In any case, I had been dating Paul for just over a year when I ended things and, to be frank, things had started getting bad after just 3 months. Whenever things got particularly bad, we'd talk and things would be better for about a week, then revert back to what it was before. I had spent my year or so of being single prior to dating Paul to build my personal confidence levels. Unfortunately, a lot of my time with him undid most of the work I had done on myself. It was through no active efforts on his part, but just the general way the relationship went, our closeness, etc. I can't really get more specific here, but suffice it to say that my ego took more than a few hits in the time we were together, and most of them were directly related to my relationship with him. The worst part about it is that I didn't even realize how low my own self-worth had gotten until a few days ago. But I'll get to that in a moment.
To get back to the chronological story, at one point when we had been dating for about 6 months, we had a huge blow out and I nearly ended things then. We talked and he did a lot of convincing and I decided to try for a while longer, but reserved my right to end things if they didn't work. Well, color me surprised when they were working pretty well for at least a month or so. Then it was fading back to the old patterns. But by this point, we'd talked a little about the possibility of moving in together when his lease was up (in hindsight, this topic never should have been brought up), so I wanted to keep trying and working on the issues. And it didn't get bad. But it also didn't get good. I became perfectly ambivalent to our entire relationship. My attraction to him on most levels faded as my ambivalence grew. All this managed to do was perpetuate the cycle of apathy I had fallen into.
It wasn't until I had a very unexpected conversation with a mutual friend of ours that I realized just how generally unhappy I was. I already knew that I was unhappy with the way a lot of things had been going in my life the past year, but I didn't realize how much was also rooted in this relationship. I gave myself one more week to think on the matter, to spend with Paul, and to see if things could be different. That week just cemented in my mind that I was doing the right thing so, at the end of it, I went over to his apartment and ended things.
About a week later, when he asked to talk to me, I thought we were going to have a very uncomfortable conversation where I get more into the details of the "Why?" of the situation. Unfortunately for me, I was way off. I had an even more uncomfortable conversation where he tried to convince me to change my mind and I had to explain over and over and over why I wasn't going to and why I couldn't. It culminated in him saying some things that he really shouldn't have said in a desperate attempt to manipulate me and I kicked him out (something I am very proud of, actually).
One of the pitfalls of ending this relationship is the same as I've experienced in the past... most of our mutual friends feel like they have to "choose a side" or be more supportive of one than the other. In my past experience, I'm usually the one left by the wayside who stops being invited to events. This breakup is no different. I guess I'm still able to have a little contact with them, but it's exclusively when I initiate contact or invite them over to my place, etc. I don't know if I'll ever be invited to another barbecue, so I guess it's time to get used to it again.
It wasn't until just a few nights ago, when I was talking to a close friend about the entire situation, that I realized just how much the duration of our relationship affected the way I view myself. A lot of it falls to my physical self-confidence, but I've also started noticing how much my personality has been altered. I'm still chatty and personable, but I no longer am so willing to introduce myself to people or be a more active part of a group. I guess I am more reserved in a way. And I hate it. I was so confident before I started dating him. And it took me a long ass time to get to that point. And all of the hard work I put into myself just sort of went away.
The only good thing is that I know I've been able to build up to it before. I may not remember exactly how I did it, but I do know that it means I should be able to do it again.