The worst date I ever had was in my early 20s. It was even worse than that one first date where, within 10 minutes, this particular gem told me that he didn’t drink alcohol because he was a recovered alcoholic and, by the way, he was married.
I had been dating someone for approximately one year. It was essentially a long-distance relationship since he ended school one year earlier than I did. Perhaps this is why it lasted a year – we had a brief honeymoon period in college and the following summer, then spent most of the year shuttling back and forth, but not necessarily doing the day to day drudgery of dating life. So it never got old…until it did.
I was finally moving to the same city – hurrah! I was so excited, and assumed he must be as well. I distinctly recall making a reservation at a well-known steakhouse recommended to me by one of my best friends, who’s father was in the meat industry. This is probably a good place to mention that I am a vegetarian. So, in essence, I was setting up a date at a place I would never step into by my own volition, because I knew how much this guy liked meat, and I wanted one of our first dates in the city – our city – to be special.
The dinner was very awkward. He was more reticent than usual, and I had a feeling something was going on, but wasn’t quite sure what. At the end of the dinner, he managed to spit it out: this wasn’t working, he didn’t feel the same way he had, I deserved better, blah blah blah.
I was shocked. Time felt like it had stopped. I couldn’t believe my ears.
In retrospect, our relationship had very little substance and mostly involved drinking and hanging out with his friends, but I was in my early 20s which resulted in my being completely shocked that two completely incompatible people weren’t going to result in forever. After the shock, came sadness and anger. I remember standing outside of the restaurant trying to fight back tears – I couldn’t believe what was happening. I recall him stumbling over his words, not really sure what to say and I’m sure just dying to escape from this awkward situation.
It’s funny, the details are so fuzzy now, but at the time it felt like the world was ending.
I remember crying all of the way to the subway. Fortunately, one of my best friends was hanging out in the city and I called her to meet me at the train so that we could ride home together. She later told me that I was crying so hard she could barely hear a word I said, but knew it had to be bad.
And that was our breakup. I never quite had the closure I wanted but time slowly erased the need for closure. His best friend told me that was just the way he was, she was sorry. His sister told me she liked me better without him. And one day, many months later, we met for a drink. I don’t recall the details of that meeting so well, but we had a nice conversation and it overall ended on a good note, although I never received any straightforward answer as to why he had broken up with me.
Years later, I found out that he was an alcoholic. In reality, he was an alcoholic when we dated but we were in college and drinking irresponsibly didn’t exactly raise any red flags during that time. He faced some significant medical problems as a result of his alcoholism and years later died quite young. I still don’t know the exact cause of death (I never felt like it was my place to pry) but I do hope that his family and friends have the closure they deserve, as they are all wonderful people, as was he. He did me a favor when he broke up with me, by ending a relationship between two utterly incompatible people before I felt ready to do so. At the time, I didn’t see this, but now it is clear as day.
The point of this story is this: hindsight is 20/20. The worst date, the worst day, the worst event of your life may, in certain cases, be blurred into just another story on a page by the slow passage of time.