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11/27/2010

Time

Six months ago today, I took my 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.

Big mistake. 

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.

Again.

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

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow I never knew the whole story. I cant imagine what it felt like to hear those words when you only just picked up your whole life to go live with him. It must have been gutwrenching. Im so sorry you went through that but it sounds like youve got a sense of humor about it all which helps. Its too bad this fool didnt know what he had but his loss will be some amazing mans gain.

Anonymous said...

well he had one thing right. you definitely deserved better. onward and UPWARD.
:-)

Krissy said...

Hi. My sister told me about your blog because I went through something similar. I admire how honest you have been about what happened to you. Sharing something so personal could really help someone else. Like me!! Good luck out there and when you make those pork chops, please post the magic recipe!

jessica said...

I can't believe it's been 6 months! Good on you for getting back out there. The guy that's perfect for you is waiting. You'll know him when you meet him because he won't be stupid enough to let you go. <3

Anonymous said...

I know it's hard but be thankfull he didn't come back to you. It sounds like you are both better off without each other. He seems very controlling and life is too short to be miserable.

Anonymous said...

Your an amazing story teller. This had me both crying and laughing. I wish it had a happy ending for you. On to the next chapter!

Anonymous said...

I hope you had a Good Thanksgiving it seems like you had at least 1 thing to be thankful for and that is this breakup. It is better now then after you are married trust me.

Kevin said...

I hope I don't offend you with this question, but do you think he truly loved you in the first place? Maybe it was infatuation disguised as love. I'm glad to see you opening up to the idea of dating again. You are too special to settle for just anyone.

Anonymous said...

this makes me sad
:(

Anonymous said...

Reading this, one word pops to mind, and that is "Cruel." It is unbelievably cruel to propose marriage and invite someone to move to a brand new city so they are totally dependent on you for the roof over their head and their transportation, only to treat them like an unwanted guest and unceremoniously inform them of your one-sided desire to end your engagement, THEN punish them to stew alone in your house while you go off and decide their fate.

Short of having of being unfaithful to him (which I do not believe you were), you could not have caused this reaction. There simply is no justification for behaviour this careless. This smacks of utter cruelty, childish immaturity, or both, on his part. Was he quite younger than you, or did he not have experience with adult relationships? It sounds like you dodged a bullet, but that does not make it any less tragic. I sincerely hope time heals your wounds.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, Jen. Once you start meeting new people, it gets easier to forget all this.

Happy to be FREE :-) said...

This reminds me of my EX, who I call "The Anchor". He had issues too and as much as I tried to help, I couldn't lift him up all he did was drag me down. I think he resented me for it and had too much pride maybe it is the same for yours.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that people are being so touchy-feeley here, but everyone is tiptoeing around the actual problem. How could you let someone treat you like that? AND hope he would come back??? Thank you Sir, may I have another! If I see a doormat, I'm gonna wipe my feet on it. Maybe he thought the same.

former roomie said...

Anonymous, go peddle your crazy someplace else. If you think Jen's a doormat, you obviously don't know her. She's one of the strongest females I know. She's exactly the kind of person you want on your side when times are tough because she will take on your troubles as if they were her own and fix them. She has a HUGE heart and he took advantage of her generosity in every way possible. If you knew the extent of his "issues" that she has so kindly omitted from these break-up posts, you wouldn't be defending him.

Anonymous said...

We are looking forward to reading your Dating Adventures once again. It was nice that you had settled down but those stories were always so funny!!!!! :^)

Anonymous said...

do you think he's dating again?

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Wow, thanks for the comments everybody.

Anon #1, #2, Jess, #3, #4, #8: Thanks for the kind words.

Krissy: Glad my story could help -- hang in there, it does get easier. I'll let you know if I have any luck with my pork chops!

Greg: I heart you. You're pretty amazing yourself.

Anon #5: Hope you had a good Thanksgiving too! I kind of skipped it myself -- wasn't feeling particularly thankful for this shitty year. And agreed, better he broke up with me now, but it's kind of a crap thing to have to be grateful about.

Kev: No, not offended. I actually don't think he loved me, which is hard to admit, but it's the only explanation for this mess.

Anon #6: Sorry for making you sad! It made me sad too (which btw is the understatement of the century).

Anon #7: Thanks. He isn't the person I thought I knew, so I can't say if he intended to be cruel, but I can say it was hands-down the most cruel thing that's ever happened to me. He was actually 4 years older than me and had been married before. So you can rule out immaturity and inexperience. But if you ever figure it out, let me know.

Happy: You may be on to something.

Anon #9: I'm not a doormat, I just trusted him. But I do take responsibility for my own bad judgement there. If you read my original breakup post, you'll see that.

Roomie: Thanks, love.

Anon #10: Glad you enjoyed reading them -- I guess that's the silver lining of a brutal date -- a good story to tell! And I'm not the only one who meets freaks -- remind me to blog sometime about a good friend who's first date took the liberty of printing a list of her local gynecologists. No joke.

Anon #11: It's really none of my business if he's started dating again. For his sake though, I hope he's sorted out his life before he invites someone new to share it. In hindsight, I wish that's what he'd done with me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have been through the ringer with him. In all fairness, there could be nothing you did that would justify the way he ended things - unless you are leaving out some looming felony convictions (and that is a joke!). If he had experience, he would know better but obviously he has an issue with the way he treats others. Are you surprised he is divorced? His level of maturity appears to be years behind yours. I am sorry he did this to you and you are right, he needs to deal with his issues before he outs them on someone else.
You sound together and you have your whole life in front of you. Do what YOU wish now!!!

Nicole said...

I just was looking at yoru Facebook page to see if you had posted any wedding pictures yet. Jen, I had no idea all this had happened. I know you have heard this 100X by now, but I am sorry you had to go through it. Its extra mean that he lead you on just as you were getting your social life back after taking care of your mom. Did he give you any explanation at all?

chris said...

To misquote Kanye, there's 1000 him's, there's only 1 of you.

Anonymous said...

Its raining today so I went back and read your Break-Up articles. Sucks that this happened and I don't mean to be a dick here and have the women's league jump all over me again. But I still don't get why you put up with it? It seems to me your relationship was over when He took his ring off first. How did you not see that?
I didn't know men wore rings to symbolize their engagement, but it sounds like he's giving you a pretty big hint when he stops wearing it, imho.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #12: Ha, no -- no felony convictions here. I tried not to worry too much about the fact that he was divorced. On our first date he told me he would re-marry and wanted have more kids, so I figured his marriage couldn't have been too bad if he was open to doing it again. I hope he now realizes he should stop making commitments he can't keep.

Nicole: Thanks, and good to hear from you! There really wasn't a concrete explanation, which is what made it so hard. When this all went down, my best friend's husband told me I shouldn't ask how he could do this to me, because our relationship was never about me. It revolved around him -- his timetable, his family, his issues. He didn't think about what his decision would do to me (or my life) at all. That's probably the most reasonable explanation I've heard for HOW he could have done it. The question still remains on why.

Chris, aka Kanye: Aw, thanks.

Anon #9/13: Don't worry. The Women's League isn't after you... yet. Besides, how would they find you, all cloaked in anonymity? To answer your questions:

1) Why did I put up with it?
I'm a doormat! Kidding. The simple answer is that I loved him. The more complicated answer is that I thought he wasn't thinking clearly. He disagreed, of course. But increasingly, I found myself making excuses for him and rationalizing his behavior because of some difficult circumstances in his life. At times, I'd get frustrated, and then we would argue. I felt those circumstances put him in a funk, and that once they were resolved, he'd snap out of it, and we'd be a stronger couple for having gone through tough times together.

2) Why didn't I take the hint when he took off his ring?
I actually did. I'd been living with him for just 2 weeks when he went to Long Island to help his mom with a furniture delivery. What was supposed to be a 1 day trip, turned into 3. The night he returned, I noticed he didn't have the ring on. I initially thought he forgot. But when over a week went by and the ring was still sitting on his dresser, you bet your ass I asked him about it! He said it got in the way when he typed. I wouldn't have cared, if the ring was a gift that he didn't want. But he specifically asked for it. I used to wear a man's silver Tiffany ring, and for Christmas, I had it cleaned for him and engraved with our initials because he liked it so much. I was away visiting my parents in FL when it arrived, but he took a train into the city to collect my mail and his new ring. When he picked me up at JFK on New Year's Day, he was already wearing it, on his left ring finger like a wedding band. He wore it every day after that. So I knew it meant something awful when he took it off -- but he brushed me off repeatedly. That messed with my head.