My only other relationship with a French guy was a short-lived fling towards the end of my junior year abroad in Paris. Knowing I was leaving soon, we started off light and casual, but a month into things he broke it off. We met up late (as usual) for a drink when he told me, “I’m not in love with you; therefore, I can’t make love to you anymore.” It seemed like the most absurd excuse—since when did hooking up with a girl who was leaving the country in two months necessitate love? Offended, I downed the rest of my gin and tonic, stood up and said, “I’m going.” It was perhaps my most “Sex and the City” moment. God, I was angry.
Up until now, I’d always looked at that experience as the most ridiculous way to break up with someone. Now, in a completely ironic twist, I decided to use the same strategy to break up with Mr. Cupid.I know, you’re probably thinking, Already?! Jeez. I even said this to myself, but I knew it was right to end things with him before we got in further.
I think I knew from the beginning that my heart wasn’t in it with him, but I pushed myself to like him because, for the first time in a while, I had the opportunity to meet a nice guy who made things simple. In New York, it was so easy to compromise your standards because of the seemingly impossible dating scene. I often dated guys longer that I would have normally with the excuse, “No guy is perfect, you can’t ask for everything.” Meaning, I put up with dudes with disgusting apartments, cheapskates, men who didn’t share my interests but were hot, intelligent guys with slacker jobs, etc.
So, I did the same thing with Mr. Cupid. I told myself that there is no such thing as “the perfect guy,” and I let a lot of things slide. For one thing (and I know this sounds superficial), I hated his apartment. It drives me crazy how guys with sizable salaries can actually rent a nice and spacious place, but not bother to keep it clean, decorate in the slightest, or have basic necessities like a comforter (he used an unzipped sleeping bag) or wine glasses (we drank wine out of coffee mugs). It became a place I just didn’t ever want to spend time in. I guess, now that I think about it, feeling comfortable in your guy’s home is pretty important when you start sharing your lives. There were, of course, deeper issues. Our conservation became dull and consisted mainly of him complaining about work. He wasn’t close with his family at all. He didn’t share my passion for good food. His kisses were nothing to write home about. His quick labeling of me as his girlfriend freaked me out.
Seriously, what are you doing with this guy? I asked myself a few days ago. We were headed to Nowheresville.
I had to break up with him. But the thought of doing it actually made me nervous. I wouldn’t have put it past him to pull some stunt like showing up at my apartment late at night or calling for weeks on end. When thinking about what I could tell him, I remembered my past French lover. And actually, I thought, it made quite a bit of sense. I guess I’m not the type who can be in a relationship without being in love or at least believing that there’s potential for love. The truth is I really, really want to be head-over-heels in love. I am so ready for my next big romance, and I think I deserve one.
So, this is the argument I prepared, as I sipped a kir and waited for Mr. Cupid to meet me in a cafe in the Marais. Boy, did I ever not expect what happened next.
When he showed up, he sat down and reached into his bag, pulling out a brand-new DVD of a classic French comedy. “I figured you would like this one, since you liked the other film,” he said referring to a movie we’d watched earlier in the week. Oh no. Another present. He then launched into a list of things we could do, not just tonight, but for the rest of the week. I kept trying to interject into the conversation to begin the breakup talk, but I wasn’t succeeding very well and finally just had to stop him outright.
“Mr. C! Stop. Look. Sorry … I just need to tell you something. I don’t think … that you and I are going to work out.”
His face went blank. Normal. What I expected.
“It’s just that …” I continued, “I’m not in love with you. And I don’t think I will fall in love with you. I’m just not the type of person who can be in a relationship and not be in love. I’m sorry.”
Still no response.
“So I just think it’s fair to both of us. I want to find my next long-term relationship and I just don’t see that in our future.” I now paused, handing him the mic.
“OK,” he said with no effect.
“OK. If that’s what you want.”
I was stunned. There was no emotion in his voice—nothing that conveyed anger, sadness, or even shock. It was as if I had said, “We need to change our dinner reservation from 7 to 7:15.” OK.
“So … that’s all you have to say?”
“Yes, you know, I don’t know what to say. I guess I do not see our potential either.” Really? This coming from the guy who had just sat down and expressed a desire to spend every day of the next week with me?
I was now weirded out. His lack of emotion felt so bizarre, but sadly also made a lot of sense with his personality—the guy who stays in a job he hates, who doesn’t shape up areas of his life that really need maturing, the guy who, apparently, is happy enough in a relationship with no substance. So funny how you can learn so much about someone the moment you break up with him.
“You left this at my house,” I said as I pulled a t-shirt out of my bag.
“Oh! My Monty Python shirt. Thank you for bringing this,” he said, again with a casual air that seemed to ignore what had just happened. “Did you leave anything at my house?”
We sipped our drinks in silence. “Well, this is awkward,” I said, trying to lighten things.
“Yeah,” he said, nodding his head and picking up an olive. He finally finished his beer and when I told him I planned to stay at the cafe to read, he stood up to go.
“Well, have a nice rest of your stay in Paris,” he said.
I pushed the DVD back across the table. “You should keep this.”
“No, no. I’ve seen the movie. You keep it.” Normally, I would have argued a bit more out of politeness, but instead pulled it back towards me. “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
We kissed on both cheeks and off he went, with the same expression and quick-paced stride as when he walked in. Unbelievable. Well, at least that was easy?
Later that night, I got a text message from him: “Sorry I made such a bad boyfriend. But I guess you were right, I did not see much for our future either. I wish you all the best!”
Sorry I made such a bad boyfriend? I wish you all the best?! WTF???
One word that’s the same in both French and English: Bizarre. Très, très bizarre.