He dumped me without warning or reason. We’d been intertwined for five months, separating so I could attend class and study before interlocking our limbs again. It was five months of uncontested bliss – until it wasn’t. The grief oozed through me. I was incapacitated in bed, shrinking beneath the covers and hoping he would call.
One weekend passed. Then another. And another. Concerned friends forced me to eat, do homework and shower, but never mentioned his name or the unforeseen breakup.
Several weekends passed with no progress, but then it got better. I smiled again. I reclaimed the happiness I thought he had stolen. I decided it was time to erase him from my life, so I started in the first logical place: Facebook.
His relationship status screamed at me as I searched for the unfriend button his on profile. Ex boo-joint is in a relationship with someone who didn’t remotely resemble me. I immediately scoured his page, searching for a sign that she was present when we were still entangled. She was. I was devastated.
I asked him for answers and was prepared for the usual responses like I’m afraid of commitment or I need space or it’s not you, it’s me. Nothing could’ve readied me for his painful, succinct text messages.
“You’re too good for me. You have all of these big dreams and stuff going on. You’re going to outgrow me and resent me, so I’m ending it before we’re both too far gone to stop it.”
His response seemed like a camouflage, masking the real reason he ended our relationship. But as I reflected on our late-night conversations, I realized how silent he was as I spoke of building empires and earning other degrees. He was satisfied with his burgeoning rap career, but often struggled to book shows between restaurant gigs. I was comfortable with his level of ambition, but he was uncomfortable with mine.
I had become his back-pocket girl.
Back-pocket girl (noun): The woman he’ll settle with after he’s amassed a success similar to hers; the one he keeps in his back-pocket, in hopes that she’ll be there when he’s ready to remove her.
Many women have lived as back-pocket girls. It has no socioeconomic or degree perimeters and no level of success attached to it. Back-pocket girls have something that paradoxically draws men in and forces them out, leaving us with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and “Sex and the City” marathons.
Sometimes men will leave back-pocket girls for women with less – less ambition, less attraction, less common sense – but their decision speaks to their insecurities.
It might seem appealing to implement changes or hide whatever it is that drew him in and spit him out, but dumbing ourselves down to massage the ego of an insecure man is a disservice. Back-pocket girls deserve men that recognize their worth and are unafraid of rising to the challenge to meet it. We don’t exist as handkerchiefs, pulled out when a craving is in need of satisfying.
Back-pocket girls deserve men that bask in our essence instead of shrinking from it. It was a difficult lesson, but I’d learned it and would never settle for the back-pocket girl position again.
He called, almost nine months after he dumped me without warning or reason. The girl he’d left me for was unfaithful to him with her children’s father and he’d had an awakening. He sounded remorseful as he told me how wrong he’d been and how much he missed what we had.
I told him I was no longer available.