I’ve always wanted to live abroad. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a teenager watching Amelie from the confines of my suburban Sydney home. So this year, I did it.
I went to Paris, and I met someone. We talked for a long time before I even came here because we met the year before when I was visiting. We constantly spoke before I came to Paris. He’d send me pictures of his Christmas trip to his hometown in the French countryside. He’d send me videos of him skiing in the French Alps with his friends. He sent me a message at 12:10 am on New Year’s Eve telling me about how excited he was to be with me in the new year. I had hopes that we could have been something. That’s what you do when you date someone, you hope.
I arrived in Paris in mid-January on a Tuesday afternoon. It was freezing, and my hands were numb, but the first thing I did when I landed was to ask him: “can I see you today?!”. He replied that he could pick me up at 9 pm after he finished work. I was so nervous and excited, and I imagined what it would be like to see him after all this time, and after all, we’ve said. Everything was different than what I had imagined. That night, when I opened the door, there was no big kiss. I just hugged him, I climbed on his motorbike and then we drove to a bar. We sat and had drinks; we talked about the things you would talk about on a first date. We kissed in the middle of the pub, and he made fun of me because I didn’t like the idea of kissing in public.We finished our date, and it was a nice one, but he didn’t talk to me like he did before anymore. He stopped texting me everyday, and I had a feeling he didn’t even want to see me. It drove me insane. I even googled “What do you do when he seems less interested in you after a first date?”. I genuinely wanted to know what other people did in this situation. All of the answers said something along the lines of “cut your losses, he’s not interested, ” but I didn’t want to cut anything. I wanted him to like me, so one day I simply asked him if I could see him again.
He invited me out to meet his friends at a bar called Petite Amour on Rue de la Fidélité the next evening. I was having dinner with my friend, but I quickly finished eating, and I made it my mission to get to that bar. Once I was there, I got a drink, I met his friends, I talked to his friends, nd it was a good night. He touched my neck, he kissed me, he gave me a rose he bought from a street vendor. Everything was good. He whispered into my ear, “Babe, let’s go to the next place, we’re going to a club called Les Bains”. I was elated that he thought of me and that he wanted me to come. Everything was good. At Les Bains, I met all the people that I saw on his Instagram. I really felt like I was going to make it, like we were going to be something, but the night ended, and the next day came. He didn’t text me, at all. Nothing. Just silence. And let me tell you, that’s painful, and I don’t like to deal with pain when I don’t know what I did wrong. I asked him, “Did something change? If it did, you only have to let me know. I’d appreciate it more than silence.” Then I waited, and waited, and waited for a response. As a sensible person who’s been dating for a while, I already knew that he didn’t want to be with me. As a foolish romantic, I convinced myself that he was busy.
I felt stupid. I felt hurt. I thought that it must’ve been all my fault. I got too drunk at the club because I was nervous. He couldn’t see himself with a girl like me, a sloppy drunk. He prefers girls that are tall with long hair, girls who wear trendy clothes and who smoke cigarettes from their Parisian balcony. Girls with names like Anaïs who dabble with modelling in their spare time. I was thinking all this, and feeling all this, when he finally texted me the next day. His text was shocking. It was more shocking than if he actually just said that he wasn’t interested in me anymore. He told me that he’d been acting strange because he was in a weird situation.
The situation: His ex girlfriend, from SIX years ago, has suddenly come back and she wants to be with him again. She has really strong feelings about this. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s torn. He’s so sorry but this is so awkward. He still wants to get to know me and he’s really sorry.
I really didn’t know how to react to this. I was happy because I guess he still liked me but I was devastated that he could so easily get back together with his ex. I also couldn’t believe that this was happening. I don’t think anyone can tolerate their date telling them that they’re currently in the process of maybe getting back together with their ex. I felt like I would explode, but I didn’t. I still wanted him to want me. I answered in a polite way where I suggested that I still liked him but that I wouldn’t wait and I hoped that he’d figure out everything soon. I sent the text, I put my phone on airplane mode and I went to the Musee d’Orsay. You have to keep busy when you’re heartbroken. Yet while I was staring at paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, I was still heartbroken. All this busy-ness did nothing for me. I gripped my phone in my hand and I wanted to send him another message to let him know how heartbreaking this was for me. I knew we weren’t serious but he made promises, and he told me beautiful things, and I had hope. Now I felt like some throwaway second option because his ex came back.
I came home that night and I jumped into the shower because I didn’t know what else to do. I felt all this pain in my chest and I was surprised because I couldn’t believe that I was so sad. I couldn’t understand it because this seemed like something so insignificant to be sad over. I called my friend and I talked to him about it all night. He told me I had every right to be sad, “It’s almost like infidelity because when you date someone you’re suppose to give your best and already in the first week he’s shown you everything”. My friend asked me, “And if he chose you, and you guys were together, wouldn’t it still burn you after 2 or 3 years that it started out like this?”. The answer was yes, but I was so devastated that someone I had invested so much of my feelings into could do this to me. I wanted it to end another way. I wanted him to want me. I didn’t want this to happen. I told my friend about how I was looking at a bottle of wine laying in my apartment and how hurt I was when I looked at it. Just before I left Australia, I saw it in a bottle store, and I bought it because the picture on the label looked exactly like a particular Frenchman I was talking to. I brought it all the way over to Paris so that I could give it to him. Now it’s sitting in front of me and I doubt he’ll ever see it. What burns me the most is that he doesn’t hurt like I do. I know what it’s like to be him. I know what it’s like to have options and to have people want you and to not care that you’re hurting someone. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and it burns me that it’s happening to me now.
All I wanted to do was beg him to be with me but I didn’t. I knew the result would be the same whether I begged him or not. He would never choose me. So instead I carefully constructed what I would say to him to let him know that what he was doing was selfish and unkind. This morning I sent him a text that said: “I could tell you how I feel about you, but I won’t. I think it should be clear already. I take relationships seriously. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been dating someone for a week or a year. The principle of respect stays the same. So when you tell me you’re thinking of getting back together with your ex, it’s hurtful. It’s sad, because a week ago, I had hopes, because we spent all that time talking. But I’m not interested in waiting around while you think about your ex. I’m not looking to be someone’s second option. If that’s the case, tell me now and we can be done.”
He’ll probably text me something back like, “Babe, I’m sorry, but yes, it’s best if we don’t see each other anymore”. He probably wrote it in a nonchalant and cavalier way with not a second thought put towards it. It burns me to think about it. It hurts me in an unbelievable way. I wish that this situation was some how my fault so that there was something I could control. However, it’s entirely his fault, and there’s nothing I can do other than tell him about my disappointment. Sometimes I feel like I’ve come so far. I feel like I’ve changed and that I’ve grown and that I no longer need the validation of a man. Of course, it’s true, but then in moments like this, I still can’t push away the sadness of being rejected. I can’t stop thinking about what he’s saying to his ex, about how excited they must be to be together again. I can’t stop thinking about how this isn’t my story but it’s their story. After 6 years, they’re back together again and I was just some sorry girl who liked him at the wrong time. All of this burns me to my core. To be the second option is the most painful thing someone could possibly go through. I want to be okay but I know that it’s fine for me to be angry. It’s fine for me to be sad. I just wish that the sadness would pass quicker. I wish that I learned all that I needed to learn already. I wish that we could skip to the end where I’m wiser and I’m unbroken.
So if there’s anyone out there googling what it’s like to be disappointed after someone brutally dumps you for their ex, I’ve gotta say, I don’t know how to fix it. I just know what it feels like.