Earlier this year, I made a few promises to myself. The first was to find another job, and then I lost the one I had. Another was to get in better shape but that plan was thwarted by a knee injury that still hurts. The one that was of greatest importance was probably the tallest order of all: finding true and lasting love.
I’m not ashamed of being a complete romantic. Despite a messy and painful divorce after a 10-year marriage, I knew that I was meant to have a happy ending to a love story with a great man. I’d spent the last few years after my divorce dating a lot of different guys. I also dated when I was separated and divorcing, but I always felt that those relationships were not meant to last. After many different attempts at meeting Mr. Right, Marcelo came into my life.
I had given up meeting men online a few years ago. I hate to say it, but Match.com turned out to be the worst experience of any of the website I joined. Not only did they over-charge me, but the few dates I went on from that site turned out terribly. One guy, a firefighter, seemed so wonderful when we were corresponding, but after taking me to lunch, he immediately tried to get me to go home with him that afternoon for sex. It was my first real date after my marriage ended. I was horrified. You can probably understand why that put me off dating sites for a long time.
In cyberspace, no one can hear your heartbeat
When a good friend of mine told me about a free website he’d had a bit of success on, I decided to give it a go. I signed up to OKCupid.com in early February. A week or so later, I had my first date from that site. It went well though things didn’t work out. That’s when I met Marcelo.
Marcelo was a charming, handsome South American transplant who seemed right in so many ways. Aside from having a killer Spanish accent, he was smart, funny and we always had a great time together. He told me he was recently divorced, however, so he wanted to take things slowly. I was fine with that.
Balancing a job search with a new boyfriend was a little challenging. I have always believed in sharing the expenses of dating, so I made sure to find fun, low-cost or free things so that neither one of us was burdened by the cost of going out. Often, I made us dinner and made sure to pay my fair share when we went out. I wished that he’d have spent a bit more of his money at times because he lived with his parents and, unlike me, didn’t have to worry about losing his apartment or not having anything to eat. I, on the other hand, probably should have told him that I needed him to contribute just a little more. While it was cheaper to cook for him than take him out, it still cost money that I sometimes didn’t have.
Don’t go breaking my heart
I tried to incorporate Marcelo into my world every chance I got. I introduced him to most of my friends. He met some of my family. I took him to parties, cool events and other places that showed him who I was and what I was about. After a few months, I really started to wonder why he hadn’t done the same thing for me. I knew his parent’s and sister’s name. I’d seen their pictures. For some reason, he wasn’t interested in introducing us. It started to bother me.
“Have you told your parents you’re dating me?” I asked him casually one day. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, but I needed to know. He looked away when he told me he hadn’t. I pressed to know why. He quickly changed the subject.
A week or so later, he was showing me pictures on Facebook. I’d asked him if we could be friends there, not so I could brag to the world that he was boyfriend, but because I wanted to get to know him better. He asked why I needed to be his friend because as he said, “I have nothing to hide.” As we combed through his pictures, I learned that wasn’t true.
Showing me pictures of a parade, I noticed the date on the photos was last summer. He had just finished telling me that he had gone to the parade with his wife. Knowing that most recently-divorced couples find every reason under the sun NOT to hang out, I asked him how soon after the pictures were taken he got divorced. “Right after,” he said. I knew something was up.
Just the facts, mister, just the facts
Going back to what I’d said at the beginning of this story, I dated plenty of guys when I was separated from my husband. I didn’t worry about them leading to marriage because I couldn’t think about marriage while I was still legally bound to my ex-husband. It gave me the freedom to explore and have fun without falling in love with someone. I dated one guy then that I held at arm’s length for most of our six-month relationship. I was so terrified of falling in love with him; I made the rash decision to break up with him to spare myself the pain of that. I realized sometime later, that it didn’t matter. My brain knew the timing was bad, but nobody told my heart which was shattered for a long time afterwards. I thought the same might be true of Marcelo.
“Are you still legally married?” I asked him several times. The first was on Facebook chat a few weeks ago. I let him know that it was okay if he was; I just needed to figure out where his head was. It seemed fair. He ignored the question then and deflected it the next time I saw him in person.
Coming over for dinner one night, he plopped down on my bed to watch television with me. I asked him again. He just brushed me off with, “You already know about all of that. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But I don’t know all about it, Marcelo. That’s why I’m asking you now.”
He gave me a pained look and still managed to evade the question. It was then I realized just how much I was falling in love with a total stranger.
What I don’t know about you could fill a whole building
I knew Marcelo liked comedy. One of our first dates was to a friend’s comedy show. He insisted we return which we did a few times. I knew he liked Dulce de Leche ice cream. It reminded him of a dessert that was popular in his country. I knew he liked ham and pineapple on his pizza. I knew his mother’s birthday—we were born on the same day which seemed cool. I knew his niece liked to dance to a telenovela song. I knew he liked wearing flip-flops. I knew he liked animals by the way he played with my two cats. Yet none of these things added up to the bigger picture of what his dreams were and what was in his heart.
During the time we dated, I was hit on by many different guys. Normally, when I feel secure in a relationship, resisting their charms would be easy for me. I am not a person who likes to cheat on someone she’s committed to, but suddenly I found myself more than flattered. I entertained ideas of seeing other guys behind Marcelo's back. I came to the realization that it was time to break up with him. It wasn’t an easy decision.
I spent a week or so rationalizing staying with him which alternated with reasons to let him go. The biggest reason for staying with him was easy—I was starting to have pretty deep feelings for him. Ultimately, that was the reason I chose to say goodbye. I felt like by staying with him, I’d end up with broken heart, but it felt like I was breaking my own heart by doing so.
Worn me down like a road
I am not a good example of breaking up with someone the right way. I was planning to have him over for dinner. When I realized all the times I’d spent hours cleaning my apartment to make it nice for him as well as fixing myself up to look good for him, I felt I’d done enough. Never once in six months of dating was I invited to HIS house. All the heavy lifting of the relationship had rested atop my shoulders, not his. I sent him a text message as I was at a happy hour with a girlfriend.
At first he was angry. He called me a “fraud.” I didn’t understand what I’d done to deserve that, but when I thought about it, I felt like maybe I was. I hadn’t told him the truth about how much I longed to get married again someday. I also didn’t express how much I needed to feel some romance that I felt was missing. I had let him know about other things I needed before, but after doing something once, he’d totally forget about my desires and simply go back to the way were before. I felt so ignored.
He finally confessed that he was still in the process of getting divorced. I still don’t understand what was so hard about telling me that, except I’m sure he realized that I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who had a limited capacity to have a full-blown relationship with me. I remembered needing and enjoying my own freedom shortly after my divorce was final. It’s par for the course for most divorcing people. Had I been dating someone around the time of my divorce, I know they’d more than likely end up a casualty of my need for “space.”
Marcelo also shared that his citizen status was in flux. He said his wife was holding it over him during their divorce. I didn’t press him for what that meant; for me it meant what I’d felt for sometime. He wasn’t ready for a relationship with anyone, let alone me.
Over the past few days, he’s tried to get me to meet with him one last time. I can’t see anything good coming from that. It won’t heal the pain I felt which caused me to put an end to things. It certainly won’t make me take him back. I’ve worked through much of the emotions attached to breaking up with him and I’m doing just fine with the notion of being single again.
I wish him all the best. I have to stay true to me and my needs which so often fall by the wayside—I’m good at putting other people first. Not this time, and not ever again.
Rachael Yamagata is a very dear friend of mine. This song evokes breakups simply because it's about her ex who fell in love with another girl whilst they were still together. I love RY with all my heart. This video rocks!!! "Something is off..." Classic Rach!!!
I love No Doubt and this song!!!