When the Honeymoon is Over…

I am sure that you have heard the honeymoon phase. The term refers to a stage in any relationship where the initial excitement and newness of the experience is overwhelming. Once the honeymoon phase is over, the mystery and intrigue allegedly wears off. I tried to Google “honeymoon phase” to gauge its average life expectancy but apparently, the time period is not subject to the scientific method. The length of the butterflies and willful blindness is unknown. Many times when “the honeymoon is over” a relationship will start to break down. The end of such a phase can be an indication of love vs. lust; with love going the distance and lust ending a relationship.

First, I give you our old friend Pizza Bagel…As I mentioned before we met in college. PB was the first upperclassman that had put effort forth to actually get to know me. The fact that he was older, attractive and interesting had me intrigued. We met in August or September of my freshman year and continued an on again off again relationship through the following summer. If you recall, he did not have his “epiphany” until the following summer (see “Commandments of Dating…when he didn’t follow the rules” if you need more information). In this scenario, the honeymoon phase was elongated by the thrill of the chase.

This is a popular expansion method of the honeymoon phase. The thrill of the chase adds an extra element of excitement. In the on again off again mode there is constant suspense due to the unknown outcome. I will get specific, two days went by and I had not heard from PB. I decide to hit up a popular bar. On the way inside, I spot it, PB’s car in the parking lot. My heart starts to thump…will I see him inside? Will he see me? Will he eat his heart out when he sees how good I look in my skinny jeans? The whole night just got more interesting. As I cruise into the bar and find friends, I scan the crowd for PB, careful not to be too obvious. After all, I want him to “notice me” first.

Have you even had that happen to you? You are having a conversation with a friend maybe sipping a beer, but the thing is…you are not present. You are 100% distracted. The person in the crowd you are waiting to approach consumes both your mind and your peripheral vision. It is all about that moment in the future when and if he talks to you.
In my case, the climatic moment came when PB would walk over and greet me. We would hug and he would explain that homework and whatever else had been keeping him busy. The night would be spent canoodling until it was time to go home. I would tell my friends, “I will catch a ride with PB.” This sort of cycle of non-commitment can prolong a period of excitement and lust. This type of back and forth can even create yearning that disguises itself as love

I would like to say that once college was over I realized that the elongated nature of the “chase” period was unhealthy. All the back and forth was just stalling the need for a real commitment. The cycle was never broken because soon after gradation I move to a big city in the hopes of perusing my relationship with PB. The element of a new city and a real job perpetuated the false sense of newness in our relationship and kept us under the guise that we were in love. After a couple years together in the new city, a routine eventually set in. We clearly enjoyed each other a great deal and it was amazing that our lifestyle had kept the honeymoon phase alive so long. But, once the routine set in and the allure fell out we both realized that we were not in love. We did not have the type of passion that lasts a lifetime.

The joint realization was a long time coming. Unfortunately, our honeymoon phase was fueled by our immature lifestyles and the fact that as a couple we did not truly “settle down” until years after our first meeting. Feelings that seem like love are distorted by other factors, like sex, mystery, accomplishment, attraction, or even jealousy. The notion that the “honeymoon is over” is usually viewed as a negative end to something fun. However, I think it is a powerful stage in a relationship where one can truly see the difference between love and lust. If the butterflies and rainbows wear off, and you are left with someone you adore…then you might just be basking in the glow of love.

Commandments Part II..my epic fail

Yesterday I touched on what I deem the most serious relationship offense, cheating.  My story was a trivial example and I certainly do not consider myself qualified to render advice or even truly empathize with those who have experienced a more significant infidelity issue.  My purpose in blogging is to share personal experience and tell you what I have learned from my own encounters.  That being said, for those of you who have lived through infidelity and come out on the other side, I have the utmost respect and admiration.  What doesn’t kills us makes us stronger and in some small way I hope what I have to say in this space helps people realize that no relationship is perfect.  We are all works in progress.

Today’s story is also about breaking an important relationship commandment, “Thou shall not test thy partner.”  I am not sure if all women are guilty of this offence, but I, myself, am.  Like most of my flaws, I think that this has roots in insecurity.  In many cases, I tested my partner in the hopes I would discover his undying loyalty.  I have said one thing and meant another, expecting my partner to read between the lines.  Again, we shall travel back to a time when I was a less seasoned dater.  The time was college and the boyfriend was PB.

It was October, and my birthday was upon us.  This fall proceeded the summer when we made our relationship official.  My birthday was on a Friday and I was excited to see what PB had planned.  Since we regularly went out and celebrated our college friend’s birthdays, I was sure PB had something special in store for me.  A few days prior to my birthday, PB asked where I would like to have dinner on the day.  I gleefully chose a Mexican restaurant; we would start the night off with margaritas!  It would be festive way to begin the night, since we would surely head to a bar after dinner.  What would I wear, whom would I invite?  It was then PB dropped bomb.  His best friend from home apparently shared the same birthday and PB was headed up North after our dinner.

I was devastated and crushed.  It would have been my first birthday with a boyfriend and I really thought that PB would plan something special.  I expected that his girlfriend’s birthday would take precedence over his friend’s birthday.  This had to be some sort of joke.  He was not really leaving town, he must have been planning some sort of surprise.    I lied and told PB to go ahead and leave town on my birthday to celebrate.  I told him that I was ok with the situation, even though I did not mean it.  I was verbally giving PB my blessing but my expression and body language was telling him I was not happy.  My goal was to get PB to read between the lines and choose me over his friend.  Surely he would see the error of his ways.

This is an example of testing someone.  You know what you really want them to do in a given situation but you tell them what they want to hear or tell them the opposite of what you desire.  You believe that you are testing their loyalty and level of commitment.  But, really you’re asking them to be a mind reader.  If you do not say what you mean and mean what you say then you are asking for trouble.  This goes double with women to men.  Most men I know are very literal.  If you tell them that you do not want anything for Christmas or that you are ok with him going to the strip club, he is going to take that at face value.  Men are not as analytical and do not always read between the lines.

I learned this lesson the hard way.  After my birthday dinner back at PB’s apartment, he packed his bags and headed for the door.  At the sight of this, I burst into tears.  PB was stunned because I had assured him there was no problem.  I accused him of knowing that I really wanted him to stay and that in his heart he should have known I needed him.  My hysterical outburst had no effect.  PB already purchased a bus ticket and he was heading back to his hometown.  He left me in disarray; I returned to my dorm room and threw a first class hissy fit.  PB failed the test and left me high and dry on my birthday.  I told my roommate I planned to break up with him for the offense.  How could he?

When my phone rang, I was too emotional to speak.  My best friend and roommate took the call.  It was PB; he wanted to see how I was doing.  My best friend was honest and told him I was an irrational, inconsolable mess (of my own making).  I could not hear the conversation but he apparently asked her if he should come back.  She told him that I said I was ending our relationship based on the events of the night.  He told the bus driver to pull over and got off the bus, he was a little more then an hour away from school.  My roommate offered to pick him up.  He was waiting on a random street corner for close to two hours before she arrived to get him.

I had done the most selfish thing imaginable.  I lied about my true feelings and expectations willing PB to read my mind.  When he did not I ruined his plans and caused him to let his friend down on his birthday.  Now his friend would experience disappointment on his birthday.  It was monumentally immature and colossally ridiculous of me.  My test did nothing but prove that I was juvenile and disrespectful of PB’s commitments outside of our relationship.  I am regretful for many things I have done in my life; but I am also ashamed of this one.

It is important to respect your partner and part of that respect is being honest with your feelings.  I am happy to share this story with you today because the embarrassment it brings me is a present day reminder not to test my love ones.  If you need something from your relationship, you have to put it out in the open.  Even if your needs are petty, like my college birthday party, you need to be honest about them.  Signals and metaphors will not do the trick and if your significant other really cares about you then they will be willing to compromise to work towards a solution.  Follow this commandment because when you test your partner, only you fail.

Commandments of Dating…when he didn’t follow the rules

Today over email, Friend Green mentioned that she was reading the “Commandments of Dating”. She forwarded me a snippet of the article and the content rang true. As my day went on, I started to think of my own relationship commandments and think back to a time when they were broken. My first thought was being faithful to your partner, the most obvious. I, myself, have never caught a partner cheating. It is not to say that I have never had a partner stray, but I never caught anyone in the act of indiscretion. The closest I came was with Pizza Bagel.

When we parted ways during summer break, the first year we were dating Pizza Bagel suggested that it would be impossible for two 19-year-olds to remain faithful for three months. We would be about four hours away from each other and at our age, a long distance relationship seemed far-fetched. I understood Pizza Bagel’s train of thought on the matter: though we had been seeing each other throughout the school year we had yet to call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. In my heart, I wished he suggested that we remain exclusive but I did not push the issue. We spent most of our time together or in the same group of friends so it was evident at school that we were not dating other people. I hoped that he would not meet anyone special during out time apart. It was bitter sweet but common sense dictated that I could not force a hormonal teenager to stay away from girls for an entire summer.

I left school one day before Pizza Bagel. It was the old days so I did not have a cell phone; I wrote my contact information on an index card. The first time I wrote it, I decorated it with magic marker hearts. That seemed creepy so I ripped it apart and just went with old fashion pen and paper. PB said he would call in a couple weeks and check in on my summer fun. Two weeks felt like a long time to go without talking but again, I did not protest. I tried not to let my disappointment show but I could not hide my tears as we said goodbye.

I arrived at the beach the same day and unpacked my things. Work started the next day because I had a standing job at a boardwalk gift store. After my second day of work, I came home to a message from PB. My Mom said that he called in the afternoon. It seemed strange because we only said goodbye two days prior and he said he wouldn’t be calling right away. I was excited! When he answered the phone, he said that he needed to talk…bad news was on the way. Turns out that the night I left college PB made his way to a fraternity party. Since only a few people were still on campus, a random group of people converged on the festivities. With me gone to the beach and his singlehood was back in tact, PB participated in a heated make-out session with one of my sorority sisters (I am rolling my eyes and vomiting in my mouth right now).

It was devastating, I had really grown to love and admire PB and I was crushed that it took less then 24 hours for him to find another girl. He took his first chance at freedom. PB went on to say that while he understood what he did was wrong the kiss was not the point on his phone call. He was calling because the next morning he woke up and realized that he made an awful mistake. He felt guilty and horrible and wanted me to know the truth. The drunken dry hump session had brought on an epiphany…he was in love with me. PB asked to come to the beach that weekend and explain in more detail. He wanted to meet my parents and become a bigger part of my life. The summer break was not going to be our break from each other after all.

Alas, I was immature, and this seemed like a romantic conclusion to our disappointing goodbye at school. Do not get me wrong, I did not welcome PB back into my life on the spot. The hurt and betrayal took a toll and I spent the rest of the week in utter turmoil. I was physically ill at the thought of what happened and seriously thought about the fate of the relationship. However, when I was ready to forgive, his commitment to our relationship seemed like a victory. I was the girl that he wanted and he was the boyfriend I chose. Pushing the kiss out of my mind, I let PB back into my heart (I had not ever let him out).

These days I am more discerning and decidedly more jaded. Had Cute Glasses experienced a similar epiphany after an indiscretion, the outcome would have been different. When you are young, you can forgive and forget with less consequence. In college, I had no real investment in PB and nothing but my feelings riding on the future of our relationship. Cute Glasses is a man and, at the time, PB was a teenager. Your teenage slip-ups do not define who you are as an adult; rather, they teach you what kind of person you want to be. I would assume that PB learned the risks of cheating, and that today he would think twice before putting himself in that situation. College is a time to test the so called, “Commandments” and learn the potential outcomes of your actions. Adulthood is the time to abide by your own set of boundaries and moral code.

Now, I know what you are probably thinking…MB is not a perfect person…I know she has broken some dating rules in her life. It is true. It was PB’s lesson in love today but it will be mine tomorrow. Have a good rest of your day ~ MB

“Amateur Night”

I have heard people refer to the night before Thanksgiving as “Amateur Night”. This refers to a drinking night that attracts crowds that do not usually imbibe. That night, many moons ago PB and I planned a night out in the city. It was the first and the last time I ever had “bottle service” at an establishment. For those of you not familiar with the term, it refers to renting a table at a nightclub. The table comes complete with a bottle of vodka accompanied by warm juice mixers. The obscene price tag on the “service” is about six times the retail cost of the bottle. I digress. An entourage of PS’s friends attended that night including his sister; let us call her Darling, and her husband, who shall be known as Snoopy.

If you read my last entry about dating and family, you were introduced to the main players. You have an idea of the dynamic between Darling, Snoopy and PB. In summary, Darling is a spoiled child in an adult body who needs the constant attention and affection from her brother and her husband. For Darling this had never been a problem until I started dating PB and his time and affection was as a result, shared.

City law at the time banned smoking in the establishment. PB, Snoopy and Darling were outside enjoying a smoke at the end of the night. I on the other hand, was waiting in a bathroom line rivaling the Great Wall of China. After finishing inside, I went outside to collect my group and head home. In the smoking area, I found Darling in a compromising position. Two men had approached her and asked to take her picture. Darling was a very attractive girl in a very short skirt so it was no surprise that she attracted male attention. Instead of refusing the picture, she called for Snoopy and PB to intervene. Meanwhile, I realized our jackets were in the coat check inside. Welcoming a break from her drama, I went back into retrieve them and returned in a matter of minutes.

Back on the sidewalk, I found the situation had escalated. Darling was crying and Snoopy was trying to comfort her. Apparently, the idea of having her picture taken by random people was so emotionally devastating she caved under the trauma. Now you have to understand, PB had a blazing temper. The idea that someone had made Darling upset infuriated him. The tough guy switch was flipped and he confronted the creepers head on. PB was a burly man, so it was strange when the two men did not back down to his intimidations. In fact, it seemed that they wanted to fight as they egged PB on. Of course, I played the roll of the dutiful girlfriend trying to calm PB and convince him to go home. However, there was another voice in PB’s ear that night. The voice of Darling, the poor innocent victim who had been made to cry on her big night out.

The rest of the incident played out quickly and my memory is foggy regarding the details. PB and the men started to engage in a fistfight. One of the men had a knife and used it to stab PB twice in the back while PB remained entangled in fisticuffs with the other. When I saw this, I tried to psychically intervene and was thrown to the ground. Snoopy had also tried to intervene while Darling sat on the curb hysterically crying. My secondary reaction was to find someone on the street with a cell phone to alert the police and medics. The two men fled the scene upon hearing sirens in the distance and I ran up the street towards the flashing lights to flag down the ambulances and police cars. PB was conscious and I told him that Snoopy and I would go with the police to find the men that stabbed him. A still frantic Darling, I assumed, would accompany PB to the hospital and comfort him while he was treated.

From the back seat of the police car, Snoopy and I recounted what happened and gave the officers our description of the men. Another patrol car in the area spotted the men and we drove by to confirm their identities. Once the men were in custody, Snoopy and I went back to the Precinct. We formally gave our statements all the while asking for status updates on PB’s condition. The officers told us that both victims were stable and we would be taken to the hospital to see them shortly. Wait…two victims? Only PB was stabbed and the other two men were in jail. Who is the second victim? Did you guess? Yes, folks, Darling had her own ambulance ride complete with hospital exam.

When we arrived at the hospital, the emergency room nurse explained that Darling was discharged immediately and PB’s wounds were still under evaluation. Doctors had to be sure that the knife did not penetrate any vitals before they stitched the openings. I wanted to see PB but the staff explained that Darling would need to come out of the emergency room in order for me to come in. A nurse offered to ask Darling to swap places. When the nurse returned, she told me Darling refused to leave the emergency room. She took pity on me in light of Darling’s inability to compromise and let me in despite the fact that PB’s guest list was already at capacity. I never spoke to PB alone as Darling inserted her presence into every moment of that night. She referenced her own “injuries” and would not let us forget that she was just as much the victim that night.

In the midst of the tragic events came true enlightenment. It was as if a higher power was giving me the extreme scenario to show me that this relationship would never work out. I would always play a secondary role to Darling and I would grow more and more resentful as time went on. I am sure that there is a woman out there who would love PB enough to deal with the drama of Darling, but I knew I was not that woman. You have to be honest with yourself even when the truth hurts and walk away from an unsuitable situation. Family is family and Darling and PB’s relationship formed long before he met me. I could not demand that he cut her cord and change the dynamics of their co-dependency. I had to choose to accept it or move on. In hindsight, I should have acted on those earlier cues, the warning signs that I was not compatible with PB’s family.

Respect your significant others family situation. If you cannot see yourself as a part of that picture…it might be time to reevaluate your relationship.

Dating and Family…why a Pizza Bagel is not for everyone.

Being an only child, I will never truly have the experience of a sibling relationship.  Close friends and cousins are the most intimate family-like relationships I have as a comparison basis.  So imagine my surprise when my college beau, Pizza Bagel, had a brother/sister bond so tight it collapsed our long-term relationship.  I spent many years hating on Pizza Bagel’s sister and blaming her for the demise of my longest lasting relationship.  These days I rise above my general distain and thank my lucky stars I purged my life of her even thought that meant ending things with Pizza Bagel.  Remember folks…you may not realize it, but you are/will be in a relationship with their family too.

I met Pizza Bagel (PB for short) in college.  Talk dark and handsome, I was intrigued by looks complimented with a strong personality.  PB was worldly and introduced me to international cuisines and element of cultures I had not yet encountered.  Young, naïve and amazed that college men would even speak to me made the attention from PB enough to sweep me off my feet.  It was your typical college romance fueled with keg stands and beer pong, the stuff of true romance.  I kid.  I kid.

As the relationship progressed, I pushed to understand more about PB’s family and his life back at home.  He guarded this information and was very hesitant to introduce me to his family (red flag).  There was evidence that he had a strained relationship with his parents and alternately, a very close relationship to his sister.  In the future, I would find out that his Mom had personal problems that affected his childhood.  As a result, his main confidant and closest family member became his sister.  In college, the details about PB’s past were not clear but it was evident that in order for the relationship to pan out in the long term, his sister would need to approve.  Had I been a more seasoned dater, I might have realized that PB’s lack of willingness to introduce me to his family after a year of dating was a bad sign. 

When I moved to New Jersey after college it was to pursue my career, PB had also established himself in that area and we were still dating.  Although we did not live together, we were in close proximity to each other and his family.  It was at this stage that I was exposed to them on a regular basis.  My relationship budding with PB’s sister became complicated almost immediately.  She was the jealous type that needed to be the center of attention.  (Google “Histrionic Personality Disorder”).  For eample if I wore something new she would pout over her lack there of said something.  She had husband that was totally enthralled with her, yet she craved PB’s constant attention and affection.  This was uncomfortable for me and she started to feel like the “other woman.”

At that point I knew I could deal with PB’s mother, personal problems included, and even with PB’s dad and his stand-off-ish attitude.  That would not make or break our joint existence.  However, the events of one night changed everything.  PB’s sister’s need for attention resulted in a violent attack on PB and the injuries sustained were not just harmful to PB but to the fate of our future.  Tomorrow’s post will tell that story in detail.

No one’s family is perfect and if you do find a partner with a family you love then you are truly among the blessed.  The hope for most relationships is that you get along with your partners family and at least have a bond based on respect and your mutual love interest.  The point here is that you cannot deem a partner a potential marriage candidate until you meet and get to know the family of which he or she is a part.