Today I did one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I feel a combination of immense sadness, anxiety, and pride. I broke up with my girlfriend Anna, who I have been seeing for 19 months.
It was about the end of February last year when my emotions were finally letting go of my obsession over Karen — a crush that was impossible to begin with, but lasted a whole freaking year. I went to a game night at a friends house and Anna was there, with her boyfriend. We were casually introduced and eyed each other a little. We chatted online a few times after that, until she told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend. We proceeded to talk all night for the next few nights.
When we finally got together in person, things progressed pretty fast. We went from nervously sitting on the couch together to definitely-in-a-relationship in about two weeks. We had similar lifestyles, wanted similar things out of a relationship, and had great physical chemistry. We were both full of idiosyncrasies and tolerance.
It was fun for a while, and soon I knew that I loved her. Paradoxically enough, I never really felt that serious about the relationship. Oh well, what fun would be love if we understood it? We had plenty of fun experiences, personal late-night talks, quiet affectionate moments. I would call it a healthy relationship.
It was as early as March this year when the prospect of things getting more serious started to become real. I was having trouble understanding whether I would want to stay with her for a long time. I invited her to Hawaii for a month as a way to bring us closer and to increase my level of commitment.
We had a great time in Hawaii. Half way through I understood — I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with her. I told her that during the trip, when we were guaranteed another two weeks in the same bed. I can’t believe I told her that! But she forgot or blocked it out or something, and then I did too, and the relationship continued for another few months, a bit shakily.
We were eating outside at a salad restaurant on a sunny August day. We were just having a friendly conversation, and just as I was getting excited by what we were talking about, she wanted to stop talking about it because I was getting argumentative. Sounds like a typical minor communication failure, right? But it set off some kind of chain reaction in my brain. I sat there in silence for five minutes while she wondered what was going on. My heart tugged in a thousand directions at once as the words squeezed their way out of my mouth, “I don’t think this relationship is working for me.”
We talked for about an hour, and at some point she had touched my leg. I love physical affection, and I still loved her. Through this interaction I understood that I really cared about her. I never wanted to hurt her. She is such a soft, emotional person, it was like trying to break up with a kitten. I couldn’t follow through.
The next couple months were pretty pleasant, actually. We were getting along, I felt like we cared for each other and enjoyed each others’ company. But I still knew that I couldn’t spend my life with her. I told myself stories like, if you spend “now” with someone enough times, you’ll have spent the rest of your life with them, so maybe I don’t need to feel that meaningful life-connection. Such bullshit. I think maybe the relationship was going better because I had violated some of the trust, so it was behaving more like initial dating.
Getting down to the wire. A few nights ago I was having dinner with my mom and out of my mouth popped “I don’t really want to be with Anna.” This had been on the tip of my tongue at gatherings with my friends and with my dad, but hadn’t come out yet. Saying it aloud let it do its work on me though. I knew it was only a matter of time.
Finally, this morning, Anna had called me for advice and we were digging around in her soul a little. We got to a point where she said “I don’t want you to break up with me” as a non-sequitur. She had felt it. Of course. You always feel it coming. I could lie to her and deny it for a few more days, but that’s not very loving to either of us. So that turned out to be the opportunity to say it, and I did. I cried a lot, because I care about her still and because my conscious brain was so unsure of what I was doing. But I knew it in my heart — I knew that if I turned back, it would just happen again in a month — or worse, longer. The longer we stay together, the more she trusts me, and the more painful it is for both of us to say goodbye. Now is the right time.
I still feel very sad. I have never broken up with someone while knowing I still care about them. Maybe I am being irrational. Maybe All You Need is Love. Maybe this is the stupidest decision of my life and Anna will go insane and I will live the rest of my days lonely. O how my brain doth fantasize. But deep down I know it is right. We will move on, and both have richer, fuller lives because of it. If I stayed with her it would gradually wear us down to depressed couch potatoes.
I wish Anna well, and hope I get to see her going overseas to have the adventurous life she wants in the near future. I’m curious to see what will happen to me relationship-free for a while. Sometimes I get really heady and my heart just kind of shrivels up and doesn’t participate. I’ll have to find something to do to keep it engaged.
Whew. Life is the better for such experiences… or so it tells me.