We saw each other for one year, during which we would spend a lot of time with our girls. Happy, beautiful family. His daughter became very attached to me, although we never admitted on being an official couple. In other words, our girls thought we were just friends. He wanted to finalize the divorce before we could come out as an item. Everything needed to be super secretive, even though his ex suspected we were together and thought it was great - they had been separated for a while. In this context, Vincent made me believe that the future was vast and held our love story. We talked about moving in together and about having a kid – hopefully a boy, since we already had three girls. I believed in every little single thing he told me, and I patiently waited.
Love Yourself First
Slowly, I started to see that even if I was in love with him, he wasn’t with himself. All he could see was his current struggles: no money, no job, overweight, raising the daughter by himself (yes, even before the divorce was finalized, he had full custody of her). Of course, all that made me admire him even more. The vulnerable guy who takes care of the kid, struggling to get a job and pay the bills, but who, deep inside, has tons of dignity!
Six months into our secret relationship, I witnessed Vincent finally get a random job as a model for a Father’s Day ad campaign. It worked out pretty well and he decided to become a professional model. He enrolled himself at the gym, lost all the extra pounds and started looking even hotter than George Clooney – for real.
For me, though, it was not so relevant. I have always been someone who cares a lot about the intellect and the emotional, and although I can appreciate a perfect body, I will always pick an interesting brain over it. Once he joined the modeling agency, he switched from being that super curios guy to obsessing about his looks. I could feel the change.
I Fooled Myself
I remember one night when I came over to his new apartment, a rather expensive flat for someone who was broke, and we sat in the balcony overlooking the fresh Atlantic forest. It had rained earlier, the smell of wet earth made me feel comfortable.
“I need to talk to you,” he carefully said, looking straight into the dark jungle that spread its lungs in front of us.
I knew that his tone announced something I did not want to hear.
“Now that things are taking off with my career and the divorce drama is over, I owe it to myself to be single for a while.”
I straighten myself up, feeling the pure rage of being injected into my veins.
“What do you mean? After all I waited for you to get here so we can finally be together, you are saying that you don’t need me anymore?”
“When you put this way, it sounds very mean. That’s not how I see it, Laura.”
“Really! So how do you see it, Vincent?”
“I need time for myself. I need to enjoy life.”
Wow, that was a direct left punch in my face!
“Makes sense, you use people to get where you want and then discharge them,” I said, as I stood up.
I felt like I had helped Vincent, picked him up when he was at his lowest, helped with the daughter, the apartment, the job situation. I ego boosted him every time he was down. I would drive him to job interviews and some random classes, not because he asked, but because I thought we should be there for each other. We had even picked a name for our son. But wait, now that he could stand alone on his feet, he was d-u-m-p-i-n-g me!
I learned that being accomplished as a mother and a professional can scare men away.
Man or Boy?
As I gathered my stuff to leave, Vincent stopped me and finally told me the ugly truth.
“I can’t be with a woman who is making more money than me. Who is more successful than me. And you are so much ahead of me, I know it is unlikely that I will, at some point, get to where you are. Because you are not only gorgeous, but intelligent, you have a career, and you are a single mother who pays her bills and travels… I don’t even have a valid passport, Laura!”
By now he was crying. I could see how this was, at the same time, a shitty excuse and his awful view of life.
“How old are you? Twelve?” I just said, before I left.
And there I was, broken hearted and single again. After a long investment in a relationship that had always been closeted.