I've spent a lot of my time "blowing off" girls, but, in a much more diplomatic term, "breaking up" with girls has never been easy for me. I remember the first time I broke up with a girl in the 8th grade and I remember thinking it wouldn't be that difficult. What I didn't foresee was being so affected by the reaction. Once she started crying, I couldn't believe I could cause such pain in a person. It was a profound and startling feeling. You often hear about empowerment in a positive way, but there was no such connotation here. I never wanted to break up with a girl again. Which may explain my reluctance – to this day – to even get into a relationship.
Recently, I had one of the most traumatic breakups of my life. She wanted to get married. I was 34. She was 31. We'd been dating for over a year and a half. It's what most people do when they're that age. Her dad had even ribbed me on Christmas eve when a diamond commercial had played on TV. I tried for several months to convince myself that she was "the one" and that the need to convince myself only stemmed from a reluctance to part with my "bachelor" past. The problem was that there really wasn't a problem. We didn't get into arguments. We had no financial issues. We shared similar interests. She was smart, attractive, caring, and she loved me unconditionally.
What was it then?
Was it because of some kind of Tiger Mom upbringing that had me constantly demanding more? Was it because of insecurities that manifested in myself? Was it because of never-ending sexual conquests? Was it the alcohol? Was it her? Was she not who I was looking for?
I guess you could say it was all of it and none of it. I count myself as a romantic. I loved Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I sobbed during The Notebook. Even while growing up, I always envisioned endless amounts of passion and romance in my future marriage. Maybe Hollywood had given me an unattainable image of what that relationship should look like. When Adam Sandler comes out of the airplane cabin to sing Drew Barrymore a song in The Wedding Singer – that's something I envisioned myself doing.
What it comes down to is that I could never see myself getting down on one knee and saying with all of my heart how much I wanted her to spend the rest of her life with me. As much as I tried to convince myself otherwise, I wanted to FEEL like they felt in those movies. And I didn't. I don't fantasize much at all anymore. Profoundly hurting someone adds a certain level of cynicism.
There are just some things that you can't account for when you imagine the traits you look for in a woman; some things that you can't explain why it isn't there. I didn't feel that kind of love.
I hope that she never believes for one instance that it was her fault. Or that she didn't do enough. Sadly, I know this is the way she felt.
Knowing that someone wanted to make a sacred lifelong commitment to you and hurting them in the most emotional and deepest of ways is something that I'll never get over.
Not everyone is made for each other. I just wish I had known sooner. On one of the many nights where I was out drinking myself into the ground in hopes that I could numb the pain and guilt, a friend tried to console me and told me something that actually did make me feel better: "she may be in pain now, but one day she will be thankful. She will have met someone who will give her the love she deserves. And that wouldn't have happened if you had stayed together."
There's a great 80s song by Expose called, "I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me". It starts, "I hear you're taking the town again, having a good time, with all your good time friends. I don't think that you think of me, you're on your own now, and I'm alone and free."
I think of her all the time.
I know that she thinks I'm out there "having a good time," but nothing could be further from the truth. In the video, while she's singing those lyrics, I AM that guy being represented. I hope she knows that she may be "alone" in some ways, but she is "free" in so many more. Hurting someone I cared so deeply about was not easy, but I must remember that she WILL get over me. What gives me comfort - that my friend helped me see - is imagining her walking down the aisle one day and staring into the eyes of a man who loves her as much as she loves him. It's the very least she deserves. I'm sorry that it couldn't be me. But I hope that I can stop being sorry when that moment arrives for her.
And in that moment, I'll be a distant memory.