I just finished re-watching a film my ex-boyfriend introduced me to over the summer. It's called "An Education", and it's about a young girl studying to apply to Oxford who falls for with an older man. He shows her the finer and more exciting things in life, though throughout the course of the film, it becomes apparent that he's not the most upstanding of citizens. However, in spite of being an incredibly intelligent girl, and in spite of seeing this unfortunate truth, the girl sticks it out. She sticks it out until it's impossible to do so any longer.
All through the film, I'm sitting there shaking my head. "Get out while you can, Jenny," I think, the first time she questions this man's character. Because I've been in her shoes. We all have, I think. We find someone we like, they make our life exciting, and so we make concessions. We overlook their flaws. We let them get away with murder because it's easier to just focus on the good things, and ignore the less savory traits, even if we logically know we're there.
I've probably done this more times than one person ever should. I've dated some real douchebags, manipulators, potheads, manwhores, unmotivated slackers, insensitive assholes, and emotionally abusive jerks. When I'm really lucky, I get a spectacular combination of many of these traits in one loser.
When it comes to the end, I'm always the one who gets dumped. I'm never the one to walk away first. And somehow, I always wind up heartbroken. Which is the mother of all ironies, considering that by that point, I've realized that I'm in a bad situation, and haven't done anything to change it. In fact, once I'm deeper into relationships, I find that I spend a lot more time miserable than I spend happy. Whether it's because I'm worried about the other women they're seeing, or frustrated that they're not communicating with me, or straight up angry that they're taking me for granted, I am often unhappy.
So as I watch this film, and I watch this girl stick it out because things are exciting, and maybe that balances out the sting of sadness when something bad happens, I see myself. And I see many of my friends, too. I've hated plenty of guys my friends have gone out with, and I'd never understood why they were sticking it out with them as much as we tried to make them see they were no good.
Why in the heck do we do it? Why do we subject ourselves to that kind of unhappiness? It doesn't make any sense. I know I tell myself when I'm in the moment that the moments of happiness outweigh all the things that I can see so plainly to be wrong. And maybe they are. But most of the time... I don't think so.
I think sometimes we're blinded and comforted by the kind of security there is in being in a relationship, even if it's a bad one. I was always able to find some sort of comfort in the idea that at the end of the day, I had someone, and I had hope that it would work. Even if I was miserable at the time. Which makes no sense at all, because hoping it would work would only be hoping to resign myself to more misery, or hoping that the guy would change and suddenly stop sleeping with other women, or sitting on the couch smoking pot, or manipulating my emotions. And we all know that the latter doesn't happen - we can't change people who don't want to be changed.
So what do we do? How do we learn from our mistakes and get ourselves out of situations we know are no good for us? Am I the only one who continues to make the same mistake over again?