Friday, March 09, 2007


A young lady I know recently broke up with her boyfriend. It was a pretty serious relationship; they had become engaged several months ago, but she broke the engagement after a few months and then recently broke up with him completely. I'm sure it was a rough time emotionally for both of them. They are nice people, but as everyone is saying, it's better they found this out now rather than after they were married.

I recently saw an email from her in which she said she was bitter, and I asked her mother why she was bitter. After all, she was the one who broke the relationship off, not him. Her mother defended her, saying she was bitter because he didn't live up to her expectations. The mother said she understood her daughter's bitterness completely. Sensing a bit of a male-female, Mars-Venus kind of thing, I chose not to pursue the subject further.

But is it really fair to be bitter about a person not turning out to be what you wanted them to be? Disappointed maybe, but bitter? Isn't it more like you're just two different people not right for each other? Or, as Dave Mason sang, there ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's only you and me and we just disagree.

Breaking up can be tough on a person. I know, because I did it several times when I was younger before finally getting married. Every time a relationship ends there is some sadness, even if you know it's the right thing to do, because there are always some good things about the relationship and other person that you will miss. I guess these failed relationships are supposed to make you wiser, but they just seemed to make me more depressed.

My siblings all got married when they were young, like age 20 or 21. I got married when I was several years older and felt quite smug about it, figuring that it was better to really develop as a person by yourself before getting married. But now I'm not so sure. My siblings have all had good marriages that have continued for years and years. They also didn't have the down effect of a number of failed relationships prior to marriage. If someone asked me several years ago when is the best age to get married, I would have said at age 25 to 30, but now I'd simply say, get married when you find the right person, whether that's at age 20 or 30 or whenever.

I wish I could somehow impart what I've learned about relationships to my own kids so they wouldn't have to make the same mistakes I did. But that would require that I can figure out just what it is I've learned. Also, some things you just have to find out by yourself.


Anonymous Chris and Vic said...

Bitterness . . .
It seems to me that sometimes you cannot let go, cannot leave the relationship behind, unless you have some powerful anger, or powerful bitterness. You have to really believe the other guy IS a bad guy, or you wouldn't leave.

I think it is the same with teens who are needing to leave the nest. They cannot go until it has become very uncomfortable for them to stay---which is to say that their parents have become nasty and mean. Once the young adult gets angry enough or bitter enough, s/he can leave and strike out on their own. It doesn't work this way for everyone, but it works this way for some.

Expectations . . . are a trap. In the beginning of relationship, it is enough to be close and go out together. And then, that isn't enough. You want more (damn human nature, all greedy-so!!!). At some point, you want MORE intimacy, on your terms. You then want an expensive wedding, with an expensive gown/party. Then, a pretentious home. It never ends, unless you consciously stop it.

Neonatal Doc, are you too sweet and mellow? Have you ever gotten angry or bitter?! Anger and bitterness work to move us on, sometimes, is all I'm saying. Depression and disappointment means you turned some anger inwards upon yourself. IMO, of course.
Chris and Vic

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

I have to agree with you on the perfect age thing. I married the most wonderful person in the world, at least I think so, at the age of 19--I'm now 27. Everyone has their own time.

It's sad when people leave a relationship just because they have always heard that they need to be a certain age before they get too serious. It's also sad when people rush into a marriage because they feel they are getting too old.

By the way, I subscribe to your blog and really enjoy it!

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I think what can make people bitter in this situation, rather than just disappointed, is the feeling that the other person misrepresented himself. If you'd known he was like that at the beginning, you wouldn't have wasted years on him.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous me, myself said...

Anyone know how to convince one's heart of something known with one's head?

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitterness is a terrible thing. If you allow yourself to learn from a relationship, whether the man was good or bad, there is no need to be bitter...Easier said than done. Any experience that you have, you should always try to learn from it. Being bitter towards someone will eventually eat you up, and you will become a bitter person. I speak from experience.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the first thing that comes to my mind is that he was gay. She probably found out about the other man or he told her because he couldn't go through with the marriage. It's more common than you might imagine.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

The hardest thing in the world is to watch while your kids are making a mistake, and not be able to stop them. It is just part of life I guess, that we must all learn on our own. I have watched this happen several times with my own children while they were growing up.

As for me, I got married when I was 20, he was 28. It took us twice, married (for 32 years) then divorced, and then remarried to each other to get it right.

As for your friend..This breakup was most likely the best for both parties. I think the word "Unconditional" is supposed to be there, some where, when talking about true love.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous me, myself said...

For those who are interested: he wasn't gay, he just wasn't in love with me. And the bitterness seems to be dying a natural death, which is good.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous icanrelatetotally said...

HA! The "Mars/Venus" comparison seems to be quite the easy out for "boys to be boys", IMO.

I waited 'til I was 29 to marry the man I THOUGHT was my soul mate. I've since learned that there probably is no such thing, and no one other person can "complete" another.

He has turned out to be a liar, deceiver, adulterer, etc. Then he wonders why I can't "move forward" and "trust" again. Even the most backward-thinking person could grasp the fact that continual lies do not breed an atmosphere of trust. DUH!

So, add me to the list of bitter people who have learned (and continue to learn) from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Believe me, my head COMPLETELY understands that feeling this way (by harboring resentment and not forgiving) is allowing my spouse to have more control than he should....but my heart hasn't gotten "there" yet.

Yes indeed....I can choose to be bitter, or I can choose to be better. Lord knows, I'm working on the better part (but the bitter side is often much, MUCH stronger and tenacious).

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i too have become bitter from wasting 30+ yrs w someone who said they cared but really didn't.the road to recovery seems to be very slow.(2yrs and counting)

1:58 PM  
Blogger chocolate cake said...

Hey doc, I remember you saying a little while ago, that you'd sorta run the mill of neonate related topic you wanted to explore when you started out and figured this blog might slow down. I'm glad you're still writing about your work, and that you're writing a bit about life in general, too.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C & V,

Just curious what kind of work you do? None of my business, really, but I see you posting here all the time, and you seem up on your neonatology.

7:38 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, Chocolate Cake, for the words of encouragement. They're always appreciated. For all the bitter and lovelorn souls out there, I hope things get better for you.

9:53 PM  
Blogger ostertaga said...

Speaking of bitter, is all the bitterness the reason that you pulled your last thread or topic?

Just curious?


11:39 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

... interesting. I wondered if there was something wrong with my browser cache that I couldn't see the last post, but I guess ND just pulled it.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...'re right! The blog entry ("Sick") is now suddenly and mysteriously gone. I wonder if some of the RN's that have to work with ND found out about it, and it was removed to attempt a little late-term "damage control"? ;-)

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitterness, like happiness, is a choice.

11:46 PM  
Blogger sexy said...







2:06 AM  

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