When I was younger, most of my (relatively few) relationships with girlfriends ended with me getting quietly dumped. I never had anything thrown at me and no-one screamed a “F**k off and die!” It was usually a dawning realization that my girlfriend had moved on and I was now an anachronism of her past. Sometimes this dawned on me when I was with my (now) ex-girlfriend and her friends, and I seemed to be the last to know. That wasn’t nice.
I have something of an addictive personality, so I tend to stick with things long after other people have had the good sense to give up. At work, this is often a good thing. It certainly created opportunities for me to persist and succeed where others didn’t. In relationships, not so much.
I have only dumped a few girlfriends, all back when I was living in Australia. Unfortunately for me and for them, they were all in terrible ways. Shameful and embarrassing thoughts crowd my consciousness sometimes, memories sparked by a brutal sub-conscious that likes to find odd moments and thin excuses to dredge up some past horror and run it through my brain’s movie projector.
One girlfriend was a sweet and very compatible person. We could chat until the wee hours, we had similar interests, our circles of friends overlapped, and we just clicked. With the exception of sex. That worked out very badly, partly because of her mother, who paid too close attention to us and frightened my would-be lover. I now know that my almost complete lack of sexual experience was most likely a factor. At that age, my theory is that hormones and fervor typically overwhelm skill. In this case, not so much. When her studies picked up and she had less time for me, I took this a sign I was starting to recognize — The Quiet Boyfriend Dump.
Apparently, I was wrong. As we arrived at the 21st birthday party of a friend, I mentioned that I was thinking of taking another girl to a rock concert. To say my girlfriend was devastated is to say that Queen Elizabeth II has had some disappointments with her kids’ marriages. I had parked right outside the house and all the other people arriving could see her sobbing her heart out. I didn’t impress anyone that night and the relationship was effectively over. The disappointing thing is that I didn’t actually intend to get into the pants of the other girl; she was just a friend. It wouldn’t be the only time that an assumption by a partner caused me much grief.
Another girlfriend was unceremoniously dumped for the young woman who would become my wife.
That girlfriend was 8 years older than me and ready to get married, although she didn’t reveal this until it was too late. It didn’t help her self-esteem much when I announced that it was over, that my pen pal in England — who I had never met – had shown such potential that it was she to whom I had set my heart. I used gentler words, which seemed to confuse her. So, given my math background, I did what any other dork would do – I drew her a pretty graph that showed where she was on my Emotional Scale. I explained carefully how she didn’t have much potential to creep up from her comfortable position. I explained that my distant and unknown pen pal was far lower in the ‘love lottery’ right now, but had the potential to score much higher. She cried so hard and for so long, it wasn’t entirely clear if my graph had helped or not. Naturally, I look back and think, “At a time like this, you drew a graph??”