Let me start off by saying that this is really hard for me to write. I’ve only ever had one real boyfriend, and I really was in love with him for most of the time we were together. And when the relationship was at its highest points, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy we were together, but the lows were miserable, even devastating. Still, as bad as it got, nothing was more painful and emotionally crushing to me than the realization that I was no longer in love with my boyfriend; in fact, I began to realize that I’d fallen out of love with him a long time ago.
Tom* and I met in high school through a mutual friend when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore. I’d only had one boyfriend before him, and it was really only a relationship in name (we never even kissed). All my friends had boyfriends, and I was reaching a point of near desperation. Not to mention the fact that I’ve always had some self-confidence issues, and I unfortunately rely heavily on male approval to feel good about myself. (I’ve been trying to work on that particular character flaw, but it’s difficult.) So, when I found myself IM-ing Tom for literally four or five hours every night, talking about anything and everything, I thought I’d struck gold. He seemed sweet, funny, intelligent… really all you could ask for in a high school boyfriend.
The problem was that we were both incredibly awkward and comically inept at conversing with the opposite gender, so I essentially had a major crush on a guy I’d never said more than ten words to in person. That didn’t stop him from asking me out (through IM), though, so we became Facebook official. Naturally, a whole collection of problems comes with a relationship in which neither party can hold an interesting conversation with the other. Tom and I forged on, though, and we eventually reached a point of contentment—even happiness—together. I like to think that I was happy, but I doubt that I really was.
In the beginning, he clearly liked me way more than I liked him, so I got annoyed with his clinginess and broke up with him (through IM) a few months after we started dating. I cried all night long and immediately apologized the next day, so we made up (through IM).
Then, at some point during my sophomore year, the dynamic switched: I clearly became the clingier of the two of us. Admittedly, I was that girlfriend who would send dozens of texts an hour, even if Tom was with friends. If he didn’t respond, I’d get huffy and hurt. I hate that I did that. Still, that wasn’t our biggest problem. His entire group of friends HATED me and pressured him daily to dump me. To this day, I don’t know what I did to them to make them dislike me so much. My friends liked him enough when we first started going out, but they quickly changed their minds after he hurt me the first time. Anyway, this is the point in our relationship that we’d get in weekly fights (through IM) that almost always ended in near-breakups. Every near-breakup was heart wrenching and literally painful. I did love Tom, and I enjoyed hanging out with him when we weren’t fighting or passive-aggressively expressing our frustrations with one another. I think that I was probably more afraid of breaking up, however, because it meant I’d lose a boyfriend, not that I’d lose Tom.
Fast forward about eight months…
One of the things that Tom and I discussed in somewhat great detail was pot and how it had such a negative effect on all his friends. He was the only one who didn’t smoke, and he told me endless stories about how stupid it made them and how their personalities changed once they started smoking. Up until I heard all this, I never really had an opinion on the topic. His constant rants and the knowledge that he would break up with me if I ever smoked really formed my opinion, though, so somewhere along the way, I really, truly hated the idea of anyone I knew smoking. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came back from a three-week vacation out of the country with no cell service or Internet and found out through one of my best friends that the straightedge boyfriend I left behind was long gone. In his place was a full-fledged stoner.
I got physically ill when I heard that news, and night after night we fought until he finally broke up with me. We (of course) got back together a month later, but all the trust that I had in him was gone. It took me an entire school year (I was a junior at this point) to rebuild the trust, and I came to terms with the fact that he smoked. I actually joined him, although I only did it to gain his approval. I smoked probably a total of fifty times in my life over the span of two or three years, and every single time was with him. I really hate myself for that. He promised, though, that he only smoked weed and would never try any other drug. Ever.
Toward the end of the school year, just as we started to be happy again (and I swear, we really were happy), he broke my trust a second time. Just a few hours after we came back from his senior prom (which was a magical night for me), he went to a beach house with his friends and spent the weekend tripping on acid. The worst part of it all is that he swore to me that he didn’t do anything at the beach, but I did some digging around and found out otherwise.
Devastated doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. I had to step outside of class and literally fell to my knees in the hallway, sobbing. I know that sounds dramatic of me, but it was a physical reaction that I couldn’t control. Throughout our relationship, I was so emotionally invested in constantly trying to prevent breakups that I think it had a weird physical effect on me. Meanwhile, the drugs had more or less changed him as a person. He still had the same interests and sense of humor, but his compassion and ability to think about my feelings and how much he was hurting me seemed to disappear as time went on.
Needless to say, we fought for months before breaking up. He went off to college, and I began senior year as truly single for the first time in years. I even sort of began to heal, but I was so scared of the possibility that maybe Tom was my one and only true love and I’d never have a boyfriend again (dramatic, I know, but it was a real possibility in my mind) that we got back together. Drugs were no longer something I let myself worry about, and I spent all my time trying to make the relationship perfect.
We actually probably had the most fun for the first few months after I graduated and went to college. We had more freedom, and we’d matured. He’d take the bus up to Boston to visit me once or twice a month, and every time I went home, I’d stop at his place for a few days first. We were really happy, but everything started to permanently go downhill around the beginning of my second semester.
Tom and I would talk (online) every day, but we’d run out of things to talk about. I really wanted to focus on my work, so whenever he asked, “What’s up?” my answer was some variation of “busy and stressed.” He started to doubt that we were working as a couple, but every time he brought it up, I’d shoo the topic away. Also, it was right around this time that he started dealing amongst his close friends and, eventually, a startlingly large collection of people from all around my hometown area. I had a problem with this, but not because of trust. Mostly, I was annoyed that he was jeopardizing my safety by dealing drugs (mostly weed, sometimes more serious drugs like ecstasy or pills) when I visited him. My particular career path is one that absolutely cannot in any way be tainted by anything drug-related, even if I don’t partake in doing drugs myself. He tried to respect this as much as possible by dealing in another room, but let’s be honest; if a drug bust were to occur when I was in that house, I would be arrested whether or not there were drugs in the room I was in.
Finally, I was completely turned off by basically every sexual act we engaged in. I don’t know how it happened or why, but I just absolutely did not under any circumstances want to do anything sexual with him anymore. If I had to determine around what time I fell out of love with him, my best guess would be around the same time that I stopped enjoying sex with him. Love makes the whole experience more enjoyable, and a lack of love, in this case, clearly turned me off completely.
We continued to date for the rest of my freshman year of college and into the summer, but I think we both knew that the relationship was coming to an end. I’m very serious about pursuing my dream career, so I worked all summer at an internship and didn’t really have time to talk with him. I saw him maybe once every week or two, but we actually found ourselves reverting back to our passive aggressive actions to express our frustration with the state of our relationship.
The last straw for both of us- but especially me- occurred on one night in July when I slept over at his apartment. Literally seconds after we’d finished having sex (I felt bad for denying him sex for so long), I burst into uncontrollable tears because I was so disgusted with the sex we’d just had (I was just so emotionally disengaged that it felt almost dirty to me). We didn’t break up that night in words, but we both knew that it was only a matter of time.
Tom left for the west coast for all of August to visit family, and before he left, I hugged him and cried because I think I subconsciously knew that that would be the last time I’d ever hug him like that again. We kept in touch by sending a text or two every day, but almost no communication occurred beyond that point. Finally, a week before I went back to school, I summoned up the courage to call him after work and break up with him. He didn’t pick up the phone (I called three times), so I went on Facebook, saw that he was online, and messaged him. In a weird way, it was almost poetic that our relationship started through IMing and ended on Facebook chat.
The breakup itself wasn’t difficult. In fact, it was quick, easy, and polite. What was difficult for me was that I literally did not shed one tear; I didn’t lose any sleep over it; I wasn’t sad. As I said before, the most devastating part of my relationship was fully realizing that I hadn’t been in love with him for a long time.
Tom and I keep in touch every once in a while just to catch up. We’re not friends, but he was my first love and I was his, so we try to honor that. From what I’ve heard, he still deals, but he’s happy and can’t wait to graduate college. I spent the past six months or so since the breakup working harder than I ever worked before during my fall semester, and I’m currently working full-time at my dream job with an amazing group of coworkers. I surround myself with friends, family, and really anything I have a passion for, and I’ve worked on my self-consciousness issues. I learned so much about myself and what not to do in my future relationships.
Most importantly, though, I love being single… and I don’t miss Tom at all.
*Name was changed