Saturday, June 22, 2013

Special Lady Friend


We "met cute," or at least what passes for cute with me. It was a Friday in mid-April and I was in a room waiting for a meeting to begin when she walked in. She was the last person I expected to meet - not because of the fact that a nanosecond after extending my hand in greeting I was instantly smitten - no, because I had "stopped looking." It had been months since I had been out on a date, the last one not so much a spectacular crash and burn as an evening devoid of any chemistry or electricity led me to a long winter's hibernation and a blizzard of work to distract me from the idea that nearly three years after my ex-wife had moved out, that I would ever find love. 

As she closed her hand in mine, I introduced myself, but instead of returning the courtesy, she said, "you know, someone from your office could have told me what this fucking meeting was about." I was hooked. I laughed, told her to give me her card and I would personally call her prior to any future engagements. We settled in with the larger group and I'm not going to lie, I placed myself in a spot where I could take a good look at her. She was opinionated, passionate and believed very much in her cause; I spoke once or twice, but was completely taken with her. A few hours later, in the spirit of dishing a little bit back to her, I called her at her office … something something about being a man of my word and making sure she had my contact information. We fell into a casual conversation that crept past 10 minutes, then 15, 20, and well past half an hour she was as smart as she was foul mouthed, sharp as she was sexy. 

She told me she was meeting a friend for a drink and I should join them. She asked me to go outside my comfort zone (I'm introverted by nature and can be reluctant to just up and meet strangers). I was nervous, didn't know if she was dating someone, engaged, yell, maybe even married (though she wore no ring), but I took a chance, and said yes. Her friend peeled off after about an hour, the sparks between us were unmistakeable. We sat and talked for another four hours, the time just flew by. I felt as comfortable in her presence as if I had known her for years. I had woken up that morning not knowing she was a person that existed in the world and went to bed that night not believing the world could exist without her.

We were on the phone the next morning, that afternoon and had a dinner date the following night. Hours bled away as the details of our lives unfolded organically, naturally, like two people who just knew each other. That we ran in similar professional circles helped, we could relate to each other's work and laugh at the absurdities we saw every day, but also that we were independent types who did not suffer fools gladly and liked being the smartest people in the room. The attraction was intense and unthinking, something I had not experienced in a very very long time.  Friends and family told us how happy we looked and sounded and were shocked that we had literally just met. 

It was a magical time. The following weeks were a blur of hours-long phone calls, new experiences (Brooklyn bar on a Wednesday night? WHY NOT! Shad Fest in New Hope? I'M THERE!), nary an hour during the work day passed without a quick call, text message or meeting for lunch. It was like floating on air where your every thought is just consumed with happiness and good feeling. Hell, even the first time we had sex was jaw dropping - none of the awkwardness that all too often happens when two people first become intimate. The details started to get filled in too, as we learned each other's interests, I'd see something on the Internet I knew she would like, she told me she wanted me to give her a Twitter tutorial. We were boyfriend and girlfriend without having to "define the relationship" but it actually felt like the best of both worlds - a new romance that was passionate and intense but also had a level of familiarity and comfort that you would ordinarily associate with a long-term relationship. It just felt right

Two weeks in, we went to New York to spend Mother's Day with her family (not a typo), a not insignificant step for me, but also for her, as she underscored that not only does she not just randomly bring guys she's dating around to meet her family, but that in doing so with me, she was saying something deeper about where she thought things were going. Wow. The day was great, her family noisy and loving, but not dysfunctional or spiteful (see, MY family). Things were moving fast and I won't say I didn't get scared a little bit along the way - after all, for almost 3 years I had been (largely) on my own, deeply wounded from the failure of my marriage and all the emotional carnage that went on inside it, the post-divorce spottiness of failed first and second dates and my own feeling of insecurity about a range of things from whether I was still a decent lay (answer: yes) to whether I was worthy of love (a deeper question not so easily answered). 

And while I was nervous to expose these raw nerves, she never judged them. In fact, she was relentlessly positive and encouraged me to look at myself in a more healthy (and balanced) way. It bothered her that my default was to self-deprecate, to diss myself and devalue (fill in the blank) my professional achievements, sociability or my "goodness" as a person. Admittedly, much of that was internalized from years of being married to someone who told me I had little value and when I tried to explain this, I know it sounded defensive and raw. Maybe that scared her a little bit - in fact, I know it did. She worried that although far along from the smoldering ashes of my divorce, that I was not ready for a long-term relationship. I tried to assure her, through word and deed that not only had I learned important lessons, but pointed her to a line in a blogpost I wrote at the one-year anniversary of my ex's departure - that I promised to be a better person to the next person in my life. Indeed, it was through her support and encouragement that I did start to speak up for myself, particularly at work, where I had felt stagnant for a while but was able to jump start things by seeking out new assignments from supervisors. I wanted to show her that I was capable of working on "issues" in my life and I also burst with pride when I succeeded because of her help. 

Memorial Day weekend we went "down the shore" and spent the day with her family and a larger group of her family's friends who get together every year at that time for a day long party. Another affirmative statement of the seriousness with which she viewed our relationship. I could not know it would be the last time we would see each other (at least on good speaking terms). The following day, she got called out of state on business for a week - I was totally supportive, offered to do what I could in her absence (check her mail, stop by her house, etc.) and we kept up our nightly calls while she was away. 

When she came back … I don't know, she was different. She called me the afternoon she returned (a Saturday) and I offered to make her dinner. She had to take another call and then … around midnight she got around to sending a text message saying she had been pulled into work. We spoke the following day with another offer for dinner and she again demurred. We made plans for lunch on Wednesday. When Wednesday rolled around, she did not return a message I left until 12:30 claiming she lost track of time (we both had meetings at 2 so by 12:30 it would have been impossible to meet). I asked her what was going on. She was cagey, she sounded stressed and distant. The thing is, she had not been like this AT ALL until then. In fact, knowing she had been out of the office for a week, I kept trying to give her outs to NOT make plans, but she would make them and then totally ignore them. It was so out of character for her and it made me confused, not mad. She was always good about keeping in touch, in fact had told me early on that touching base for no other reason than making sure the other one wasn't lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs was important to her ("help, I've fallen and I can't get up.") but now, almost out of nowhere, all that went out the window. 

We talked briefly on Thursday, and then again on Friday from work. She had to go but told me, "I'll call you tonight." And that was it. She was a ghost. Never called, never returned a call, voice mail or the (humiliating) "so I guess we broke up" email I sent 10 days later after she went totally radio silent. 

The sick feeling I have has lingered now for weeks - the endless rewinding of trying to understand where things went wrong, how I could have completely misread her, feeling deep shame because years of being married to an emotionally manipulative person made me default to the assumption that whatever bad thing happened had to be my fault because damaged people convinced me for a long time that was always the answer, not wanting to feel anger at having my emotions treated so callously, wondering how someone could be so .. soulless (?) as to lay bare their own feelings in such an honest and deep way and then pull them back entirely. 

None of it made sense. How do you go from wanting to know someone else is not in a pile at the bottom of a flight of stairs to shutting them out completely? Not even saying goodbye? People date, things don't work out, you move on, but this was not a went-out-once-there-was-no-chemistry-so-you-just-dont-return-a-phone-call-or-text-message situation. I was left to wonder what was really going on and why this woman, whose FIRST WORDS TO ME were rather blunt, suddenly couldn't scare up the courage to just explain what happened, even if it was to pick up the phone for 2 minutes to say, whatever, "it's not you, it's me" "thanks for the memories" "good luck, asshole." My relationship history may be a bit spotty, but even *I* know enough to know that pulling this kind of disappearing act is wrong. 

As I have unwound this experience, shared it with family and friends, they have been supportive - that I needed to understand that even if it was "me," a person does not treat another person so shabbily on the way out the door but more so, that it likely was not "me," but her. That the irony may be that it was her, and not me, who was unprepared for a serious relationship and that she simply got scared at how fast things were developing. 

It has not lessened the heartbreak. I do not sleep well, or for long periods of time, my appetite disappears for days at a time, the last thought I have before I go to bed is about her and the first one I have the following morning is too. I think about how someone can go from intimate partner to total fucking stranger in the blink of an eye, can just walk away without an explanation and be okay with doing that to someone who they valued and cared for.  I want to talk to her, not to confront her, but to understand her, because my better angel wants to give her the benefit of the doubt - that there is some GOOD reason for her disappearing act, and perhaps that is part of my failure of personal growth, because even if she did have a good reason, she still could have been a decent enough person to say goodbye (and I am told by mutual acquaintances there hasn't been a serious illness, death in the family or other reason for her to just drop off the face of the earth). 

I'm also trying to look at the bright side (not an easy thing for me). I was a better person to the next person in my life even if she didn't end up being the same to me. It reminded me that I am not broken, I'm mending and I know this because were I truly broken, I would not have been so open to the possibility of being in a committed relationship, shared so much of my past that caused me to feel shame and embarrassment (and trusted her enough to know she wouldn't judge me for it), and been emotionally vulnerable in a way that I knew might end up hurting me in the end (but did because I wanted to be with her, even at the risk of having my heart broken.)

Ironically, we saw each other a few days ago - same meeting, same office, and she would not even make eye contact with me. I wanted to believe it was because she feels ashamed at how she has acted, but in moments of weakness, I took her behavior as a rejection of me, some failing I have that made me unworthy of her. And in her inscrutability I was left to wonder and ask "why?"

74 comments:

  1. I think something must have happened when she went out of state for that week. I guess you probably already figured that part out. But to me, this sounds like the behavior of someone who feels awful shame about something. I'm so sorry you're going through this. What an awful, bewildering way to be treated.

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    1. I went with what she told me - that she was never a cheater and I don't think she had that gene in her. So "something" happening when she went out of town, I just don't buy, but maybe I'm being naive, because I *thought* I knew her and she turned out to obviously not be who I thought she was. But her behavior was/is 180 degrees from pre-Memorial Day to post that I just can't reconcile it in my head. Thanks for writing!

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  2. Either she met someone, or reconnected with an ex.

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    1. I've heard that (see above and one of my IRL friends) but she was pretty adamant that we were exclusive and her most recent ex she never spoke of in ways that would suggest to me that she had any interest in re-connecting with him, but who knows (and she ain't telling).

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  3. SLG it's Twiddle from Twitter. I don't get it either. It, as you tell it makes little if any sense. I do know at the ripe old age of 49 yrs 11 mos and 8 days that some people are just defective, they are wired differently than the rest of us and are emotionally able to flip a switch seemingly at will and it's like poof nothing ever happened between us. Nothing, Nada.

    I don't think it's you. You shouldn't get so down and discouraged. You just got a rotten tomato is all. I don't have the answer to your question. Only she does and for whatever reason she's keeping it from you.

    Keep looking if you feel the need to. Myself, I am happily single and not interested in playing the game anymore. IMHO at best it's a crap shoot and I don't enjoy gambling. Don't know if this has helped much but you wanted opinions from the females. Good luck either way.

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    1. One of the things that makes this hurt worse is (1) I wasn't looking; (2) I found it and (3) it just fit the cliche of "you find it when you're not looking." I had gotten content with the idea that I was going to be alone and then put myself out there in a really personal and intimate way only to get my heart broken. A real kick in the balls. Also, she didn't strike me as a "game player" either and because we were in such constant communication, I would have thought some "red flag" would have popped up to suggest she was capable of this, but nothing ...

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  4. Curious. Did she meet your family? You certainly were becoming a part of her world. My gut reaction is either something happened (or was said) during the 'down the shore' getaway, or while she was on the business trip.

    As I followed this on twitter, I felt you were moving a wee bit fast. But your happiness was a lovely thing.

    She served to bring you out of your shell and grow. So, there's that. The fact that she couldn't make eye contact during the meeting tells me she is not as evolved as you may have thought she was(and as evolved as you are).

    Maybe more than you wanted to hear from Anonymous, but I'm a big fan of yours on Twitter, and so decided - what the hell - I'll share.

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    1. Thanks (for the Twitter compliment). She had not met my family, but that was strictly b/c they don't live here in NJ. And yes, there are those silver linings, but when you're heart sick, seeing things in a positive light is hard. I don't think anything was said that would have set her off, in fact, we had one of our most personal and deep conversations on the ride back from the Shore, so to then go radio silent a week later just does not add up. I guess I am searching for an answer that may never be given.

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  5. I'm with mindfulcowgirl on this one. If I had to guess, I'd say she did something she regretted, namely cheating on you, and then a combination of guilt and rationalization of what she did ('Oh, he was getting too serious, anyway')caused her to give you the cold shoulder. That seems more plausible than that she suddenly decided you were unworthy of love or respect. Regardless of her reasons, or lack thereof, you shouldn't let this experience affect how you view yourself. You obviously are a decent, caring person who treated her well. You deserve happiness; it just won't be with her.

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    1. Perhaps that ends up being the Occam's Razor. Cheating was something we talked about quite a bit (more so in the context of my having done it while being married and feeling great shame about it) and she was emphatic about the fact that she was not a cheater and would sooner bail from a relationship than do something like that. But then again, I don't know what to believe anymore in this whole saga.

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  6. I followed your story on twitter so clicked through on this explanation. Quite possibly a case of too much too soon. Hard to do, but try not to obsess. It doesn't help. Been there.

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    1. Thanks. I want to believe this is the case, if only because it makes the callous behavior understandable on a level that comes from caring/affection not dismissiveness.

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  7. It's surreal. She definitely displayed lack of compassion and kindness. You are pobably better off,
    Though it hurts a ton, is distracting and humbling, you'll meet the right one. If you are happy with you, the right woman will be too. Keep growing- in the good way.

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    1. Again - that's what makes it all so hard to deal with - I had JUST GOTTEN to a point where I thought I was happy with me and took the fact that this new woman came into my life and in ways that felt so right as a clear sign that I was ready and now .. Like having your house blown down right after you built it back up.

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  8. My true feeling, is that it wasn't you. I have been through similar situations before, and I know the heartbreak and constant replaying of things that goes on. Don't blame yourself. At the very least, she owed you an explanation and she couldn't do that. In my eyes this exposes guilt or shame as being the explanation. I hate to say it, but maybe she found someone else on the business trip. Even if she didn't cheat, she could have dumped you asap to be free to hook up with that person.

    Regardless of what happened with her, I applaud your honesty and openness about everything you're going through. It's really touching to read your story. You are clearly, just from reading your words, a beautiful soul. As a fellow introvert, I know it is sometimes easier to just retreat into your shell when something like this happens or close up out of shame or embarrassment, but instead, you have put everything out on the table in the open, and that's amazing. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. I wish there was a "like" button.

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    2. Thank you both -

      Technodork: Thank you for what you said. I am reluctant to open up about my life either "IRL" or online (I think this is maybe the 3d or 4th "personal" blog post I have up out of close to 200) but I was getting nowhere hiding my shame and finally started sharing what happened with people, at first, framing it clearly as something I had screwed up (perhaps being perceived as broken, needy, not past my divorce, etc ..) and slowly listening to others explain that those explanations were simply not consistent with how things were proceeding between us and even if those WERE the reasons, she still treated me like shit in just walking away. Comments like yours really help too. Thank you.

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  9. I had a similar thing happen to me - several times, actually - and in both cases I was apparently the temporary girlfriend while the guy was temporarily broken up with his soon to be fiance/wife. It sucked, and made me mad and confused, but it happened. Nonetheless, don't be hard on yourself, and get back to the dating world when you are healed.

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    1. Thanks. She's not married (i know that much!) but others have suggested perhaps a former flame resurfaced. Maybe that is it, but there was never an indication she harbored any torch for former loves.

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  10. From another Twitter fan: It really does seem like something happened during that trip. Maybe cheating, maybe something else. Once you're steady on your feet again, you should consider echoing her own bluntness by telling her "someone in your life could have told me what the fuck that breakup was about." I wouldn't do it right now, though. The pain is still too raw, and it could explode into something ugly that will prevent you ever getting back together. You need to be able to confront her with objectivity and (if possible) humor, just in case her reasons were something really unusual that have nothing to do with your relationship.

    In the meantime, work and blog and exercise and eat right and try a couple of other dates just to keep the social muscles in shape.

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    1. ^That's a great comeback! However, I tend to think, "Least said, soonest mended."

      Definitely follow the last line of advice :-)

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    2. I like the humor idea (and the line!) I tried some levity in my "so I guess we are broken up" email, I wrote the whole thing off as an exercise in at least getting my feelings out there, even if she didn't respond.

      The rest, I do as a matter of keeping my sanity, but will definitely be leaning on even more so now. I don't see myself dating for a while, this whole experience just threw my radar off so much, like I can't believe I was THIS off about someone (not a common thing for me as I'm usually a good judge of character). Thanks for your comments.

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  11. I don't think it's a cheat thing. Women get cold feet too. What used to be "just checking in" suddenly feels smothering. I've used avoidance to break up but granted it was college. I've distanced myself because he was just too nice before and just wasn't ready for it. She might not even be able to articulate what's wrong or knows she's mislead you to a certain extent. Leaving you hanging is not cool, but I bet as up front as she is, on emotional level she's not and just doesn't want to have to convince you it's over through a back and forth conversation of "what did I do?" and try to justify it...to a guy who's really good at formulating an argument. But love don't care about facts. I think she feels bad and you can choose to take the good things she gave you and continue your journey upwards and outwards internalizing the progress for yourself, not for/through her or slide back into fear of getting burned next time. Keep opening up to new possibilities which is all you can do when loves closes the door in your face and pulls the rug out from under you and loses your puppy. Meanwhile it's summertime...maybe if you keep stepping out in spite of it all is when the real fun starts.

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    1. I really like your comment - thank you. Your points are all well taken and in fairness, while I might have tried to "lobby the court" to reconsider, I really just wanted the courtesy of a phone call (or even an email) to say, it's over. Her behavior was cowardly, regardless and just very atypical of who I (thought) I knew her to be. I am going to try and take from the experience the good things I was able to bring into the relationship and feel good about myself for it, but I was SO happy with her and things seemed to be going SO well to suddenly have my puppy stolen (as you say) is just a lot to process. Thanks again.

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  12. Honestly, it sounds like she was in love with an asshole the entire time she went out with you. She met you and liked that you were available and kind. It was new for her. Later on, he must have reached out to her, possibly during her "business trip," and she shifted 180 degrees when she returned.

    From a woman, her behavior is very familiar and synonymous with 'my asshole boyfriend is back, so back off kind decent man.' I am sure she doesn't mean to be a complete fraud. I bet what she is feeling is shame for dragging you into her up/down back/forth cycle with the asshole in her life.

    I would say she wasn't worth it, but she just might be. Try to move on and maybe, at some point, she will be honest and kind enough to explain.

    Sometimes us women are less complicated than you think.

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    1. A possibility I never considered b/c she had been SO clear that the last b/f was not only out of the picture but had been given a second and third chance before finally being shown the door. But in fairness, I was also a much different "type" than she was used to dating and perhaps that too scared her - even negative, familiar things can seem less scary than new, positive ones.

      I want to think she is worth it, in my heart of hearts I DO think she is, b/c the woman I knew and fell for that first month plus was just so available to me on every level, but this other person is a total stranger.

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  13. Ironically, we saw each other a few days ago - same meeting, same office, and she would not even make eye contact with me. I wanted to believe it was because she feels ashamed at how she has acted, but in moments of weakness, I took her behavior as a rejection of me, some failing I have that made me unworthy of her. And in her inscrutability I was left to wonder and ask "why?"
    =====================================================
    If there ever is a next meeting, and if I were in your shoes, I would most definitely confront her with the "why question."

    You have a right to know.

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    1. Eh - it wasn't the time or place but she knew, the look on my face, the disappointment, the stress, the had-the-wind-knocked-out-of-me all told her the whole story ... I mean, the fact that she couldn't even look at me told me a lot, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that there may never be an explanation, or perhaps it will come months from now and we'll both be in a better place to discuss it.

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  14. From a Twitter follower:

    You are a bright and observant guy whose viewpoint I enjoy reading on Twitter.

    Nothing hurts more than wondering what happened when someone we have shared our deeper self with - especially our vulnerability, cuts and runs. It brings to mind a quote from Iyanla Vanzant:

    “Nobody likes being rejected, but rejection does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Rejection is only damaging when you start believing you are not complete.”

    Relationships of all types are 'mirrors' which reflect our 'selves' back to us - the good, the bad, the ugly + the beautiful.

    Since you felt no need to disengage, it is possible that your 'special lady friend' realized that 'she' was not prepared to be as open and vulnerable as you were able to be? The hurtful part is that she was not able (to date) to express this honestly and honorably with you which would have been 'healing' for both of you.

    We have all fallen into the trap of believing that 'love' comes from someone outside of ourselves. We all yearn for being loved and accepted as "ourselves". Yet, in relationship, it becomes evident that to be able to "be ourselves" we must love ourselves as we are, not as our 'beloved' wants and needs us to be; elsewise it is not a relationship.

    Accepting and coming to peace with the possibility that you may never know 'why' because it is 'her why' will take time. What happened when she was away working is just 'stuff' => 'her stuff'. However, the meaning you make about 'you' from this relationship, is 'your stuff'. Listen to what your voice is telling you. Are you beating yourself up? Reviewing all the things you said/shouldn't have said? This is where you will learn more about 'you' and please consider being as loving to yourself as possible right now. Treat yourself as kindly as you would treat your most beloved.












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    1. I've gone 15 rounds beating myself up and then some. It is hard for me to believe a person who shared SO much intimate detail of her life, I mean, held NOTHING back, was unprepared for commitment. If so, why suck me into her world, speak so enthusiastically about me to the really important people in her life (and introduce me to them) and then leave w/o saying good bye. The "her why" is hers, you are right, but it's also the missing piece and it's hard to do all the other things without having that, but I'm trying. Thank you for your comment, it was wonderful!

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  15. I'm so sorry this happened to you. (I also wish I had been bright enough to realize I could follow you on Twitter!) I don't think it's necessarily because things moved "too fast" - things kind of do when you're so compatible with someone.

    The part about her being your last thought at night and the first thought in the morning -- I've so been there, and it's a painful place.

    Rather than focusing on explanations, please treat yourself well. You are hurt and you are healing. Nurture your body, soul and spirit. The rest will come with time...

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    1. Thank you - you put your finger on the part that grinds at me more than anything else - things tend to move fast when you're so compatible - so how is it that they can evaporate so quickly as well. It. just. does. not. add. up.

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  16. I Got Views and Tiff S have provided the most useful insight to the probable state of mind of Special Lady Fiend (not a typo) who I suspect has already rationalized away her shitty behavior and is contemptuously mocking you as needy and creepy to some other terrible person in her orbit.

    Whether or not there was some asshole "ex" lurking, she got turned off and quite a bit of that is your fault. You have been sentenced to life with a broken heart unless you let Patrice O'Neil and Heartiste inspire you like Andy Dufresne and Frank Morris to chip yourself out of Beta prison.

    Women want to look up to the man they love, that's why irrational self confidence and mystery give them an involuntary kegel workout while habitual self-deprecation and neurotic clinging makes vaginas sad. You put so much of yourself out there what was left for her to chase? Did you ever "flip the script" to make her feel like YOU were the prize? I guarantee if there was an "asshole" or a fling on her trip, it's someone who employed those tactics on her.

    If you want that kind of woman to love you, you need to understand the game never stops.

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    1. I guess I'm not that pre-meditated or calculating in the way I approach the world (or women). I'm 42, went through a really ugly marriage and divorce and was (and am, I guess?) just hoping to find someone to be a mate - a partner who I could share my life with in a low/no stress way, support and appreciate me as a person and be a best friend. For what it's worth, SLF is in her mid-30s, she's not someone still figuring out her place in the world, though I've considered something she said to me that first day (at the bar) more and more recently - that people wonder how she got to her age w/o ever getting married. Perhaps we have our answer?

      And to answer your question, no, I would not want a woman "like that" to love me, that's far too mendacious a way to look at the world and the people you love. GREAT comment though, thank you for sharing it (seriously).

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  17. totally random thought... maybe she learned she has an STD. Now that would cause a feeling of shame and avoidance. Also, not saying it was you - could have been the last bf she had. One never knows. Thought I'd throw it out there for what it's worth.

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    1. Definitely wasn't me - had a full panel before there was any sex.

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  18. Hi there SLG,

    I've been enjoying your tweets for a while, and am so disappointed for you that SLF did not work out. I've been there. Relationships rarely end with a sense of closure and satisfaction, and I wonder if in the end you really would have felt better. Perhaps.

    Sometimes they just don't happen at the right time for both parties. I'm sure you DID have real feelings for each other, but she was just, in the end, not at the same place that you were. And who knows why, and does it really matter what the actual reasons were? She was just not ready for a full-blown relationship, and she chose a poor way of communicating that to you. She's not a bitch, she's a real, obviously caring person, but she does have poor decision-making abilities.

    However, what can you do now? First, don't blame yourself, the issue is with her. Move on from that aspect of it.

    Second, think over the relationship and all the things that worked and didn't work. Now you know just what you want in a relationship and what you DON'T want. Consider this a really really hard class that you have to pass before you can move on to a healthy long-term relationship.

    Third, don't isolate yourself. Give yourself a little time to recover, but then continue to be engaged with people, including women people. Don't necessarily be thinking romance, but if it happens, don't push it away.

    And fourth, please please PLEASE don't consider using or perceiving games and manipulation. The LAST thing you want is a relationship built on artificiality.

    My 2 or 4 cents worth.
    Your gal pal,
    Sandy


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    1. Thanks, Sandy. Regardless of the 'why,' the disappearing act was wrong. Period. Paragraph. You simply don't walk away from someone you value and who values you, so cavalierly. The other stuff you said I agree with and appreciate your saying - I'm not a game player and try to be very upfront about who I am and what I want (something we're told women want ..oops) but for now, just going to try and work on getting to a better head space. Thanks for your comment!

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    2. You are right, the way she ended it was just plain wrong. It makes you wonder, if she felt okay handling THIS that way, what other behaviors would be okay in her mind? You are well out of it. Onwards! --Sandy

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  19. Dear Sweet Lawyer (there's an oxymoron!)
    Love your snarky twitter feed; love your intellectually
    stimulating blog. I feel as if I know you..
    You are bleeding out badly. Stop ruminating. Does no good.
    My advice is NOT to ask her. Be polite, be professional,
    avoid eye contact. She obviously has no guilt about hurting you.
    I can't excuse her behavior, but frankly, it maybe moved
    too fast, too deep, too hot. She got scared.
    Let it be.
    You need some R'n'R desperately to get some confidence.
    Go to a place you've never been, and sow some oats.
    Stay away from the usual areas...No NYC, nor shore.
    Step out of your comfort zone for the time being.
    Introverts can't strut their stuff when hurting.
    Pretend you are someone else: Brad Pitt? Don Draper?

    Here's some advice from an older, female professional:
    -Be very careful when 'hooking up' on your work turf.
    Those attractions often end poorly.
    - It appears that you wear your tender heart on your sleeve;
    There are those who like to collect 'scalps' for their own
    self-image. You've been taken for a ride. Ride over.
    - Be very careful about self-revelations online. Word gets out.
    I would be devastated if my current crush tweeted about it, even
    if it was all gracious. Affairs of the heart should be precious
    and intimate. Did you know Steve Martin and his wife had a baby
    this year? He has said nothing, and I respect him more for it.

    Your everyday life will get better, I promise. I think you are hungry for intimacy, and were willing to take a chance. Good for you! You will be some catch for a deserving, loving, caring woman... she's out there!

    Your loving Aunt Ida


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    1. Thank you, Aunt Ida. Had I listened to your first bit of advice 20 years ago, I would not have married my ex wife (a relationship that started at work), but bygones, right? For a cynic, I'm continuously blindsided by the avarice of others, perhaps it's because as others have said that when scratch below a cynic's surface they bleed romantic.

      Part of all that you said that I wince at is that I had gotten to a place where I just wanted to settle down. For better or worse, all that oat sowing was done when it should not have been, and I was, as I said in the blog, happy to find someone who I ran on two tracks with - the infatuation typical of something moving quickly but balanced against a feeling of long-term familiarity.

      I appreciate your point about anonymity online, although in this case, the outpouring of support is an exception I am happy to make about otherwise sharing parts of my life in this way (which I typically do not).

      But truly, thank you for your kind words.

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    2. Now, sweetie,, pour yourself a scotch.
      It's MM night, that'll make your life seem like
      Disney World.

      You're gonna be ok. You have a fan base,
      you should start merchandising Scary lawyer guy swag.

      hugs,
      YOur fond Aunty Ida

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  20. Hello, my sensitive friend, and thanks for sharing this.

    I don't know whether your Former-Shmoopie-Elect was seeing someone else, waiting to see someone else, or is now seeing someone else she met on that trip. (I'll call this the Asshole Theory.) But I really doubt that any second party can make the party of the first part act like this if she isn't already an asshole herself.

    What I keep reading in your outline of her actions is shame. There is something this woman hates about herself, her life; for a while you helped her forget about it. Then something happened that made her decide that you had come too close to her. It could have been the appearance (or reappearance) of some asshole, as the Asshole Theorists suggest; but my money's on it just being her. Something happened that reminded her of what she's ashamed of, and in that moment you were part of what she considered her "life". Result: you were, and are, now part of that shame she feels.

    I've noticed that the first reaction to something we're ashamed of is that wincing "oh God, there it is again" aversion to the feeling. Then we push it away. Immediately. It's a short trip from the push-away to "that-never-happened" outright denial.

    "Who's calling?" "No one." And she means it. If you're a reminder of the shame, she needs to make sure you are now no one to her.

    I echo everyone else here in my sorrow that this happened to you. But in a way, you may be lucky: shame can indicate pretty recent (or in any case unresolved) damage, of the kind that still haunts that person's everyday life. It's amazing that she hid it from you for so long, but remember: a person who hates herself can't love you. She could have hurt you so much worse than she did.

    And then of course I'd have had to kill her. So we're both lucky. <3

    Love and comfort to you. xoxoxo - Anne B.

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    1. Wow. Thank you. It saddens me to think she hates her life because I never got that sense. It always seemed more to me that she was "fiercely independent," but to look at that through the lens you suggest might also indicate she fears allowing people to get close to her, or that she will bail at the slightest sense that she might be compromising whatever it is that she values the most. I don't know.

      Shame is a an ugly emotion and one I talked to her about at some length because I've felt it in my life over many things, I never considered that the effect of that in another would be to simply pretend like whatever the shameful thing was, never happened (naturally, I would just rewind it over and over).

      Good to know there's someone who's willing to take action on my part, but I wouldn't want to have to defend you in court :)

      Thanks again. This is really amazing.

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  21. If it makes you feel any better, I totally have an e-crush on you. Your personality is both adorable and lovable. You'll find the right one, and she'll treasure you with her entire being. <3

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  22. We like to think when we get older that this type of behavior no longer happens to us. It is so reminiscent of college relationships that grow hot so quickly and then burn out just as fast. No excuse for her behavior, though! Whatever happened a real woman (or man) would at least have called to say it is over. Sorry this happened to you. You seem like a decent person, at least what I can tell from your tweets, and no one deserves to be treated like this. One word for her, karma.

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  23. SLG, I'm another Twitter follower (I think I'm gonna have to start following your blog now too, nicely done) with two cents for you. I noticed in one of your 6/22 replies, the Occam's Razor one, she told you she's bail on a relationship before she'd cheat. That may have been it. Regardless of the cause, I'm sorry for your pain. No one should be treated that way. I can relate to your mindset, you described me in many ways and my wife (of 2 years) is helping me through those issues. Hang in there dude, sounds like you've got a great support group around you and that should tell you something about how people value you.

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    1. Thanks for writing - to me, there are two issues: the why of what happened and the disappearing act. If you don't want to date, no problem. Just say so. Just. Fucking. Say. So.

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  24. It's the worst feeling to have a relationship amputated when you're at the madly in love phase. I hope you don't stop being open to love, but maybe take things a little slower when a woman seeks your trust. There's no way to know what's going on in her head, and frankly she doesn't deserve your mental energy at this point.

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    1. Thanks, Christie! Amputated is such a great (though depressing) way to express how I feel. Like something was just removed without notice. I was (and am) "open to love," which is part of what makes all of this so hard to take - I thought I'd found it.

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    2. They say everything comes to pass. I'm sorry that pain takes its own time to go away. :-( Hugs

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  25. SLG, I came here last night to read your post on Mad Men, instead I glimpsed the inner workings of your heart. I feel your pain. Having read your eloquent posts on Mad Men this season, I understand your desire to find answers. Those answers may be complex or may be simple. As a healthcare professional, after reading your description of the early stage of the relationship, my immediate thought of your loved one was - bipolar disorder, off medication, and in a somewhat manic phase. The feeling of that manic phase has been described by some as similar to the euphoria of falling in love. Perhaps after meeting the family, they recognized the situation – she goes away, gets things in order, comes back, and does not want to discuss it. Just a thought.
    Keep up the excellent writing, there is a book in there somewhere.

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    1. Thank you. I want to believe that although we knew each other a short period of time, the amount of time we interacted was significant enough that I would have picked up a hint of something like this, but no warning signs.

      I'm not sure about a book, but might make a decent indie film :)

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  26. Late 40s never married female fan here. My diagnosis is she suffers from Teenage Girl Syndrome. This can manifest in a number of ways - in this case she is unable to work thru whatever the issues are in an adult manner, so she resorted to the 'I'll pretend it didn't happen' game she has probably used many time in the past. If she hasn't sent you a reasonable explanation by now, I doubt you'll get one. You'll hurt for awhile - there's no way around that because you have feelings. You have a lot of support (online and IRL) and I commend you for sharing and reaching out. You took a giant step and grew from the experience, as painful as it was and continues to be.

    My evening martini will be in your honor!

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  27. Hi there. I was lydiapennyfeather -- occasionally I look in on your twitter account and a few others to see what's going on, how you guys are doing. I'm really sorry to hear that this happened. The Vanishing Act is the most bizarre, cowardly way to deal with a relationship issue, no matter how deep or shallow. You're a great guy. You'll find an equally great girl.

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    1. Forgot to leave advice. There is no advice. It's just going to suck for a while, like a pinched nerve: ever-present pain of varying degrees that's slow to heal. But it will. And you'll move on.

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    2. Why did you leave Twitter? I really enjoyed your tweets and hope you come back. Thank you for what you said, both about the vanishing act being cowardly (something everyone seems to agree is true) and the "it gets better" sentiment.

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    3. I was getting too caught up in it when I should have been doing other things, like studying and looking for a job. :) I still use it for news and whatnot.

      Anyway, I feel for you. At least you weren't dopey enough to fall for a "can't make it, my grandmother died" excuse before the disappearing trick. That's just insult to injury, believe me.

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  28. SLG I started following you somehow though this blog and then mostly on twitter because of your writing and political viewpoint.
    When you started mentioning SLF I wondered if you were "making her up". We all do that. We just make up the person we really need because we fill in all the blanks that are not apparent in such a short period of time. I know it seems long to you; but give it some time. Please don't compare your SLF's "image" with anyone you meet in the future. No one is really that wonderful.

    Really you are just adorable (in print) and I love your musings! I have a son-in-law your age. You are going to just be great!

    Now buck up-Mom

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    1. In the moment, I was tweeting what I was experiencing, and after 42 years and a 99-1 dislike/like ratio with most of the world, I thought my antennae were well honed to know when I clicked with someone. We fell into something that *felt* like it had gone on forever, we were in almost constant contact and just *got* each other in a way that rarely happens for me. Yes, some of it was image, but I never got the sense she was anything other than being authentic in who she was. Maybe this too is part of her authenticity (just the dark side of it). Thanks for the words of encouragement.

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  29. Since reading your blog which I previously commented once immediately after I first read it), I have found myself pondering your situation and story every free/bored moment I get. I have to say this blog post really intrigued me. Probably because I love psychology and trying to put myself in people's situations or figure out their motivations. Whatever the case, this blog entry has been sorta floating around my brain since I read it.

    The only thing that I could really pinpoint as being a potentially telling sign is how after the business trip, she kept making plans with you even when you tried to give her an out, and yet she kept breaking them. To me, this is clearly the actions of someone who is conflicted. She was still TRYING to hang out with you, at least convincing herself at the time when she made the plans, but when it came time to do it, she backed out.

    What would cause that? That's the question I keep coming back to. It may be meaningless... but it seems to me that if you could figure out why she kept backing out of the plans, and fighting her instinct to spend time with you, you'd be very close to solving the mystery of what happened.

    Just a thought... could be way off base.

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    1. In the moment, it was played off like it slipped her mind - oh, I got called into work and oops, 7 hours passed and I'm texting you at midnight. We're supposed to have lunch? I have no idea where the time went, but I totally missed the fact it was 12:30 (and I somehow didn't have my phone (which is practically an appendage) on me and missed your message).

      Behavior that would not be in and of itself odd, but was totally at odds with our interactions prior to the week long separation where calls/texts were always returned (on both our ends) quite promptly, though it was rarely an issue, because we were always picking up on each other.

      Go figure.

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  30. People sour. Sometimes they are damaged to begin with and the step back is simply inevitable.

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    1. True true. But at least have the decency to say goodbye.

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    2. Confrontation is impossible for some. Avoidance a shield. Never believe that another person sees the world the way you do. What is right and possible for you is not necessarily in her bag of tricks. In the long run you dodged a bullet. Doesn't help right now but someday it will be a faded memory.

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  31. I think she got scared. Sometimes people just walk away. There are people I wish would have said goodbye to me, rather than just be shitty. I don't know what it is in our culture, which gives us so many ways to connect, seems to permit the sudden undoing of that which otherwise seemed so good.
    You are a worthwhile person. You're smart. You're going to keep growing and building and not give up!
    *hugs*

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  32. From a commentor who accidentally put this on the Mad Men comment section:

    I was looking for a cogent discussion of Mad Men. I found that and then read this entry. My thoughts...

    It is impossible to truly know anyone in the brief amount of time that you knew this woman. You were in the best behavior, wooing, facade stage of the relationship. Though you thought you knew her, the amount of sharing that you both apparently did only suggests poor personal boundaries.

    Apparently, her more true character emerged. This is not someone you want in your life ever. Someone who behaves in this way reveals serious character flaws that would appear again and again, perhaps in different guises or different conditions or different situations, but the flaws would reappear. She seems to share much in common with your ex-wife.

    Just as an earlier person noted that some women are drawn to asshole men, I fear you are drawn to asshole women. Recognize her for who she revealed herself to be not who you thought she was. While you are likely a good judge of character, that ability flies out the window when lust/love enters the picture. As you move forward, consider why you are drawn to abusive women.

    Understand that you did not deserve to be treated the way she treated you. Get stronger. Take time to let relationships slowly develop. Get justifiably angry and not wounded. Move on, leave her far, far behind. Do not give her any reason to believe that you pine for her or that you ache. But don't use this experience as a reason not to love again.

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  33. Maybe she got tired of pretending to be the kind of girl you would just love, and took her more negative traits and all the rest of her out of the equation. So sorry for your pain.

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  34. I will get killed for this, but I have often told men that I would "never" cheat and done it. I have been in love (at least while I was with the person) and done a complete 180 when not in their company. I am around the same age as you, and sound a lot like the woman you fell for. We like m,en like you.....for awhile. I am sorry, but you are incredibly naive. She has shown you who she is. Accept it.

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  35. I had the same thing happen to me. I wish I could talk to you offline if I had your email, the details are so similar. I still (after nearly 3 yrs.) keep hoping she'll show up one day and tell me how wrong she was and what we meant to each other. It seems so hard to move on...kind of like an amputation, where you still feel the missing limb. We were together five years. It might almost be better if she had died or something, then at least there'd be some certainty about the reason for her leaving, as it is...I still miss her and think about her every day. This will have to be the last one for me.

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  36. Writing this must have been really cathartic. I am dealing with the exact same things (after 3 years together) and could swear I wrote this myself. I tear up just thinking about it. I still have no answers. But, at least I have my Yoda. He has bad breath, but, not every cat can be Pumpkin. xo to you. I would love to walk through the Princeton gardens with a special someone some day. For now, I am stuck with strolling through my angst.

    BTW: I've been an ahole in a relationship before. But, one thing I can say is I've never emotionally lied or used someone. I have abruptly left people, but, always told them to their face and made things clear. (no avoidance, breakup texts, emails, etc)

    At 40 and dating others in the 40-50 range you'd think this kind of conduct would be a bit more evolved. so disappointing!
    -KJ

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    1. Thanks for your comment and I'm sorry for what you're going through. 3 years is a long time and I'm sure the hurt is still very raw. I don't have any answers other than to be good to yourself, lean on the people you love and trust, and, little by little, it will get better. For what it's worth, I did get my "why" well after the fact, or at least a facsimile of "why," and we're in regular touch now, although that can amplify, as opposed to lessen, the sting.

      PS - Pumpkin may very well have bad breath, but because of her feral ways, I haven't gotten close enough to find out :)

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