Day 6750 | Day 6757 | Day 6780

Cast of Characters

  • Myself
  • Her, Emily: The Girl.
  • P: A friend of mine. We used to be close. Now, not so much.
  • Her Roommate

J. S. Mill once said that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." It's a great idea in theory but has more than its share of difficulty when applying it to the real world. An action that may create unhappiness in the short run may create happiness in the long run, but it's hard to see that when you're standing on the precipice of decision. A few nights ago, I talked with my ex-girlfriend all night about the relationship she's currently in. I was the one who brought up the conversation and it caused both of us a fair amount of pain. But let me back up for a bit.


Nine months ago, my first weekend at school was very difficult for me. College was a strange and new place and I only knew one person there. He and I had gone to high school together and he'd been there for a week already because of marching band so, naturally, I hung out with him and his band friends. She was in the same situation: it was her first day and the only person she knew was her roommate who was in the band as well. The first day Emily and I tagged along with our friends and ate lunch, then went back to her room to hang out. At 4, everyone had to go to marching practice except for us, so I stayed and we talked for almost two hours, swapping stories from high school and telling jokes. She was smart, incredibly well read, cute, and funny. I don't exaggerate when I say I was smitten.

Weeks went by, we saw each other around campus from time to time, and I had quite a job trying to figure out what exactly her name was. I was determined not to let college be like high school and after a few weeks I worked up the nerve to ask her out: she was busy that weekend. I later found out that she dated my brother's old roommate for a few weeks and when he broke up with her, P, her roommate, she, and I stayed up until 6am just chilling out and helping her to forget things. Halloween came and went with the costumes that entail. Another one of her friends died and I comforted her, held her, let her cry on my shoulder. P and I went to a play she was performing in. Eventually we got to the point where she and I would talk for an hour every night; sometimes in person, sometimes online. And then we kissed.

I had never had a girlfriend before and when it happened I floundered around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I quickly discovered that getting a girlfriend and keeping a girlfriend are two different beasts altogether. I even told her this, apologizing in advance in case I did "anything boneheaded". I tried to the best of my ability though and a week and a half later we went to Chicago with some friends, our first real date. I've had social anxieties for my whole life and the bus ride on the way there was hell for me: it took all my concentration to stay silent and keep my breakfast down. I tried to enjoy myself but I found it very difficult and I apologized to her for my behavior. She told me that I was fine. I got dumped when we got off the bus.

This was at the top of the lift hill for the emotional rollercoaster. Then she said five words which pushed me over the incline: "It's not you, it's me." For a while I thought--no, I knew--that she had lied to me. There must have been something I did wrong, or something I didn't do that drove her away; some reason she went from caring to indifferent in just two weeks. In just a little over a week, she had started seeing P. I'd always felt that P and I had been in a kind of romantic rivalry for her but I had thought I'd won when she started calling me her boyfriend. Clearly I had not. And so I hit the bottom of the rollercoaster and started up another hill, telling myself that it really was her, not me, after all and that our relationship was merely a stand in for the relationship she wanted with P all along.

When they started dating, I was confident that she would dump his ass just like she dumped me. I gave them until the end of January, a little over a month and true to my prediction he broke up with her on January 31st. I was feeling smugly satisfied at the sudden reversal of roles. What I didn't predict was Pieter and Emily getting back together a week later--and breaking up again the week after that. During the time they were together, they had made arrangements to go to P's fraternity formal together and the tickets were $45 each, not something to just walk away from. It's important to note that here fraternity formal should be read as "a four hour bus ride during which drinking is allowed followed by a night at an expensive hotel during which drinking is expected followed by a day in the city during which alcohol to replace that which has already been consumed is bought followed by the formal dinner with more drinking followed by another night and bus trip as above". At some point during the hazy weekend, Emily told Pieter about some of her past experiences and Pieter asked if he could show her how it was supposed to be done. By the end of it, the two of them decided that the best course of action would be to agree to do things with each other physically but with no emotional attachment.

She and I didn't talk for almost three months after she broke up with me but alcohol, the oldest of psychoactives, managed to break that streak. While I look down on regular drinking to excess, there is a certain merit to drinking to get drunk. And so, with the liquid courage running through my veins and the text on the computer screen wavering in front of me, I did the Internet Age equivalent of a drunk dial. I didn't beg her to get back together but I did get the ball rolling. We started talking to each other again and realized that our friendship did indeed matter to each other. It both makes me glad and pains me that we are now much better friends than we ever were when we were together.


And so, with the situation the way it was, I decided that she and I needed to talk. I'm a very scientific minded person and my instinct is to analyze emotions rather than feel them. Because of this, I was horribly blunt, the first thing coming out of my mouth being "You've got to stop chasing after Pieter." She said she would love P if he would let her. She also told me that Pieter's ex asked him to be fuck buddies and Emily doesn't think he said no. I told her that she deserved better; someone who would respect her and love her in return, not a relationship that isn't giving her what she wants. Emily promised me that whatever she and Pieter were would end when the semester ends and they go their separate ways.

I don't believe her. I think she told me what I wanted to hear just to make me stand down. When all's said and done though, I'm her ex and she's not without warrant in believing that I want to sabotage her chances at love. And, to be fair, I'm not entirely sure I told her what I did out of purely selfless reasons. At the time it seemed like it was in her best interests but every day that goes on makes the pain more acute; a sharp point driven into my gut when I see them together. My knuckles are raw from how many times I've punched the wall, my feet bruised and sore from the number of times I've kicked it. Is this righteous anger or jealousy? Am I angry because she isn't taking my advice and is hurting herself or because she's not with me?

Don't get me wrong, if she were to approach me now and throw herself in my arms, I would not take her back; not immediately. When she broke up with me, I tried to tell myself that I did not love her but I know now that that is not true. Despite that, I'm no longer sure if we were right for each other in the first place.

I just want her to be happy, regardless of who it's with.

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