Dear Elline,

I was looking forward to meeting a potential client and while I was in their waiting room, to calm my nerves, I decided to check out Tinder. As it happened, both the company’s intern and I were on the app at the same time because, once we swiped and matched, both our phones rang. We simultaneously exchanged glances and started to burst into an uncontrollable laugh. I walked over to her desk and asked her out in person. We went for coffee after the meeting, and we ended up having a really great time. I liked her laughter; we had similar humor, enjoyed related activities and shared a passion for the industry we’re both working in. So for a month we went on more and more dates, just getting to know more of each other, and relatively taking things slowly.

It wasn’t long until signs started to surface. I used her phone for some mindless task, and this guy called her back. After much confusion, I confronted her about it, asking if she was seeing multiple people. She confessed that there was this other guy that she was seeing before she met me. Since what we had was fairly new, I let it go and left the decision up to her, about what she wanted to do next.

A silent week went by, but she came back and I was incredibly happy and relieved to find out she chose me. Things were moving quite quickly, we got attached, and we spent a lot of time together. She didn’t have many contacts in the industry and her growing interest in meeting new people raised the issue of trust once more for me. So I suggested being exclusive to each other, not necessarily call it a relationship. But eventually, it did turn into a relationship and we were spending every single day together.

All was well and blissful for 8 months, so naturally we took the next step and moved in with each other. In retrospect, it was way too early to commit to such a serious decision. Our friends remained oblivious to our plans until we were almost settled in, and, needless to say, it came as a shock to most people. But at that time, it made so much sense to me. Her lease was ending, and I, having lived for 4 years with my best friend, felt a drive and curiosity to live with someone new. So I said, why not? Might as well try.

As it happened, we move in together, and just one week later, the signs of miscommunications resurfaced. I came home after a long day of work, feeling drained and in need of a relaxing night. Instead, I open the door and was speechless to find the apartment in chaos. With no explanation, I naturally panicked. Had someone broken into our place? No, it turned out she organized a video-shoot without telling me and without clearing the mess. It made me beg the same question: What else is she hiding from me?

I brushed it off, insisting we’d be more open towards each other in the future. Not long after, I started traveling a lot overseas because of work and was rarely at home. She began working on more and more projects with hectic schedules, and I was laser focused and invested in my work.  

Since the relationship was fairly new, I felt like we were was sharing a lot, but she felt differently. Ironically what attracted me to her was that she was someone who I could say anything to. But I found out the hard way that there’s a difference between speaking your mind and speaking about emotions. Opinions are easily shared, but emotions, much less so.

I did make an effort to be more vulnerable around her, we scheduled weekly conversations over the phone while I was away, and when I came back, we both felt like things were very good, but we also knew that we weren’t entirely honest with each other. We’d start conceal when we were upset, hiding behind work and phrases like “I’m doing great”. There was a distrust. Maybe from my part, but also hers. We’d stop conversations when they got too deep, postponing them, or changing the subject. I think the motivation behind me not being able to be emotionally honest was because I didn’t want to be judged, or to get an adverse reaction that would potentially break us up. I was more concerned to lose the relationship than face the facts. I learned that’s all in my head. It’s so much better to speak your mind and say what you really feel. It can avoid so much heartache.

Our state of limbo was also due to the fact that we never sat down and discussed future plans. Maybe because both her and I didn’t have our futures set. We didn’t know where our careers might take us. She didn’t know if she wanted to pursue this demanding lifestyle set by her career, and I didn’t know whether I’d be working more from abroad than from the apartment we lived in.

Eventually, the verbal distance grew into a physical one. We were living together but we both started going to different events and not hanging out anymore. Even on my birthday she didn’t even show up, or call me. She justified her absence then because of work. Again I said it was fine, I understood what it’s like to get lost in work, and we moved on.

I had to leave again to work abroad. Yet, half of my time there, we hardly spoke, and when we did our conversations were sterile. But her reaction was strangest. In the past she used to be upset if we went one day without speaking, but this time she was quite ok with the idea. Once again, my doubts arose. I was going to return, told her about my flight back and she only seemed to be a little surprised.

When I came back, I found out that she was seeing someone else in the meantime. So I called the incident out, and then I learned that she was actually seeing multiple people throughout the entire relationship. I was shocked and disappointed. And she got defensive. For her it wasn’t easy accepting that I am simply workaholic, and she thought I was also seeing other people as well because of that.

Even after all of this, I still would cling to the relationship, waiting, just like at the beginning when we started dating, for a sign from her that she still would choose me. For two weeks I didn’t hear from her, but her stuff was still in our apartment. She eventually reached out and at the end of the month she came back to take her stuff, handed me her keys, and for the first time, she opened up to me about these past months. She said she went out with multiple people because that is her nature. She couldn’t feel trapped in one relationship only. I justified it by thinking that we both didn’t know where life was taking us, but really that’s not a reason to go behind someone’s back.

It took me some months to get over the hurt of the betrayal. And we had another talk, she apologized, I finally got closure and we both came to the realization that the demise was due to a mixture of lack of communication and our general expectations.

I also learned to have more perspective in a relationship. And to maybe be more present in it: make more time, come home earlier, have more meaningful talks.

With appreciation,