Friday, June 20, 2008

Paths not taken

The guy I almost married's wedding is coming up soon. We had dated for 3-5 years, picked locations where we could both get good jobs and I helped him choose his internship, and we started to plan a wedding. He shopped for engagement rings and checked out books from the library on how to plan a wedding. We chose a date during the week of our anniversary. When our favorite vineyard closed (I'm not the kind of person to have a favorite vineyard, so it's that good), I bought a bottle of wine for when we got engaged. But then out of simultaneous sanity and insanity, I broke up with him.

(When it's over, it's over, so it doesn't much matter who broke up with whom. Except I feel the need to add that for what follows. In one of the few conversations I had with Michael recently, he expressed surprise that I was the one who broke up with the guy I almost married. Do I really seem so desperate?)

He got a permanent job exactly where we were going to be together and their wedding date is the day we had chosen, the week of our anniversary. After months and months of not thinking about him at all, now that I know he is getting married I keep thinking about him, especially given their wedding date. I suppose because it's a little bit like a death: we used to speak a few times a year, and now the expectation seems to be that I can't talk to him again after he was such a big part of my life. He has been dating this woman for 1.5-2 years, and asked me to get back together 6, 4, and 3 months before their engagement. He only told me difficult things about her, such as her fairly debilitating mental illness and the fact that he scared himself how angry he would get with her since she looked up to him so much. When I asked him if he loved her 4 months before their engagement, he hesitated and said how grateful he is to her for being so supportive. Of course he might be reticent to say good things about her to me, but it's so hard to hide being in love even if you try. I couldn't hide my feelings for the person I'm in love with.

The whole business concerned me and I'd been thinking about it more, so I called him up. I thought he could find a woman he could have a more equal relationship with. Our relationship had been imbalanced, and his relationship seemed imbalanced the other way. He proceeded to give a list of ways in which she was better than I was. Ouch. Though mostly they were things she was doing for him, which underlines the issue of equality. Not my problem. Not my problem. Not my problem.

Women who are less attached to their careers really do have an easier time finding relationships.

Part of me thinks that I gave up my only opportunity to have a solid relationship. Definitely I gave up my only chance to get married while young, and so it was that I ended up plunging back into the world of older dating, with all its inequalities and stereotype reinforcement.

I wish I could say that I didn't regret anything or that I couldn't have acted differently than I did, but the reality is that I could have.

I can say that breaking up with him allowed me to find a relationship of equals where there's palpable love and affection in even criticism, and somehow the things that would drive me up the wall with someone else just don't bother me, and I have a hard time staying angry with him, even when he made me furious, and we're secure in the other's love. Though we live a few time zones apart and he doesn't want kids and isn't even sure whether he wants to marry anyone, and he just broke up with me. He's still my best friend. And I'm his, though that's more by default.

I am very grateful: some people never find love in their whole lives, and I've found love several times. Rising expectations from near misses are still frustrating.

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