Posted by: Andrea | September 4, 2008

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad break-up

Prior to my relationship with my most recent ex, we’ll name him The Sailor, I dated another guy here in Scotland.  We’ll call him John.  Obviously not his name, but his real name might inadvertently lead him here and well…let’s just say I never ever want him to be able to find me again.

John and I met on the internet, as people so often do these days.  This was my one and only time dating online.  I was 25 and had never had a ‘real boyfriend’ though I’d been on a few dates and had a few pseudo-relationships before moving to Scotland.  At the time I wasn’t exactly the vision of confidence I attempt to be now, I was still relatively shy and wasn’t especially convinced if I had any dating skills at all.  For quite a few years I’d been totally incapable of even speaking to men, much less flirting or going on a date.  I’d pretty much blundered into my previous relationships by pure chance.  The internet dating thing was inspired by the total panic that I was 25, had never had a ‘real’ boyfriend and was going to just keep getting older and older and the next thing I knew I’d be 50, surrounded by cats and wandering around in a moth-eaten wedding dress talking to myself.  I thought this situation needed to be resolved.

In hindsight, there were definite warning signs.  John seemed so nice and normal at first.  He was the perfect example of the ‘good on paper’ guy.  He was finishing up law school and spent the rest of his time learning to fly planes and writing music.  He was in a band.  He ran his own business on the side playing at weddings and selling cds.  He was polite and considerate and wasn’t afraid of commitment.

But.  And there were some BIG BUTS.  He didn’t seem to have very many friends.  Ok, he had no friends except his brothers.  He said he was just a solitary person.    HE LIVED AT HOME.  (This I accepted because he was still in school and actually did own his own flat but couldn’t afford the mortgage payments with no salary.  So he rented it out while he was finishing up law school.  Ok, I said at first.  This isn’t SO bad).  He had really bad fashion sense.  No table manners.  And he had a mother from hell.  Oh, and he only listened to the Beach Boys.

At around three months in I realised this wasn’t really the relationship for me.  I seriously considered ending things but couldn’t bear the horror of breaking up with someone.  I said to him that I thought things were going a little bit fast but we had a talk and decided to stay together.  AND THEN THE CRAZY CAME OUT.

It was another seven months before I could finally get the courage to break up with him.  During that seven months he alienated all of my friends.  He actively tried to get me to stop seeing them.  He accused me constantly of cheating on him.  He became fixated on one of my male friends and told me I couldn’t be friends with him anymore.  He was obsessed with the fact that I’d been intimate with other men before him.  When I was out with my girlfriends and didn’t text him back fast enough he’d accuse me of talking to other men (apparently not ever allowed).  He started planning our wedding and driving me out to churches and stately homes where we’d have the reception.  He’d freak out if I didn’t call him each night, saying I didn’t love him enough.  When I said I was really having difficulty with this relationship, he’d tell me I just was getting cold feet and I needed to ‘get over the hurdle’ to reach blissful commitment.  Then he’d say that my ‘cold feet’ had made him insecure and I needed to tell him I loved him MORE often.  He called me selfish.  He said I wasn’t supportive enough.  He was looking for a mother and a girlfriend all wrapped up in one.  He said he wanted to get married so that he’d ‘always have someone on his side.’  He was basically insecure, unhappy, depressed and BATSHIT CRAZY.

Finally, FINALLY, he made a friend at law school.  A girl there apparently had a crush on him and would make him cakes.  He’d tell me about it, probably in the hopes of making me jealous.  I’d eat the cakes and in my mind I’d think OH PLEASE JESUS DATE HER INSTEAD.  He seemed to be moving forward with his life and I thought, maybe, MAYBE, he could survive a break up now.

Well.  It should come as no surprise that he could NOT deal well.  I broke up with him on Saturday night and I knew he was falling apart.  It made me incredibly, horrifically guilty.  I cried all Sunday and when I returned to work on Monday I kept having to run to the bathroom to cry.  He’d sent me texts constantly, begging me to take him back.  He called me on Monday at lunch, asking me for some explanation of what went wrong.  In my calmest voice, I said that I couldn’t marry him and that we’d both always said there was no point staying together if there was no future.  He seemed to accept this and said he’d like to stay friends.  I said with some time, that’d be nice (thinking, um…HELL NO BUDDY).  He seemed calm, rational and as if he was accepting of what I said and of what had happened.  For the first time, I didn’t feel like crying all the time.  I thought, maybe this will be ok.

I should have known better.

Over the next three weeks, I was bombarded by the most hurtful, awful, horrible things I have ever had anyone say to me, both before and since.  He accused me of being incapable of commitment.  He said I was ‘inherently damaged.’  He said it was my fault that we didn’t work out, that I’d ‘given up on us’ because I was so afraid of committing.  He said his dad (a psychiatrist) thought I had serious problems.  He said I’d obviously never loved him and was maliciously using him from the beginning.  He accused me of using him for sex.  He said my parents were odd and his entire family thought my mom was insecure and strange (based on the one time they’d met them, during which his parents talked the whole time).  He said my dad didn’t love my mom.  That I’d learned my commitment problems from them during my damaged childhood.  He said my dad had obviously cheated on my mom.  That the reason my dad hasn’t retired yet is because he doesn’t want to have to go home and spent time with my mom.  He said I was selfish and damaged and that I’d never get married and he’d be married within a year.  When I stopped answering my mobile he started calling my house phone just to tell me how awful I was.

Then he’d call and ask if we could be friends.

Needless to say, after THAT experience I was terrified of breaking up with anyone ever again.  I was hesitant about even dating.  But I learned a lot from that relationship and I told myself I’d never put up with any of that behaviour again.  Of course I also started to seriously question my own ability to choose a good partner.

So it was with real trepidation that I answered the phone last week when The Sailor called.  We’d made it through one only slightly awkward meeting that I felt had gone really well, considering my past history.  I’m still completely and totally terrified that he’s going to turn into the beast from hell and start attacking every aspect of my personality, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk to him.  But we did talk.  And it was surprisingly nice.  We laughed and joked and talked for an hour with no awkwardness.  He offered to pick me up from the airport when I get back from Chicago in a few weeks and wants to go hiking sometime soon.  He was genuinely sweet and nice and never once called me damaged.

Huh, I thought, when I hung up the phone.  I didn’t think it was possible.



  1. I hate “John”. If I ever ran into “John” on the street, I would kick his verry horrible, no good, very bad ASS….all the way back to his mommy’s house where he belongs.

    And I wouldn’t feel bad about it.

  2. You know what? I think I’d do the exact same thing.

  3. Wow, that dude has some issues. Maybe a tumor too. I am sorry you had to go through that. That is insane!
    And that is why I am single. Right for that very reason.

  4. Um…YEAH. He was just really really crazy. But hey, now I’m SO much better at picking up on the crazy, so luckily I’ll never make that mistake again! You have to look for the silver lining somewhere.

    The funniest part was that a few months after the breakup I was reading a book on relationships and psychological problems that can cause difficulties. It highlighted this one about ‘mother issues.’ I swear, it was like the author knew the ex personally. I got such a laugh out of that one. It also explained A LOT.

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