I've been dating JS for about 6 months. He initially reached out to me via my profile on an online dating site. We traded thoughtful emails for a few days, spent a long night on the phone discussing music, and then he sent a note: "Well, consider me hooked. Dinner?" I didn't have huge expectations, but he charmed me (and somewhat startled me) by bringing me a very thoughtful mix CD he had put together based on our music conversation (what was this, 1999?), and a bottle of wine whose name was a play on my online user name. He was very nervous, and I was a little too, worried I hadn't lived up to what the wine and CD suggested were somewhat high expectations.
One date became two, one mix tape became two, and by then, and to my surprise, it was evident then that this was a Something. I was initially wary. JS dated like it was 1999 because that was the last time he dated, before his marriage, which was now in ashes. He declared himself thoroughly single. Aside from those reservations, he was also so different from anyone I had ever loved. I love the intelligent, creative, somewhat insane and sarcastic artist types (which generally yields the expected results: drama, intensity, passion). JS was smart, absolutely, a student of pop culture, yes, but not really an artist per se. More an appreciator. What he was, was steady. A listener. Kind. Funny. A dad. A regular guy. When he met one of my close friends for the first time, she pulled me aside and gleefully declared him the most "normal" man I'd ever loved.
And I did love him. In the beginning, he followed an alarming pattern of one of my exes, David, declaring me the most divine creature he'd ever met and wondering out loud constantly why I would choose to be with him - was he the safe choice, he once asked - but once he understood that it wasn't up to him to decide who I chose to be with, and had tearfully confessed to me all his insecurities, and how strongly he felt about me, my guard fell along with my heart.
It was sometimes hard, as his time was not always his own: shift work, a long commute from my house to his, and his parental duties meant he wasn't at my disposal, but we made it work. We spent several nights a week together. I never pushed for more. Never insisted that I know his kids, until he thought it was time (it never was). Never complained when he wasn't able to be with me. Because when he was there, man, was he there. When I lost out on a great part I had auditioned for, he rushed to my house to let me sob in his arms, smearing mascara all over his chest. When my dad was visiting, he asked to meet him, even though I hadn't hinted or asked (and assumed he wouldn't want to). He gladly accompanied me to my work Christmas party. He sent daily texts about how wonderful I was. We giggled about everything. He seemed to have an endless capacity to listen to me talk about work, friends, my family. We watched Dr. Who in bed for hours. You know, boyfriend/girlfriend things.
I follow a pattern. I am always initially suspicious that I am loveable. For the few months (usually around 4 of any new relationship), I am waiting for the object of my affection to realize I'm a horrible, ugly person and leave. I never fully open my heart. I am always making contingency plans to be alone, to not rely on them. But by the end of 2013, I was looking forward to a 2014 with JS, confident in his affection. He was a Keeper. I kept quiet about this, to pretty much everyone. I didn't want to jinx it. No declarations of relationship status, no obnoxious me-and-boyfriend selfies. He was just "my fella" to those who asked.
I went away on a family holiday last week. JS spent the night at my place before I left. I told him I would miss him. He smiled. During my week away, I sent him pictures, we texted about 20 times a day. Things were OK. I was looking forward to seeing him when I got home. There was a small amount of weirdness on the one occasion I actually picked up the phone to call him - I just wanted to hear his voice. He sounded kind of annoyed when he picked up. I assumed he was just distracted, or I had picked a bad time, and I hung up pretty quickly. It gave me a twinge, but then we continued our continuous stream of emails and conversation, and it was soon forgotten.
When I landed late on Sunday evening, I texted him from the airport to let him know I had landed. No reply. I texted again to let him know when I got to my apartment. No reply. It was slightly weird, but I shrugged it off. He must be sleeping, I thought. When I woke up yesterday, I had a short reply: "How was UR flight?" I was unnerved by the polite tone. Where was the lovey stuff? Where were the "kisses" we normally texted each other? For no reason at all, I began to have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Work dragged on yesterday as I stared at my phone waiting for him to text. I checked my email constantly to see if there was an email. I would text him something funny that happened. No reply. I had no idea what was wrong, but something was wrong. I just knew it, more than I knew anything at all.
I should have called. But somehow the call during my trip had made me afraid to call. Maybe it would be the wrong time again. Maybe his kids were with him. Maybe he was at work. Maybe he wouldn't pick up. So instead last night, when I hadn't heard from him by 9 pm, I sent him a text where I said how I was feeling - insecure - that for no reason at all I was feeling scared that he was detaching from me, and that I wasn't sure why it had been so hard to reach him all day. I apologized for being dramatic. I apologized if I had been the one to be distant during my holiday.
It took him over an hour to respond.
When he did, his response was that it had been amazing, that I was an "amazing person in many respects," that he had "never intended to get into a relationship so soon" after his marriage, and from now on, he wanted it to be just him and his kids. That "this sucked," but he loved our time together, and thanks very much, bye-bye.
6 months. No fight. No rough patch. No drama, ever. No tears, other than the happy ones. Ended it with a text.
I never saw it coming.
So, beware the quiet ones.
In disbelief, I told the Italian Ex (who I met up with in London last month - more on that later) that JS had played a similar breakup card to his own - the "It's not you it's me, I just don't want to be in a relationship with anyone right now" card. Cruelly, the Italian said, "Maybe that's just the RCC effect. That's just the effect you have on men."
Now, that might be coming out of the Italian's resentment that I wasn't more "available" to him when I was in the UK last month. Or, maybe it really is the effect I have. That's of course how it feels. Sure, it might be them. But isn't it also me? Because if I was enough, if I wasn't difficult, or self-involved, or any of the things that I am, or maybe a little sexier, they'd want to be in a relationship with someone. They'd want to be in a relationship with me. So it is me, in the end. It is.
Anyway, I cried all last night, falling asleep around 5 this morning, then dragged myself through work today, burying myself in paperwork and conference calls to drown out the resounding silence from my inbox and from my phone. None of my friends, nor my mother, can understand my distress. Because I was so reticent to discuss the relationship, for fear of ruining a Really Good Thing, they took this to mean that I wasn't invested in the relationship. But oh, I was, I was. I'm home now in my pyjama pants and oversize Star Wars t-shirt, sitting on the couch with Raincity Kitty, tearfully eating thai food and listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat (with intermittent breaks to watch Tessa and Scott figure skating clips on YouTube and cry about THAT). It's exhausting and daunting to find myself alone again. I feel old. I feel past It - that I've had enough passes sent my way that I haven't managed to catch, and It is giving up. Who knew that the quiet ones could cause so much damage. This one is really going to smart for awhile.