The day starts off with so much promise. A road trip to a far-flung vineyard to spend time with his friends. The trip has been planned for months. All of his friends are now either engaged or married with a baby on the way. Thinking of this fact makes you reflexively smile. He has been so insistent that you build a strong rapport with his friends. They are overjoyed that he has finally found someone to spend his life with. That’s where your relationship is headed. He has said as much, and his friends may have dropped hints about it as well. It’s not an “if” but a “when” that you will be spending the rest of your life with him.
However, a couple of hours into the trip, it’s obvious that he is not happy about something. Yet, he refuses to discuss whatever it is that has him so agitated. You have learned not to pry. He will eventually tell you when he is ready to do so.
You lean back in the passenger’s seat and close your eyes. When you awaken some time later, the first thing you notice is that the car is no longer moving. You slowly open your eyes and find that he has parked the car in the vineyard parking lot. There are only a few cars in the lot. Instinctively, your eyes scan the terrain for him. He is sitting on a bench in front of the vineyard. His phone seems to be attached to his ear. The expression on his face is grim.
You get out of the car to stretch. Drowsiness clings to your being. You shake it off as best as you can. You grab your purse and lock the car. Wordlessly, you amble toward him. He does not seem to see you, which you find somewhat strange. As you get closer, you hear his rich baritone voice and notice that it contains sadness with a mix of anger.
“Look, I told you that I will do it. I just want to make sure that the time is right. You can’t rush these things.”
It appears that he is discussing your relationship with someone else. So why the sadness and anger? Could it be that he is frustrated about the logistics of dropping a couple thousand dollars on an engagement ring? If that’s the case, he needn’t worry. You are totally fine with a $500 engagement ring. You have simple tastes. He must have figured that out by now about you.
“She is a great lady. I just want to make sure that I am doing the right thing,” he states. This time the sadness seems to drown out the anger. “She deserves better than this. I know that I should have told her before the trip but, there just wasn’t time.”
Hmm. So now he’s feeling pressure that the proposal will not go as planned. You quickly brainstorm ways in which you could possibly quell those insecurities within him. Perhaps, you will suggest that you cut the trip short so that he can propose without an audience.
“Of course, I love you. But, she deserves to be respected. It’s not her fault that she turned out to be a rebound for me.” He says this as his eyes gaze up and meet yours.
Now it is clear that his sadness and anger have nothing to do with proposing to you. Your heart is crestfallen and you are struggling to keep your balance.
So much for a romantic weekend getaway. A montage slowly starts rolling through your mind. All of those times he gazed upon you with a wistful look on his face. It wasn’t because he was happy in the moment with you. No, he was somewhere else entirely with someone else. Someone most definitely not you.
He sees your stance wobble a bit and heads toward you with a look of concern on his face. Is it concern or simply guilt? At this point his facial expression is of no importance to you. You turn and head shakily towards the car. Luckily, you only brought two bags for this trip. The larger one has wheels and the other one is a small laptop bag. You had brought your laptop along in hopes of getting a jump on the social media announcement of what you thought would be your impending engagement.
Now, you will be using it to book a trip home. The vineyard like most modern places has Wi-Fi. You will be able to chart your course back into the city and away from your soon to be Ex. You are so wrapped up in your thoughts of escape that you do not even notice him standing in front of the car. He has finished his phone call and is staring at you in disbelief. You stop fussing with your bag and stare right back at him.
“Let me help you carry your bags in.”
“No. I am good. I don’t plan on sticking around for long anyway.”
His expression is filled with confusion.
“Did something happen with your family?”
“No, but I thought that I would save you the trouble of having to sneak around. Look, I’ve been dumped before. But, at least they had the decency not to drag me out to the hinterlands to do it.”
His expression falls and that confirms your suspiscions. You are standing in the middle of the parking lot of the romantic getaway as your soon to be ex boyfriend struggles to explain his shady actions. Good times, indeed.
“I met her way before we got together. We dated and we were long distance. We broke up a few years ago because neither one of us was willing to move. But, she got a job transfer to a place 15 minutes outside of the city. And she called to tell me. Of course, I told her about you. She congratulated me and that was it. But, then I started thinking. Remembering how good it was between us. The only reason why it didn’t work was because of the distance. I started wondering what if she is the one for me. You don’t find what we had together every day.”
Holy, metaphorical gut punch to the solar plexus. How is it that you did not realize that this man was never in love with you? But, that is a separate matter you have more pressing questions to fire at him.
“Why didn’t you just break up with me? Why did you string me along if you knew that I was not what you wanted?”
He takes a deep breath.
“Because you are what I want…in the long run. Kind of. I mean you are so beautiful, smart, and loyal. Damn, you are loyal. I know that I should want you. My parents and friends love you. This trip was supposed to be about cementing our bond together as a long-term couple. But, as much as I want a stable relationship which turns into marriage. I also want my Ex to be the person that shares that with me.”
You take a deep breath and try not absorb the blow of his words completely.
“Well, you are in luck because I am going to be leaving this here romantic getaway because for some reason knowing that your boyfriend would rather be with his Ex has just drained all of the romance right out of being at this time. So, call her back and invite to the getaway. The rental car is in both of our names. So, I will be taking it back to the city and you can hitch a ride with one of your friends or your Ex.”
He stands there frozen for a few seconds and then complies with your directive. He pulls out his wallet and hands you more than enough money to cover gasoline and the rental car. It is pure guilt money but, at this point, you do not even care. You leave him standing in the parking lot of the romantic getaway with a look of pained confusion on his face.
On the way back to the city, you fight the urge to pull into a truck stop and cry your eyes out. Four hours later, you have returned the rental car and trooped into your apartment. You have not shed a tear at all. You purposely turned off your phone during the trip back to the city because you did not want to be tempted to call him or anyone.
As soon as you turn on your phone, it lights up with notifications about missed calls and unread texts all from him. You start by reading the text messages. The first few are apologetic and then they next several are laced with confusion. It’s as though he wants you to beg him to come back. There is nothing to fight for in this relationship. He strung you along whether he intended to or not. That alone is grounds for a breakup. The whole time he was just waiting until his Ex to move back into the area. Now, he is having second thoughts about his reconciliation with his Ex. No doubt, his friends and family are weighing on things. They are probably outlining all of the reasons why he needs to cut ties with his Ex and focus on you. This gives your ego a much needed boost and then sadness washes over you because you realize that you will never see them again. If you do happen to run into them it will be awkward and tense.
You delete the voicemails without even listening to them. You need time to process the fact that you were nothing more than a rebound relationship. Eventually, you will heal and move on from this debacle.