Ours was a five-month relationship that felt much longer and more serious than the timeframe in which it existed. This was most likely because you told me how much you liked me on our first date, you introduced me to your mother on our fifth date, and you told me that you loved me twenty-four days after we met.
I asked you to keep that to yourself; said that such an early declaration was way too fast, more of a red flag than a sign of true love. But even as I tried to convince you that you had fallen too soon, I couldn’t stifle my inner glee at your raw and unprotected nature. You hurled yourself at the walls I had built until they crumbled.
I warned you that I came with rough edges, sarcasm, and moodiness. I told you that I was not perfect and you said that I was perfect for you.
You introduced me to every person in your life without hesitation. They would casually lean in and tell me they’d never seen you so happy before. They thanked me for coming into your life. I beamed and felt honored to be your girlfriend.
Gone were my doubts that I would ever find a decent man. You opened doors for me, you stocked your fridge with the things I like, you rubbed my back after a long day and woke me with bacon in bed. Bacon in bed! What could be better? In fact, that was a word you liked to use… you’d kiss me deeply, wrap your arms around me, and say proudly, “Who’s better than us?”
One January afternoon, I finally told you that I loved you back. We were in the midst of a steamy shower and I let go of my fears; washed them down the drain. From then on, our lives melded together seamlessly like a romantic comedy montage, the kind that runs about twenty minutes into the movie while a peppy Coldplay tune sets the tempo for all of our extra-curricular activities and shows a passage of time and increased affection (I’d like to point out here how easily I forgave the fact that Coldplay is your favorite band, choosing to focus on what a wonderful person you were in spite of your preference for average mainstream music).
Since I spent my whole adult life before you with a man whose idea of a perfect weekend was a packed bong, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and permission to lie on the sofa in his boxers for a full 48 hours, our rom-com activities were a new treat for me. I thought such things only occurred on first or second dates before two people gave up the charade and started watching a lot of television. Our lives filled up with cooking class, dinner parties with friends, afternoons jogging together, Knicks games, long morning snuggles, road trips — all peppered with your kisses and “I love you, honey!”s.
Hello, this is what a good relationship is!, I thought to myself. Laughs and smiles and love and more good days together than bad ones. After all these years, I’ve finally had a blessing bestowed on me. He is my reward. He is my good karma personified. I am such a lucky girl.
And you told me every day that you were a lucky guy. In the cards that you wrote for me, in the flowers that you gave me, on the shelf that you dedicated for displaying mementos of our relationship, you wore your love for me like a new suit, strutting around with your chest puffed out, holding my hand and showing me off wherever we went. Then came the proposal from you that we live together. And as we discussed and dodged the grenades of a NYC-real estate minefield, you told me that you wanted to meet my parents.
My parents are saints. My parents are everything. There is no way I can overstate my love for them or their importance to me. I have only introduced them to one other man in my life, my ex of ten years, and I didn’t anticipate involving them in anything similar for a very long time.
But you had proven yourself to be so worthy. When we were apart, we were both usually crafting something thoughtful for the other one. We took care of each other evenly and compromised in the most elegant of ways. There were no fights, only civilly resolved conversations full of respect. We had clearly both graduated from “UHT,” a phrase that your sister taught me — the University of Home Training. And because I was already so friendly with your entire family, who lives nearby, I thought it was only fair to hop on a plane and visit mine.
My mother told me later that you announced to my parents that you knew I was “the one” from the moment we met. Hearing that left me breathless, reeling from the combination of joy and terror I felt from you sharing something so personal with them.
After what I considered to be a smashing success of a trip, you sent my parents a card that read, “Meeting you caused me to fall in love with your daughter even more than I was before, which I didn’t think was possible.” They were hooked on you, and thrilled for us. They breathed a sigh of relief and replaced their overdramatic mental picture of their small-town daughter dating strangers in a big, dangerous city with a pleasant image of her paired with a strong, quality man whom she would feel safe and stable with. In fact, as you shook my dad’s hand goodbye, he said, “Take care of my little girl”, and you said, “I intend to, sir.”
I hope you can understand, as I look back on that trip from three weeks ago, that I’m a little confused right now.
I’m lying in my bed, surrounded by the piles of my things from your house that your friend dropped off last night. Thinking about my birthday party on June 2 that you and I had already planned. About our Governor’s Ball tickets on June 24th. About you telling me that you’d been shopping for plane tickets for us to go back to my hometown on July 4th. Future plans, now aborted.
I’m holding the card that you included with my things, so very different from the others I’ve regularly received from you filled with sentences like “The thought of you spreads a smile across my face as I walk down the sidewalk,” “I look forward to our years together,” “My love for you grows fonder everyday,” and “You make me so very happy.”
This one reads, “I am full of shame for how I’ve treated you. I will always be sorry for what I did. Please know that I wish you the best. Be well.”
You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I need to know the reasons you broke up with me. Some of my friends think you cheated. Some of them think you’re a psychopath who was engaging in an intricate act of theatre all along. Some think that you just snapped on that dinner cruise, the one I had bought you for your birthday, snapped like a rubber band and rocketed to the point of no return. I don’t know what to think and I don’t want to speculate. That game has already proven to be impossible to win.
You told me that my anger is unattractive. Actually, every part of me is unattractive right now. My hair is unwashed; my eyeliner is old and tear-smudged. I haven’t slept in days. There’s a collage of faces staring back at me from my Facebook page, people that you steamrolled into my world with abandon, people I can only assume I’ll never see again. There’s a stack of confused messages in my email inbox from my people, my people that you sucked into your world, people who were big fans of you, fans of us together, people who you’ve hurt, just like you’ve hurt me.
I have nothing to say to them. No explanation for your sudden change of heart. I’m left alone with my questions, my unattractive anger, piles of my returned stuff, and a card telling me to be well.