This is my first EX-Factor post, where I will write about the significant relationships of my past. Our previous relationships affect the way we view, approach, and proceed in future relationships, so I feel for anyone to really understand the road I’ve been on, they would also have to know the stories that shaped the present. (Note: In EX-Factor posts the timing of when a relationship happened is crucial to understanding the story. If you need a visual- visit the TIMELINE.)
In Road to Addiction I mentioned that in my adult life I have fallen in love three times, and had been in three long-term relationships, but only one of those overlapped. So who better to start with than the girl it all started with- my first relationship and my first love “Whitney.” Near the start of my junior year of college, an acquaintance asked me to be on an co-ed ultimate frisbee team. I like sports and meeting new people, so I agreed. At the first game I noticed my new teammate Whitney right away. She was tall, blonde, and very athletic. She was also a freshman, so I proceeded cautiously! Over the course of the season I got to know her better I realized that behind her shy exterior, she was smart, ambitious, thoughtful, and a total sweetheart. After the season ended, I waited about a week or so and called her up to meet for lunch on campus, always a quality “pre-date.” Shortly after that I asked her on a real date, which ended with a kiss that I would find out later would seal her interest in having a relationship with me.
Our relationship always had a very serious tone, it was less than a year into the relationship we were already talking about when would be the right time to get engaged, married, have children, etc. She was very clear from the start she wanted to wait until we were married to have sex and I respected her wishes. I was happy with our level of intimacy and I wanted her to be comfortable.
Whitney’s junior year was gone in Europe for a semester as part of her study-abroad. There was no Skype at the time so we talked on the phone about once to twice a week, which was quite expensive for both of us. During the time she was away I had the craziest approaches from girls I’ve ever experienced, even still to this day. One night after a night of drinking two girls I knew offered a three-way, while another girl admitted the only reason she started having an intimate relationship with one of my friends was because she hoped the stories of how good she was would get back to me and I would want to be with her- yikes! (The stories were pretty good by the way, but I never told that friend I was apparently the reason for his great hook-ups.) Anyway, the semester ended and Whitney came back and we were happier than ever. Apparently she saw her fair share of cheating from classmates on the trip and we were both just happy to be back in the same place without any apologies needed! The study abroad experience gave her a new-found outlook on life and I enjoyed being around her even more. For the first time, she even mentioned that she would be open to having sex and not waiting until marriage anymore. My response was along the lines of, “Well, we waited this long, we might as well keep going,” so that’s what we did.
Things were going so well, I was completely caught off-guard when a conversation after dinner one night turned into Whitney telling me that she didn’t think we should be together anymore. Oh yeah, on Valentine’s Day by the way! Of course I was completely devastated, confused, angry, and many other emotions on and off. Worst of all, she couldn’t give me any reason. She just simply would say “It just doesn’t feel right,” and left it at that. In time, when I could see she wasn’t going to come back to me, I distracted myself by dating and/or making-out with almost every cute girl that expressed interest in me during the second half of college. It was my first true dating “binge” and certainly was a factor in getting to where I am today. After graduating I no longer had to see Whitney around on campus on a weekly basis. I hoped that, along with breaking off communication would make things easier.
A couple years later I had a career, a new house, a new car and although I had was not successful in either of the two relationships during my post-college years, I was feeling optimistic that the right opportunity was just around the corner. One day that summer, Whitney contacts me out of the blue. Emails lead to phone calls and we spent a lot of time getting caught up on all the things we’ve been doing over the years. Shortly after that, she let me know that she was coming into Madison for an interview for an internship. I told her that it would be good to see her again and I would show her a good time in the city. When she showed up we talked for hours and hours. It got so late into the evening that we never left into the city. A little wine eventually lead to a lot of kissing, and the kissing eventually lead to us loosing our virginity. Now, typically I don’t share the level of intimacy I have with someone, but a person’s first time is an important event in their relationship history. I knew at the time that there was certainly a good chance that wouldn’t be together in the distant future, but I felt good that my first time was with someone I had a strong history with, and still cared about deeply after all these years. Equally as important, she felt the same way.
Over the next couple months, Whitney stayed over at my place every time she was “in the area” or “passing by” even though she lived hours away. We also kept in touch by phone conversations a couple times a week, and eventually these conversations started turning towards the direction of what we could be if she took the internship in my area. As time went on, I became very excited about the possibility of having Whitney back in my life again. She still had two final interviews left and she asked me not to contact her during that time so she could make the best decision for her without getting steered any direction. Feeling optimistic from the tone of our conversations, I agreed.
The next two weeks while waiting to hear from Whitney were the longest of my life. Then followed by the longest third week of my life! Eventually I decided to contact her and see where things were at. When I did so, she told me she had decided to take the internship out East because it was the best opportunity for long-term career. When I asked her if she would be stopping by to see me on her way home, she told me she was already home and figured I’d only want to see her if she was moving to my area. This was certainly the most upset I had ever gotten with her! I couldn’t believe she had made up her mind and then not told me, while making me wait an extra week to share the news. I was disappointed she passed up on an opportunity to spend time with me again. Most of all, I was angered by the fact that she could talk about it all in such a matter-of-fact tone as if I wasn’t even a consideration in her decision making process. I shared my displeasure in a very unfriendly way and hung up. Two weeks later I had cooled down and was feeling up for talking to her about the possibility of a long-distance relationship. When I called her, I got the shocking news that she met a guy on her final interview that pursued her relentlessly until a friend gave Whitney’s number to him. At this time I found out they had been talking ever since. Finally, she told me that not only does she not want to continue seeing me, but she had already bought a plane flight to see him and see if she was looking to see if she wanted to start a long-distance relationship with him. At that time all of my anger came rushing back again! I don’t believe I’ve every yelled at someone that I’ve dated, current or past, but I know I did that day. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know I said some very hurtful things that could come to mind at the time, and then once again hung up.
Three more years later I came off a two-year relationship with “Shana” who was my second long term-relationship. She knew the general details of my relationship with Whitney and told me after I broke up with her that I needed to figure out a way to move on from the hurt/fear of my past or I would never be able to settle down with anyone. In time, I decided to take that advice and figured the only way I could truly put the past behind me was to contact Whitney one final time to apologize for what I said and forgive her for leaving me in the way she did.
The only phone number I could find was her parents number, so it took a phone conversation with her mom (that lasted at least a half-hour) to get her current contact info. Whitney was shocked to hear from me when I called and we ended up talking for at least one hour every night for the rest of the week catching up. I was able to say everything I wanted to and was finally able to have peace. She too had been wanting to get back in touch all those years, even admitted to trying to look me up on Match.com when she became single again (after a year or two things didn’t work out with the guy she left me for). She wanted to thank me for everything that I had done for her over the years as a relationship partner, and she told me that outside of her parents, she still considers me the most influential person in her life and towards all of her success both in relationships and her career. It was nice to hear of course. She was in a relationship with someone else at the time and I knew it was serious because she was living with him and back in the day that was one of the things she said she’d never do… so of course I gave her a hard time. For the first time in my life, I could talk to her like any other college friend I was catching up with. Although I still cared for her, any romantic feelings were no longer there and it was a huge weight off my shoulders!
I didn’t plan to keep in touch after that, but occasionally she would call to chat. Then after a long gap in the calls, I got one out of the blue. About two minutes into the conversation I asked, “Did you get engaged or something?” Stunned, she admitted that’s why she called me and once again credited me for always being able to read her mind. Anyway, I congratulated her of course and I was truly happy for her. Since then we communicate very rarely, probably not even every year. I send her a message when she posts a major life event on Facebook (new job, baby, etc.) and she sends me a note in the rare event she’s in my area, but we never end up meeting. She never says it, but I know she really hopes I can find love again someday. My hope is that someday isn’t too far away!