It took me 6 years to get out of a 7 year relationship. I’m a strong and independent person and I always voiced my opinion when I witnessed friends in bad relationships. When it came to me, though, I told myself that I could do it, like a loving relationship was some type of challenge to take on.
When I met my ex I was 29 and I was ready to fall in love; I just wanted to be swept off my feet. My previous boyfriend had been an amazing person but I was not attracted to him. I really craved the passionate, clothes-ripping, romantic, consuming love that you see in the movies. Well I certainly got the passion with "Mr. Perfect.” And he was an agent, which meant glamorous Gatsby moments. He was tall, dark, handsome, charismatic and self-deprecating; an Ivy League grad who finished in 2 years and got his MBA in one.
All of this added up to attraction, but there was also "staged" awkward sexual tension. It turned out he was reading The Game and other similar books. Now I’m in sales, so I’m always up for a challenge, but I had never dealt with anything like this. He would leave me to go talk to other girls while we were out. I pride myself on not being a jealous person, but the disrespect worked like poison. It also put a desire in my gut to win him over. And so the relationship turned into a maniacal depressive mess of highs and lows. We swung from ridiculously romantic moments to fights that were horrible.
Now I am sure you are wondering why I did not leave him when I was experiencing this in the first few months. I have to say it was the Hollywood-ish excitement and drama of it. My adrenaline would kick in when we were fighting and when we would make up it was just as intense, but in a good way. Clinically, I know I sound like a victim of the cycle of abuse.
And so it went on for years. I tried to break up, I moved out for 5 months then moved back in. The night I moved back in he flipped because I had scheduled a massage without him. He called me selfish for not scheduling one for him, but did he lift a finger when I moved back in? No. I knew the day I moved back in that I had made a huge mistake. I remember shaking and bawling on the floor, feeling so trapped and out of control.
Six years into the relationship I went to Vegas for a work conference and met another man. We started texting each other and when my boyfriend saw my phone ding from a text, he took it into the bathroom to read our whole conversation. He made me sleep on the couch and kept my mom on the phone for 2 hours discussing how he thought we should break up. We decided to go to therapy, and things seemed to get better.
A few weeks later, we were on our way to Rome. And guess what happened? He proposed. It was a dream proposal moment: dusk at the Trevi Fountain. When I said yes the whole crowd threw rose petals. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder and it was his mom saying how happy she was for me and welcome to the family. That felt so nice. Then MY mom tapped me on the shoulder...The night was absolutely amazing.
Back in LA, though, the romance didn’t translate. We would go out to dinner to relive the proposal with friends and he would take up the whole conversation telling the story. His guy friends would say he did this just to tell the story of his own mastery as a planner and that it wasn’t really about me at all.
I still kept in touch with the other man and when I was in Arizona on business he actually found the hotel I was staying in and had breakfast sent up to me in the morning. This gesture made me cry because it was so heartfelt compared to the empty grand proposal at Trevi Foundation; that’s when I realized I needed to move out.
It took many steps and it certainly was not a clean one. I even noticed my blood pressure go up since I was dealing with so much anxiety. But as soon as I made the break, I was ready for fun and ready to be proven that I had made the right decision. I decided I would have a one-night stand with a 26-year old, which was quite empowering. I just did whatever I wanted. My neighbor actually tells me now that when I first moved in I was cautious since I was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing with the boyfriend. I had to get used to just being ME!
I did everything I had not done for seven years, including online dating. What fun it was! Some people put it down, but I felt it was a great way to figure what you really wanted. After about a year of “getting my groove back” I was ready for love and wanted to do anything I could to find it. My friend recommended Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas, which I’ve since recommend to many of my friends - you read it, but it’s a like a workbook too. In it, you learn how to forgive, see your patterns and open yourself wide up.
Around the holidays, I was walking back from Starbucks and this man stopped me on the street to ask for directions. We texted for a few days and he was so interesting. He knew exactly how to tap into what I was saying. Finally after New Year’s we made a plan. We went out to dinner and the conversation was refreshingly honest and real. After 10 minutes we were sitting on a couch enjoying our dinner and touching each other like teenagers.
Now I know people say that their boyfriend or girlfriend is amazing but mine really is this time. He has a wonderful peace about him, yet an energy that will floor you. Couples used to tell me “you will know when you meet the right person” but I did not believe them since I was saying the same thing when I was with my ex putting up a great façade.
We’ve been together now for over 3 years (our wedding anniversary is next month!) and we still keep each other howling and ROFL. In my journal I wrote that my ideal guy would be funny, wacky, edgy, adventurous, tall (he’s 6’9”! ), self assured, enthusiastic and able to teach me new things. I dreamt of us entertaining our friends together and having him surprise me with little adventures. I just went back to read this last week and started crying since this is everything I have now. My heart explodes with gratitude.
The reason I’m sharing my story is because I want to help other women who are going through similar journeys, to support them and give them hope. When you break up you have to think of it as moving to a new city, since you’re probably getting a new place to live, making new friends and going to see new things just based on what YOU want to see. When I was a kid and would fall my parent’s attitude was always “get up, you’re gonna be fine.” You’re gonna be fine too. xo