Recently, I had a falling out with someone I loved and cared about deeply. And I fear that I can never reach the point that I can ever trust this particular person or reach a similar level of intimacy with anyone else again.
To give you a brief history, I met her as a 1st year at our first organized party of medical school. It is her recollection that my first words to her were me mouthing, “People like me better when I’m drunk”. I invited myself over to the group she was walking with and since that day we learned to be close.
Most weekend nights of our first year were spent watching movies in my condo with our basic core group of friends at the time. In the beginning, I did not find myself particularly attracted to her. I actually was a bit annoyed by her tendency to generalize, to jump to conclusions, and to non-contextually criticize others. However, after long hours studying together and many late nights talking on facebook, I grew to like her.
Looking back, it is difficult to pinpoint what generated the attraction. Maybe it was the fact that we were both innocent and were a bit off from everyone else, or maybe that we were both seemingly nice people and it is easy for nice people to get along with each other, or maybe we were just both single and available. I don’t know…
Regardless, it took 1 year for her to finally agree to be my girlfriend. But I wish I was more aware of the red flags from the beginning. I wish I noticed the first time that her body language revealed embarrassment when we were together in public, I wish I had to courage to end things when she introduced me as her “friend” to a circle of friends I never met after we were dating for months at that point. I wish I ended things when instead of defending me she joined a group of what I thought were close friends to insult me and jokingly discourage me from entering a particular career path after I showed pretty clear expression that I was hurt in the moment and then to later belittle my perception of that experience by saying that sometimes you are hurt by your friends and that you should just deal with it. And I definitely wish I ended things when she berated me for not trying hard enough to be happy when I was at the peak of what was later diagnosed to be moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder that would require medication.
But I never permanently ended things. In fact, I grew closer to her. Even after we “officially” broke up, we remained emotionally and physically intimate. Despite this bastardized version of our relationship, I grew to love her more and took every piece of criticism as it gradually degraded my self-esteem and feeling of self-worth. I listened to all of her secrets and anxieties. I drove a long distance to see her when she was states away for a short while. I ran to comfort her when she called, even in the periods I tried my hardest not to.
During the past few weeks, my hopes of us getting back together grew stronger. We spent more meaningful time with each other and things were starting to settle down. As it was in the past, there were always moments when she expressed doubts and brought up the idea of seeing other people, something that I could never bring myself to do. But finally last night, she revealed that she has recently has been on 2 dates with a guy that she finds nice.
In that moment, my trust in her completely faded. It invalidated every emotionally deep moment I spent with her in the last few weeks. From an objective standpoint, she is free to date anyone she wants and she is not obligated to be with me and I don’t assert any ownership over her. But I could and still can not not a rid myself of these feelings of betrayal and being deceived and used despite whatever contrary thing she said to combat those ideas popping in my head. Although this theoretically would not be called cheating, I still feel like I have been cheated on given that we were still physically and emotionally intimate while she was going out on those dates. This is the last and final red flag of this “relationship” and I humbly accept that I am not strong enough at the moment to transition this into a pure friendship.
As a caveat to this whole post, I am not saying I was perfect throughout this relationship. In fact, it takes two to tango. But I would assert, I had spent way too long in it. Despite whatever moments we had, I could not let this continue to affect my emotional and mental health, so I cut off all contact with her for now and am giving myself time to heal so that maybe one day I can open myself up to someone else. If there is one thing I learned throughout this entire experience, relationships take a lot of trust and a willingness to be vulnerable, so make sure you are aware of the risks and your ability to deal with adverse outcomes before you emotionally open yourself up to someone.
I hope those that are in stable relationships have a Happy Valentines Day (which ironically would have been our 2 year anniversary :p )