Officer Handsoming arrived at my apartment with a carton of chicken noodle soup in one hand and a greasy bag of french fries in the other, unsure which I preferred when nursing a hangover.
How thoughtful, I said to myself while we plopped down on my couch to watch “Silver Linings Playbook.” I cracked open the soup, unwrapped the fries and picked at both, before asking him what his schedule looked like this week. In between bites of his burger, he ran through an endless list of court dates, night shifts, day shifts and apartment searching appointments.
“I noticed you casually skipped right over Valentine’s Day,” I said, playfully.
“I told you, I have to work on Valentine’s Day. And all weekend, for that matter,” he said, his eyes fixed on the TV.
“But still, don’t you want to acknowledge it at all? Maybe next weekend, when you’re off, we can go away and stay in a hotel for a night or something…” I offered.
I knew that this was the beginning of the end. A few minutes later, he broke his silence.
“What’s the matter? You’re mad at me now because I didn’t plan anything for Valentine’s Day, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I’m concerned,” I said matter-of-factly. “About us.”
I explained that we don’t need to do anything fancy for Valentine’s Day, but I would have liked to do something. The fact that he hadn’t even thought about doing something, even if it was something small, was worrisome. If he’s not willing to make an effort for me now, I can’t imagine how things will be when he moves.
He then proceeded to give me the spiel about what a great girl I am and how much he loves hanging out with me and maybe we can keep in touch and see each other every once in a while when he visits. While Officer Handsoming said that part of him wants to try to do the long distance thing, an even bigger part of him knows that he’s just going to end up disappointing me. He then admitted that he ended his last relationship because of long-distance struggles, throwing out the phrase, “I don’t want you pass up other opportunities waiting for me.” This was the best he could offer me under the circumstances, he explained. It was confusing. I couldn’t tell if he was suggesting we be Friends With Benefits, break up, see each other intermittently or what.
That’s when I started crying.
“Please stop crying. You know how uncomfortable I get when people cry,” he said.
For a moment, I actually tried to hold back my tears to make him feel more comfortable. Then, I thought, Fuck you! Just because he’s devoid of emotion, sitting there like a statue with his hands to himself, doesn’t mean I have to be. That’s not who I am.
“I told you … I’m an emotional robot,” he said, shrugging.
In that moment, I knew that breaking up was the right thing to do. Little details that I glazed over — like, how he never tells his parents he loves them, or the fact that I could count the number of compliments he gave me on one hand, or how, in almost three months, he never once held my hand unless I made the first move — suddenly seemed like much more significant things. I understood at that moment, more than ever, that I need to be with someone who can show me that they care and that I’m wanted. I need reassurance, and, quite frankly, I need someone who isn’t an “emotional robot.” I deserve someone who would insist on making things work, not someone who claims they’re going to disappoint me.
When he left, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I cried a bit more, but knew deep down that my tears were less about losing him and more about the thought of having to start this dating thing over. Our breakup confirmed what I think I’ve known deep down for a while: he’s not the one for me, but I’m allowed to feel disappointed that he wasn’t. Because of Officer Handsoming, I learned that good guys do exist, but that’s not enough. You can’t force something that’s not meant to be.
The next night, I hesitantly opened up my OKCupid profile and forced myself to get back on the horse. I replied to a man who reached out to me about a month into my relationship with Officer Handsoming, whose sincere message stood out from the crowd. I had saved his message, but never replied. When I hit send, it felt weird to message another man. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought about embarking on this whole anxiety-provoking process again. Minutes later, I heard a ping from my inbox.
“I don’t check this thing often, but it must be my lucky night,” the message read. “I have to say, I’m really glad it’s you.”
I’m down in the dumps that things didn’t work out between me and Officer Handsoming, but dwelling on it won’t change the outcome. I’m willing to entertain the idea of dating again — if the right person catches my eye. And this time, I won’t be ignoring any of those little details.
[Photo from Shutterstock]