I’ve been wandering through life, pointed only forward, grieving losses – my mother moving, my divorce, Chicken, my youth, Taylor, and who I used to think I was and the trapped person I was…and then I found someone. And he was beautiful and sweet and loving, but in a very short time, he became so much like the man I left.

I know now what my pattern is. Passive-Aggressive Guy. Judgmental Guy. Guy who thinks he’s got something to teach me. Guy who’s attractive, but has deep-seated emotional problems that he refuses to face. Guy who wants to change me. Guy who questions my choices, my competence, and counts on my deep strength to pick me back up after he knocks me down, because hey, she’s a powerful personality. Maybe I look invincible to them. Maybe they can’t see the soft center.

The insidious thing about these Guys is that they always cloak it in concern for my well-being. They want to “help” me. They know more than I do, apparently, by benefit of being good-looking and more fit, more athletic. And because of the obvious superiority they have bestowed on them by owning a penis.

This recent entanglement was thorny, stormy, trying…and when he threw down his second ultimatum, I learned to stop trying. I stopped giving in to the urge to be with someone who so obviously doesn’t appreciate me. I was ready to sacrifice so much for him, and in the end, probably end up right back where I started.

Let me explain a bit about why I was so attached to him. He was tall, sweet, (mostly) kind, and most of all fiercely intelligent. We would read books at the same time and talk about them, flying through the first, on to the next. He recommended them to me, and I to him. I had met a fellow intellectual who liked reading what I liked reading, modern cultural tracts and modern history. And he spoke Chinese, too, along with his flawless English, and relished his fluency in his native Korean, celebrating with Han pride, never denying his heritage. That’s unusual with second-gen Asian Americans, and I treasured it. And in our discussions, he always had some insight, some comment that surprised me with its clarity, its depth. I adored those moments.

We met online, and our interaction was difficult from the start. But that smile. That six-second video he took one morning of him with scruffy morning face blowing a kiss to the camera and smiling sweetly at me. The constant selfies of him doing whatever, thinking of me. Pix of his lunch, sweet little messages that he wanted to hug me, kiss me. Attention, sweet attention. Never anything explicit, always something warm and loving. No dick pix! And my endless smiles when my stressful work day would be interrupted with the a-po! of Kakao.

He came to my house, flew here from Atlanta, to help me clean up for my housewarming party, and we went grocery shopping and it was…normal. Comfortable. I loved waking up next to him, wearing his shirts, laughing with him…then a bomb dropped on his last day. He’s still in love with his ex. All of the sweet, kind things he did for me were instantly negated by that. Maybe I was getting too attached too early. I started to worry. I didn’t want to worry, I didn’t want to feel like this again, I wanted it to be easy.

I took him to the airport, and he held my hand the whole way. That was something, too, the way that he held my hand always. The way that he kissed my forehead. I thought this could be real. Maybe there’s something here.

I had my phone on silent, for a moment, while I was discussing my unexpected find, a person I was truly interested in, with my therapist, and while he was at the airport waiting for his plane, he dropped another bomb on me. He doesn’t see a future between us. The age difference, the cultural differences, my weight – it was all insurmountable. Pointless. Have a nice life. “We’re done”…

Eventually, with efforts from him, our relationship was repaired… -ish. The loving messages and desires to hold me and kiss me were gone. I missed them. Sparse selfies, less optimism…I could see in him the symptoms of depression, and suddenly I understood his exhortations to read this particular book that would “change my life” in a way that it so obviously hadn’t changed his. I worried about him, wanted to care for him, but also hated myself for being with someone who wasn’t afraid to throw in my face the many ways he thought I was flawed, too flawed, just to hide his own flaws.

Then one night while we were talking I revealed a piece of very personal information to him. He, of course, didn’t like it, and flipped. out. He responded by eventually threatening, if I didn’t leave him alone, forever, that he would tell my entire network, Linkedin included, that I had a very socially-stigmatized disease. I was terrified, at that threat. I’m not a crazy stalker chick, and hell, I told the truth about something that matters a lot to me. And attempting to defame someone by insinuating that they have a socially-stigmatized disease is an impossibly surreal overreaction, definitely unhealthy.

So I told myself maybe it’s just that we’re so often communicating via text that makes it difficult. We Skyped quite often, but most of our interactions were via text. He would constantly say something that rubbed me the wrong way, like call me ajumma, or try to explain to me how bad antidepressants are for you, and that “if he’s going to be with a woman, she can’t be a druggie”. Druggie, because I take antidepressants and allergy medicine. I’d stand up for myself, he’d get angry at me for questioning him and say I was being too sensitive, and I would be flummoxed; who is this person, and how is he often so dramatically incompatible with my perceived reality? It’s taken me so long to love myself, and then I immediately get involved again with someone who invalidates everything I’ve worked for.

It’s exhausting to go through the rest of this relationship, because basically it was the same thing in a different guise – same problems, same cruel overreactions…suffice it to say it set me back significantly, emotionally. I don’t miss the cruelty, but I do miss the things about him that made me happy.

I’d thought I’d found Someone, not The One, certainly, but Someone. I miss having Someone, not just anyone, but someone who inspires me. I miss having someone to get little gifts for, to watch TV on the couch on a lazy Saturday, who has something to teach me and I to teach him. Someone who surprises me with their depth.

I have completely different goals in my search for Someone than I did before him. The search continues.