When Two Good People Can’t Make It Work


This blog post was born like so many others I’ve written…in a bar.

I had just finished having my ass handed to me in trivia when I found myself in conversation with a guy I barely knew. This happens to me a lot. It’s cool. I don’t mind. It’s like a live Dear Sharideth where I walk away wondering what I said and if I just ruined someone’s life. No big.

I’ve gotten in trouble here on AWGTW for not giving women the benefit of the doubt enough when it comes to the crash and burn of relationships. And that’s true. I haven’t. But I do know it’s not always the girl’s fault when things go all Breaking Bad (RIP WW), except for all the times it is.

I kid. I kid.

The primary reason I haven’t spent much time on her side of the trauma is because this has been mostly a blog for dudes. But I want to include both sides this time.

Both good sides.

The guy I talked to after Trivia Apocalypse 2013 was a good guy. He was only 8 days out of a relationship that lasted a year and a half. And according to him, she was a good girl. They were both hurting because the relationship didn’t make it. So what went wrong? Two good people who treated each other well couldn’t make it work? Oy. The world is doomed.

No, it isn’t. And I’ll tell you why.

Sometimes you need more than just decency to make a thing go right. He pursued her. He listened to her. He spent time with her. He invested himself. He recognized her value. He knew she was a good girl, a keeper even, and made a real effort to be all the things a boyfriend should be. He spent a year and a half waiting to fall in love with her.

But it never happened.

He loved her in the way that way you love anyone who has become important to you. But that…thing…that I-can’t-wait-to-be-with-her-again thing, never happened for him. He wanted it to. His previous taste in women was admittedly awful. She had everything that made her an in-it-for-life partner. He wanted that.

He just had to accept that she wasn’t his lifer.

The good news is he now knows what a healthy relationship looks like and won’t settle for less. And they are both free to find all of it with someone else.

Two great things that just don’t go together.

Brushing your teeth? Awesome! Orange juice? Delicious! Drinking OJ right after you brush your teeth? Worst thing to happen in your mouth ever. That’s kind of what it’s like. Sometimes two good people just aren’t a match. The reasons can be as numerous as when awful people are involved.

But it doesn’t make you somehow flawed. Which is the big question that gets agonized over when a good but not right relationship ends. “What is wrong with me that I couldn’t make it work with this amazing person?”


Nothing is wrong with you.

That amazing person wasn’t YOUR amazing person. You both deserve better than being settled for.

Yeah. I’ll say that again.

You both deserve better than being settled for.

Don’t you think? I know I do.

Two good people. One failed relationship. It happens. You just have to do what this guy did and learn from it. It’s a rare gift when you get to walk away from a relationship and have positive feelings and lessons to take with you.

You got close. Real close. Pretty soon, you’re going to nail it.

What say you? Ever been in a good but not right relationship that didn’t make it? What did you learn from it?

P.S. You know what does go with orange juice?



9 comments on “When Two Good People Can’t Make It Work

  1. robertdyson says:

    Point 1: You’re only hearing the story from his side. I’m quite certain the girl would give a different point of view. And isn’t that always the problem? 2 people can look at the exact same thing and view it completely differently.
    Point 2: Are you sure he wasn’t just hitting on you? Sometimes (as in almost always) guys think the best way to get over the last girl is the next girl.
    Point 3: Still, I get what you’re saying. Some things weren’t meant to be. Recognizing that, and moving on, rather than valuing bad companionship higher than no companionship, is the right and mature thing to do – and ultimately more rewarding as well.

    • visitingmissouri says:

      If ‘I am 8 days from a breakup’ is in this guy’s repertoire, he must be awful at hitting on people. Nobody wants to be the next girl solution to a broken heart. And I don’t really agree with your first point; I have been in a relationship that ended because we knew we wouldn’t grow old together, even though our relationship wasn’t that bad in itself (it just freaked me out to think I’d have to spend the rest of my life with her is all). She was a nice person, and I like to believe I am too. I know she had the same point of view, although I really hope telling people wasn’t in her flirting repertoire, because she deserved a real good guy, not a rebound.

  2. I love this and agree. The only thing I would add is that 1.5 years is too long to wait for that feeling. If you don’t feel the way you need to feel within 3-6 months, it’s time to cut bait. If it hasn’t happened by 6 months, then it won’t. Don’t settle!

  3. TheGirl says:

    Hhmmmm….mines was a Sarah McLaughlan?

  4. Kim says:

    Hi, I’m a regular reader, but I don’t know if I’ve ever commented before! This might be my favorite post of yours, because it’s something I’ve tried to articulate to people, and you say it so well. What I’ve found is if I’m dating a really nice, good guy, and I’m just not feeling it, people like to say I’m picky or don’t like nice guys. How stupid! I mean, of course I want a nice guy, that goes without saying–but there also has to be that “it” factor, the spark, the chemistry, etc. Like you said, the I-can’t-wait-to-be-with-them-again feeling. So just because two people are great people, doesn’t mean they will be the right match for each other!

    Thank you for making that point!

  5. Erica says:

    I have lived the flip side of this story: my boyfriend and I fell in love, and fell HARD. Both of us. To the point that neither of us could fathom breaking up with the other person. Even though, we had so many gigantic life things that absolutely do not mesh with one another. And…sad to say, we’re miserable but still together. Because at the end of the day – he’s the one I want, and i’m the one he wants. But the relationship just doesn’t work. Talk about being in a nightmare.

  6. April K says:

    Yes, I have been in this situation! I dated a guy who had all the right stuff: intelligence, great work ethic, respect, romance, nice parents, nice car, steady job, Christian and crazy about me! But no matter how much I wanted to make it work, I had to accept that I just wasn’t attracted to him. Even though I kissed him and held his hand, my true feelings never went deeper than friendship. It was a miserable experience, because I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

    Thankfully, I made the wise decision to let him go. And then I met my husband, a man who, from day one, intrigued and challenged me. Even after 6 years of marriage (and a kid), I still get butterflies when we kiss.

  7. mysaltypretzel says:

    lots of wine and hiking to the top of a 3,000 meter (10,000ft) mountain helped me push through the pain of my good, but not right relationship!

  8. mackie says:

    This is exactly what I have been trying to articulate, said with zest and precision.
    I look forward to being a regular reader. 🙂

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