Lessons in Love

People say ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ These people are usually women. And these women are usually sorting through a break-up. It seems that men can get out of a relationship without even a ‘Goodbye,’ But, apparently, women have to either get married or learn something. Why are we in such a rush to move from confused to Confucius? Do we search for lessons to lessen the pain? -Carrie, Sex and the City

We’ve finally reached the beginning of my past relationships. This is an entry about my first real love, my first real “adult” relationship, and also the longest relationship I have ever had (except for Match hopefully). We dated for 2 years, almost to the day, and trying to condense this into one blog is going to be a challenge. Trying to describe how I felt about my first heartbreak might prove to be even harder.

It was the summer of my freshman year at San Francisco State University, and I was sick of men. I had a really crazy freshman year full of drunk hookups, one night stands, and guys who didn’t know the meaning of the word hell no! I briefly dated a boy second semester, but we were more friends than anything, and we spent half our blurred 3 month relationship yelling and screaming at each other in my dorm room. We broke up when school got out and I swore off men. I had the bright idea of taking summer school, so I was completely stressed out. I decided to make the hour and a half trek to visit my extended family in Napa for the 4th of July. I wanted nothing to do with guys so when my cousin had the bright idea to set me up with her boyfriend’s friend I wanted no part in it. Still, Mr. Deeds was out, and I couldn’t wait to see it, so I grudgingly agreed to meet the friend. That’s when he pulled up in his 99 Mustang GT, complete with a custom flame paint job and I couldn’t stop myself from cracking jokes. That’s when Flame Boy rolled down the window.

He was a very cute guy, and completely my type at the time. Short black spiky hair, big smile, and fun. He took my jokes about his car in stride, and we ended up clicking. We started dating right away, but it was long distance so it was rough. I drove all the way to Napa every weekend to see him, even though he worked weekends, so we didn’t actually spend much time together in the beginning. Still, from day 1 something felt different with him, and I was unbelievably happy. I felt like I had someone I could really talk to, and I didn’t get tired of hearing more.

We used to talk the entire long drive and then we’d talk all night once I got to his place. I remember telling my roommate at the time I couldn’t believe how much he’d call me and how happy he was to talk to me. I was falling in love!

About five months into our relationship, Flame Boy and his roommate needed a third roommate, or they’d have to move out of the house they were renting. I was really hesitant to move; I had never lived with a boy before, and I had very uptight, very religious grandparents helping me out with school and living expenses. I was dreading discussing it with them, and I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do. Yes I loved FB, but was I ready to live with him? I was only 19, and I still had my whole life ahead of me. Sure, I knew he was serious about me-he’d even bought me a ring, which I wore on my right hand. It was a gold ring, with a heart shaped sapphire, and not at all something that I liked, except for the color of the sapphire. Still, I’d never been in love, and I’d certainly never had a ring bought for me. I was just thrilled he bought me something, so I wore it proudly, despite how ugly it was.

So after a lot of talking, and a few arguments with my family, I eventually moved in with Flame Boy, against my better judgment. I started work as a veterinary technician where I did everything from prepping animals for surgery to monitoring their pulse oximeter . Getting that job was a pivotal point in my relationship with FB. I used to come home from work so excited about the day, bubbling with stories of what had happened in the OR and on the prep table. He used to make fun of my excitement and roll his eyes at my enthusiasm. He’d cut me off and say he didn’t feel like hearing my “puppy stories”.

Not only did I have a high stress job, but for the first 4 months of our roommate-dom, I was forced to commute to San Francisco 5 days a week for school. I spent so much time stuck in gridlock traffic, I would come home from work and collapse. That’s when the fights started with Flame Boy. He was working evenings, and I was gone all day, taking grueling classes like calculus. When summer came, it was a relief, and we fell back into a good pattern of our previous affection.

Still, even in that first year, I couldn’t help shaking the feeling that something was unbalanced. It felt like I had so much more that I sacrificed, so much more that I gave to our relationship. I moved away from all the friends I had made at SFSU, and endured a grueling commute, all so FB and his roommate would be able to make rent. I ended up transferring schools, to Sonoma State, and I was scared of starting over with a brand new school, new teachers, a new life.

I met Best Friend one of my first days of school that August of 2003, and I immediately clicked with him and his friends. I started coming home happy instead of sad and stressed. I started getting invites to parties, and I started feeling like I belonged. I made some great friends at SSU, some of whom I still talk with to this day. I don’t regret for a minute my decision to transfer schools, though looking back I regret the original reason-moving for FB, not myself.

As I started to find my niche at SSU, Flame Boy and I started to grow further and further apart. I would invite him to meet my friends, but he never wanted to. He preferred to spend all his time watching tv, from the minute he came home till bedtime. I would go to bed early, and almost always alone. He’d fall asleep on the couch and I’d toss and turn, unable to sleep without him. I remember trying to get him to come to bed, and sometimes he’d just prefer the couch. I would try to ask him what was wrong, because I could tell something was bothering him, but he’d never talk about it. He’d just say how much he loved me, and that he couldn’t wait till I was done with school so he could hurry up and marry me. Still, the words felt empty because there was little affection to go with them.

When FB did pay me attention, it was generally to criticize me. The comments started off small, things like teasing me that he could make better cookies, or he could cook better than I could. Eventually they got downright mean, when he started commenting on my weight. I was depressed, I was sad, and it showed. I started gaining weight, but I was not that heavy. Still, I remember when FB said one of the meanest things that a man has ever said to me. I was getting ready for bed, and I was in my undies brushing my teeth. He was sitting in bed, and looked at me and said, “You know, you can really see the cellulite on your butt. Hmm.” Just like that. I was mortified. I put on pjs and went to bed, where I cried myself to sleep. The little comments about my weight happened more and more, and he’d also comment on the way I dressed, how I wore my hair, my lack of makeup. He started showing a very superficial side of himself that I didn’t know he had. Then I started to really analyze other things between the two of us. He was becoming more and more a roommate, and not a lover. When a month went by and we didn’t so much as kiss besides a peck on the lips, I said something. I asked him what the deal was, and if he wasn’t attracted to me. He said of course he was, and that he loved me. Still, when I would beg and plead and we’d finally do something, if he heard a noise, or could come up with an excuse to stop he would, and we wouldn’t go back to it.

A week before our 2 year anniversary I gave him an ultimatum. I told him I was sick of throwing myself at him, and sick of being rejected. I was tired of him teasing me and calling me a “nympho” because I wanted sex from my boyfriend more than once a month. I’m sorry, REALLY? I think I was just normal. I told him I wanted him to kiss me, to be passionate with me, to show me that I was more than just his friend who he slept next to. I asked him what was wrong, and I asked him to communicate with me. He just said he’d try harder, and didn’t discuss it further.

After waiting a week, nothing was different, nothing changed between us, in fact, he was more distant. 2 days before our 2 year anniversary, I said I had enough. I said nothing had changed, and I wanted answers now. I told him how much I loved him, and how I missed our closeness. I told him he was my best friend and I wanted to be with him, but I didn’t want to be in a passionless relationship. He just looked at me coldly and told me he hadn’t been in love with me for over a year. And that was that. No further explanation, he just said he knew from day 1 that he wasn’t going to marry me, and that he had just been going along with everything because I was such a good friend. He even cried, but he never really explained what had changed, what had caused him to stop loving me.

I think one of the hardest things about the breakup with FB was that he took my dog. Since I was basically homeless, I didn’t have a place for the dog, so he justified having him. He was my baby too, so I was miserable. He said I could visit him whenever I wanted, but it was so hard to see him. Still, I did make the trip to Napa to see Monkey once during that first year apart, and it was really hard. Just like a divorce, we shared the dog, and I’d see him as often as I could. No matter how many times I’d go pick up Monkey, I would get overwhelmed with a sense of anger at him. All I wanted to do was scream at FB and say why did you lead me on for 2 years? Why waste my time like that? I wouldn’t talk to Flame, I’d just get the dog and leave as quickly as I could. When I finally decided I just needed to get FB out of my life forever, he offered to give me Monkey for good. I was elated, because I was planning on fighting him for custody, but he just gave in. Maybe he felt like he owed me that much? He was still so secretive, I never really found out what was going on with him, just that he fell out of love with me, and I guess he even stopped loving Monkey too.

When Flame and I broke up, I didn’t know who I was, FB had been my whole world. When I started going to SSU, I realized how unhappy I had actually been that second year of dating FB, and I started to figure out who I was again. Best Friend was there for me, and so were the rest of my friends. I fell apart that summer, but I think it had to happen, so I could rebuild myself. I didn’t like who I had become-this girl who was always trying to please her man, to do everything just right for him. I wanted to be me again, and he helped me do that by letting me go.

Last night, as Monkey and I greeted Match at the door eagerly, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am, and how different things are now. I’m in love again, and I know it’s real. This time, I know who I am, and I haven’t lost sight of that. And Match is the male version of myself, and like me, in the past he sacrified who he was, trying to please the people in his life. We both know how important it is to not lose sight of who we are, while growing together as something new. So I’m done with my past, and very eagerly looking forward to my future.


    Fairy tales suck

    cheers to your new life 🙂 it’s good sometimes to look back and see that things have changed for the better.


    Great post! It is really heart breaking having that first break up when it is someone you really were into. Someone you really loved. I would say that your attitude is perfect going forward. You are going to be able make it when you look at it that way. Learn from your past but don’t dwell on it and look forward to the future.


    Yeah, I never read this! It makes me sad he kept your dog on top of everything.

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