“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you,” they say, and truer words couldn’t have been spoken.
It’s only when you have the opportunity to take a step back to assess your past relationships you’re able to notice all of the errors, tendencies, and patterns in the way you deal with your partners. Besides my chronic propensity to invest more of my time into guys than I should (and far more than they deserve), I’ve learned I always gravitate towards personality than character. It’s from distance and a place of deep self-exploration that I’m able to admit that each and every one of my exes were broken, inherently selfish, and irreparably damaged human beings.
Personality: What they do
Character: Who they are
I became attracted to most of my exes because I felt they “got it.” Except, the only thing they “got” were things along the lines of my favorite artists, love for bubble tea, favorite genre of movies, attraction to horror, love for partying, love for drinking, a fondness for fantasy, etc. All of the above, including their humor, energy, and intelligence were all parts of their personality. Yet when it came to their character, including their virtues, honesty, and kindliness, they were all self-absorbed, self-involved people who cared about one thing, and one thing only, in their lives — themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being selfish. I believe everyone in the world acts from a place of selfishness. The only difference is, amongst the selfish , amongst those who not only want the best for themselves, there are those who care only for themselves. They refuse to take anyone else’s life, feelings, or time into consideration. It’s not enough that they, themselves, are of utmost importance — they will also make it abundantly clear they do not care how their actions influence anyone else’s life, and what is that, if not, the greatest indicator of one’s character. These types of guys are time stealers — they will drag out days, months, and years of the relationship, taking as much time as they deem necessary to figure out what they want and how they feel about the relationship. These are the guys who will say they “don’t know” how they feel but will insist on making sure you are still in the picture because they can’t be man enough to admit that they are incapable of giving you what you want or need, because they "don't want to lose you." And in a bizarre manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome, you will continue to make excuses for and validate their behavior. These are my exes.
My family is like the Kardashians, in that we are incredibly close and possibly too involved in one another’s lives. We know where the other is at all times and know what’s going on in each other’s lives, including major milestones, current stresses, and any near and future plans. If any one of our family members went missing for 12 hours, there would be genuine alarm and concern for the person’s safety and a police report would be filed not a second after the requisite 24-hour window. And while that may seem co-dependent, overbearing, over-involved, and too needy for some people, this is how our family dynamic has grown and evolved, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. I love my family and it’s an absolute priority I am always involved in their lives and vice versa.
Which is why it would be strange that none of the guys I have ever dated had great relationships with their parents. In fact, it went beyond “not great,” to something more along the lines of strained, troubled, difficult, indifferent, and not really caring. Furthermore, none of my exes had strong personal relationships in their lives. Sure, they had “friends” who they spent time with or occasionally kept updated on their lives but each and every one of them lacked strong and healthy, personal relationships.
So really, it’s no surprise these guys, who have been surrounded by unhealthy relationships their entire lives, wouldn’t have a remote idea as to what it means to function in a healthy relationship. How could they? When you’ve never seen or experienced honest, loving, and selfless relationships, how would you know how to function in one? How would you even recognize what it means to healthily, happily, and honestly love another when you've never done so before? These weren’t bad people. I can honestly say all of the guys in my life had redeeming qualities and at certain periods, they made me really happy. They often did incredibly shitty and awful things but they were never terrible human beings. They were just really, really, really selfish and were incapable of taking into consideration anyone else’s feelings, needs, wants, potential, or capabilities. Although, perhaps, stating that they were incapable only further excuses their shitty behavior. Because they were capable. They are capable. Everyone is capable of being candid, considerate, and caring towards another human being.
Remember that when any man tells you “this is who I am,” they are being completely honest about who they are — selfish individuals who choose to live lives that suit only themselves. It’s easy to be blinded by someone’s personality and all of the common interests you share. Except, when it comes to looking for a mate or life partner, you’re not just looking for someone who you share hobbies and similar interests with — they have Meetup groups for that. Character is only revealed through time but take that time to see how this person reacts in difficult situations, how they handle stress and disappointment, and how they interact with you. Observe their relationships with their friends and family, and the way they treat those who truly can do nothing for them, and in time, their true nature, their true colors, will shine through.