An ex-boyfriend got in touch recently. Always nice that. Ex boyfriends, eh: they crop up just when you least expect them to.
Actually, in this case it WAS nice: he is a very sweet guy, an incredibly good-natured person and someone I have been keen to track down for awhile now. Ever since, in fact, it occurred to me that I had treated him appallingly. It would be nice, I have thought many times over the years, to be able to apologise properly for being so young and so dumb. Not an easy thing to launch into, those apologies, and in this case I haven’t got around to it yet.
But the whole thing has got me thinking about how ridiculously easy it is to stuff people about, particularly when you’re young. I never intended to be cruel to this guy or callous with his affections or any of the stuff I did. At the time I didn’t even realise how mean I was. When he told me, a few months after the break-up, how hurt he was that I’d ignored (read: forgotten) his birthday, I thought ‘what’s he complaining about?’ Only years later, by which time I’d had my own heart trampled on a bit, did I consider how gut-wrenching that sort of thing might have been.
Because it’s the little things that count. Most of us have been (I assume) rejected in one way or another, whether it’s being dumped or just coming to the realisation that someone you fancy like mad doesn’t even know your name. Reasonable, rational people can accept, eventually, that somebody doesn’t want to be with them anymore or doesn’t want to go out with them in the first place but it’s the little things – letting your birthday go by unremarked, having no idea what you’re up, never returning calls or texts or emails, even when they’re BARELY stalkerish in nature, cough, cough – that can be absolutely soul-crushing in their perfect illustration of the reality that this person, about whom you think constantly, doesn’t give a toss about you.
Of course things could always be worse. I mean, your partner could be off having creepy group sex surrounded by wanking men. For example.