I determined that I would not be the one to initiate contact with men while on match.com. Not a very liberated way to do things, but I wanted the man to make the first move. I just did. That's what felt right to me at the time. I don't remember how many guys I ended up "talking to" online, but I did eventually make a plan to go out with one of them. I would have been open to another date with him, but he wasn't into me. Strike one. The second guy I went out with ended up really irritating me. He was really hard to get rid of, kept asking me out even though I didn't do anything to reciprocate his attention. I don't know how many times I had to say no to a second date before I finally told him I didn't think we were a good match. Strike two.
The third guy I went out with was Jared*. (Name has been changed.) Though I was a little unsure of going out with him because he was at the upper limits of my age range (7 years older, which seemed like a lot when I was in my late 20s), we had really good chemistry online and then in subsequent phone calls. I thought it was a good sign that he shared his birthday with my sister and my Grandma. Our first date was full of good conversation and he gave me a nice little kiss when we said goodbye. He even called me later that same night to make sure I made it home okay in the snow. Our second date was even better and ended with a steamy kiss by my car. I liked that he wasn't afraid to make a move. And he wasn't afraid to call when he wanted to - he wasn't playing any games. It was refreshing.
After a few dates, I decided to introduce him to my friends - always a big deal, almost as big as introducing him to my family. Everybody seemed to get along great! Soon enough, both of us had taken down our internet profiles and were seeing each other - and only each other - regularly.
The beginning of our relationship was great. I mean, really, it wouldn't have become a relationship if it wasn't great, right? We had fun together, would go out regularly, we met each other's families and friends, made an effort to be a part of each others lives. He was attentive - he realized I liked Coach purses and got me a beautiful one for my birthday, just a few months after we started dating, which was a nice change from the oblivious guys I had been dating. He once sent me flowers at the office for Valentine's Day, and since he knew I was going to be out of town on the actual holiday, he sent them a week early. It was quite thoughtful. I ended up getting along really well with his sister-in-law, and was able to be there for the birth of her first child. (She is actually still a part of my life since she is my accountant.)
He took care of me when I was down. Once when I was sick, he made me breakfast in bed. No matter that I had absolutely no appetite and the smell of food made me want to vomit. It was the thought that counted. I still fondly remember my amusement when I realized he made the scrambled eggs in a soup pan. :) When I had a small procedure on my foot and could barely walk, he walked Lulu for me. And every time I cried from the pain or had to take a pill, he would curse the doctors for doing the procedure in a way that caused me pain. It was sweet.
I was traveling a lot for work at this time, which meant that we were constantly being "reunited", which was kind of fun. With all of that travel came lots of free flights, so Jared and I took quite a few vacations together. In addition to my free flights, since Jared was a poker player, he would regularly get rooms comped for him in Las Vegas. It was kind of cool - getting an awesome room comped at the newest (at the time) and most beautiful hotel in Vegas - The Wynn. We loved it.
|@ Austin's - my fave steak restaurant in Vegas|
We went to Vegas a lot. Always Vegas. Jared would play poker into the wee hours and then sleep most of the day unless I guilted him into doing something with me during the day. It was like pulling teeth so mostly I did my own thing. I toured around, went shopping, went to museums. Once I even spent the day working since I actually did most of my work in Vegas at this time. Don't get me wrong, Jared would do some things with me - we went to some great restaurants, saw a few shows, spent obscene amounts of money at the spa, and lounged at the pool. But it got kind of old for me. I'm so not a gambler, so that part of Vegas never interested me much. And since he was gambling at night, I didn't have anybody to go clubbing or dancing with. I got to be pretty lonely on these trips after a while.
|@ The Wynn during the holiday season - this was actually our joint Christmas card that year|
He seemed to have certain "triggers" that "made" him drink. For example, the one I remember most vividly was if he went golfing with friends. Playing golf equaled getting drunk to him. He'd start the process while golfing, then come home and continue drinking. He couldn't/wouldn't stop. It would literally ruin the weekend because I wouldn't go see him while he was like that and then he'd need the whole next day to recover.
One time when Jared came by after work I smelled alcohol on his breath. When had he had time to have a drink? When I confronted him, he said that he had a couple vodka shooters in his car that he'd bought earlier. He actually said he didn't think I'd be able to smell the vodka on his breath. Word of advice to people who assume this - vodka still smells like alcohol. Especially to someone with an acute sense of smell. It was disheartening. It just seemed so wrong to 1 - feel the need to drink in the car before coming over, and 2 - feel the need to hide it. To me, hiding something means you know it's a problem and you're ashamed of it.
I stopped keeping alcohol in my house. If I had it, he'd drink it. All of it. So I didn't want it around at all. Other people noticed. My family noticed. It was a huge issue. It became the biggest issue in our relationship, the thing we fought about most often.
To be fair, Jared had his own issues with me, too. I know that I'm not perfect, that I wasn't his perfect match, either. He always had problems with my shopping habits. I know that's a huge problem of mine. And Jared (and probably his parents, too) had issues with the lack of religion in my life. I believe he considered himself a born-again Christian. His parents were really religious and apparently before he met me, he'd been a regular church-goer. He and his parents really wanted me to share religion with them. I was raised Catholic, but it didn't really stick. I tried going to church with them and sort-of thought I might be able to incorporate it into my life as it was quite different than Catholic mass, but I quickly realized that I am not a believer. Though I found the music at the church they went to lovely, I knew that religion was not going to be a part of my life. Jared wasn't happy about that, but I thought he accepted it. His parents blamed me for Jared's poor attendance at Sunday morning church, but really they should have blamed his drinking.
Over the years, it became more and more apparent that Jared and I were not a fabulous match in other ways, too.
I liked being social and going out, dressing up, seeing friends, going to the theater and concerts. Yes, I love being a homebody sometimes, too, but Jared hated being social in any way. He had anxiety issues that I couldn't understand. Getting him out, putting on real clothes (god forbid dressing up!), talking to people was like pulling teeth. If I did get him to go out, he'd have to have a few drinks first, then he'd hang back by himself and brood, sometimes he'd even go into a different room just to be by himself. And more often than not, he'd get drunk.
|Dinner w/ my parents @ North|
Jared and I had started fixing up his condo to sell and had discussed buying a place together, discussed what we both wanted in a new place. We even went to see some places together. Even though things weren't perfect with us, I was excited about this progression in our relationship. We had been going to a lot of weddings - all people who had met and gotten married since he and I had been together. I felt like it was time for us. And even though we had issues, even though I sometimes felt like I was settling, I was determined that this was it for me. I was going to spend my life with Jared; I was going to make it work.
|@ a friend's wedding|
One night while discussing what needed to be finished to get his condo on the market and how much money we could save by living together, Jared blurted out that that wasn't going to happen. Say what? He said that if he sold his condo, he wasn't going to buy another place, he was going to use the profits to fund his dream to become a professional poker player. Um, okay. Isn't this something we should talk about?
The discussion evolved into a huge disagreement about the state of our relationship. Jared said it seemed like we were too comfortable with each other. Huh? That's a bad thing after you've been together for years? It wasn't until much later (seriously like a year) that I realized what I think he meant. We had stopped trying; we had stopped making an effort for the other person. We had settled into a sad, comfortable routine and started taking the other person for granted. We had both let ourselves go a little bit. I realized I couldn't even remember the last time we had kissed - not just a little peck, but a serious passionate kiss. Sure, we still had sex, but even that was routine. There wasn't anything passionate about our relationship anymore. I have to believe that's what he meant by "too comfortable".
But this conversation came out of the blue for me. We hadn't been fighting any more than usual about anything different than usual, so it was incredibly shocking to be suddenly breaking up. And even though our relationship wasn't perfect, I fought to keep it. He was such a huge part of my life that I couldn't imagine it without him. I couldn't imagine my life without his family, either. They were such a big part of my life, too. I was losing more than just him. In the end, nothing I said mattered. Jared wanted out and I think he had probably wanted out for a while.
I was sad, of course. Really, I was quite sad. I cried a lot. I tried to talk him into coming back. I was sad some more and for a long time. But it was never as bad as the aftermath of Zach. (You can read about him here and here.)
Nothing has changed in Jared's life. His sister-in-law gives me sporadic updates (even if I don't really want them.) He never sold his condo. He never pursued his dream of being a professional poker player. Last time she updated me, he'd never introduced another girlfriend to his family as he hadn't dated anybody seriously enough. We don't run in similar circles or frequent the same places, so I haven't seen him in many, many years. I saw his dad once at the grocery store and he was so pleased to see me that it was kind of sad. I liked his dad a lot.
It took me a really long time to come to the conclusions I've written about here. I would never have been able to put into words my issues with his drinking while we were together. I never realized that I might have been settling. I just really wanted to be with someone, to get married, and since he was there I decided he was the one.
I can now say that I learned a lot about what I do and don't want with a life partner from my relationship with Jared. That's a good thing for sure. I've also realized that two people need to constantly put in some effort to make it work in the long run. And there definitely always needs to be passion. I won't settle for less than that in the future.