As some of you may know, Sauce Man and I broke up the day after Memorial Day, a week and a half before our 6-month anniversary.
The first 4 months of our relationship were a whirlwind of fun, joy, and romance. It was great to be my weirdest self with someone again, and it was just plain nice to both have and be a someone. It really felt like we’d known each other for years. Maybe that’s why we assumed we knew each other better than we actually did. It truly felt like we were falling in love, but ultimately we were stopped short.
Mid-March, I told him I loved him. He told me he “hadn’t really thought about it.” I think that’s probably when I started shutting myself off from him, little by little. Withholding my vulnerable, truest self until he “deserved” it by saying it back. Not a winning strategy, to say the least.
Then quarantine happened and the momentum we had gained suddenly turned us into an old married couple, but in a bad way. Only allowed to see each other, we started spending all of our free time together, and I think I lost myself a bit. Desperate for him to feel what I was feeling, I let my world revolve around his, and made more time for him than for myself.
Mid-April is when we had our first big talk. (If I’m being honest with myself, that’s when I knew deep down that we were doomed.) I don’t think either of us knew if quarantine was to blame for the changes in our relationship, but we decided to roll things back a bit in order to recapture our spark—which sounds completely illogical in hindsight. Instead of connecting more and going deeper, I was made to hold myself back from my supposed “boyfriend.” Red flag.
And things did get better, for a time. We celebrated his birthday (no more Tauruses, please!), we Zoomed with his friends, we hiked and biked. But we still weren’t communicating. We weren’t being intimate in any sense of the word. And I went along with it. I saw all of the red flags, and I didn’t speak up. I ignored my gut and pretended everything was fine. I lied—to him and to myself.
So when we had our second big talk in mid-May, I was ready. I knew things hadn’t been good, and I knew it was because we weren’t talking about anything real. A lotttttt of stuff came out during that conversation. Like how apparently there were a lot of small things I did that bothered him—like talking too loud or not managing my time well enough. And instead of bringing them to my attention and talking about them, he tried to manage situations so that I wouldn’t “do” something I didn’t even know I was doing to annoy him. That felt fucking patronizing. Plus, bigger differences—like how we approach money—were becoming obvious as well.
At the end of that conversation (which actually ended on a positive note), we decided to not talk for a few days, so that we wouldn’t immediately resort to our old patterns—like we did after our first talk. He was going to his cabin for Memorial Day weekend (alone—because instead of thinking a change of scenery and a weekend away together could be beneficial, he assumed we’d have a bad time together………………..), and we’d regroup when he got back. That’s when I finally started asking myself what I really wanted, and if I actually wanted to be with him, now that I knew more about his views and values. After a much-needed “me” weekend of journaling and vision boarding (and honestly not missing him all that much), I concluded that while I didn’t yet know if we were a perfect match, what we had together was special enough to keep trying.
On May 26th, he came over at our prearranged time and we talked. Well, mostly he struggled to convey his thoughts and reflections. After a somewhat confusing monologue, I finally had to ask him if he wanted to keep working on us or if he wanted to end things. He wanted to end things. I guess as much as a guy “respects” you, thinks “you’re a badass,” and claims you’re “probably the best girl he’s ever dated,” none of it matters if he’s not willing to fight for you.
Before leaving, he asked if we could hug goodbye. I reflexively said “no” but then acquiesced. I told him I’d miss him, he said he would too, and then he took the longest time to exit my apartment: fumbling with the door knob he’s opened a million times, and staring at me with what I can only assume was remorse as he closed the door on himself as slowly as possible. It was a scene right out of a tragic love story, and I just wanted it to end.
The next day was the worst day I’ve had in a really long time. I slept in, blew off work, and cried a lot. Everything hurt and I hated every minute I had to feel it. The day after that, I already felt so much better. Still a bit down, I was mostly back to normal after 2 or 3 days. I actually started to worry about how “well” I was handling it. And while I’ve had a few bad days since—most of which have been due to the guilt and responsibility I feel being a white person in this repugnant society—I know I’m better off.
While I’ll never know if quarantine was the “reason” we broke up, I like to think it fast-forwarded us to an inevitable realization that might otherwise have taken us way too long to grasp. And for that efficiency, I’m grateful.
I had some amazing times with Sauce Man, but I also learned a lot—about relationships, myself, and what I really want. Sauce Man might have been my boyfriend, but he was never my partner. And that’s what I’m looking for now.
My 20s have been a rollercoaster of sex and love, heartbreak and hilarity, lessons upon lessons, and an uncomfortable amount of self-reflection. As I prepare for my 30s, I’m finally getting clear on what I want, and I refuse to settle for anything less than what I deserve.
To Sauce Man and all the characters who came before him: Thank you, next.