It will be three years ago next week that we met. She was the sister of my favorite coworker, and for his birthday party, his office and “real” lives collided. We met at the bar, waiting for drinks, as you always do. I was sure that someone else from our company — someone better looking, someone more charming — was going to get to her first. I don’t think I’m ugly, but when I meet girls like her, I always get down on myself and imagine that someone like her would never go for someone like me. She’s tall and thin with long brown hair and deep-set green eyes and always has a witty response to whatever you say. When I got her number at the end of the party, I couldn’t believe that it was real. I was sure that I would call the number and have some Chinese restaurant pick up, and that she would be somewhere else, laughing with her beautiful friends.
“Don’t break her heart” my coworker said to me when we first started dating seriously, just a few weeks after meeting each other.
“Of course I won’t” I said. And I thought that I never would. I never dreamed that I could do anything to hurt her, I was too in love, too happy. If anything, I thought, she was going to come to her senses and realize that she was much too good for me.
Over the year and a half that followed, we had the best relationship I’ve ever had. For the six months after that, we had an OK relationship. For the last four months, we were together because we had come so far already. We were together because we loved each other, or at least because we used to. We were together because every bit of our lives were so tangled up together, and everyone thought we were going to get married. People used to tell us, “We want something like what you have.” We would smile and squeeze each other’s hands and look very confident. But towards the end, there was nothing to be confident about.
I don’t think that we had sex for the last three months of our relationship, except once on the actual night we broke up. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her — and I’m pretty sure she still found me attractive, too — it was just more trouble than it was worth. There was no motivation to start things when we could just as easily roll over and get eight full hours of sleep. We had gone from “sort of living together” because we spent all the time at each other’s places, to her actually living with me, because the rent was cheaper. Everything just sort of blurred and blended into each other, and by the time she was leaving her dirty clothes on my floor, we couldn’t be bothered to be romantic. It felt like we were an old married couple in all of the bad ways, and there was no real beginning to the end. It just sort of slid from “living silently alongside each other” to “openly fighting.”
We fought all the time, at the end. She would throw things at me and I would dodge them, one time a candleholder shattered against the wall and I walked out of the door, turning off my phone and telling her that I would be back “later.” She followed me downstairs, outside in front of our apartment, barefoot on frozen pavement. She humiliated herself, and I ignored her. The more I would resist, the more she would chase, over and over again. But the fights were never fun. And the few moments of “I’m sorry, I love you” where we held each other and fell asleep from crying and screaming, they only made me feel terrible in the morning. She loved me, I think, but she didn’t show it. I loved her, I’m sure of it, but I knew I didn’t want to end up with her anymore. I didn’t want to have children with her.
The night we broke up, I did it. I asked her to come straight home after work, but didn’t tell her why. She came in and I was sitting on the couch, on my second beer, trying to find the courage to do it seriously (and not a thousand fake-out breakups, like we had before). I told her that we needed different things, that we clearly weren’t good for each other, and that we should see other people. She screamed at me, she tried to find out if I was seeing someone else, she cried and at the end was whimpering for me to take her back. Foolishly, I slept with her. I don’t know why I did. I know it only made things worse, but I was still resolved in my choice. She told me I was just being angry, I told her that she could take as long as she needed to find a new place. I offered to sleep on the couch for that time, but she left. She went to her friend’s house, and sent a few people over to get her things. She wouldn’t speak to me.
She told everyone that I’m terrible. Many of our mutual friends are lost to me forever. And maybe I deserve it.
But I’m happy to be single.