Girl Talk: On Falling Out Of Love

For nearly two years I was with the man I thought I was going to marry, have children with and spend the rest of my life with. I loved him so all-consumingly that I worried about his death. Driving on highways or flying on airplanes, it didn’t matter; I just thought of what risks it posed to him and how terribly in pain I would feel if he were ever to be gone from my life. Even though I felt a bit silly worrying about him, I couldn’t help myself. We used to say we were half of each other. He would say to me that he couldn’t wait to grow old with me. We were intimately close and open with each other in a way I’ve never been before and in a way I know I won’t find easily again.

He broke up with me after New Year’s suddenly and without warning. Now, I marvel at how quickly it’s taken me to fall out of love with him. How very, very odd it is to look inside myself to see if there’s any little bit that still loves him after what he’s done to me.

Getting such a callous list from him just four days after he broke my heart successfully put the other nail in the coffin. I stopped feeling sad and missing him; instead I just felt anger and nothingness.

This breakup blindsided me. I didn’t see it coming or expect it. I keep going over in my head if there were signs I should have seen or something that I was too blinded by love, or too dumb, to miss. No one breaks up with someone they’ve been living with, saying “I love you” to, and professing to want to marry out of the blue, right?

The best I can come up to pinpoint when things may have changed is several months ago when Mr. Jessica started having a rough time at work. Completely independently of his rough time, though, I was struggling with a lot of anxiety about other things in my life. All that was compounded when he bought a $500 Jet Blue all-you-can-jet pass and spent the month flying around the country, combining pleasure travel with business strips. I was annoyed that he had just picked up and left for a month, but we talked a bunch of times every day on the phone, so I figured I could deal with it. Then he had a pretty crushing loss and he wanted me to fly to California to be with him and make him feel better. I’m afraid of flying even with other people, but especially terrified to fly alone. I bought a ticket, but given my existing anxiety and my fear of flying, couldn’t get on a plane to go. And I felt so relieved not to go; a girl friend had advised me, “Only move as fast as the slowest part of you wants to go” and I’m glad I listened to her. It wasn’t my fault, after all, that he was in California when this happened; he had chosen to be there because of his Jet Blue pass. But nevertheless, Mr. Jessica took it really terribly; he felt like I was ditching him. I, on the other hand, felt like I had been there 100 percent on the phone to support him and I was upset at how he didn’t seem to care that I was so terrified of flying and just wanted me to be with him. He said some nasty things to me over the phone. It was the first time I thought, This guy may not be the person I thought he was.

Things were tense between us for a few weeks after he came home, but eventually they got back to normal. We were happily doing all the things we’d been doing before: cooking dinners, watching movies, going to art exhibits, making love. We bickered occasionally, but nothing out of the ordinary. We were invited to a wedding this August and I promised I’d do something to deal with my phobia of flying in advance of that.

The holidays were lovely, albeit busy and packed with friends and family. We had two Thanksgivings, one with each of our families. While at the mall one day on Black Friday, I saw a dress at Reiss that I just LOVED and it was 30 percent off. I showed it to Mr. Jessica and he loved it, too. I bought it and decided I’d wear it for our engagement party, whenever that might be.

In December, we went to holiday parties together and shopped for presents for our families. But the best part of December was teasing about the presents we’d gotten each other. It was like this big, fun guessing game that lasted all month long. He really loves Christian Louboutin shoes and so he bought this gorgeous pair of high heels for me, as well as a book about panda bears, which are my favorite animal. The other part of my present was a night at a fancy hotel in the city, which was supposed to be this weekend. I had actually bought his gift over the summer: a set of seven gently used copper pots. Mr. Jessica is a fantastic cook and had always stared longingly at the Williams-Sonoma copper pots he can’t afford. When I saw a set of seven for sale online for a few hundred bucks, I snatched it up. The weekend before Christmas, I came home to my parents’ house and spent hours scrubbing and polishing them to perfection.

On Christmas morning, I was more excited for him to open his gift than he was. I was literally jumping up and down as he opened them. And he loved them, of course. He kept saying to me, “You’re set for seven Christmases! You don’t even need to worry about giving me a gift for the next seven years!”

So three days after Christmas, when he started acting like a jerk, I was surprised. He said something nasty to me, I started crying, and then he laughed at me. Laughing at his crying girlfriend? That was so unlike him. The next morning, he continued to act like a jerk and we got into an argument on the street. I told him, “You’re judging me,” and he said, “Yes, I guess I am judging you.” He called me later that day to apologize, but that night we had a big serious talk and he revealed some doubts about our relationship that he was having — like wanting me to wear cute outfits more often. He said he knew they were kind of superficial and didn’t think they were a big deal. I said I could promise to dress up more often and I thought that was the end of that. We spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day together, happily eating dinner at a French restaurant and going to a jazz club. I bought some lingerie to wear when we went to the hotel this weekend.

Two days after New Year’s, we woke up together and were cuddling when he asked me why I loved him. He asked how I knew what we had was love and how I knew we were right for each other; also uncharacteristically of him, he really seemed to be doubting my answers. I was so distraught by all this that I said I was leaving to go to my parents’ house while he figured things out. He looked utterly despondent as I left, holding me, hugging me, and kissing me, and asking if I’d come back the next day. But two days after that, he broke up with me over the phone and asked me to move out.

Of course, I feel burned by this about-face. But mostly I am confused. My parents are confused. My sisters are confused. My best friends are confused. “Confused,” “random,” and “unexpected” were the three most common words I heard when talking about it. And all I could say was, “I know.”

Last week was a long, terrible week, but my friends and my family couldn’t have been more supportive. There was still this part of me that thought we would get back together and that he just needed a “break.” But little things about what he was saying didn’t sit right with me. He had told me that he thought he needed to date more women before deciding to commit to me. That didn’t feel right; I knew he was the one. Plus, I had snooped in his email account and found he had been corresponding with and sending photos of himself to another girl. Although I could forgive a flirtation — I myself have flirted with other guys innocently in the past — it seemed incredibly suspicious to me that this was happening and he wanted to break up.

The first nail in the coffin came Saturday morning, when he tweeted about beta testing a friend’s singles dating site. He works in a tech start-up and a lot of people he knows are launching start-ups as well. I could not believe that literally four days after dumping me, he was tweeting about going on a singles site. I immediately sent him a pissy email asking if he could please be sensitive to how I might feel seeing something like that. He got super-defensive and accused me of “stalking” his tweets. I said not to be silly and that he was acting like such a jerk.

Then he wrote back with a 12-point list of all the things he wanted in a woman, i.e., the reasons he was dumping me. This is what it said:

He wants a meat eater. I’m mostly a vegetarian. He wants someone who can fly on an airplane. I hate flying. He wants someone who will watch sports with him or play video games. I don’t want to do those things. He wants someone who knows their way around a kitchen like he does. I’m just learning. He wants someone who “dresses cute.” Gee, thanks!

But other items on the list were as puzzling as they were untrue and/or hypocritical. I always earned more money than he did; in fact, for the first few months that we were dating, he wasn’t making a salary at all. But he said he wanted someone who could help him with his job, he wanted someone who was more “career-focused” — um, excuse me? — and he wanted someone on track to make as much money as him. So I earn more money than he does and that’s not a dealbreaker for me, but he might make more money in the future and that’s a dealbreaker for him? It boggles the mind. He said all kinds of things that I, frankly, don’t think a person who was getting $10,000 loans from his wealthy parents should say.

The list was callous. The list was insensitive. Some would even say it was cruel. Everyone I’ve told about, or showed the list to, has said, “I can’t believe he would send this to you.” But you know what?

Getting such a callous list from him just four days after he broke my heart successfully put the other nail in the coffin. I stopped feeling sad and missing him; instead I just felt anger and nothingness.

Although I still remember how much I used to love him and be in love with him, I don’t feel any of that anymore. I feel sad that the relationship died, but not that we aren’t together. I wrote him back and told him the list described a person who wasn’t me. It described a list of qualities that I don’t think are important at all. Fundamentally, I told him, I guess we just have different values. I was able to look past things about him that he wasn’t able to look past about me. His values, to me, are just really, really wrong. And that would never work.

I wish it hadn’t ended like this, so sudden and unexpected and with communication coming so far after the fact. He handled the breakup horribly and I don’t know if I can ever forgive that; perhaps some day in the future I will. But more significantly, I don’t know that I’d ever want to be with Mr. Jessica again. The person he’s revealed himself to be is a person that I don’t even like, let alone love. It doesn’t even hurt to type that. It’s just a matter of fact.

Tomorrow I’m moving out of our apartment that we shared together, clearing it of the bedsheets we slept on, the books we shared, the candles we made love in the light of, and the vanilla perfume I wore that he so loved. I am taking the engagement dress from Reiss and putting it in storage at my sister’s; I don’t even want to look at it. I do not know what I will do with the Louboutins. I don’t especially want to wear them, at least not anytime soon.

Oh, and I am taking the copper pots back.