I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a romance like Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. I mean, come on -- I’m a Mexican American who grew up with some of the world’s most dramatic telenovelas.
The formula for true love was simple but passionate: Love at first sight, followed by a loss of appetite and sleep, and then ultimately true love’s confession, and then voila. Steamy sex, a giant wedding that makes Twilight’s Bella and Edward’s seem poorly planned, and finally a happy marriage and few cute kids to prove it.
If you weren’t lounging in a forest under moonlight daydreaming of that guy you’ve only exchanged two words with your whole life, then it's not true love.
His name was Michael* and he had passed the perfect love interest test with flying colors. He was a) obsessed with me since Middle School and b) ridiculously romantic. Random gifts, surprise visits and pet names came naturally to him; I never had to have a “Is he committed enough?” discussion with my friends over lunch. Heck, I already had a stream of “I love you” messages waiting for me on my phone.
I was naive.
Slowly but surely the red flags started popping up: He always wanted to be with me…because he had no friends. He always wanted to accompany me to parties…because he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t talk to anyone else.
This jealousy turned from flattery to downright possessive. I guess being jealous of a cute guy I spoke to in class was understandable, but being jealous of my close girl friends was taking it a step too far.
Because Michael was my “soulmate,” I decided that it was completely normal, and not too fast at all, to move in together within that first year. We were already signing a lease at 21, and I was juggling the responsibilities of “wifey,” student and employee.
My 21st year of life was filled with recipes, rent and laundry, instead of you know, falling on concrete drunk and breaking my iPhone like your typical progressive college student.
Michael’s chivalry also began to sour -- His refusal to socialize with anyone other than me became unbearable. I would plot to set him up with a co-worker he said he had started getting friendly with earlier that week, just so I could escape into a Michael-less world for an evening.
Our breakup was just as dramatic as our love for each other. Things were thrown and ripped -- I grabbed my stuff and left, crying as Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” came on the radio.
We had just gotten engaged six months prior, and none of this was part of the fairytale love story. Could Nicholas Sparks just please fly in and rewrite this mess?
Nine months later, I nostalgically sent Michael a link to the music video of our song (the Cure’s Lovesong, of course) one night. I’m still not sure why I reached out to him exactly; I guess the transition from committed girlfriend to single college graduate who'd wasted half her college experience trying to perfect the perfect italian sauce wasn't easy.
Dating was okay, but I wasn't falling in love at first sight with anyone, so I convinced myself that Michael was still obviously the one.
He replied to my message with a “Fuck off,” then retracted that statement the following day with an “I miss you, too.” The wheels of our passion started rolling again.
Because my family and friends knew the details of what happened, we didn't tell them we were back together. It was forbidden love, and it was addicting. I could hardly wait to meet him at our secret spot, where we'd kiss passionately and talk about how no one “got us.”
Things were going smoothly until we started talking about what we had done while we’d been broken up. He'd gotten a new job, had made some friends (finally!), and I also got a new job, made new friends, and slept with four other people. He hadn't slept with anyone else when we were apart.
He spent the rest of that night crying. We pretended I never said it from then on, but we were both fully aware of the elephant in the room.
Then one night he snapped. Where was I? What did I do? Who was I with this weekend? Who had I spoken to? I hadn't been with anyone, but I knew the damage was already done.
I wanted to leave, but he wouldn’t let me this time.
That night, we were in his car. He had the upper hand, and he knew it. He wouldn’t allow me to end things again.
“Why, so you can fuck other people?!” he yelled as he drove up the windy mountain road on the other side of town. He drove faster and faster, swerving sharply at every corner. I knew this was it -- I knew I would die right then and there. I knew he wanted us to die.
“If I take you home, you’ll leave me again, you’ll leave me!” he yelled between sobs as he drove faster and faster.
“No I promise I won’t! Please stop," I cried.
“You’re just saying that cause you want to live. Are you scared of dying?”
"Yes," I said as I clenched the sides of my seat with all my might. All I could think of was my family, my friends, my future.
“Well I’d rather die than not have you!” he yelled back as he swerved the car again, inches away from the side of the cliff.
I cried, I yelled, I pleaded. I know he loved every second of it.
One minute turned to 10 and 10 turned into 30, and before I knew it there weren’t any more tears or threats for him. I calmed him down enough to drive me home; I trembled with fear and looked out the window as he tried to explain himself, apologizing for what he did.
"It's just that I love you so much," he said.
I never spoke to him again after that night. I sprinted home sobbing as soon as he pulled his car in front of my place, and I've never looked back.
His last text message to me, before I blocked his number, read along the lines of “I know you’ll come back, so I’ll be waiting.” It was a very bold thing to text, and would be true if that near-death experience hadn’t woken me up from my silly fantasies.
We all want to be loved, wanted, needed, but I can’t be someone’s reason to live anymore. The obsessive kind of love I grew up watching isn't really a healthy model. Sometimes, people actually mean it when they say they’ll die for you, and you don’t realize this because you crave crazy love, because you think you need that kind of love.
There are plenty of others out there who will love you better. Maybe they’ll forget an important date or buy you the wrong kind of chocolate, but they’re worth keeping around if they make you feel safe.