Dating, PSAs

Oh No He Did NOT (Just Ask For the Key to His Heart Back)

It was three days after Christmas, and he was finally back. Tim had been visiting his family down in Florida over the holidays, missing my momentous move to my new apartment.

Home sweet 'doodle home.
Home sweet ‘doodle home.

In 32 years, it was the first time I’d ever lived alone.

I spent the days leading up to Tim’s return getting both the apartment and myself ready: Tree decorated, curtains hung, hair cut, freshly laundered linens… I did everything short of bake cookies (though I almost did that, too). When Uncle Jesse started barking, I ran downstairs and flung open the door.

“Hi!” I exclaimed.

Tim seemed put off by the dog, who was clawing his way up Tim’s torso, but we finally managed a hug.

“I missed you!” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” he replied.

We’d been dating nearly 6 months. Tim was a quiet finance guy originally from Pennsylvania; I was a sarcastic project manager from Jersey. After my first epic online dating fail following my divorce, I wallowed for a month before accepting that the best way to get over a broken heart was to fall in love again.

I cautiously returned to eHarmony in June, and was once again matched with a 32-year-old tall, slender, blue-eyed, brown-haired conservative, but this time, he lived only 15 miles away instead of 3,000. Better yet, he was a runner, and given my recent affinity insanity, he caught my eye right away. It took a few weeks, but eventually Tim asked for my number and we made plans to meet in Manhattan, near his office, for a drink.

After each of our first few dates, he asked, “So, when can I see you again?”

My family and friends got a good vibe from his pictures, and once my sister met him on our third date, she approved. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt, but I definitely liked him. He seemed intelligent, mature and kind, an interesting mix of shy and outgoing. Occasionally he dropped a funny line, although he couldn’t spell worth a lik likc lick.

This may be the first F-bomb on my blog. Worth it.
Man, I hope I don’t have any typos in this post.

On our fifth date, Tim asked if we could see each other exclusively. I said yes.

In September, he called while I was lying on the bottom bunk of my temporary bed. I had finally sold my house and was staying with my parents while interviewing for jobs in the area. All of my stuff was in storage, my entire future up in the air; after a divorce and job lay-off, I longed for nothing more than stability.

“So there’s something I have to tell you,” he began, “And I don’t know why I didn’t just bring it up earlier when you asked me what I was doing next weekend…”

My stomach dropped. Oh, here it comes. I finally let my guard down and now he’s going to tell me he has a wife.

“I’m going to a bachelor party in Vegas next weekend. I was going to tell you earlier, but I forgot and then when you asked what I was doing, I don’t know why I didn’t just tell you, because now it looks really bad…”

“So I guess apple-picking is out,” I replied. Aside from having already made specific plans with me, his voice dripped with guilt.


I wanted him to continue being honest with me, so I accepted his apology and [pretended to] let it go. Two weeks later, I prepared for my first official marathon. Tim was going to come out to Long Island and stay overnight, cheering me on for the big event. A few days beforehand, he texted.

“I’m really sorry, but I forgot I have a wedding this weekend.”

I looked at my phone in disbelief.

“Are you serious? Whose wedding?”

“Don’t worry. Not mine ;),” he replied.

“I can’t believe this,” I wrote back. I made a mental list of all the times he’d bailed or rescheduled over the past two months. Like the night he was supposed to meet my parents for dinner. And forgot he had a basketball league outing. Every time, I reacted like The Perfect Girlfriend. Not this time.

Three days later, I finally agreed to talk to him on the phone. “This has been a pattern,” I explained calmly, my heart racing. “And if I can’t rely on you, we have nothing.”

“You’re right, Jules, I know. It’s inexcusable. I’m stressing myself out by not being organized. I just went through my calendar for the entire rest of the year.”

I liked the humble, mature way he dealt with the situation; it felt worthy of a second third fourth fifth chance, though most of my friends violently disagreed.

From then on, he was careful not to break plans with me. In October, he invited me to spend a long weekend out in Pennsylvania visiting his family.

No, no, I helped. See the wine?

“Your brother is introducing me to everyone as your girlfriend,” I teased.

“I would consider you my girlfriend,” he replied. “How do you feel about that?”

“I feel good about that,” I said casually. Inwardly, I beamed.

“You two complement each other beautifully,” his mother whispered in my ear when we left four days later.

The Maverick to my Goose.
Adding some Risky Business to my Top Gun.

Later that month, Tim got drunk at a costume party and dropped the L-bomb. “I think about you all the time,” he slurred. “Don’t break up with me. Please don’t break up with me.”

“Aw, why would I break up with you?” I asked, trying to console him while that funny feeling tingled in my gut. He wouldn’t answer. I ignored it. He was wasted.

On Halloween, he gave me a card that read, “I’m so happy I get to spend my favorite holiday with one of my favorite people. Love, Tim.” I propped it next to my nightstand where I kept the flowers he would sometimes send me.

Flowers. Making bad things less bad since 1762.

Tim spent Thanksgiving with my family, and by December, we were dropping L-bombs stone cold sober. He bought me Book of Mormon tickets for Christmas, and we planned to run the Disney Marathon in January down in Florida.

A stranger insisted on taking this photo during Santacon 2014.
Santacon 2014.

When he showed up on December 28th at my new apartment, I was bursting with anticipation. It had been ten long days since we’d seen each other. One of the last texts he’d sent had been a series of hearts.


I poured us both a drink and gave him the grand tour, asking all about his family Christmas trip. My life was finally coming together: New job, new digs, new relationship. We took a seat on the couch and I tried not to wonder why he was sitting so far away. He kept turning down offers for dinner while we made small talk.

“My eHarmony subscription expires soon,” I said, pulling out my laptop. “Look at the cute thing they sent.” I showed him the PDF storybook detailing our online romance. He leaned over my lap, smiling, asking questions.

Three hours later, I excused myself to use the bathroom, and when I returned, thinking we’d finally start making out, Tim was standing by my bedroom window.

“We need to talk,” he said.

My mouth went dry. I crossed my fishnet-clad legs and hugged my arms over my tight pink sweater. The outfit was brand new.

“I know I’ve been distant lately,” he said, “and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship. Things have gotten really serious… and… I just don’t think we’re right for each other.”


I stood there in shock. He’d introduced me to his parents! We had plans! When he’d shown up at my front door that evening, he’d held a Christmas gift from his brother – a Disney gift certificate with a card that read, “Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!”

“I’m completely mortified,” I breathed, one hand on my chest, not even bothering to hide my tears.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m really sorry.”

“Well as much as I’d love make this even more awkward…” I said, gesturing towards the door. He wouldn’t leave. Did he want me to tell him it was okay? That I understood?

“Is there something I did? Someone else?” I asked eventually. If he wasn’t going to leave, maybe I could get some answers. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

“No, no, no,” he replied, seeming sincere. “You’re so great, that’s why this is so hard. I’m really sorry, Jules.”

After what might have been 5 minutes or 15, we stood by the front door. He placed my apartment key -the one I had just given him as a Christmas gift- on the counter. I nearly gasped; it felt like another one of his sucker punches. I stared at the key, wondering why he still wasn’t leaving.

“My key…?” he asked eventually, his eyes darting between me and the floor.

I lifted my hand to my forehead. “Oh, right…”

I found my purse and knelt down, rooting around until I hit the fancy little gray key fob that opened the doors to his building. I painstakingly pried it from my keyring while he watched.

“I’m really sorry,” he repeated, backing away.

I sunk down on the couch, feeling him hesitate, hovering over me. I vaguely heard the door close, my mind swimming and yet entirely still.

Did he come all the way here just to get his key back?

I guess these things aren't cheap.
I guess these things aren’t cheap.

Have you ever had to ask for your key back (or been asked to fork one over)? What’s the biggest item you’ve lost in a break-up (besides pride)?


83 thoughts on “Oh No He Did NOT (Just Ask For the Key to His Heart Back)”

  1. I’m so sorry you had to experience that! A friend of mine recently went through the same thing – they met on a dating site, got really close, he met her child, they started planning holidays and then suddenly one day he text her and said ‘I’m sorry but I was expecting my feelings to grow for you, but they haven’t… She was (and still is) really confused and upset about it. Your post was beautifully written…

    1. OOF. Wow. I definitely had a friend or two who said, “At least he did it in person.” Of course, at the time, I wasn’t quite zen enough to reply with anything but, “He just wanted his f%$^%& key back!! And he waited THREE HOURS!”

      Thank you! I’m so sorry your friend went through that. There should be some sort of break-up text blocker, like they do for drunk texting!!

  2. Friendship. I have never been able to make that “let’s be friends” thing work and I seem to be the one who, metaphorically speaking, stands on a frigid Victorian street with my nose pressed up against the glass, looking in at him having a jolly time with what were our friends. I am a tragic Dickensian waif. Oh, woe is me.

    On a brighter note, your new apartment looks almost as fabulous as you do and you have Uncle Jesse. Win!

    1. Ooh, yeah, I think you cut straight to the heart of it, Debbie. I actually have no idea how people can stay friends after a break-up. I had the opportunity to stay friends with Tim, to which I graciously replied, “We were NEVER friends.” (Huh. I wonder why it didn’t work out?)

  3. Wow. That’s rough. Did you ever find out what his deal was? What happened in those 10 days? It was his mom, right? She liked you too much and was pushing him for marriage or something, I bet, and he freaked. Every long term relationship I’ve had, the mom hated me. True story.

    I’m so sorry you got your heart broken again. But congrats on finally selling the house and getting your own place! Bright side? HUGS!!

    1. Not true! In our relationship, I’m pretty sure Babs loves you more.

      I have several (okay, 8,000) theories about what happened, but in the end – he was just right – we weren’t clicking. Even after 6 months, I never felt truly comfortable/myself around him! I just WANTED it to work.

      So many hugs back!! Uncle Jesse and I still look around this place and pinch ourselves!

  4. you seem like such a great, energetic, fun, loving and caring person! You just need to say to yourself that you’re too good for him and that someone like that does not deserve you! You will find someone else, even if it doesn’t feel like that right now. Nothing can stop you creating your own happiness. So go out, enjoy life, take chances and along the way everything will be OK. !

  5. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

    I know this isn’t really a throat-punch situation, but my fist feels itchy anyway.

      1. That is true.

        Online dating is the worst at it’s professed purpose (love! Romance!) but brilliant at generating blog content!!

        Was key-boy this past Xmas? I thought you had ditched eHarmony for Match?

        1. Your memory is on point (unlike mine, because really I ditched them both for vodka). 😉

          Yup, it was an eventful year last year on eHarmony, with “Frank” and then “Tim”! This happened just this past Christmas – my subscription was about to expire (which is what I was saying to Tim shortly before he asked for his key back, LOL), so I definitely was NOT anxious to renew and switched to Match in January.

          And boy did that stoke the bloggy fire… *twists mustache*

  6. Some people would stop at nothing to avoid admitting that they’ve got locked out of their building.
    But seriously, if it’s not meant to be, it’s better if it ends quickly, so that you could find your soul mate sooner.

  7. He’ll be back. You may not want him back when he does decide to come back, but he sounds too indecisive to make this a clean break. At some point, you’ll get some contact from him.

  8. Thanks for sharing your stories, Jules! You are one awesome lady and congrats on the new apartment. I haven’t necessarily lost anything in breakups except some pride and some time (and maybe some pieces of my heart), but I truly believe it all works out in the end. I feel awkward commenting because I can’t even imagine your brother’s side of our story. But I will say this: “Don’t Waste the Pretty!”. Big hugs and props to you!

  9. So sorry if my comment came across as uncaring. As a grown man who reads your blogs and enjoys your humor, photos, everything, it’s tough for me to wrap my head around any guys (voluntarily) walking away from “The Jules”. What fools these mortals be…

    1. Are you kidding?! I burst out laughing! One of my biggest fears with these posts is that they’ll totally bring the house down, so thank you for the levity! And more so for the compliments. Please keep those coming, too.

  10. *facepalm* I swear! What a wishy-washy weirdo. I’m so proud of you for calling him out on his flaky behavior though. I once found my long-term boyfriend’s profile on an online dating site, called him on it, and believed him (more like didn’t throw a shit fest in his presence) when he said he was just there to “meet friends.” He seriously wondered why I didn’t trust him.

    And how could he blow off apple picking?!?! I would have with you, Jules. Better yet, let’s have a cross country movie date! “Trainwreck” with Amy Schumer seems right up our alley. Not to mention the fact that every time I see/hear/read anything with her in it, I can’t help but think she’s your long-lost twin. But of course, you’re the pretty one. 😉

    1. hahaha I AM IN! And that is a high compliment! Thank you, Jess!

      I had a similar moment with “Tim” – saw he was still active on eHarmony after we’d been dating for 4+ months. I called him out on it and he claimed he was just ‘cleaning out the inbox’ because he got phone alerts from the mobile app.


      *double face palm*

  11. Shizzle and a half, Jules! What’s wrong with these guys? e-Harmony really should change its name to e-Heartache.

    I was desperate to get my first boyfriend back so I lured him into pity sex. Bad move. He was having sex with the woman he left me for, who apparently had crabs (not the kind you eat). He generously gave them to me as a parting gift. So I guess I kind of got something in that break-up. Does that count? 😐

  12. I had a very dear friend “break up” with me over a former boyfriend – of mine. She & I spent a lot of time together and I let her have a key to my apartment. She sent me my key back with a note saying she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I still regret that whole mess but I’m kind of realistic in that she turned out to be kind of an attention-whore who has since ditched every good friend she ever had in her life.

  13. I’m glad you ripped the band aid off with this post and went straight to the end. It was less painful reading it all at once especially knowing the ending. Still steams my buns, though. Dumbass. And love the “Don’t Waste the Pretty” comment ( but fairly certain you’ll always have that.) XOX

  14. I know this is a minor detail, but, wow… The phrase “we need to talk”… It’s like we can’t help saying it, yet know the weight it carries, and that there’s practically no need to talk once the phrase has been uttered. No one ever wants to hear it because it’s like a verbal hand grenade, yet the phrase jus won’t go away.

    Anyway, sorry to see this.

  15. I still have the key to my ex’s house! Honestly don’t know what to do with it at this point haha.

    “Nice” to see that guys are the same no matter what dating website they’re on… don’t worry though, there are some really good guys out there! 🙂 Just gotta slough through a bunch of awful ones first.

    1. Oh, I’m sure we could come up with some ideas… 😉

      And thank you! It’s amazing how hard it is to find someone you genuinely ‘click’ with! I kind of just want to bail and start a ‘first date coaching’ school. Interested?!

  16. Dang. Spineless much?

    I applaud you for getting back at it. Being the “Jule” of a person you are your ideal man is right around the corner. I wonder if John Stamos is available…

  17. Holy crap, I just came across your blog and this was the first post I read…I think we could’ve dated the same guy…lol. Although I didn’t meet mine on a dating site; we were together 1-1/2 yrs when he decided that he wasn’t a “relationship” type of guy…wth?!?

    1. It could have been the same guy! I’m definitely at a point where I can’t go anywhere without thinking, “Did I go on a date with that guy / see his profile somewhere?” I think that’s a sign that it’s time to spend more time with my dog.

  18. Really enjoyed this post. I feel for you and hope you find someone that makes this just a “remember that one time” kind of story. If you gave him the wrong key and then broke into his apartment later and trashed it, it would be criminal, but it would make, like, a really good follow up blog post.

  19. I had a guy give me his key. Decided to use it one night to surprise him. Got into his place saw a woman’s sandal on the floor and heard giggling, took the sandal, left the key, threw the sandal in the apt. pool. Yep wonder how long it took him to figure it out

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