When The Ideal Man Doesn’t Live Up to Your Ideal

Whose fault is it?

Ria Tagulinao

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Photo by Trinity Kubassek

Painfully amicable is how I would describe my last breakup. This was seven years ago, so I can only remember so much. Me, in his arms, in our living room. His joke that our relationship was akin to that Jordin Sparks song (“Why does love always feel like a battlefield?”). Then there was this one line that has not let go of me all these years. Piercing me with his tender voice, he said, “It’s not wrong to want an ideal man.”

I knew he meant to console me with those parting words, but I just didn’t know how to take it. Here was a man I had loved dearly for almost four years, fully owning up to how he had fallen short — and that he couldn’t be the person I was looking for.

And yet, I was also perfectly aware: Here was a man who was smart, handsome, kind, charismatic, principled, funny, supportive, and patient. A boyfriend who was loyal to a fault. Hardly a red flag in sight (unless you counted his exorbitant need for sleep, the bags under his eyes that seemed to be a permanent feature, or his primitive familiarity with social media). Even my friends had a hard time letting him go when we broke up. What more did I want?

He and I met and became a couple in senior year of high school. Then we ended up choosing different universities, which didn’t feel like that…

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Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com