Every now and then, very rarely, life throws an unbelievable moment at you. The moment you become the subject of one of those crazy stories people tell. You’re suddenly “that girl” everyone’s heard about; the friend of a friend who had some wild shit happen to her.
This is the only way I can describe the gut-wrenching horror of running into my boyfriend on a date with another woman ... and then having him act as if he didn’t know me.
Let’s backtrack for a moment. I want to set the stage for the dramatic performance my ex put on for me.
In the most cliche modern romance story ever, two New Yorkers who happened to be in the same zip code at the same time found like at first swipe.
It wasn’t long until we had our first date. He was charming, simple, a little geeky, and seemed like a really good guy.
I never sensed any player vibes. He always minded the pace I was willing to go and respected my limits. I even initiated our first kiss, which was on our third date, by the way.
Music was a thing for us. He’d send me lesser-known love songs with specific and relatable lyrics; I’d follow suit. We had a playlist of all of our dedicated songs. We stared into each other’s eyes as our favorite band played live at a downtown ballroom.
This was the cheesiest 6 months of my adult life and I loved it.
Things got serious pretty quickly as you can tell. He had just moved to New York and I was concerned about our status. Was I just some romantic thrill in a new city or was this real?
About three months into our datingship, he started referring to me as his girlfriend. I was never formally asked, but I went along with it. (Yes, girl. I know what you are thinking. I see the error of my ways now, obvi.)
Anyway, I called him my boyfriend because I was super sprung. We agreed to date exclusively but I was unclear on when we became official boyfriend/girlfriend. When I finally asked him about our titles, he dropped some weird disconcerting mindfuck bomb along the lines of: “I don’t want to label anything, but you know who you are to me.”
This was incredibly confusing. But to others we were boyfriend and girlfriend. And he was always jealous of other guys and always pressed me about any time I spent with a guy who wasn’t him. He planned to buy us tickets for a concert several months in advance. He invited me to meet his brother who was visiting. He told his mother about me and even had me speak with her on the phone a few times.
This all felt very promising, so I overlooked the "no labels" comment. (GIRL. I said I KNOW.)
It was a not-so-normal summer Saturday and this dude has been acting weird for the last few days (the typical decrease of texts, phone calls, etc.). We had firm plans, yet I’d been unable to reach him all day.
In an attempt to save this “relationship,” I considered grabbing the last few available Beyonce/Jay-Z tickets for one stellar date night. I texted him about the tickets and still no response.
This is the day the Universe worked her magic, because let me tell you, the events that led to the horrible ending were just too perfectly orchestrated.
I was downtown when coincidentally, one of my good girlfriends called me from nearby. We met for an early dinner and on my part, for a proper bitch-and-moan session. I told her how mad I was and how I wanted to just end things with him tonight.
After dinner, we went back to her apartment which, funnily enough, is located down the block from my guy’s apartment. Just being near his place gave me anxiety, so my friend and I planned to go bar-hopping uptown.
As we were leaving, my friend suggested we just stay local as she didn’t want to deal with the subway’s usual weekend drama. The local place she suggested was none other than the bar my boyfriend and I frequented.
We went to that bar at least 3 times a week; the bouncer and bartenders knew us by name. I was a bit hesitant to go the bar, since it reminded me of this guy, but it was really close and the drinks were good.
Upon entering the bar, I half-jokingly said “Imagine if he’s in here with some other girl.” Like magic, the Universe said “BITCH YOU GUESSED IT! YOU WAS MOTHER FUCKING RIGHT!”
I saw him there, sitting at the bar where we usually sat, with another woman, caressing her face and holding her hips.
I made eye contact with the bartender who looked back at me with pitiful eyes and a remorseful shrug. I felt so pathetic. I immediately went back outside and burst into tears. That whole moment felt unreal.
I just remember shouting, “I fucking hate him!” The drunk, the sober, and the in-between all stood and watched me cry my eyes out.
The 6’3 bouncer, who had witnessed everything, came and gave me a great big bear hug, but it just made the moment more embarrassing.
My friend consoled me and asked if I wanted to leave or confront him. I pulled myself together and went back inside the bar.
As my "boyfriend” sat there laughing and giggling with his date, I tapped him on the shoulder and coldly said, “Hi.” (I literally had nothing else to say.)
He looked up at me shocked, and then immediately returned his attention to his date. He acted like he didn’t know me.
This man, who just a week ago had sent me a love song and interrogated me to find out whether I gave another guy my number, acted as if I were nothing more than a stranger. Embarrassment had reached its peak.
Apparently startled, he fled the scene and got up to go to the restroom, leaving me standing beside his date. My friend ordered me a shot of the strongest thing she could find.
As I reached for my drink, I heard the voice beside me say, “I love your hair!”
It was the date. I took a good look at her. She was pretty and had a kind smile. I told her thanks and then she proceeded to start a conversation, thinking I was just a random girl hanging at the bar. She asked what drink I recommended for her and her date. Please just destroy me now.
I couldn’t process the moment. Instead of suggesting the pickleback shot, I blurted out, “Is that your boyfriend?”
She girlishly smiled. “No, this is just a date, but I’ve been seeing him for a little while.”
“Oh, OK. I took my shot. "This is just odd for me because that’s my boyfriend.”
Her mouth fell open and she just kept saying, “Oh my God!”
My friend and I went back to her apartment and I cried some more. He didn’t text. He didn’t call. I for sure thought his little bathroom break was going to result in an “I’m sorry” text message, or at least something addressing the awkward situation. But it didn’t.
The next day, my phone rang nonstop. It was him. I just let it ring. I had nothing to say. I was waiting for the bullshit text message, but he just kept calling.
Bold, I thought. It would be easier to just say what you need to say via text and just end things. But he wouldn’t stop calling. I kept not answering.
As the days went on, the calls were accompanied by text messages of just “hey,” “hello,” and “talk to me.” Weeks passed by and the calls went on past 4 am.
Months went by and I kept receiving calls, texts and emails. Never an apology, though. Each message, whether it was a voicemail, email or text just was a “hello” and a “call me back.” I never returned any of his contact. I never spoke to or saw him ever again.
Though our romance lasted half a year, it took me even longer to get over such an abrupt and embarrassing breakup. The smell of a bar still fills me with a sense of dread.
I fell really hard for him and thought that even if we ended, it would be special. Instead, I was left with this empty and numb feeling. We went from falling in love to literally being strangers within seconds.
There was no argument, no dramatic back-and-forth, no exhaustion of effort to mend (or end) things. No real closure.
However, I think there is strength in never looking back. He clearly showed what he thought of me that night, so why try to salvage something that to him, was clearly meaningless?
I am no stranger to backsliding with old flames. My longest relationship should’ve really only lasted one year instead of four. I’ve given so many pieces of my pride and dignity to guys who clearly didn’t deserve them. But for the first time, I felt in control.
Still, I sometimes wonder if I should’ve responded to any of his messages. His incessant contact lasted a little over three months. Even to this day, I wonder what he had to say all this time.
But even though I was heart-broken, I knew my worth. There was nothing to gain from inviting him back into my life. I took a logical and selfish look at myself and the kind of respect I require from anyone who wants to spend time with me.
So I let it go. I didn't let curiosity get the best of me. I didn't even flip the hell out when I originally confronted him. Maybe that's weakness. Or maybe it's strength.