The verdict is in

I suppose you are wondering, How’d that date go?


Did I mention NOPE yet?



So the verdict is in: RUN AWAY.

He forgot to mention the photo he sent is about 20 years old. Which is extraordinarily substantial when you are 60 years old.

And the missing teeth. And how little hair is left compared to that photo he sent.

I realized that his brashness at the restaurant (not downright rude, but more assertive and bold than I care to have company with) reminds me too much of my father (who can be downright rude). I’m also not sure he left an appropriate tip, given how demanding he was. Having worked in customer service for many years, I pay attention to these things.

He does have a pleasant voice. The kind you’d expect on NPR, and that’s the first thing he talked about, listening to Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and Car Talk. It’s got that Minnesota Nice quality to it.

But…still nope. It got worse.

He wanted to drive down to the marina for a nice walk with the sunset. He made the assumption that I drive and could follow him down there. Nope! No driver’s license here, and I felt much better about not having a reason to go down with him to the marina.

If things had ended right after dinner, that would have been fine. I would have thought, well, we can be friends. Interesting friends. Why not?

But nope!We took a quick walk around a block before he headed out. We talked along the way. Politics came up. He said something that was unforgiveable. Heartless. Unkind. It was so terrible, it tore apart every precious moment, bit of laughter, and pleasantry with him that I had.

I don’t think he realized what a grave mistake he was making–or perhaps he did, because after delivering that line that made my heart drop, he immediately said, “Well we’ve come this far without talking about politics, sex, or religion, so I suppose we should keep it that way.”

He was dismissive of Bernie, but at least he wasn’t a Trump supporter. It was clear he was going to vote for Hillary but didn’t think she would change anything. “I like Bernie’s ideas,” he said, “but he could never accomplish any of that in 4 years.”

“How can you say that?” I said. “I never thought I would see gay marriage legalized in this country, but that happened. Sometimes the amount of progress that can be made in a short amount of time is surprising.”

“That’s no big deal. How many gay people are there in this country? 1%?”

“No, it is much higher. I think it is closer to 8%?”

“Well you might be right,” he said. And then came the line the tore it all asunder: “Anyway, what’s more important is a minimum wage of $15 an hour. That affects way more people.”

My thoughts went to Orlando. My thoughts went to the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people in this country who have been disowned and rejected from their families and live homeless. My thoughts went to the many of them who have suffered insults, injury, or death because of who they are and who they love.

You don’t know what it’s like to have someone hate you because you’re different. You don’t know what it’s like to be scared that you are not safe to walk down the street because people may be irrational and want to hurt or kill you for who you are and what you cannot change. You don’t know what it’s like to wear a mask at work and hide yourself because you need to our of survival. Real, physical survival.

By the numbers, sure, income inequality does impact more people and would be a significant change that probably would greatly benefit minorities who suffer the brunt of income inequality. But to put down any form of progress towards equality as not as important, to put down gay rights as not important, especially when the mass-shooting at Orlando was not so long ago, I can’t forgive that. In that one line, he immediately became the perfect image of an old, white, privileged male.

The Letter

To: JL
From: F
Date: Friday, May 20, 2016, 3:23pm

Dear JL,

I know the last few months have not been easy for both of us. I appreciate your thoughtful apology. I would like to know why you did what you did, but I realize that in some way it doesn’t matter. Things are what they are now.

I hope by now that you realize things have changed. It’s not the kind of change you can undo, but more like a glass vase that’s been shattered. You can pick up the pieces, but you can’t put it together. Even if you manage, it is not the same.

When I describe our relationship to people, this is how it goes:

The first three years were wonderful. We were very supportive of each other. It was a very symbiotic, harmonious relationship. You helped me deal with grad school; I helped you with escaping Gracepoint. You were very sweet. We had a lot of fun together; you made a lot of silly jokes that made me laugh. We understood each other so well that it almost felt as if we could read each other’s minds. I am very grateful for what we shared and all the wonderful moments we had together. I felt very loved by you in those 3 years.

And then somewhere, something got off track. A switch on a train track was flipped in error, and we didn’t catch it. We moved forward side by side for a long time but didn’t notice that we were slowly veering off from one another.

The last three years were the trains veering off. It’s too late now to correct the course. You are a train bound for Chicago and I’m a train headed to New Orleans. Communication broke down, and it seemed like we fell into a pattern of having a serious fight, some agreement, but then nothing would change. Empty words, empty promises. And all the while, I began to feel bitter. I started to feel ignored, neglected, and rejected by you. Then the next year, another major fight. More words, more promises. But nothing changed as we continued to grow apart. It became more rare that our minds were aligned and it stopped feeling like we understood each other.

The bitterness and pain I felt kept growing. It was a slow drip over time, and I tolerated it. I let it go and said nothing, but it was always present. I became more resentful. You made me feel unloved and invisible. At times I felt you cared more and did more for the cats than you did for me. You would buy me things, but it wasn’t what I wanted; every time I tried to express what I wanted, it seemed that you couldn’t give it, or you got upset at me for asking. It broke my heart. And I tried so hard to do so much for you. I went along with your agreements. I hoped things would work. I knew you loved me, and I loved you too.

In February, my team did a disagreement style workshop at our offsite, and I suddenly realized my disagreement style at work was accurate for my personal life, too. Two of my top three reactions to disagreement were 1. Maintain the status quo (do nothing) and 2. Release (let someone else decide.) I suddenly realized that the past 3 years I had tolerated but had really been unhappy. I had let you make the decision for us both, and I had to fight crying in the middle of a team meeting when it all clicked.

I became interested in being more social and began doing things on my own because I felt so neglected and lonely with you. I wanted to meet people who wouldn’t make me feel that way. I hated feeling invisible when you sat less than 20 feet away. I hated feeling as if my existence didn’t matter at all to you–and you were supposed to love me. The only time I seemed aware of how much I meant to you was when we fought, and then I could see you fighting so hard to keep me.

I became hurt so much that I felt numb. I didn’t think it could get worse. I had really tried to end our relationship in April. I had been thinking about it for a long time. I felt it was already over, but you fought so hard, and I hated seeing you so torn and broken up. It hurt me to see how much you were hurt, and I agreed to try again even though I was doubtful. I want you to know that I did give it an honest shot. I was trying to make it work, and I was doing my best despite how hard it was for me, but then the Vicodin incident made me feel as if our agreements meant nothing again and it was the same old pattern: argument – agreement – failure to uphold agreement.

I know you said you felt at times as if you suspected I wanted you to fail, that I wanted things between us to fail. But I was just tired. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of fighting you, tired of being hurt, tired of waiting for changes that didn’t come, tired of my own tolerance for being unhappy. I had been hurt so much that I no longer could expect to be happy with you. I had been so hurt and miserable for such a long time that for me it already felt as if it were over. I didn’t have any hope left that things could get better.

Don’t you remember when we fought in January, I asked what you wanted? I had already been hurt enough then. I asked if you wanted an open relationship because I could no longer understand you. I had no idea what you wanted, but it seemed to not be me, and I wanted a chance to be happy with someone, anyone.

I had waited over a year for you to live up to our promise of our previous fight. I can’t tell you how much it hurt me every day when I wondered if I mattered to you, if you even remembered that promise. I cried myself to sleep many nights because I was so deeply hurt. I would lie awake in torment asking myself if you would ever remember, disappointed as the weeks passed to months and then a full year. Ultimately, it wasn’t important, I wasn’t important enough, to remember.

And maybe that’s not true, but there isn’t a way to take back that it was how I felt for a long time. I realize now that your depression was so deep that you couldn’t see what I could see. Every time we fought, it felt as if you couldn’t understand me. We were speaking different languages and not understanding each other.

Please know that I love you despite how much pain you have given me, but we cannot stay together after the incident at Caleb’s. I want what’s best for you, and I want you to take care of yourself. I want you to get better–emotionally and physically. I know you are bright and creative and can do great things if you dedicate yourself to something, but I cannot be more than a friend to you.

As long as we are together in a relationship, I am a crutch: having me means you can convince yourself that nothing needs to change. I do not want us to fall into old habits. I do not want to continue tolerating what I have in the past where nothing will change. I can’t let that happen. I can’t keep letting myself be unhappy. I would rather be hurt by a thousand people than be hurt again by you.

You need to change for you, not for me. If you cannot love yourself, you cannot love me or anyone else. You have done the best that you can, but you need to take care of yourself first before you can be in a relationship. Please don’t ask me to wait for you or set up any expectations that this is a promise we can be in a relationship again; after everything that has happened, I cannot promise either of those things to you. As long as we live together, a relationship beyond friendship is not even possible.

I know this change makes things very difficult. Please understand that I am not judging you in any way. It didn’t work out, and I am not blaming you. Both of us made mistakes.

I know that the rent market is ridiculous and it would be hard to find a new place. As long as we live in the same apartment, we will have to remain friends. You can live your life and I will live mine. It is too easy to fall into old habits, and I can’t let that happen again. I can’t fall back into a relationship that makes me tolerate being unhappy. If you need to move out, I will not stop you. If you find a place that allows cats, you can take them with you; I know how much they mean to you, and I want you to have support, no matter what your decision. Only my name is on the lease, and I will make things work on my own.

I can support you and share things with you as a friend, but please understand that you have broken my trust. You and time are the only things that can change that. I cannot invite you out to the social events or friends I go to, and you must take responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Some things you will need to do on your own. I cannot make you welcome in a place where you are not welcome.

I realize this information is a lot to take in. If it hurts too much that you don’t want to see me, I can try to stay away for a few days, or if you want to stay with Adam or Kristina, that would be okay. If you can’t stand being so close at night and need a physical separation, I can sleep downstairs on the blowup mattress. I guess I should have let my Dad buy us some stupid futon. It would come in handy about now.

I know this all hurts. It hurt me writing it, but I knew I needed time to collect my thoughts and make sure I said everything I needed to say. Please remember that I love you and want you to be happy, but understand that we cannot be in a relationship. I need to be happy too.

If you want to talk about this in a few days, I have Monday and Tuesday off, or we can talk Sunday after my cooking class. I will be volunteering at Railsbridge this evening, and all day Saturday.

When you finish reading this, please call someone–Kristina, your mom, your brother, your sponsor. I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to have support. Please don’t do anything foolish. Hug the cats, especially Diego. They love you so much. I love you too, but right now the only thing I can offer you is friendship.