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People Post-Breakup Come To Terms With How Terribly They Treated Their Ex

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Self reflection is hard - it's the sort of thing that's so difficult that quite a few people never get around to it. There's always the risk of realizing that the bad guy in the story was, in fact, you.


It's said that no matter how good of a person you try to be, you're going to be the villain in someone's story.

Reddit user BlackSand_GreenWalls asked:

Have you ever realized, years after a breakup, that you were awful to the partner at the time and how did you cope?

Realizing it can be heartbreaking, terrifying, disappointing and hurtful. But it can also be the catalyst to some of the biggest and most important changes we can ever make as people. Read through some of these stories from people who realized they weren't exactly the great partner they thought they were.

"I Was A Gift" 

I realized a year after breaking up with my high school sweetheart (I broke up with him) that I was the main reason that relationship wasn't going anywhere.

He always acted like he couldn't get anywhere without me and that gave me a fat head, making me feel like I was a gift over him and he would do things and change for me because I was already so good to him. Looking back I realized I never made him feel special or do anything to help build him up or motivate him to get his sh!t together. We were young and he should, of course, be responsible for himself but my attitude was never going to help things.

I reached out to him a while ago and apologized for it. He seemed grateful and had his own regrets about our relationship. He seems to be in a much better place in his new one!! I'll always be glad because he was always a friend till we broke up and I wish him all the best.

I make a point now with my fiance to show my support to him, and make him feel special and tell him how attractive he is to me and make my feelings known. Instead of just complaining at him when I want change and not making the effort myself and expecting results.

- Mistril

Big Tipper

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I make up for it in my own way now by tipping 30%.

I used to criticize her for "only" being a waitress instead of using her intellect for good.

- laterdude

Sorry, Daniel

11 years on and I still get so much anxiety over it. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet and I was a headcase who broke his heart and said some horrible things. Years and therapy later, understanding my own demons has made things make sense. It's not excuse, but I know more of why I acted that way.

I keep wanting to contact him and apologize profusely, but I think it would be a bit too crazy. I'm sorry, Daniel. If you knew how many nights I literally lay awake hating myself, you'd know how truly sorry I am.

- lucindainoz

Friendships Are Relationships, Too

Not a 'romantic relationship', but my only friend in elementary school was quite literally the only kid lower on the "bullying" totem pole than I was. He was the target of everybody in the school, I was the target of everybody in the school except him; my response, being a f*cking 8 year old, was to partake in bullying him from time to time to try and "fit in" with the other kids.

I moved away a few years later but, honestly, knowing you were that much of a piece of sh*t never really leaves you. You can try to cope, try to alleviate their pain as much as possible, but when they respond to you with "It's fine, I forgive you, have a good life." and sh*t like that it's just a sting that never leaves.

At the very least, I've learned from it but that's all I can really do.

- silverhydra

Two Villains

I was awful to my ex. I didn't know how to deal with the situation I'd been forced to deal with. I was supporting her entirely through her heroin addiction. I didn't have any room in the relationship to discuss my own problems, because hers took up all the space in the relationship. I would lash out at her, and it was incredibly tumultuous. We would get into fights all the time about stupid shit, and it wasn't healthy from either side. I was self medicating with alcohol, and wasn't dealing with my depression, anxiety, or ptsd at all, until it was too late and I did things that I couldn't take back. I got violent with her one night.

I've stopped drinking since then, and I have a therapist I go to. As time goes on, I'm starting to realize that I was the villain just as much as she was. I've asked for forgiveness, but that's not really good enough. I had to change my behavior, otherwise it would've been hollow.

I'm not speaking to her, and haven't talked to her in roughly 6 months. I need space and time, and spacetime to work on myself. She's presumably doing well though. She's halfway through a nursing program, and working a full time job. These are things she was completely incapable of while we were in a relationship, so I'm incredibly proud of her.

- ObviouslyTerrible

High School

Yes, but my sh*tty behavior was in high school, so I shouldn't be surprised. By the time I realized what I did was sh*tty, I had already grown as a person and matured.

I was controlling and emotionally manipulative, but I did not even realize it at the time. I wasn't the worst possible person, but I felt like we had to be in constant contact. I would sulk and guilt her if I didn't get my way on things. During the break-up itself I vague-posted (not that vague) about her on social media and accused her of betrayal and being heartless.

I was just scared and insecure in my first real relationship. She was right to break it off, and looking back she did everything she could to make it as painless as possible. I did not take it well though, and probably made her life a bit miserable for a few months. At the time I just could not understand how the couldn't love me. In hind sight, that might be the stupidest f*cking thing I have ever thought.

As for coping? I feel like being able to see how I was sh*tty and knowing that I would not do such things again means I have grown as a person. I am not that person anymore. I also realize I was a kid and I was still learning how to be a functional balanced person. I also realize that it seemed like a much bigger deal to me then, than any relationship might today. Not an excuse, but I can understand how that might contribute to my skewed view at the time.

- PowerOfPinsol

The Fresh Prince Rap

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When I was like 16 I was dating a really great guy, but I wasn't ready for the level of serious relationship he was trying to give me. So I did the only natural thing and broke up with him in a rap.

It was to the tune of the fresh Prince of Bel Air and it seemed like a great idea at the time. The breakup had to happen, I wasn't ready for what he was offering. He really was an amazing guy and a great boyfriend, I just wish I would have handled it differently.

Zach. I'm so sorry. I honestly think this is the worst thing I've ever done.

- lovelikemeow

Gaslighting

Realizing now that I sort of gaslighted her a bit when I always felt like I did a decent job of being a boyfriend. Learning from work and friends to shut up, take criticism, and hold actual conversations with them on how I can improve or learn from my mistakes. Not every critique is an attack.

- bassturducken54

Dumb 15 Year Old

I had an ex I hurt a lot when I was 15. Just didn't appreciate her enough. Wasn't attentive, openly talked about other girls while I was with her, just being a real immature dick. I was 15 and somehow landed a girl a year older and much more beautiful than I deserved. I let it go to my head, go figure.

We talked years later. I really wanted her back, but she couldn't see past what I did as a dumb 15 year old.


I guess when it happens that young, you just can't erase it. Obviously we all grow, and now about 15 years after I'm of course nothing like the boy I was back then, but some things are just the way they are, and some memories will just cloud everything.

I saw her last Christmas with a boyfriend. She looked happy and I really hope she is. She definitely deserves the world.

- tinydoghouse

Hindsight Is Strong

The relationship has been over for years but I still haven't been able to even consider getting into another one. I'm too scared of being that person again. The idea is crippling.

I am sick of being the narcissistic ogre who discounted all of her problems and only wanted to think about me and mine. I am also massively afraid of being like that again because hindsight is strong but present sight is weak.

- uphilliceskating

No Obligation To Accept

Yes. I tried to apologize (months later, not years) and he basically said that he hoped saying that made me feel better but he didn't want to ever hear from me again. I learned a really important lesson about the way I treat people and the fact that some things can't be fixed.

- musicalsandmuscles

He may not have been ready or willing to accept it or forgive you, but if your apology was sincere and meaningful, it was still good of you to do it. Even if it doesn't matter to him now, one day he may look back on it and appreciate that you apologized. I hope it's able to give you some closure and peace. You did the only thing that can be done after the fact, and it sounds like you have learned and grown. That's all anyone can do.

- moonfizzlego

Yes but he seems to be doing much better now with his new girlfriend and every time I've tried to initiate a conversation he shuts it down. So I let him live his life.

I've come to understand exactly what I did in that relationship and I try not to repeat it in future ones.

- SmashasaurusRex

I've been on the receiving end of this multiple times. They break up and say horrible sh!t to destroy me. Then a few months later I'll get calls and texts asking for me not to hate them or think they are a bad person and how I "taught them how to be treated" and whatnot....

What it comes down to is that people that treat their partners shitty are sh!tty selfish people and when they try to ask for forgiveness, it's not for you, it's for their own selfish needs.

- AcidicSoapBox

My current ex just sent me a big text apologizing for how she treated me a couple days ago. I've been on the fence about responding or not because I feel like she's at another low point and is looking for validation. I appreciate her apology but I don't feel the need to answer.

- FrenchFellow

Loved The Distraction

My ex doesn't want to talk to me at all. I think it was entirely my fault. I try to be a good guy and respect women and people in general.

Thing is that I didn't know how to handle my insecurities, I didn't communicate and I didn't strive to improve the relationship. Also, I think I used her to forget about my problems and as a distraction. That's a big no no...

I thought I loved that girl - but as time goes by I'm starting to think that maybe I loved what she was (distraction, fun) and not her.

The breakup was about 7 months ago and I don't have the drive or will to maintain a relationship with a few girls I really liked... sh*ts a bummer. Worst thing is that I didn't know at the time that I was being shit, that's the worst part.

- PrettyLitty

Toxic Girlfriend Stereotype

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It took me years to get over how much emotional guilt I gave him. He was my high school sweetheart, and I knew he loved and cherished me. I got jealous easily during the relationship and told him to stop talking to any female friends he had. I just literally gave him hell.

That's not even the worst part; I threatened to kill myself over such small matters. I'd say I realized that I was a toxic girlfriend a year and a half after the breakup.

My ex, surprisingly, forgave me about 2 years after the breakup. We can be cordial. I'm still coping with how shit I was as a person back then but I constantly remind myself to leave that in the past and focus on the present.

- Shallama

Patcharin Saenlakon / EyeEm / Getty Images

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