“Where’s the cat?” As I entered the kitchen, I turned to my boyfriend and asked him. The sun had set, and it was time for us to give the steroid to her in order to relieve some of her discomfort.

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. We looked everywhere, but we couldn’t turn up any trace of her. Then I noticed that the patio door was propped open all the way.

Guerrilla, our 15-year-old cat, who was very sick and would soon die, loved going for walks around the neighborhood on a leash and would beg us to take her exploring.

“I guess when I took the dogs out earlier I forgot to close the door,” he said. “I’m sorry.” I was heartbroken.

 

I could no longer deal with how careless he was being.

This wasn’t the first time that he didn’t care about me, and it hurt. During the two years we dated, rock climbing was one of our favorite things to do together. He had done it for a lot longer than I had, so he was better at it.

He took the gear off a traversing route while we were rock climbing in southern Illinois. The rain started to fall while I was holding his rope and helping him climb. He forgot to unclip from my side of the rope before he took off the last quickdraw, so he swung like a pendulum and pulled me 20 feet across the rocky ground on my back.

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I was uncomfortable and scared, but I didn’t hurt myself. Several other climbers came up to me and asked how I was doing. They then told me to get myself checked.

As we were walking back to the car, I gave my backside a quick brush and saw that my bike shorts had been torn up by the rough terrain. We talked about how to keep ourselves from getting hurt in the future after I tied my flannel around my waist.

 

I quickly realized that he wasn’t thinking about me.

I left everything behind and moved halfway across the country to his hometown of Boston, where we lived together for a year. And I was tired of our long-distance relationship, and he told me he would never move for me, which, looking back, probably should have been a red flag.

Before I moved, I asked him to find me a place to live. Because he didn’t, we had to stay with his parents for a few months. When we finally got our own place, it was my job to make sure that the rent and utilities were always paid on time for as long as we lived there.

I was able to remember that I needed groceries and that there were things to do around the house. I begged him over and over not to put his wet towels on my side of the bed and to put his dishes in the dishwasher or at least in the sink. And I also pleaded with him not to put his dirty dishes in the sink. As a teacher, I had to get up every morning at 6:00, but he would leave the lights on in the living room until at least 3:00, which made it hard for me to sleep and hard for me to do my job since we only had one bedroom.

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Because he got angry when I asked, I eventually stopped and focused on improving myself on my own while venting to my therapist about how upset I was with him and trying not to hold a grudge against him. I didn’t tell my friends or family because I knew they’d tell me to just stop dealing with it, and I didn’t want to face the fact that it wasn’t working. And I also knew that they would tell me to stop taking care of it. I wasn’t in a good mood.

After that, he opened the door and let the cat out. He might have also just forgotten about the cat and left the door open. Is there a difference?

I just called it off the next day. I realized that, for me, being nice meant being thoughtful enough to make sure we didn’t have to worry about when the rent was due, remember that we needed oat milk, or realize that the counters needed to be cleaned. In other words, being nice meant making sure that none of those things were necessary. He would sometimes say nice things, but he never thought about me, which is not very caring.

So I got back in my car and drove all the way back to Missouri.

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I’m so much happier now that I don’t have to clean up after other people’s mistakes anymore.