It started just a bit before April 1st, but by May 1st it felt like it was done. Changed beyond recognition, with the first 2 weeks of fun first dates and romanticised Mexico plans a distant memory. It’s like that person left. Or he never really existed in the first place. Being someone he maybe wanted to be for just as long as he could keep the mask in place and while it met his needs.
After deciding not to go to Mexico (that’s a spoiler if you didn’t read part 1 and part 2), we endured the final 7 days of Canadian DJ’s trip away with lots of “if you’d come to Mexico we’d be doing [insert fun/drunk/sexual activity here]” texts but thankfully more “when you’re home we’re going to [insert fun/drunk/sexual activity here]” chats. The tension and excitement built in the days prior to his return and by the Friday we were both like kids at Christmas. It’s fair to say we had a lot of fun that night and dinner – at a Mexican restaurant “to make it seem like [I was] there” – seemed like nothing more than a distraction.
That night and the next few days were everything I thought they’d be. We hung out, we talked (at normal times of the day, for which my sleep schedule was thankful), we talked about all the things we were going to do and and places we wanted to go. He did mention it was coming into the busy season again with his work but it wasn’t a concern and said we’d figure it out.
While I knew that the level of contact would change, it had to, he was no longer lying on a beach with nothing to do, what I hadn’t expected was that come the Monday he would almost instantly start to pull away. Texts would go unanswered for 10, 12 hours at a time, any suggestion of meeting up was met with him having a potential client meeting or an event he had to go to and would let me know, but never did. All the while Instagram and Facebook (god damn you social media and the ability you’ve provided to know far more than we need to about people) were telling me he was looking for someone to go on a bike ride with that day or that he’d been to the beach with his dog.
At the time all I could think was “well he’s not that fucking busy, is he?” but as I heard someone say recently, it’s not that he wasn’t busy. He was, he was busy with things he was prioritising over me. And that can be a hard fact to swallow. At this point, I feel it necessary to point out I’m fully aware that we’re still only 3 weeks into this thing and usually I wouldn’t expect anyone to be prioritising me over shit at that point. But the speed at which it had escalated and the things we’d talked about had, understandably, elevated my expectations. It’s not that I go into the first 3 weeks of dating just anyone and expect this same level of contact or time commitment. I’m not that not of touch with relationships and dating.
This was when I realised that consistency is probably one of the key things I look for from someone. Having had so much uncertainty previously in my life, and ultimately in my marriage, knowing where I am with someone and what I can expect of them is of huge importance. It helps with that fabulous anxiety I developed in the midst of my divorce. The only issue with having this need is that I also believe you should accept and not expect of people, so it’s a tricky balance. But all it takes is someone’s actions meeting their words – it sounds so simple…
In the midst of the growing weirdness, we finally managed to arrange a dinner, which felt like pulling teeth, especially when he bailed on the original time we’d set up approximately an hour before and only when I texted him for the final plans. I let it slide and having finally got another time arranged, we had a great meal on a gorgeous rooftop patio but there was definitely not the fun or ease or spark that we’d had previously. When he dropped me off after dinner I couldn’t tell if he just hadn’t wanted to kiss me for longer, or if he was in fact just worried about the traffic like he said… but it left me feeling confused and what had looked like maybe a distant red flag fluttering on the horizon was now a full on sea of red flags that I was drowning in.
We texted the next morning and again there was a lot of talk from him about being super busy and not sure when he’d next see me… I tried to maintain some dignity (let’s pretend I wasn’t checking Facebook on the hour, every hour, ok?) and decided I wasn’t going to reach out to him until I heard from him.
Well I got to Sunday and by then I was seething. Not even gonna lie, I had the rage. You know the kind that makes you send texts about it to your friends in FULL CAPS? Or requires a pint of gin before you can even start to spill your guts to the girls. Yup, that.
So as I headed out to a birthday brunch I decided to call him. Nothing like a Sunday morning call to put someone on the spot. Surprisingly he answered, I was fully expecting it to ring out and then get a “sorry was busy, will call later” text. Although before we’d even finished exchanging pleasantries he cut in with “I’m just about to go into Mother’s Day brunch, can I call you later, as soon as I’m done brunch?” Well, shit, what was I going to say? No, make your Mother wait and talk to me? Obviously not. Side note – why can’t Mother’s Day be celebrated on the same day everywhere to make it easier to keep track?!
After Birthday brunch we all ended up with in the park drinking beers in the beautiful May sunshine, all the while I’m thinking “well his brunch sure is taking a while…”. Cut to 7pm, the rage is bubbling to the surface, fuelled by a morning of mimosas and an afternoon of beers. No good can come of this. I pick up the phone to text him, I decided to lull him into a false sense of security so started with an easy “how was brunch?” to which he responded. Ok so his phone isn’t broken and unless he’s dictating to Siri, he hasn’t lost his opposable thumbs. Time for a call. (Actually, he had an Android not an iPhone but I’ll be damned if I know the Siri equivalent on Android.)
Despite a slight delay when he had to take the dog out for a walk and his phone apparently stopped working, (really? How many more ways was he going to try and dodge this call?) I finally got my chance. “Tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems like something’s changed and it feels like you don’t want to talk about it.” It was such a stark sentence and it kind of hung in a moment of silence before he made a joke about me being “very perceptive”. Very good jackass, just give me an answer.
Finally, after many pauses and deep breaths and ifs, ands and buts, he admitted that when we’d gone out for the last dinner it had felt “forced” and like he had to put on an act. Ouch. And that he was feeling like his last relationship (his marriage) had just continued. Ouch ouch. Ok, we’re going to need some gin for this pain. He concluded he didn’t think he could give me what I wanted, which was funny because I felt like we’d both escalated together and then when he got cold feet somehow it was me who’d gone too far too fast. I told him I needed consistency, which he obviously couldn’t offer so all I wanted now was closure. And with that the conversation was done.
Pursuing the conversation with him, knowing that the likely outcome would be him agreeing that things had changed and he didn’t feel the same anymore, is something I’m proud I did. I could have buried my head in the sand, appreciated the few texts I did get from him and just let it fizzle on/out. But I didn’t, I knew I had to get clarity, draw a line under it and hoped it would let me move on.
I’ve since found out that I can’t let things like that lie. I always want an explanation, the last conversation, the chance to call them out on their shit. Actions have consequences and if the only consequence is that they have to squirm for a 5 minute phone call then so be it.
The hardest thing was that, despite how poorly he ended up treating me, I never wanted him out of my life but other than dating him I didn’t know how he fitted into my life or me into his. So was that the only option? That he disappear as quickly as he came in? That made me really really sad.
And I couldn’t connect how I felt at the end to how I’d been feeling in those first days. It’s like thinking of completely different situations, and their proximity in time only made it harder to understand.
Did he never really feel like that in the first place? Can those sorts of feelings really change that quickly? Is that just who he is, talking a big game and then running the other direction? The confusion was insurmountable. He had been a genuine ray of light, he made me laugh like I’d never laughed in years and he made me feel incredible. But timing is a bitch.
I knew going in that anything with someone as fresh into divorce proceedings as he was, could make for slightly tricky times. I guess I thought as long as he was ok with it, so was I. Turns out he wasn’t ok with it and as much as that hurts, I always said I wanted him to make the best decisions for himself.
But in the end I had to make the best decision for myself and pushing to have that conversation and get him to actually admit that he was feeling different was key to that. If he couldn’t provide the consistency I need in a relationship, then clarity and closure were the next best things.
Him saying he felt like he’d been acting on our last date, and that it felt like a continuation of his marriage, those things stung. Like, really stung. Knowing he was feeling overwhelmed and couldn’t get his head together is one thing, but feeling like at any point he’d been inauthentic with me was hard to hear. I’d hoped I’d made it clear that honesty was my only policy and I know it’s not a fun conversation to have but I didn’t want to have to be the one to go looking for the answers when he already had them.
Whether he was struggling with everything that was going on in his life or not, there’s still things he did and ways he acted that just weren’t right or proper. I know had had a lot going on and he was coming at it from a shitty place but we’ve all got a lot going on and we’ve all been in shitty places. That doesn’t make him special and it doesn’t get him special allowances.
I’d love to say I came off the call, threw back a gin and chalked it up to experience but this was the first time I’d actually liked anyone since my ex-husband, this had been huge for me. There were tears before bedtime. And actually during bedtime. And the next day… I was questioning everything – all of our interactions, my own self-worth, whether here was the right place for me to be living, if I could have done something different. All the unhealthy stuff that you hope as a grown woman you’d be confident in.
The following day brought with it a realisation. Nothing will ever feel like my divorce. I don’t know that anything could be that harrowing and that traumatising ever again. It’s not to say that terrible, bad things won’t happen. They will. But even though this felt like it hit me hard, I still went into the situation with my eyes more open and with a whole lot more emotional experience than I’d ever had before.
Comments of “but it was only a month!” or “just delete him?” weren’t particularly helpful, that month had been a whirlwind of emotions and unfortunately you can’t just delete someone from your memory bank. But while on a day to day level I missed him in my life, I knew in the grand scheme of things this just wasn’t that big a deal. I just had to get my head and my heart aligned on that… it’s fair to say it took some time.