Not bad, but not good

I recently saw a post on Tumblr by user sunflorally which said

"Your relationship doesn't have to be toxic to be a bad one. It can be exhausting, loveless. And someone doesn't have to be terrible to you for you to leave them. If you aren't primarily happy in your relationship, you have a valid reason to not be in it. Don't beat yourself up because your situation "could be worse" if it isn't what you want, you don't have to stay in it."

 I once ended a relationship just like that and felt incredibly guilty about it for a long time. He was a sweet, sensitive guy but being in a relationship with him was literally exhausting. We started out as a D/s couple, he as the submissive, of course, I was fairly new to being dominant to a partner so I had some confidence issues going in. I guess that's one of the reasons I let things slide as long as I did.

The truth is, he just wasn't submissive. He, in my opinion, is a bottom in the bedroom. Which means he likes someone to take control during sex, maybe have some light impact play, maybe a little CBT, (actually he was all about the CBT) but be a normal vanilla couple at all other times. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that but it wasn't what I was looking for.

Because of my inexperience, and the "it could be worse" mentality, I let it go on for almost 3 years. Looking back now, I can see that I was blind to his manipulation, which was often. All scenes were critiqued afterward. Not discussed during aftercare, or the next day, or a few days later, he gave me a list of things I had done wrong and only things I'd done wrong, every single time and immediately following. So that he'd obviously been focusing on getting his list of disappointments together rather than focusing on the scene and getting some enjoyment out of it. No wonder he never went to subspace. Very often these lists contradicted the previous lists and since I was so new to smacking people around I took it all at face value and lost a lot of confidence, fast. I've heard from other more experienced people in the community since that he displayed the same behaviors with them.

I tried so hard to adjust myself to please him in the bedroom when he did nothing outside of the bedroom to please me. After me having repeatedly told him to stop he would continue to "play" with me. He pinched me, bopped me on the head, moved me around physically all the time. It wasn't to the point of abuse, more like annoying brother behavior. Not something I wanted from a submissive. He wouldn't follow any rules, no helping me on with my coat, no opening doors, not even being willing to call me by the honorific we'd agreed upon, or asking to orgasm.

Though he said a collar was very important to him, he refused to wear the leather one I'd gotten him, even to fetish events because it was "too hot". He only wore it during play. We decided that perhaps a bracelet would be better and since he is very into Viking culture or whatever, I bought him a torque to wear all the time as his collar. He displayed it on a shelf after promising he'd wear it before I ordered it. I stupidly bought him an eternity collar, thinking it wouldn't be hot and the damn thing would be locked on. He freaked out when he realized I had taken the key home with me and he had to wear it until I got off work the next day.

We almost always met at his house and when we weren't in the bedroom we were in his "office" watching tv or movies or eating. Looking back now it's so obvious. I didn't even have a chair in his office, I sat on the floor. He always chose the movie or tv show and complained passive aggressively if I wanted something else. When he cooked for me, which he started doing near the end of our relationship he would deliberately add things to the meal he knew I didn't like, hot sauce, for example.

Early in our relationship, he would come to my home and have dinner with my husband, our daughter, and myself and I would always go out of my way to make sure the food was something he liked, didn't include forbidden ingredients, (he hated most things dairy) and that I had all the condiments he needed (he put lots of ketchup on lots of things). Just writing this out now; I am flabbergasted by what I let him get away with.

We stopped having dinners at my home when my husband became absolutely fed up with his behavior. He tried to tell me and I made excuses and tried to explain. He's not incredibly loud and obnoxious, he's boisterous, he's not trying to deliberately get the dog all excited and crazed, he's just playing. Oh, how I wish I'd listened to Wulf's advice sooner, but as I said this guy was sensitive underneath all this crap and he had been dumped a lot and divorced twice (I now see why) and I didn't want to be the bad guy, yet again, dumping on him.

When I spent the night at his home (which was every other Friday) he would complain that I wanted to sleep before he did. He's a serious night owl, staying up until 5 or 6 in the morning and sleeping until afternoon. When I got there on Fridays I had been up since 4 AM for work so I was in no position to stay up for 25 hours with him, just cause. So I would go to bed first, his dogs were used to sleeping in the bed with him and they would go to bed with me, which I didn't really mind. They were small. But when he would come into the room at night, me fast asleep, the dogs would bark at him because he startled them. He would turn on the television, and a lamp and often be eating something noisy like chips or popcorn. He had the nerve to get upset that I was upset that he was so rude. His excuse was that he had a pre-sleep ritual and if he didn't complete it, he couldn't sleep. Really? You couldn't have skipped one night?

He was rude a lot actually. He made excuses for it by saying it's how he was raised, where he had lived most of his life but really there is no excuse for passing gas, forcefully, in line at the checkout almost everytime we were shopping and then giggling about it like a schoolboy, often blaming me, loudly, for the awful smell. I felt obligated, through his using guilt against me, to visit him every afternoon after work, before I went home, showered, or changed clothes. I had to be there. I usually sat on the floor of his office and watched him eat his "breakfast".

In order to improve things, we instituted a date night, every Tuesday, which I soon came to dread. These dates nights would mean he was taking me to one of the two restaurants in town he didn't refuse to eat at (not an exaggeration) or cooking something I wasn't going to like. After that, it would consist of being dragged around on his errands, that he obviously couldn't have done at another time, or back home to sit in the floor and watch TV or be pressured into a "scene" I had no interest in because it was nothing but work. Even if I did manage to do something he liked, he just lay there quietly in starfish position, not giving me any reactions or feedback.

Since we were poly and I wasn't getting what I needed from the relationship I continued to look for a submissive. He, incidentally, was looking for a "proper domme" to play with on the side, with my permission, since I wasn't what he wanted out of BDSM and I wanted him to be happy. I had always been interested in puppy play, something else my current submissive had no interest in, so when Wulf happened upon an ad on a fetish site we both used he pointed it out to me. It was a puppy player looking for a handler or owner. I took a chance and messaged this guy, (remember, my confidence in my dommly skills was nill at this point) he seemed very eager and respectful so we all agreed to meet at a coffee shop after talking online for a while.

When he walked in he was obviously nervous, which actually increased my confidence a bit. We had a nice, mostly vanilla talk, and agreed that I'd go home and think about it. I wasn't sure if I had time for a third relationship, especially since my second one was so exhausting. In a few days he messaged me asking if I'd had a chance to think it over and with a lot of conversation with Wulf, I decided to give it a try. That was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Once Schatzi came into my life and I compared his behavior (not that I had intended to do that) to my other submissive's, I started to realize the level of crazy manipulative, exhausting, shit it had gotten to. But as I said earlier, this guy had been dumped and dumped on, and divorced and I still didn't want to hurt him so together we decided we' drop the D/s aspect of our relationship and just go completely vanilla. Two weeks later, I called him over to tell him it just wasn't working and though it broke my heart at the time, I broke up with him.

In the following days, I felt lighter than I had in literal years. I didn't have any obligations as soon as I got off work, my Tuesday nights (a work night for me, by the way) were my own again and I could sleep peacefully in my own bed every night.

I'm glad I learned that I "it could be worse" is not a reason to stay in a relationship. I learned that I can care about not hurting someone but don't have to stay in that relationship solely for that reason. I learned that if I'm not primarily happy, then that's a perfectly valid reason to end it.

Now several years later I am happier than I've ever been. My relationships are awesome. They're open, honest, and not exhausting. I look forward to seeing my partners rather than dreading it. I have partners to whom my needs are important, ones that make efforts to make sure I'm happy and getting what I need, as I do with them.


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