Write about the time you broke: A heart
I’m not the sort of woman who you imagine leaving love-lorn lovers in her wake. I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school and only three relationships in college before I met my husband. However, I did break one of my college boyfriend’s hearts and it’s not a tale I’m particularly proud of, despite the fact we’ve both “made amends” on Facebook years afterwards.
I had met him my first year in college, when he had taken my roommate out for a date and they hadn’t clicked. We were both D.Js at the local college radio station and shared a love of 1960’s pop music. We were both from New Jersey, with him living in South Jersey and I in the North. I was enamored with the idea that there was a guy who was actually interested in being more than just a friend; this alone should have sent warning signals flaring in my brain. But it didn’t.
Despite his transferring to a local college after the first year, we continued to date “long distance” over two years, and we got engaged during an extremely awkward Thanksgiving dinner with his parents and my mom and sister. I received my “engagement ring” on a flower in front of everyone and he popped the question. It wasn’t the engagement moment I had imagined, but said yes.
I went back to college and started the second half of my third year. Things began to shift in the relationship. He started talking about us getting married and settling down in a house next to his parents after I finished my undergraduate degree (they owned two adjacent houses on a single property), and I had my sights set on graduate school, either in New York or Massachusetts. I also discovered that other guys were actually interested in me and the dating opportunities were a bit more available for me than I had imagined. Unknown to both of us at the time, he started to slide into actual depression stemming from losing a childhood friend a few years back. But we both continued to pretend everything was OK and could be worked out eventually in the relationship.
I am not proud of what happened next, but I started dating other people behind his back while I was at school and he was in New Jersey. I felt trapped in our engagement, and wanted to have fun again without all the finality of a marriage in a year and a half. In my 20-year-old immaturity, I wasn’t being honest with myself or with him, that the love and commitment required in an engagement and marriage wasn’t there. On his side, he took to drinking to cope with his depression and the feeling that his life was going nowhere. And in his words, I became his sole ‘anchor’ in life.
It was the following Thanksgiving that things came to a head. He came up to visit that weekend and it was clear to both of us, and my family that things were not going well. After he returned home, my mom took me out shopping and had an honest conversation with me. “It’s evident you don’t love him; it’d be kinder if you just broke off the engagement now”. I made an awkward and painful phone call that night (true confession-not a recommended way to break an engagement and extremely cowardly on my part) and ended the relationship.
He took it hard. There were several emotional phone calls to my mother and my friends about how heart-broken he was, with questions of what went wrong and why it had happened. He never called me again, though.
Years later we did connect on Facebook. We’re both happily married to other people, and have started our own families. We both admitted our faults at the time and can now reminisce about the better parts of our college experience together. But yes, I probably broke his heart those many years ago.