A little over a year ago, I left a long-term relationship. I could have written a note. I could have sent an email. I could have left a post-it on the fridge. Instead, I wrote a three-page letter, which I read to him with tears streaming down my face as I explained how he had disappointed me, how he had not respected me, how he said I was his everything, yet treated me like I was nothing but a burden. By the end of the break-up conversation, it was a mutual agreement that we couldn’t go on. He could not/would not give me what I needed, and so I had to leave. We agreed to be friends and to be respectful of each other. Who knew what the future would hold? We might be back together a year down the road when circumstances were different. We even went for dinner, spent one final night together, and kissed each other good-bye the next morning.
At his insistence, I had made some pretty serious compromises in my life. I had given up my career. I had agreed to move to a rural town in Northern California and to give up my friends and my world to build a life with this man. If things didn’t work out, his life would be fine; mine would be a disaster. We had talked about marriage, but even after a lengthy relationship, he was in no hurry to remarry a fourth time—even to “the love of his life.” I asked him to provide me with some kind of financial consideration if things didn’t work out. He verbally agreed that if things didn’t work out and I left he would give me a certain (small) sum to help me get back on my feet; and, if he ended the relationship, there would be one and a half times that (small) sum.
I was promised many things. Not the least of which was a happily ever after. There were promises of trips to Venice, trips to Thailand, cooking school, and gifts of jewelry that never came. There was a promise to continue to help me with a writing project that could be a career changer for me. There was talk of a life insurance policy that was never executed. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, Valentine’s Days passed without acknowledgement, or were all lumped into one celebratory dinner at the same old restaurant. For all his empty promises, a little action would have spoken volumes. Had he made a single grand gesture—like buying me an engagement ring—to show that he was a man of integrity, I might have hung in there. He was unwilling to compromise and unwilling to go out of his way to please me—something I did for him virtually every day.
In the end, he owed me money—a lot of money. Not just the money he agreed to pay me if we parted ways, but money for my living expenses, which he was supposed to cover from the point I ended my career. The day we broke up, he said I would get the rest of the living expense reimbursement at the end of the month. I waited four weeks. The reimbursement check never came. He didn’t call, email, or text me to let me know the check was delayed. When I finally called him, enraged by his inaction, he didn’t even apologize. He just listed off excuses. There was no mention of the financial consideration he had verbally agreed to provide me with in the event things didn’t work out. It was clear that he didn’t care about my well being if it wasn’t benefitting him. I wondered if he ever did care about me. He was not keeping any of his promises—large or small—from the case of white Burgundy he had ordered especially for me and the vow to remain friends to the money he owed me, and the additional “break up” money he promised me. To this day, he owes me eight thousand dollars for my living expenses when we were together (plus the break-up money). Eight grand is nothing for a man worth well over five million dollars, who grosses a solid 1.2 million a year, and just got back from a month in Europe. Hell, the break-up money is NOTHING for a man of his stature.
I loved this man so much and gave him every chance in the world to show me that he deserved me. He didn’t treat me with respect, which makes me wonder if he ever really loved me. It’s heartbreaking to think that he only loved himself, but apparently true. After the break up, the few times we communicated, he never expressed any emotion towards me. He never said he loved me or missed me, or even felt regret. Instead he said we wanted different things, which was merely his way of rationalizing the current situation and his choice not to try. Maybe we did want different things—after all, I wanted to be a priority. Everything else, he could have had his way. I would have been perfectly content if I felt like I was important to him—if he would have just considered me once in a while. Now, it’s too late. As he would say in his poetic, writerly way “the well is poisoned.” I no longer love him. Now, I find him despicable.
My advice to men: the term is significant other not insignificant other. If you have found the woman you intend to live the rest of your life with, the missing puzzle piece that makes your life complete, then treat her as such. Put her at the top of the totem pole, not the bottom. If you don’t, she will eventually leave. And when you get your act together and come after her, she probably won’t be there for you, because some other man will see the value in her and show her what she means to him. When you burn a bridge, you cannot simply erect another in its place. It takes time, money, and effort to reconstruct it—the time, money, and effort you should have invested in the first place.