If You Want to Know What Really Happened
I'm not really sure who dumped whom. Part of me thinks it was him. The other part thinks it was me. Mostly I think it was him. ... Although I'm actually the kind of girl who loves to go around telling people I've been dumped. Maybe it's the sympathy (like the hair stylist this morning telling me to do something nice for myself - like get my nails done. um, check! they're bright pink.) or maybe it's the instant camaraderie - like the prominent gossip columnist getting her makeup done this morning in the next chair who, upon hearing my description of the events, said "Are you talking about the tech geek? Why the fuck were you with that loser, anyway? You should've dumped him after the first date." And she knew exactly who he was, too.
Actually, pretty much everyone echoed those sentiments. Not a single fan could be found amongst my friends or colleagues ... odd, because when I had broken up with my last two serious boyfriends (admittedly MUCH MUCH more serious and long term), I think my friends and family were just as devastated as I was.
Normally, I'd leave my public description of the breakup at that. No names, no real details, just an allusion to a (you'd assume) disappointing emotional event.
The truth is, despite having been a dating columnist for over five years now, I rarely divulge personal details. People constantly assume I do, because, well, they probably own the Sex & the City 6 Season anniversary box set. Um. I mean, hell, I do.
But if you read back through my columns (don't feel the need to do this, just trust me on it), you'll find that while I might allude to an old anecdote (infrequently!) - I never name significant others, I never talk about our relationships, and I never post photos of them. The man I dated for more than two years when I first moved to NY, I referred to only as The Boyfriend. The last four guys I've seen haven't appeared on my blog or in my column, in any form. Most men don't want the scrutiny, and I respect that - what I put out here is a tiny percentage of myself, but at least I have control over it. To be deprived of that control can be frightening and hurtful (as one quickly discovers with gossip blogs). I would never want to do that to a burgeoning relationship.
However, it seems that I've come to an exception. This guy feels comfortable putting some truly intimate things on the internet - in fact, he asked me specifically to name him in my next column. It would have been a first.
I won't name him. It's not my style. But I will reprint the breakup email after the jump, with a bit of context. And yeah, a link to his blog. Because while sometimes everybody shouldn't see everything, I've decided that for once, this isn't one of those times.
None of this I say in anger. I don't feel anything right now, oddly enough. It's really weird, because I definitely cried yesterday walking home from 42nd street.
He's 26, the youngest guy I've dated since I was in college (by far). He's an intriguing, colorful, free-spirited, deeply creative soul. He is also aloof and self-centered and unapologetically narcissistic, which in moderation would be fine, but he pushes the boundaries towards "asshole." He's incredibly erratic - immature with bursts of maturity. Myopia with bursts of self-awareness. Selfishness with bursts of ... well ... there were a few moments - tiny glimpses - of who he could be if he took into account the feelings of others. It was something very special. I really liked that person - there I saw joy and an energy, an active curiosity, an exploratory mind with a lot of passion.
But due to a particularly potent combination of his natural I-don't-give-a-fuck-what-people-think coupled with a recent dose of Ayn Rand, I believe he's under the impression that compromise/consideration = weakness. (I read her at 17, which is probably a safer age. You can have a wicked superiority complex then; it won't hurt anyone.)
In fact, his ego is so inflexible that we once got into a huge row over ... whether he would shower. He didn't feel he needed to. Let me assure you, he did.
I know. Insanity, right?? Like babysitting a seven-year-old. But he's intelligent - I thought he'd self-correct. I fuck up on a regular basis (don't even get me started on what I'm like when I PMS), but I'm really conscious of admitting when I've been sort of a shit friend or partner. And occasionally, he was too. But the other times, it merely segued into stressful power struggles.
Look, I have a strong personality. I can power-struggle with the best of them. But being with him frequently felt like - excuse the analogy, but it really is apt - Chinese finger cuffs. Everything would be fantastic, we'd be comfortable and free, but then he'd pull a little or I'd pull a little, and feeling ourselves getting increasingly uncomfortable and increasingly stuck, we'd pull even harder, until we felt choked and frustrated and pushed (or pulled, I suppose) to the brink. Or at least I felt that way. I don't know what he felt.
I believe that part of growing up and becoming an adult in relationships is knowing when - and how - to let go in a war-of-strong-wills. To get out of that situation - when neither wants to be the first to attempt detente - takes a great deal of emotional maturity and not a small amount of wisdom. I'm not sure that was there. I think it could develop, but it hadn't yet ...
Despite all this, I thought we had incredible potential - I wasn't looking for anything conventional (I need a lot of freedom right now), but I did want him to care. And I wasn't going to sleep with him until I thought he did.
Nine weeks and we never reached that point.
** The specific context for the "straw" email is as follows: we were meant to go to Chicago for a weekend away. He canceled. He didn't make plans with me for Friday, and decided to "take a Mushroom trip" on Saturday. He said he would call so we could "hang out on Sunday."
Sunday, 6:30 pm. Nothing.
And that's when I decided I had to be very clear with him ...
------ Forwarded Message
From: Julia Allison
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 6:50 pm
Subject: Re: To reiterate, in word form
You'll probably see this, but I'll just point it out:
I'm upset with you because I feel like you're putting me in a position where
I have to - for my own self-respect - stop seeing you.
And that would be really sad.
I didn't actually get pissed today until I checked your blog around 4:30 to
see whether you were using that camera thing, and I noticed that you had
managed to update it, but not send me a text regarding our plans. It was
just so unbelievably inconsiderate and selfish.
And then to claim that our plans weren't definite? No way.
I get the sense that you think I'm here when it's convenient for you and
when your (definitely moody) mood suits. That's bullshit, and you know it.
I also get the sense that the women you've dated before put up with this. I
Honestly, I just want to have an amazing time with you, think great
thoughts, reach some new creative heights together, maybe, who knows - have
SEX eventually, for chrissake.
I had a lot of incredible ideas I wanted to talk to you about tonight -
ideas about YOUR COMPANY!!
I just feel like you let me down. I'm really disappointed, not only because
it would have been a really fun night, but also because I don't particularly
enjoy feeling like someone I care about doesn't give a shit about me.
And what will happen here if this continues is that I'll decide that I
dislike this feeling so much that I'll do anything I can to get away from
it. And the result will be me getting away from you.
That is NOT a threat - because I don't want it to happen!! I want to
continue to see you, [redacted] - I think we have a lot of things we can teach
each other. But I need some basic respect first.
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2007 08:03 am
To: Julia Allison
Subject: Re: To reiterate, in word form
You deserve more respect than I've been treating you with. I think you pretty much nail it in this email. I tend to walk all over girls I date, in the sense that they aren't as high a priority as they ought to be. You are not an exception, and I will only grow more selfish (inconsiderate) in the future. For example, this week will be worse than last week.
I am not capable of giving you what you deserve in a relationship, even an "alternative" relationship, so, we should stop seeing each other. I think you are awesome, but I think it's impossible to be together.
And so there it is, the demise of a budding relationship. All over ... what, exactly?
I think it's too bad. But you know what the weirdest thing is? I also feel a little ... relieved? Can you be simultaneously disappointed and relieved at the same time? Maybe I'll feel differently in the morning.