Three-and-a-half months of celibacy and loneliness followed my one-week stand. The one bright spot was that I finally succeeded in buying a brand-new car. It was a shiny SUV with no dents, no dings and no rust. I named her cutie, and in December 2012, I drove her 800 miles to my home town.It was my first trip home in more than three years, and while I was there, I ran into an old friend. We had never formally dated, but we had fooled around once as teenagers. We were grown-ups now. An afternoon of flirtation led to an evening at a small bar, which led to a night in a motel, which led to my first long-distance relationship.
I was convinced that he was the Man I Would Marry, and I would get warm and gooey thinking about him. We were friends. He knew me. I didn’t feel shy around him, I didn’t have to pretend to hold it together. I could basically be my true, neurotic, crybaby, chronically depressed self around him, and he didn’t care, because he already knew all that about me and liked me anyway.
We would occasionally have two-hour, long-distance phone conversations that neither one of us could afford. And the rest of the time, I would fantasize about him and what our lives might be like together if there ever really was an us.
In the meantime, I was celibate, lonely and horny in my one-bedroom apartment in Ikoyi. Which unconsciously placed a time limit on how long my lovey-dovey feelings could possibly last.
They lasted about two months.
When he failed to call me on Valentine’s Day and to reimburse me for our long-distance phone calls, I broke up with him. And something happened that I never expected. As I told him in no uncertain terms that it was over, I heard genuine anguish pouring from his end of the phone line. He told me how much he cared about me, and that all of our mutual friends knew how much he cared about me. He was hurt, and he was humiliated.
I realized, with surprise, that I had broken his heart.
It didn’t change my mind about breaking up with him. But it did make me feel tremendously guilty.
For the first time in my romantic life, I wasn’t the wounded one who had been done wrong.
I was the powerful one who had heartlessly inflicted the wound, on a good guy that I genuinely liked.
A month-and-a-half later, I was in a new pseudo-relationship with a guy who lived a few miles down the road. I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart. He was, frankly, not all that interested in me. I knew it, and I didn’t care. I chased him relentlessly, without even an ounce of pride or shame.