What is left is not always right
Jonathan Carroll

I spent eight years in my first relationship after finally coming out at about age 50. It was always a somewhat asymmetric relationship. I pretty much paid the bills; he designed and orchestrated the remodeling of my house, on which we worked together for about six of those years. I had been married before, as had he; we both had children, although I was closer to my daughter than he was to his sons.

Early on, he’d described to me two of his former relationships. In both cases, he grew tired of his partner, for what seemed like good reasons as he described them - they were both over-controlling, neurotic types. In both cases, he’d carefully engineered the end of the relationship ahead of time, by arranging new accommodations and planning a getaway with minimal notice - essentially, engineering an escape plan. I admired his skill at planning and organizing.

Around the eighth year, we had grown substantially apart - different tastes and interests and not a whole lot of bonding left once the work on the house was done. I had to change jobs, and had a difficult inter-job period and financial difficulties. Eventually, I took a job in a city about six hours drive away, and came home on alternate weekends. As far as I knew, however, we were still together. He had so much sweat equity invested in the house that I felt I could never ask him to leave. But there wasn’t a lot left.

Sometime that fall, the relationship ended as you might surmise. I was laid off from my new job, and made plans to move back home and take up a new position that I’d been working at part time for some months. I had just returned from a trip back there to finish up some things, when he sprung on me that he’d decided that we ought to separate. I was rather blindsided, and felt that somehow I’d failed again. In fact, he had been working on the separation for some months previous - in precisely the same way that he’d ended both his previous relationships. In fact, he’d given me the entire story, years earlier. Why I was surprised, I’m not sure. I suppose that I thought that I was different - not like those other guys who’d failed him. But clearly, I did - and failed myself as well.

We both moved on. He’s now apparently happily married to someone he met a few years later. I’ve been with my current partner for over eight years now. He’s almost entirely different from my ex - actually, we’re almost too much alike in some ways; entirely different in others. It’s been a trip and a half, in many ways.

So it isn’t only what they’ll tell their next relationship about you - it’s what they tell you about their previous relationships. Never expect that you are a special case, uniquely privileged - a leopard without spots. The one person you always carry with yourself is you. And history does repeat itself - as Marx noted, the first time as tragedy, the next time as farce. Farce is generally more fun.