. Everything fell into place. Something that I was looking for for so long was finally there and no longer missing. I had to pinch myself constantly to remind myself I was not dreaming. If ever there is a concept of soulmates (a concept I do believe in, except that it is a rather infrequent occurrence, just like the Halley’s comet it comes once in many decades), then he was mine. Six days prior to that e-mail he wished me a happy new year and said 2016 would be even better. Alas, a week later he had a sudden epiphany, which he felt the urge to communicate to me by e-mail, not in person. He said he could not keep up with me. Mind you this was a guy who had played rugby for over 20 years and was in special forces in his youth. While I was away in Colombia (a trip I had planed long before I met him and I told him about it when we met), he said, he was missing me too much and he just did not want to go through that emotion anymore and would rather prefer to be alone. Go figure.
I have travelled all around the world, been to more than 70 countries and had wonderful adventures. This was one of the things that attracted guys to me – somehow they found it sexy and powerful that a woman would travel on her own around the world. Ironically, it was the same aspect that always led to the end of the relationship – they either said I had nothing else in my life but travels (not realizing that travels can fill up your life in a huge way and bring along many different aspects) or they said they were unable to keep up.
Then the year before last, on my first trip to Colombia, I met two Colombian guys (at different times and places, not concurrently – I do have some principles ::-)) and both of them told me, independently of each other, the same thing: “Those men in your past who left you, they were idiots. They do not know what they lost in you.”
I am still reeling from the last, very recent and very sudden and unexpected break-up and I do admit I still feel I’ve lost the ground under my feet and it’s nowhere to be found, as yet. For the first time in my life I am doubting my travel spirit (even though still making plans to do the Lunana trek in Bhutan, one of the most difficult ones in the world, just to prove I can do it, although right now I can hardly drag myself to supermarket). But even if I’m hurting, and sometimes the pain is all-consuming, I would not want my ex back even if he came with a million dollars and a box of gold. There is no point in agonizing over something you have no control of. In the end, it’s his loss.
It’s great to read stories like yours and know that I am not alone in this. So please keep sharing your stories.
And if you think you’ve had a bad date, well then check my recently born Decameron of Dating Disasters on my blog (https://princessofpolyglots.wordpress.com/category/from-the-decameron-of-dating-disasters/) and feel free to add your stories.
I first read this two months ago, and my heart sank. I was seeing a guy – my own Scott, if you will – and he made me feel EXACTLY the way you’ve described. When we were together, we’d talk all night about politics, travel, social justice, human rights – you name it – and he would shower me with compliments and affection, but whenever we said goodbye, I felt hollow. He would take days to reply to my messages, and although I knew deep down that something wasn’t right, I listened to my friends when they told me that he was probably just busy, or that he just ‘wasn’t a texter.’
And then I read this, and I knew, deep down, that everything you said was right. But I didn’t want to accept it. I told myself that he was different to Scott, and that my friends were right.
Fast-forward to today, after being ghosted and learning that he met someone else (on a TV dating show, no less) while he was seeing me, and I can relate even more to this post. I’m now past making excuses for him and I can see that hey, if somebody doesn’t want to spend two minutes replying to a text message, then they aren’t worth your time!
Oh, and you’re right – now when I see pictures of him on Instagram, he doesn’t seem as good looking. And he can’t spell for shit 😉
[…] Canada from London one summer, just after my thirty-first birthday. I was feeling a little bit low; I had recently been dumped by somebody I cared about, and it was the rotten cherry on top of a lousy […]
Nice to read this as the same thing literally just happened to me last night. Sucks to be dumped by someone so early on when everything still seems ‘perfect’, and to know that you just weren’t the right person for him, when you felt he was perfect for you. He and I had been dating for almost 5 months, so I was in pretty deep feelings-wise. It really sucks.