Two years into our relationship, Rick* received a verbal offer that would send him 2,500 miles away.
I couldn’t fathom how we could possibly have a successful relationship living such a great distance apart — even though I was the woman who’d urged him to apply for the job. He had asked me months before the job was even a possibility how I would feel about him splitting his time between San Francisco and Brooklyn. I uttered something along the lines, “I’m okay with that — as long as I don’t have to move.” But, once becoming long-distance became a reality, I suddenly felt abandoned. Instead of, “I’m happy for you,” our talks generally ended with me stating, “I don’t see this relationship lasting beyond December.”
I said it more than once.
The stable relationship that I had with Rick looked more like quicksand than the rock I thought it was. Just days before the job offer, the ever-responsible Rick signed his name on the dotted line as a committed homeowner, which to me means establishing roots near me. But then came the news that he wanted to move thousands of miles away for a job.
I began to question his decision-making abilities, which, in retrospect, may have been unfair of me. Yet from there, it wasn’t too far to wonder how I could trust this man with my heart.
During his first visit to see me after moving to San Francisco, I was working on Rick’s laptop while he was in deep slumber on my left-side. While doing my nightly searches on Google Chrome, I noticed a folder titled “Ellen” on Gmail, of which he failed to sign out. Ellen* happened to be the name of his ex.
My natural curiosity got the best of me. I opened the folder and discovered a few attempts at communication over the last few weeks. In the last three or four years, I’d say the total emails added up to be around 10. But in recent weeks, there were two.
Ellen was his first love. She moved to Texas for law school. He requested a break. When he was ready to pursue their relationship again, she declined.
Time waits for no one. Or, so I heard.
Knowing what I knew, I thought it was curious that he decided to send her an email to tell her he got a new job and purchased a house. I guess it was like a man and his new Ferrari: “Look at me. Look what I got. Don’t you want me now?”
The morning after my email indiscretion, I confessed without prodding because I make a bad liar. I started out with a hypothetical situation — which I guess some could say was entrapment — to learn if he was in touch with his ex.
He denied it before I could even confess to reading his email.
A common phrase from Rick was “I keep it 100,” which means “I’m completely and totally honest with you. I can and will tell you the truth.” It’s four words that means a lot.
Unfortunately, they were not true: the ex-girlfriend communication was the first time I caught Rick in a blatant lie. He urgently attempted to smooth things over asking, “If Ellen and I hang out, do you want to come along?”
“Um, no,” I said in my haughty tone. I had one request, though. “If you meet with her, Rick, please let me know,” I told him. He agreed.
A month ago, I learned Rick met up with his ex after receiving an early morning email he sent my way while I was offline. He said they’d met up for “a much needed closure talk” and he didn’t tell me beforehand as promised because he “wasn’t sure” how I’d respond.
That right there rocked my world. It changed everything. A promise was made and less than a year later it could not be kept. And, for what? Closure may truly have been what took place between them, but my anger was really about us. We’d been having a rocky time over the last few months. Quelle surprise that when the opportunity came to meet up with his ex, Rick would jump at the chance. But he did all this without telling me first — and telling me over email after I had agreeed just one week prior to move to San Francisco.
Yes, a week after I agreed to move to San Francisco. A mere days after I begun to tell my friends, my landlord and my roommates I was uprooting my life to move to SF, I received a note that he met up with his ex-girlfriend.
He claims they talked about closure between them, but also that they talked about us. He was sharing the troubles we were having in our relationship, problems with communication and trust that become more extensive when there are thousands of miles apart. The fact that a stranger knew more about how he felt about our relationship than I did nearly induced an aneurysm of anger. I imagined her listening and attempting to offer up advice on our relationship. In what world does an ex you might not have closure with offer good advice on a woman you’re currently dating?
I imagine his idea of closure included the end of the idealization of their relationship. He was likely nervous about the direction of our relationship and feeling the anger that I was holding inside from him uprooting to San Francisco and made the decision to meet her without telling me first to avoid angering me. But “I didn’t tell you because didn’t know how you would respond”? That’s a cop out.
I didn’t ask any questions when I picked up the call he made to my phone after the email about meeting up with Ellen. I raged and I broke up with him. I told him to meet up with his ex and live happily ever after because I was taking my hat out of the ring. He pleaded with me to read the bottom of the email, which actually suggested we go to couples therapy and build a stronger relationship. He felt neglected. I didn’t hear him out.
You can’t repair trust from a distance and I certainly was not moving to California after that shadiness he pulled. I couldn’t handle the broken trust and a partner acting out at any sign of trouble.
The sad thing is, in the back of my mind, I knew he would make plans to see her. I was curious if he would live by his truth and “keep it 100″ and actually inform me.
But he kept it zero.