engagement ring off. Well, actually, slammed it down on a coffee table, if you want to be accurate about it.
It seems like yesterday, and like a lifetime ago.
If you told me when I woke up that my day would end like that, I'd have laughed, even though we’d been “off” since the minute I moved in. We weren't always like that, mind you. For the majority of our relationship, we were great. But once we lived together, we stopped communicating (except to bicker about home improvement), he stopped bringing me flowers (he used to give me a bunch every Tuesday like clockwork), he took off the ring I’d given him (which he once said meant so much). He refused to attend family functions. He stopped opening doors, holding hands, you name it.
Whether he lost that loving feeling on his own, or it was a reaction because he thought I'd lost it first, one thing was clear: He was not interested in me. At all.
Our entire relationship went downhill the day the moving truck pulled up. At the time, I spoke to friends who said this was normal -- part of the growing pains of living together. I spoke to him about it too. And at first, he was apologetic -- I deserved better, he said. Then, he started ignoring the situation entirely, like it was all in my imagination. Finally, we started to argue.
I’d just assumed we would work everything out. Instead, it blew up after just 2 months of living in his home.
What’s funny is I actually thought things were getting better. We’d just celebrated our 1 year “winkiversary” with a day trip to Mohegan Sun and then had brunch in Stamford. Money was tight, so instead of getting him the biggest external hard drive I could find for his extensive music collection (a thoughtful, if not romantic, gift), I settled on a card, which professed my love for him and reiterated my commitment to our relationship.
Two days before I took my ring off, he made a detour on the way home from picking me up at the train station. I’d been coughing for a while, so he decided it was time for me to see a doctor. “Someone needs to take care of you, for a change,” he said. As it turned out, I had bronchitis, but when we left the dr's office, I felt better. He does care about me, after all, I thought.
Then that very day, May 27th, I’d purchased his Father’s Day gift -- 2 season passes to a water park out on Long Island, where his family has a house. One for him and one for his daughter. She’d talked all winter long about taking me there so we could ride on the lazy river and eat churros together. I’d probably only have gone a few times at most, but since they spent summers out there, I thought they could really make good use of the tickets and have some fun.
I look back on that now and wonder when exactly he decided I wouldn’t be around come summer.
The end of my relationship began with a very simple question: “What are we doing this weekend?” It was Memorial Day and I was looking forward to a few days off, together, to continue what I thought was us reconnecting.
“I’m going to Long Island,” he replied firmly.
Something about the way he said it just didn’t sit right with me. So I paused a minute and asked, “Wait, YOU’RE going to Long Island, or WE’RE going to Long Island?”
“I’M going to Long Island,” he repeated. And with those 5 words, my world began to crumble.
He needed some space, he said, to decide whether or not we should continue this relationship. Nevermind, that the place he was going to clear his head would likely be chock full of people, dogs, and a baby. He didn’t need quiet time to think. He needed to get away from me.
Not long before this, I’d gotten an email from the catering manager at Metrazur, the restaurant where I’d hoped to host our wedding reception. It overlooks Grand Central Terminal, the same place where our relationship began. It would have been a lovely and romantic place to get married (pity you couldn’t make it). Anyway, she’d invited us to come in for dinner to try their food out before putting any deposits down. At the time, he brushed it off, but that night, he brought it up again.
“And YOU want us to have dinner there?” he stood to emphasize the point, practically laughing at how naïve I was. “WE’RE NOT GETTING MARRIED!”
Well, this was news to the World’s Dumbest Fiancée! At that moment, the tears stopped and my blood began to boil. I could not believe my ears. In the very same spot where he once proposed, he ended our relationship. Talk about coming full-circle.
I yanked the ring off my finger, slammed it down on the table and yelled, “Well then why the FUCK am I wearing this?”
I never saw the ring again.
I spent that weekend alone, in his condo, while he was off “thinking.” He left me his car, but I had nowhere to go. Pathetic, I know. Whenever I’ve told this story to my family and friends, invariably, the person asks, “Why didn’t you call me??”
The answer is that I thought he would come back.
I don’t know what it’s like for guys, but for girls, I think Hollywood has us convinced that guys come back. Time and again. Generally with grand romantic gestures. You know how it goes. He does something rash, he is miserable, the music swells, and he admits his life would be nothing without her. Then they kiss. The end.
Well, maybe I AM a moron because I truly thought the same would happen with us. I didn’t want to bring everyone into the drama, only to have him come back, sorry and looking to reconcile. “Yeah, um, you know that guy who made me cry that you now hate? Ooops, just kidding! Oh, and thanks again for the soup tureen -- the wedding's gonna be awesome!”
No! I wanted them to like him! So I said nothing, until I knew it was over.
That took a week.
An excruciating week. I wanted to fight for our relationship and fix things. He did not. I said I still loved him. He wasn’t sure. In the end, he wasn’t conflicted. He wasn’t emotional. He wasn’t sorry. And he certainly wasn’t the guy I fell in love with. He was just done. “Turned off,” in his words.
It’s funny, because he came into this relationship like he'd hitched a ride on the Acela. I came in on a Schwinn. Anyone you talk to would agree, I was so cautious. He set the pace on EVERYTHING -- and it was fast. He arrived at every relationship milestone, big or small, before I did. And while I was always playing catch-up, I actually enjoyed it, in a weird way. I’d finally met a guy who was upfront about how he was feeling. I could trust that, and just figure out how I felt. Knowing this, I suppose I should have seen it coming that he would also be the one to end things.
That’s a milestone too, right? Maybe more like a tombstone…
Anyway, I know, there are 3 sides to this story -- my side, his side, and the truth. I’m sure I made mistakes and I'd imagine that in his mind, the way he broke up with me is justified. And who knows? Maybe his family and friends were as glad to see me go, as mine were to see him go. He had a few big issues looming over his life before we ever met. None of which were my doing. But all of which I stupidly tried to help fix.
We haven't had any contact since June, and I suspect we won’t ever. To me, he's a heart-breaking memory. And I’m pretty sure I’m dead to him, if he thinks of me at all. It's just as well. I suppose if he’s done me ANY favors in all of this mess, it’s that. None of those pesky, regrettable text messages or phone calls that drag on for months In that sense, it was a clean break. But only in that sense. And while my relationship ended 6 months ago when I took my ring off, it wasn’t until I moved back into my own apt that I officially started thinking clearly.
I got my life back in August. Now it’s time to move on with it. Again. To meet new people. Again. To date. Ugh.
I should probably issue an apology to the first 5 guys I meet. It won’t work out. And it’s not them -- it’s me. No REALLY, it’s me. I wish somebody made dating palette cleansers. Just pop a few to wash away the past and be minty-fresh for the future.
The thought of dating anyone new once made me sick to my stomach. I still don’t love the idea, but it’s time. Time to dust off those dreadful online dating profiles and open the floodgates to all freaks and losers who live within a 50 mile radius. Maybe I'll find a gem in there.
You know, winter’s coming up -- if I’m lucky, I’ll meet a guy that still believes in that grand romantic gesture. Like peeing my name in the snow.
And when things get more serious, and I’m ready to invite him over for dinner, I’ve got just the dish. There’s a famous recipe called Engagement Chicken. It originally came from the Barefoot Contessa. Legend has it that staffers at Glamour magazine would whip this up for a cozy dinner at home with their boyfriends, and poof! He’d pop the question.
I won't be making that. But a hearty helping of PLEASE Don’t Be An Asshole Pork Chops just might be in order.
Wish me luck...
tags: breakup, dating