relationships


fool: a person who keeps doing the same thing and expects different results. ~Albert Einstein

After 6 months of being engaged, of trying to convince myself that the wedding was the thing I was getting stuck up on and not the act of marrying Dexter, I finally started getting honest with myself. I wrote in my journal:

“The truth speaks to us in whispers.”

My follow-up to that statement is ignore it long enough and it will hit you like a motherfucking train. So I came home one day after work, told Dexter about Billy, explained that I needed some time and space to get perspective on things and in order to do that, I needed to move out. Just for a month.

Then I gave back the ring. I told Dexter to hold onto it and we would re-evaluate the engagement after my sabbatical. Dexter was understanding. He was astute enough to know that I needed to do this, for the sake of our relationship, so he supported it.

The next step was telling my family and friends. The only problem was it was the day before one of my best friend’s wedding, which was a 3-day affair, out of town. I went to the wedding alone, but in order to avoid detracting from the event, I wore my ring and told people Dexter couldn’t make it due to work obligations.

The morning of the wedding, I called my mom and like all moms, she immediately knew something was up. So I told her Dexter and I were taking a little break.

“So you’re breaking up.”

“No, I just said we’re taking ‘a break.’ It’s not permanent.

“Okay, but let me just remind you, it can get lonely being single and you’re not getting any younger.”

In retrospect, the episode makes me laugh, mainly because I had expected unconditional support from my mother when I called her up. I should have known better. I curtly thanked her for the chat and told her I had to go. Then I hung up the phone and started bawling. After a good 5 minutes, I pulled it together and went back to my hotel room. I put on my running clothes and got “lost” on a farm road in the middle of nowhere. I kept asking myself the same thing: am I crazy? Am I doing the right thing? Or am I just being a fool?

I didn’t come to any conclusions. But I did feel better.

I was fortunate enough that my best friend from college was also at the wedding. And she was gracious enough to allow me to stay with her and her husband for that evening, without asking any questions. The last thing I wanted to do was be alone in a hotel room at friend’s wedding. If I can say anything about my friends, it’s that in such moments, they know how to circle the wagons. I went to the room, got dressed, and made my merry way to the wedding’s kickoff cocktail hour.

I’ve always had a blasé toleration of weddings. Since I’ve never dreamed of one for myself, am not a conservatively religious being, and I am too pragmatic for all the pomp and circumstance they assume, what they really offer me is the opportunity to socialize and drink. So that’s what I did.

The pendulum swung from me bawling in the business center of the hotel to me floating around this Gatsby-like affair with an incredible lightness of being. The bars had been lifted. I was in love with life.

Now technically, even though I was wearing an engagement ring, I was free to conduct myself however I saw fit. I didn’t give much thought to the fact that no one at the wedding knew of my current status with Dexter.

With my mother’s “expiring milk carton” comment fresh in my mind, I became immediately fixated on the topic of discussion amongst all the ladies (married and single alike) at the wedding. The hot orthopedic surgeon. Within five minutes of starting a conversation with him, I had him crouched down before me, examining my ankle and calf.

While I am marginally attractive, there were certainly more beautiful women at the wedding than me. I did, however, have the advantage of a significantly-sized engagement ring, which the hot doctor said he didn’t notice until much later in the evening. By the end of the evening, we were making out against his car in the parking lot of the hotel. And in my mind, I was explicitly holding up my middle finger and directing it at my mother.

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Nonsense: bullshit

Love doesn’t end.

I saw Dexter. And it was still there. Whatever we had, “it” was there.

Love doesn’t end. There is no beginning and there is no end. To say “I’ve loved you before I even met you” is the truth. And if you’ve ever loved a person, you don’t stop loving them.

The phrase “to fall out of love” is bullshit. It is antithetical. It is a contradiction. It refutes the postulation of love. If you fall “out of love” you never loved the person in the first place.

I might have changed, become a little more enlightened, realized I wanted different things from my life and my relationship. But all the reasons I fell in love with Dexter still exist. And I will always love him. If he hurts, I will still hurt and if he’s happy, I’m happy. Always.

repose:

1. freedom from activity (work or strain or responsibility)

2. the absence of mental stress or anxiety

3. a disposition free from stress or emotion; calmness; tranquillity

It’s been a year now since I’ve seen Dexter. He’s moved on. I’ve moved on, and evolved. If I see him, as I should in the near future, will I have repose? I have been anticipating this moment. I already have from good sources that I am more attractive, thinner, younger and more delicate than his current someone and this alone assuages my curious mind and petulant ego. But I pray that I have repose and espouse the same grace and goodwill when I see him (as I am certain I will very soon) as I had when I was falling in love and in a relationship with him.

(more…)

hindsight: perception of the significance and nature of events after they have occurred

There is only one way I can write this post: as a third party, condemning the acts of me, the accused, without providing an opportunity for defense.

Exhibit #1: The first night I met D, I felt an unmistakable attraction for him* and I acted on it by flirting with him, even though I was in a monogamous, committed relationship with S. More importantly, D was thoroughly drunk and obnoxious.

Alcohol has always presented a challenge for my father, who vacillates from drinking in excess to not drinking at all. He is also known for making the most obnoxious of comments and this aspect of his personality has been the source of reoccurring embarrassment for my family.

*Note: There is a school of thought called schema therapy that says in a relationship, one person’s schema can trigger another person’s schema and escalate repressed childhood issues. Schema therapists assert that head-over-heals romantic attraction is often a sign of bad schema chemistry because we essentially associate the new partner with the parent or adult figure that caused us childhood discomfort. More on this later.

Exhibit #2: For months, I continued the flirtation, while still in my other relationship. This included some provocative instant messaging as well as coffee and lunch outings.

Cheating does not necessitate physical sexual action. This is one of those silly little loopholes people exploit all the time. I should have ended things with S by this point.

Exhibit #3: S read an email I sent to one of my ex’s revealing my feelings that I didn’t believe S was an intellectual equal.

I was sending an ex (fuck buddy) an email explaining why me and S weren’t right???

S was a late-acting rebound to J and Dr. T, who both did superb jobs mind-fucking me. After J, I was afraid of subjecting myself to an intellectually provocative male. I knew S provided a very non-threatening relationship which I essentially controlled.

Exhibit #4 : D revealed during one of our common “the question game” chats that his greatest fear was not having children and I responded by setting D up with one of my best friend’s Liz, who had a similar fear.

I hate this one. At this time in my life, children instilled a state of panic in me. I had no idea if I ever wanted children. Why did I set D up with Liz? I’m still working on my motivation for this move. Maybe I was simply committing a nice act. Or maybe this was my way sabatoging a relationship with D? Or was I testing his interest in me?

Exhibit #5 : Upon introducing D to Liz, he expressed an interest in her and I proceeded to feed him with reasons why the two of them wouldn’t work out.

Friends don’t sabotage friends. I have always had a competitive relationship with Liz, ever since Peter, who we met at the same time. I told Liz that if she didn’t make a move for him, I would. So she did. No big deal. I wasn’t interested in him besides sex. They started dating and still no big deal BUT at the Halloween party, when Liz made the comment about the length of my “naughty schoolgirl” skirt, something to the effect of my skirt was a little “slutty” and maybe that was the reason why she was in a relationship with Peter and I wasn’t, she left a scar.

Never diss a girlfriend with the sheer intent of getting in a dig. Maybe D was payback for that comment. I gave her Peter. I wasn’t giving her D.

prologue: a cheap and easy way of outlining a backstory so as to not bog down the first chapter with too much detail

Prior to my relationship with Dexter, I had said “I love you” to two other men (besides my father). The first time was said in a state of guilt and the second was said in a state of denial.

The first was to John. I had met him at an alumni homecoming party. He was several years older than me. We were introduced by a mutual friend. We got on the topic of jobs and he said he was an attorney. I looked him over thoroughly and replied, “I don’t see any scales.”

He looked like Mr. Big. I told him he looked like Mr. Big. He laughed and asked if that was a compliment. I said “Definitely, he’s a huge hit with women my mom’s age.” We didn’t stop talking until midnight when we ended up at his hotel room. At first, he turned down my advances for sex. He said he didn’t sleep with girls he barely knew. The only men I’ve found this to be true of is by-choice virgins. Ten minutes later he was knocking on his friend’s hotel room door for condoms.

The next day he dropped me off at my hotel. I jumped out of the car and said something like, “It was fun.” A few days later I got a call from him. He got my number from his fraternity brother, who got my number from my friend. From that point onward, he was in full-on hunter mode.

One of the qualities I was initially attracted to was his ability to debate. That was also the reason I dated him for as long as I did. Over the course of 9 months, I must have tried to break up with him at least a dozen times. Somehow he always talked me out of it.

At the time I started dating him, I was 24 and very unsure about a lot of things in my life. Uncertainty is bad place to start a relationship. It makes it easy to latch onto to whatever “solid” objects appear.

I was also traveling a lot for work. He would get very upset when I didn’t “check in” with him. One weekend I decided to stay in Chicago and hole myself up in my hotel room. I was studying for the GMATs and didn’t want any distractions. He showed up at my office Friday afternoon, unannounced. He decided to fly in and “surprise me.”

There were other things he did, in the name of “love” or “concern.” I couldn’t talk to another guy without him getting jealous. I couldn’t go out and get drunk without him becoming concerned about my well-being. I couldn’t workout without him wondering who I was trying to look good for. The little things that were somewhat endearing in the beginning became more and more oppressive. Our arguments became more frequent. He was jealous of everything and everyone. The more he tried to control, the more I wanted to rebel. Finally I did. I cheated on him. I was in San Diego for work and I met a 20-year-old surf and ski instructor.

When I came back into town, he knew something was up. The fact that I hadn’t “checked in” gave him cause for concern. The interrogation began. I was sitting on the couch, with him hovering over me. I am a poor liar. I broke down and admitted I had kissed another guy. He became very angry. He turned over the coffee table and threw things against the wall. In that moment, all I felt was fear. And then he started crying. That’s when I told him I loved him.

Fear and guilt are two powerful emotions. He became very adept at employing them together. Whenever I was at his house, I felt the need to comply to his likings: to clean and maintain the house meticulously, to cook the meals he liked, to play the music he liked, to fold the towels the way he liked. A turning point was reached one night after work, after we had gone for a run. I got in the shower to wash off and a minute later he threw back the curtain.

“You’re not going to offer to make me dinner?”

“Excuse me?” I was standing there wet and naked.

“You know I’m hungry.”

I do not consider myself a pushover. Nor do I consider myself a submissive person. I would say that most people who know me consider me anything but. And yet somehow I became that. The breaking point came when we were in bed one night and my best guy friend (the second man to whom I would say “I love you”) called my cell. John became extremely angry. His hands ended up around my throat and he started to choke me. And then he let go. I was in my own version of sleeping with the enemy.

Certain things are very easy to see when you have the clarity of mind and perspective to do so. I know that jealousy is simply the expression of insecurity. And individuals who try to control and exert power over others are not powerful. My own insecurities and lack of relationship experience enabled this relationship from the beginning and it is not surprising that my next relationship would be completely opposite from this one.

honeymoon period: the time at the beginning of a romantic relationship marked by Utopian-like bliss

I fear the honeymoon period, for the same reason I will never try cocaine. It’s highly addictive.

Sometimes I long for the honeymoon period of a relationship, merely because the state of “falling in love” is so deliriously amazing. Kissing feels like a million little butterflies fluttering underneath your skin. Sex is a gluttonous feast of 3am and 3pm rampages – anytime, anyplace, anyhow. Your future is bright and endless with possibilities, and your job, your friends, your family, your life all seem to fade into a barely detectable backdrop of sights and sounds. Nothing else seems to exist and everything seems to levitate to new highs. Driving in the car, going to the grocery store, sitting on the couch watching TV on a Friday night all seem to be new sources of pleasure in the company of your fellow honeymooner.

Forget cocaine. Pass up the alcohol. Eschew gambling. Fall in love!

And then find yourself a good Honeymooners-anonymous support group. Why? Because with the honeymoon period comes a state of blindness (akin to a skark’s feeding frenzy, during which sharks either roll their eyes back into their head or a nictitating membrane closes over their eyes like an upside-down eyelid). During the honeymoon period, DO NOT:

  • move in together
  • make any large purchases together
  • go to Vegas and get married
  • get any tattoos with the other person’s name or picture

Wait the requisite 6 months for the honeymoon period to wear off, and if your love’s “quirky little traits” are still as endearing and little as ever, you can safely assume you’re operating with some sense of rationality.

soft landing: the act of avoiding breakup postmortem by seeking out another relationship prior to the termination of the known-to-be-doomed relationship

The soft landing is a mirage, one of those seemingly good solutions to an unpleasant experience that inevitably comes to bite the enactor in the ass. After attempting the soft landing myself and crashing with a cacaphonic thud, I now watch those who attempt it with the same silent pity as I do whenever I see a Jackass stunt performed.

My soft landing was a result of entering a relationship with my best guy friend (BGF). I knew it was destined for failure and yet I proceeded anyway: my BGF was unrelenting, the sex was amazing, and I loved him, in a best guy friend kind of way. Approximately (8) months passed between the time I started to contemplate a breakup and the day I ended things, which coincidentally was (2) days before I hooked up with the man I had spent the last (4) months flirting with at work.

My soft landing turned into a 3-year relationship that ended with several betrayals of trust (on both sides), a never-to-be-used prenup and a returned engagement ring amounting to the equivalent of a sizable down payment on a house, and me learning that the “easy way out” is never easy.

So two reasons to avoid the soft landing?

1) It’s not fair to the other person. Don’t drag him or her along while you search for the bigger and better deal in order to circumvent being alone or to continue the benefits you reap by staying in the relationship.

2) 9 times out of 10, people will soft land into a relationship that is a reaction to its predecessor. This is due to a lack of perspective and clarity, which only comes from having some time on your own to contemplate what you really want.

Bottom line, you want a soft landing? You’re better off playing seesaw with a bull.