Dating, humor, PSAs

Can You Get PTSD from Dating?

Go-Jules-Go-title-graphic-PTSD-from-dating

Yesterday I had to interview someone for a grad school assignment.

Emphasis on “had” to.

Assignments like this send me, a 36-year-old introvert, into a cold sweat before the semester even begins. Especially when I land an interview with someone who has a very fancy title in a sector with which I am very unfamiliar.

I immediately took to Google. This man and I were from nearby towns and he was, I soon learned, just a few years older. We undoubtedly had acquaintances in common, changing the whole tenor of the interview. I found him on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube…I suddenly knew way too much about him before even meeting, reminiscent of my prolific dating days.

“Just chill out,” I told myself. “At least it’s not a date!”

Except it totally was. Coffee shop, late afternoon, two people with an agenda…

As soon as my interview subject -let’s call him Ted- arrived, he stuck out his hand and said,

“Hi Jessica, nice to meet you.”

Did he just say Jessica? We’d exchanged at least five emails prior to meeting. Perhaps I should rethink my signature.

Go-Jules-Go-new-email-signatureHe had the Book of Mormon-meets-Quasi-Casual-First-Date look down pat: pressed checkered button-down and perfectly coiffed hair, complemented by fitted slacks with matching belt and shoes.

“You know, I just came from the same coffee shop in [a nearby town],” he said, walking towards the counter. “I was meeting Mr. Mucky Pants from the Board. We had so much to discuss, I didn’t even get to have coffee.”

And thus began a 90-minute, name-drop-laden autobiography in which Ted was the unsung hero.

Beginning in 6th grade.

I managed to ask two of my eight questions.

img_20180911_181727793
And here I was worried I didn’t prepare.

Midway through, he veered -unprovoked- into his personal life, detailing his recent divorce.

“I’m a really happy guy,” he said repeatedly, with a razor sharp edge to his voice. “I played the role of the guy who tried to fix everything. I have a really long fuse, you know. But get this…”

Ted went on to describe his ex-wife’s grievances, and then how wonderfully everything worked out for him, because:

“I’m a really likable guy. I mean, really. I’m so easy to like.”

“Jury’s still out,” I replied before I could stop myself.

He plowed ahead, telling me about the amazing woman he’d met shortly thereafter, and I wondered how I’d ever get us back on track. He leaned across the table, his hands dangerously close to my Central Perk-sized latte. I angled back in my chair, legs crossed, my pen hovering over a small notepad. My heart rate picked up. The flashbacks came in nauseating waves.

…The guy who showed me YouTube clips where he surgically removed his big toenails…

…The guy who wanted to hook up because he and his wife were “on a break”…

…The guy who told me he only dated “German girls”…

…The guy who said his mother made him “scared of sex”…

...The guy who sent me acapella sound clips of Seal songs

…The guy who–

STOP!

STOP!

MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!

“So the next day, Ms. Fancy Drawers called and said she RECOMMENDED me to the Board.”

I snapped back into the moment. Ted was still going.

“This woman has met the president and the pope, you know? Yeah so that was exactly 17 years ago today. That’s right. I was sitting in her office, seeing smoke across the Hudson.”

I nodded and scribbled in my notepad while Ted talked about how hard 9/11 had been for him, personally, on the very day of his esteemed new role.

“Do you have kids?”

Wha…did he just ask ME a question?

“No,” I replied, sitting up straight. “But I do have a d–”

“Well, I have two,” he said. “You need to show kids that THEY’RE IN CONTROL of how they react to everything. You know? Shit happens.”

“Thank you again for your time,” I said when he finally paused to take another sip of his artisan cold brew. I also gave silent thanks to the Merciless Parking Meter Gods who brought this interview date torture to a close.

“I just hope I’m always this accessible,” Ted replied.

I hightailed it to my car, and for the next hour, trembled in the corner of my apartment, staring down the Ghost of First Dates Past.

Jules-meditating-Zac-Efron-spirit-guide
I think I’ll stick to this.

I shuddered as I thought about how Ted embodied every other horrifying first date I’d had over the past few years. The ones where I’d laugh and nod, asking question after question, arriving home exhausted and disappointed, my vocal chords atrophying from lack of use. I’d take off my make-up and high heels, picking peacock feathers off my dress – the same dress I’d second-guessed every day for a week.

I poured myself a pity glass of wine, just like I did back then, and remembered where I was four years ago.

Newly divorced. Like Ted.

Living alone for the first time in my life. Like Ted.

Starting a new job. Like Ted.

Craaap, I thought. Ted is ME. For a split second, it all came rushing back. I had been so scared. Sad. Self-absorbed. God. I wouldn’t pay to go back there.

And the tremors finally subsided.

So.

~*~*~*~*~

Maybe I’ll give him a pass this time. What do you think?

~*~*~*~*~

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Dating, humor, TV Junkie

Stranger Danger: The New Dating App Sweeping the Nation!

“So what dating app do you use?”

“Mostly Tinder.”

“How is that going?”

“It’s fine, especially if you’re not looking for anything serious.”

My eyes darted back and forth between two women, a friend and a fellow partygoer, having one of those conversations that went from ‘Nice to meet you’ to ‘I’ve been in therapy for eight years’ in 7.6 seconds.

“What kind of guys are you meeting?”

“A mix. I have a thing for dark-haired guys.”

I opened my mouth and…took a big gulp of bubbly. I was pretty sure my only dating apps had been designed by guys who looked like the dad from 7th Heaven.

7th-heaveh-dad-daughter
“Now listen up, Mary. Just because I’m a known child molester whose left hand could be headed anywhere doesn’t mean my dating advice blows.”

Frequenting such upstanding apps as eHarmony and Match had resulted in stories like this. And this. Annnnd this.

Match-misguided-selfie
Spoiler alert.

“Oh really? You would like the guy I just met a couple of months ago. Caramel skin, dark hair, green eyes…”

“Why didn’t you like him?”

“Too young for me, but he’s perfect for you.”

I watched the conversation between my friend and a complete stranger unfold, wondering if it would outlast the Prosecco supply.

Jules-Holiday-Inn-balcony-2
‘Cause then we might have a problem.

“I’ll see if I can find his number.”

“Okay!”

I blinked. Hang on. What just happened here? A stranger we’d met an hour ago was giving my friend the number of a stranger SHE met three months ago and… My head started to spin, not unlike when my girlfriends plan things.

funny-owl
I want my Mommy.

Then I started to wonder… Was this really any less creepy than swiping your finger across a stranger’s likeness to indicate that you might want to share awkward conversation and unlimited breadsticks? Was this, in fact, a far more appropriate vetting system?

titanic-molly-brown
I know I just met you, Rose, but I’m telling you. Don’t ever let this one go. #titanicpuns Photo credit.

The next morning, the woman from the party called my friend.

“Hey, it’s Stranger Lady from last night! Great news! I found Stranger Guy’s number!”

Without a moment’s hesitation, my friend texted Stranger Guy with a few cute lines and a couple of photos of herself.

What do you think? Should we create an app for this? 

Go-Jules-Go-Stranger-Danger-app

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs

My (Big) Little Secret: Win Over Anyone You Want

I’m going to let you in on a (big) little secret.

I know how you can win over ANYONE YOU WANT.

Are you ready?

No… You’re not. You’re not ready. Stop. I see your face. You’re not ready. I’m not messing around.

Are. You. Ready?

Oh. Okay. Fine. You want my credentials:

  • Years 0 through 21: Unrequited Love
  • Years 21 to 31: White picket fence
  • Year 31.5: Divorce
  • Year 32: Rebound from Hell
  • Year 32.5: Rebound from Hell: Fully Reloaded
  • Year 33: 10 Dates in 10 Weeks
  • Year 33.5: (Elective?) Celibacy
  • Year 34: Well…but he’s so nice…
  • Year 35: (Elective?) Celibacy Reboot
  • Year 36: TBD

So.

Where were we?

Right.

Go Jules Go_My Big Little Secret Win Over Anyone_title graphic.png

Do you think it’s looks? Do you think it’s money? Do you think it’s who you know?

You’re wrong.

I’m not the funniest, smartest, richest, or most beautiful person you’ll ever meet.

Jules-Crazy-Eyes
I know. This is coming as a shock.

I’m not being modest. I’m being honest. If they paid me for cellulite and drunken snafus I wouldn’t even have to be writing this right now.

But look at Year 33.

See that? Ten dates in ten weeks. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s a thing I did. Me. A textbook introvert who would rather Tweet-watch a show with a group of strangers than have an actual conversation. I think MeetUp is a place where people go to avoid their families on not-real-holidays like Memorial Day. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat tortillas in front of the refrigerator wearing pajama pants held together by a safety pin that I may or may not have inherited from Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

And out of those ten dates? Eight of them asked for a second one.

Why?

Go-Jules-Go_Win-over-anyone-list.png

During this phase of, er, prolific dating, my hair changed. My weight changed. I think my job even changed. None of that mattered. No one cares. People only care HOW YOU MAKE THEM FEEL.

Except a few.

A few people who really love you.

And why am I telling you all of this?

Because no one asked me for a third date those few people who really love you need to include YOU.  I grew up feeling rejected (see: years 0-21), and now, I suppose, to prove a point, I can (kinda) get anyone to (sorta) like me anytime I want. And so can you.

But it doesn’t mean a thing.

And if you don’t love you?

Well. I do. So.

SUCK ON THAT.

(…See? I just got you to like me, didn’t I?)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs

My “Eep” Dating Moment: What Would You Have Done?

Last week, I was tricked back into online dating.

IMG_3017

Okay fine. No one promised me candy if I climbed into their van, but someone from Match.com texted me out of the blue.

“Hey! Would you be up for a cup of coffee sometime? I know you said you’re in a relationship but nothing wrong with friends. This is George, the goofy guy from [nearby town].”

George and I had made it to the texting stage back in early April, when I was in the middle of my ’10 first dates in 10 weeks’ phase. We were all set to meet for First Date Coffee when I decided to cancel to pursue a budding romance with someone else. George was very understanding.

His text, now three months later, threw me for a loop. My budding romance had turned out to be anything but, and I’d since sworn off dating with the type of fervor usually reserved for monks and fruitarians.

I mean do I HAVE to be the apple (or grape or banana or whatever the hell that is) of someone's eye?
I mean do I have to be the apple (or pineapple or coconut or whatever the hell that is) of someone’s eye?

I stalled for two days.

“Hi George!” I eventually texted back. “Good to hear from you! That sounds fun – although as friends, we can meet for a drink instead, because who cares about first impressions?!”

Drinking-Champagne
I may have a reputation.

We quickly settled on meeting date and location. He suggested the very place I was going to recommend, which seemed to bode well. But did he really think I’d meet him if I was actually in a relationship?

“No f^&*# way,” said my girlfriends. It was a hot topic over happy hour that Friday. “He saw you were back on Match.”

It was true; after a 10+ year failed marriage, two eHarmony heartbreaks and several Match.com face palms (about which I hope to eventually tastefully blog), I had recently logged back onto Match, browsing the bottomless pool of misguided selfies. Each time I thought about messaging someone, I came to my senses.

Match-misguided-selfie

Leading up to the non-date date, my anxiety morphed into full-on dread. I reread our text exchanges from early April. They were pretty funny. Was I going to have to start shaving my legs again?

On the big day, George and I arrived at exactly the same time. He was tall, nice smile, put together, friendly enough. Definitely nervous and trying to hide it. I was always nervous, too, but if there was one thing I’d learned over the past year: I rocked at first dates. The formula was simple, and had nothing to do with any merit or attractiveness on my part:

dating-formula

“Are you a drinker?” George asked as we walked toward the bar. I shot him a look and he laughed.

B*tch please.
B*tch please.

He never asked if I was, in fact, seeing anyone, and throughout the night, kept leaning his arms across the table. At one point I had to put my hands in my lap to avoid contact. Which meant I couldn’t reach my wine. Bad move, George.

In response to several of my comments about food, music and movies he replied,  “You’re earning points with me.”

Comments like that used to make me blush and giggle; now I just wanted to go home and watch Little People, Big World.

I thought the restaurant closed at 10pm and I could make a smooth escape after two hours, but we wound up talking until nearly midnight.

I feared an awkward hug goodbye in the now-deserted parking lot, so I waved, shouted something about owing him a few book titles and bolted. He looked so taken aback that I wondered if I’d ever hear from him again.

He texted twenty minutes later.

He said he was glad we’d met, and sent a few Instagram clips of him singing. We’d talked about his musical pursuits, but I was surprised to receive four 15-second videos.

All you could see in the videos was his phone, while he earnestly sang over the likes of Seal and Extreme.

Make it stop.
Not exactly like the time I ate that pepper…

After a few moments’ debate, I replied, “NICE!! The last one was my favorite.” Technically, it was true.

The next morning, he texted, “I wanted to ask you, are you booked up over the long weekend? I’m thinking that I could be coaxed to sing you a ditty for a payment in fine wine.”

GIFSec.com
Apparently, I’d earned enough points to convince him to sing Kiss From A Rose while I bought all of our drinks. Photo credit: GIFSec.com

“Usually I pay based on performance,” I cheekily replied, agreeing to meet for a second date on Sunday, my next available evening.

I ignored his LinkedIn request.

On Wednesday (two days after our initial meeting), he texted, “For today’s entertainment, here’s a humor article I wrote in 2009 for [website name].”

He had never mentioned an interest in writing, but I dutifully clicked on the link de jour.

“The website was blocked by my work filter!” I replied, secretly relieved.

“Hilarious,” he said, and then copied and pasted the entire article into a text message.

I didn't even know you could do that.
I didn’t even know you could do that.

I was running late for a meeting, so put my phone away, planning to read it that afternoon. Which I did. And. Well. Okay. So.

Here’s the thing.

It just…

Well it isn’t that…

You see what I’m trying to say is…

Sigh.

Okay.

It doesn’t even matter how good or bad the article was. Right? Do people do that? Should I pass out blog business cards on first (non-date) dates?

Because you know I've got 'em.
Because you know I’ve got ’em.

And here’s where I need your help. How would you have responded? I’m not sure I made the right decision.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blonde Moments, Dating

Dating and Hot Wax Don’t Mix

If you thought my year of eHarmony heartache (as evidenced here and here) might have deterred me from online dating, guess again.

For the past several months, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of Match.com. Stay tuned for future posts, Your Facebook Profile Says You’re Still Married and No, Thank You, I Would Not Like To See A YouTube Video of You Surgically Removing Your Toenails.

One might consider these experiences a sign. Take a little break, Jules, a little step back, they might suggest.

Ha!” I say. “Show me a REAL sign.”

Last night, I was getting ready for a third date with a delightful gentleman who discovered my blog before we ever met, so let me just again say he is especially delightful (and owes me a guest blog post).

He was picking me up for dinner, so I straightened up the house, got all dudded up, lit a few candles (to cover up any Eau De Dog-who-really-needs-a-trip-to-the-groomer) and anxiously awaited his arrival.

Ten minutes before he was due, I blew out the candles. One of them was the sort that has a tea light heating a scented wax cube.

wax-warmer
Apparently they’re called wax warmers. Well. That’s disappointing.

It was resting atop a wall sconce. I lifted it down, let’s just say, a tad carelessly.

Suddenly, all the hot, melted wax sloshed out.

Onto my face.

Onto my white dress.

Onto my couch.

It was red.

crime-scene-couch

crime-scene-couch

Have you ever had any last-minute blunders while getting ready for a big night out? (Come on, I know for a fact one of you has had a run-in with a curling iron.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

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.

eHarmony-Tim-Jules-apple-picking

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.

eHarmony-Tim-family-puzzle
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.

eHarmony-Tim-flowers
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.

hearts-iPhone

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.”

eHarmony-Tim-fishnets

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)?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs, Wipe the Drool

eHopeful Part 4: Crash Landing

“I can’t believe that was you in those pictures,” Frank slurred from the passenger seat of my car. We were sitting outside of my parents’ house after a night of playing cards with my family, where drinks had been flowing.

He hesitated and then added, “I know this sounds bad, but I never would have dated you if you still looked like that.”

“I know,” I replied. Oh, you wouldn’t date a girl who was 120 pounds overweight? Knock me over with a freaking feather, Frank.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.
In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

“I do love you, Jules,” he said next, and I burst into tears.

“I didn’t know what to do or think when you wrote it in the sand [last month when you visited me on base],” he continued. “It really surprised me.”

“I know, I know, it was too soon,” I blubbered. “I’m still afraid to say it out loud. I’m just really scared.”

Frank was a Navy pilot and newly divorced like me. We had met on eHarmony three months earlier, and despite a 3,000-mile gap between us, romance bloomed. (For the rest of the story, I give you: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.) He was smart, driven, handsome and creative, and showered me with attention and affection.

Also there were cool jets.
Also there were cool jets.

Meeting him felt like destiny, making sense of all of the winding, fragmented roads that had led me to that point.

I can't believe I don't own this sheet music,
I can’t believe I don’t own this sheet music.

In March, Frank and I met face-to-face for the first time in Seattle. It was sublime. Now, in late-April, he was on my turf: New Jersey.

This really happened.
This is an actual screen capture of the itinerary I made.

I had planned a jam-packed agenda for his visit, including trips to New York City and Philadelphia, and then a flight to Chicago for BaconFest 2014 to ring in my 32nd birthday.

Chyeah. It's a thing.
Chyeah. It’s a thing.

After my meltdown in the car outside of my parents’ house, we carried on as if nothing had changed.

During the 3-hour, traffic-filled drive to Philadelphia (Day 6 on the itinerary, in case you’re keeping track), Frank was chattier than usual. Maybe he was bored, riding shotgun instead of piloting my Hyundai Sonata. He suddenly started talking about his family and religion.

“I am bat-crap crazy,” he drawled, “and so is everyone I know, and you usually only hear about people like me on the news.”

[Editor’s Note: I may be paraphrasing.]

His Tennessee accent was strong, even after eight years in Washington state. I swallowed and kept my eyes on the road. Sure, we were very -very- different people, but after all, I didn’t want to date myself, did I?

eHarmony-Frank-Jules-Lady-and-the-Tramp
Although…

“This is fine,” I thought. “Maybe I could be the kind of girl he grew up with. Maybe I could drink the Kool-Aid.”

eHarmony-Frank-Kool-Aid

By the time Frank kissed me goodbye at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was spent (and sweating bacon grease). Eight days straight with someone you’ve only met once before would have been exhausting for anyone, but when you’re an introvert? Grueling.

When I got home, I still wasn’t sure how to feel. Something was definitely off, but so many things were on. For the next four weeks, I fretted over where we stood. Another nibble fell through on my house, which had now been on the market for over five months, and with no new job prospects on the horizon, I started babysitting. To make matters worse, Frank’s texts went from nonstop to frequent to sporadic.

“Going out with the guys tonight for drinks and then unknown fun,” he said one night in mid-May.

“Enjoy your mystery fun,” I wrote back, my heart sinking.

“I will,” he answered, and I imagined him cackling evilly, relishing in this torture, this test to see how far he could push me. I wanted it to work. I wasn’t ready for the alternative.

A week later, I woke up to an email entitled, “[No Subject]”. Frank had sent it after midnight Pacific Time.

“Jules, I hope you have enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend with nice weather. There is no easy way to communicate what I need to communicate so I’m being straight to the point…” it began. It was a very nice letter.

Super nice.

So nice it almost covered up the fact that I got dumped.

Via email.

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All right – your turn! Terrible break-up stories: GO!!! (You can even tell them in 4 parts if you want. I’ll bring the Ben & Jerry’s bacon Bloody Marys.)

I'm TELLING YOU. It's a thing.
I’m TELLING YOU. It’s a thing.

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