On my last relationship

When you are ready, will you share with us what happened with the last guy you were seeing? So sorry to be nosy, but I care for you, I’m curious and I feel like I could learn from it.


I still don’t know what happened. Not really. I thought that for the first time in my life I had found a human being worth making my actual husband. We were one of those disgustingly happy couples from day one. We were a team, and we made it look easy.

We traveled the world together. We moved in together. We started planning our lives together. There was a ring. We saved a date and picked a wedding venue. Things between us were wonderful for a solid year, and then suddenly they weren’t.

It was him, not me. He just fell out of love. Hard. In a matter of weeks, his feelings for me changed, and I still don’t know how or why. In the final days, I knew something was wrong, and I tried talking to him, but he was reassuring and highly skilled at avoiding conflict. In other words, he was very good at lying to my face about his feelings and intentions.

The end came without warning. He simply moved out one afternoon while I was at work. He conspired for weeks to end the relationship while resisting even one single conversation about his change of heart, and he gave me literally one hour’s notice before the moving truck arrived.

The last time I saw him, it was as if I was speaking with a stranger. He was all business, zero compassion. His ability to cut off his emotions so completely kind of scared me a little, and we have not spoken since the breakup.

Of course, I miss him, but the person I miss no longer exists if he ever existed in the first place. The person capable of that level of conspiracy and emotional cutoff is not the same person I thought I loved, and the manner in which he ended the relationship precludes any possibility that I might let him back into my life.

I recently learned that he left his previous ex in a similar manner, though throughout our relationship he’d led me to believe that his previous ex was the one who had left him. Who knows? If I had to guess, I’d say his family also may have played a role. I never quite felt like his mother approved of us. Again, who knows?

I’m not sure what, if anything, you hope to learn from this. The only lesson in it for me is that life ain’t fair and you don’t often get any answers as to why. Naturally, I already knew that shit.

I am dating again, though only half-heartedly. The single men here are mostly religious and/or Republican, and there’s not a craft cocktail in the world artisanal enough for me to put up with that kind of conversation.

Still, life is grand. I love what I do for a living, and I love my new place in the world. I am ever hopeful. Not that I’m hoping for anything in particular, but I am broadly optimistic about the future and unabashedly good at savoring the human condition regardless of whether I exist in a state of singlehood, couplehood, or some creative variation of the two.


38 thoughts on “On my last relationship

  1. Kit says:

    It’s weird reading about a person who helped you through your own relationships inexplicably ending going through their own sudden break up. I want to say something comforting about how I have been there too (though not nearly as serious) but the words I can think of were partly formed by you. I’ll just have to wing it, I guess.

    If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have known to lean in and embrace all the big sad feelings that break made me feel. That feeling them was important and, hell, I even down right enjoyable at times in a weird way (lots of rolling around on the bed listening to sad music and crying. it was like a music video) But that was my first heartbreak and you have clearly been around the bush more times than me so I doubt you found the experience as novel.

    You probably already know this and and had it told to you already, but closure is overrated. Even if he did give you a reason it still would have left more questions than answers. I mostly know why my guy peaced out even if he didn’t say it clearly (also family drama, but I think he was ashamed to show them to me) And ugh, fuck. When you care about someone so much all the details like that don’t matter anyway and you just want to grab them and shake them and say “I don’t care lets just be happy together!” But life isn’t fair and feelings are messy (as if these are things you dont already know)

    I did write to you about my break up way back in May, if you remember. Things have gotten so much better since then. I found an actual guy worthy of actually opening up my relationship for. He is attractive, intelligent and oh so very kind. I still worry sometimes that he is lying to me but that is just something I have to deal with. And even if it he is, at least I can say that I am being honest with my feelings. So when it does end I can feel the satisfaction of knowing I did the best I could. Also he actually puts out and sex is great. Not porn mindblowing but just really solid low stress and good. I feel like I am dating the human equivalent to a juice cleanse. And he has a french accent. It is amazing, Coke. I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting human to join my life if I had given the flying spaghetti monster a recipe.

    Ah, that was so much about me, but again part of the reason I had enough courage to jump back in right away was you so eh. I hope you are in an emotionally good enough place to take this all as a compliment because that is what I am trying to do. Hopefully you can find some more charming and intelligent humans to be intimate with. Happiness is best shared and whatnot

    • Lolitsjesus says:

      All of this articulates so well what this post means to me. The most therapeutic thing I’ve done post-breakup (besides therapy itself I suppose?) has been rereading old CQ posts and internalizing for future relationships what it means to not be a fucking doormat. I’m grateful it’s coinciding with new insight (and a new playlist! Fuck yes).

  2. Turncoat says:

    I have done this. I didn’t intend do. I felt in love, I was sure of it. I was thoroughly enjoying the partnership, the romance, the friendship, the sex.

    One day it died inside me and I didn’t want it to. My feelings for her went dark, even while I still appreciated and admired her intellectually. I was still sexually attracted, but it was not the same without the emotional side and I actively avoided it because I felt disingenuous for even touching her. I broke it off when the feelings did not return for weeks and weeks of trying to re-kindle them in myself.

    I have done this numerous times. It’s happened in a few weeks, or years, or 5 years in.

    I know it’s me. It’s not them. These were great women. Smart, kind, fun, attractive.

    I don’t like it or want it to happen. I try to be a good partner and choose my partner carefully. Most recently I’ve determined to make my complaints known when I have them, and attempt to address hers, so no big issues sneak up on me and so my heart doesn’t just turn on me again. That’s just me guessing why it happens.

    I thought I was a psychopath, or sociopath, or narcissist. I am not well versed in psychology so I’m sure my attempts to diagnose myself were simplistic at best. I did fine with parenthood (child is grown and happy and is my most trusted friend). Career is alright. I just can’t make love “stick” in this black heart of mine. It starts out burning hot and one day, poof. 🙁

    You already know it wasn’t your fault, as you said. You’re coquette. We all read you bc you are thoughtful and wise. I don’t know if I’m telling you anything you don’t know. But it might not be his family, he may just have a screw loose.

      • Mel V. says:

        Psychopaths wouldn’t feel bad about it, so no, probably not that. This would be something to unpack with a therapist. I’d suspect it’s a form of all-or-nothing thinking, or some kind of emotional fuckery that you can blame your parents for. But I’m just a random person on the internet, so don’t listen to me too much.

      • buddydear says:

        These are the exact phrases my ex used to tell me she still deeply cared for me but had fallen out of love, after five years. Do you think that was a misinterpretation of her feelings then? I’d love to know what makes you so sure that’s not a thing.

    • AspiringTherapist says:

      You may not see this comment, but I encourage you to read the book “Attached.” What you describe is a deactivating mechanism that is common to those with avoidant attachments styles. You are right when you say it is you and not them. Love (or what you think of as love – the emotional and chemical bonds to another person) fades over time without honest effort put into the relationship.

      All adults have problems, and whatever isn’t working requires work. Therefore all adult relationships require work. And dipping out when you no longer feel “love” only does you more harm each time.

      You can change this though – but you have to put in the work. And I would implore you to do it before starting any other relationship where you could potentially deeply hurt another person.

      Best of luck.

  3. He stole your trust. Fuck that guy. If he talks you into getting back together, you’ll end up always wondering when the bottom is going to fall out again. You can’t un-know the fact that he’s capable of lying just to spare himself of discomfort. And also—he dropped that bomb on you while you were working?! Nice touch.

  4. Barefootsie says:

    Damn. That’s downright surgical removal. And he had all the opportunities in the world to explain his feelings, his withdrawal, etc. I’m glad you’re not thinking it’s you, as it is clearly, pathologically, him.

    Screw that guy. Not to sound trite, but sometimes rejection is protection. Thank Beyonce you didn’t end up legally tied to the bum.

    Keep being your dazzling self, Coq. I know you’re not looking for comfort or solutions in telling us any of this, but know that we are behind you. And hopefully you’ll find someone who is as satisfying to you as a perfect Manhattan.

    • Chris says:

      Surgical removal is a good way to put it. For him it was fast and flawless, but for her – not knowing she was under the knife – it was like a dull guillotine that cut 10% of the way through. And he just left her to heal from it alone.

  5. buddydear says:

    Coquette, I can barely even believe this post, I can relate too hard. I wrote you some anguished comments about my situation, which I sincerely hope are now lost to the void.

    I’m still shocked when I think of how elegantly and effectively my ex hid the wrongness from me before pulling the rug out from under us. I also picked up on signals, initiated conversations, and was met with reassuring, trustworthy explanations, many of which were straight up lies. In a way I think as part of the process of deceiving me she deceived herself, compartmentalising the part of her that was making an escape, treating it as not fully real until it was already in motion and couldn’t be stopped even by her. The fact that that made it gratuitously more painful for me, or that it was a deep betrayal of everything we’d always said and embodied in our relationship, didn’t really enter into it.

    Whenever I tell my friends that the only thing I’ve learned is that life’s not fair and everything’s always a risk, they look at me like I’ve fallen from the moon, and need to learn to believe in ~true~ love and trust again, for the right person. It’s nice to have someone just stay it straight up.

    It’s disconcerting to me that I can’t say I’ve learned aha, xyz leads to trouble, and in the future I can avoid it. It would be a lovely silver lining, but it doesn’t seem to be there, at least not yet. For a while I really blamed myself for not realising how hollow and cowardly and manipulative my ex was capable of being, for being such a sucker. It’s beyond reassuring to hear that you of all people could also get treated like this, and not have ‘seen it coming a mile away’ despite being a sharp, wise, observant person. That sometimes, yeah, shit’s random and nothing to do with you, but you get caught up in it anyway.

    I wish I could say I was shining half as brightly as you. My job’s pretty good. I volunteer. I date. I learn. I write. I feel my feelings as hard as I can. I’ve set up my life as best as I can to help make space for current and future happiness. But it’s somehow incredibly saddening to have this in my life story, both its joy and its pain, I feel worse off for carrying it.

  6. ragazza says:

    Oof. Sorry to hear this happened to you. I think it’s fairly common actually, although when something similar happened to me about four years ago I felt so alone. However, it completely changed how I think about relationships and how I want to live my life, much to my benefit. You’re allowed to fall out of love, but I think it’s so awful when emotionally immature people don’t want to deal with the messiness of ending a relationship and just disappear instead. I get it, it’s really hard and painful to break up with someone, but this way is so cowardly. I figured out my ex was unable to express or even allow himself to feel negative emotions (especially when they involved shame or guilt), probably because of the way he was brought up, but boo hoo, when you’re almost 50 years old you should know better and at least try to figure your shit out.

  7. ragazza says:

    Oof. Sorry to hear this happened to you. Something similar happened to me about four years ago and it completely changed how I think about relationships, much to my benefit. You’re allowed to fall out of love, but I think it’s so awful when emotionally immature people don’t want to deal with the messiness of ending a relationship and just disappear instead. I get it, it’s really hard and painful to break up with someone, but this way is so cowardly. I figured out my ex was literally unable to allow himself to express or even feel negative emotions like fear, probably because of the way he was brought up, but boo hoo, when you’re almost 50 years old you should at least be aware of the problem and trying to address it so you don’t keep hurting people the same way over and over again.

  8. Chris says:

    Very sorry to read this. You couldn’t have seen it coming.

    As for “what, if anything, you hope to learn from this,” you’ve given your readers a lot, and they want to know you’re okay.

  9. Noq_noq says:

    Holy shit, you’re lucky. The level of psychotic duplicity in that behavior means it could have been worse! Even giving him the benefit of the doubt in some bizarre shocking personal revelation doesn’t balance in the equation against trusting the person you “love.” Better he figured that shit out before the wedding though!

    That’s a heart rend, right there.

    I’m so glad you had your good moments. For me, you above all people deserve perfection of communication and clarity of purpose. No games, no shames.

    Best wishes for your next roll of the genetic-social-logistic dice!

    • hush says:

      “Psychotic duplicity” — yes. Duper’s delight, getting off on the crazymaking behavior of being kind in word, while surreptitiously being cruel in deed. A pattern across past relationships of lovebombing, devaluing and suddenly, blindsidingly, humiliatingly discarding. You’ll know them by the chaos and shattered souls they leave behind.

      It took me being abandoned just like this to eventually grasp that this is precisely what Cluster B folks do to their victims inevitably. My once loving, amazing, feministy husband suddenly moved out of our apartment one day and decided to inform me after the fact; this was after being tricked into a cross country move, and we had an infant. We were one of those disgusting happy couples for years. Thought I had found a real and true equal partner. Turns out there was someone else the whole time we were together. And financial abuse. And his smear campaign against me. And a very high conflict divorce and custody battle. This is A Thing. Nice guy covert narcs are impossible to detect.

      I finally learned how to tell someone’s character somewhat better, and how to tell if someone is mirroring you. But it takes years to see, and it’s an exercise in cynicism, though sometimes you just get a glimpse at the Real Self behind their mask. And you might talk yourself out of believing they really are that dark and calculating. It just never occurred to me that heartless sociopaths existed in this form. I assumed almost everybody had a basic moral compass. Not true.

      I’m so sorry you encountered one of these people. If, after a time, you are finding it hard to process, and you still don’t quite feel like your old self again, then definitely look into trauma-informed therapy for PTSD after a pathological love relationship. Sandra L. Brown’s work in this arena has been very healing for me.

  10. AK says:

    Ouch, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Seems like this guy didn’t have the emotional tools to make it past the infatuation stage.

    If you’ll allow one more question from an invested reader, what are your thoughts about getting engaged after knowing this guy less than a year? As someone who has had many long relationships, I would have committed to several of them at that point, which in hindsight would have been a mistake. I think of the 1-2 time as the “danger zone” where I think I’m at the point where I know the guy but the relationship hasn’t really “settled” yet. Of course, you seem like you know yourself better than I do/did.

  11. Mel V. says:

    Dayum. That’s the level of planning and fast removal that is recommended for people who are afraid that their soon-to-be-ex will beat them if they try to have an honest talk. I’m assuming that’s not your M.O., Coke – my point is that this guy went to the same lengths to avoid difficult emotional conversations that most people would go to to avoid literally dying. Not healthy. I’m sorry that this guy pulled the rug out from under you. I hope your next go-round happens when you’re ready for it and that it goes better.

      • lolitsjesus says:

        They’re probably referencing Coke’s mention of the single men near her being religious and/or Republicans, which made me wonder as well. I’d assumed she was still on the West Coast, but that comment makes me think Nashville.

  12. Josie says:

    Oh, Coke. Oh no. That’s dreadful. I’m so sorry.

    A similar thing happened to me years and years ago, although it was never as serious. He suddenly didn’t want anything to do with me and there was nothing I could do about it.

    I’m glad you’ve not spoken to him since. I wish I’d been as strong. Instead, I scrabbled for his attention, trying to get him to talk to me, hoping that if I could just get him to understand my side of things that we might be able to work it out. As if I could parcel up pieces of my self respect and exchange them for answers. I didn’t get any answers, and I regret having given him the satisfaction of seeing what he’d done to me. He would only speak to me on his terms, and it was always like he was speaking at me rather than to me. It was a hard lesson in not being able to make someone do something they don’t want to.

    The whole thing really knocked me, and I still have the remind myself that it wasn’t my fault. Even in the face of his blatant selfishness, cruelty, lies, and the unnerving emotional ease with which he withdrew himself, I still questioned myself. If only I’d been better, if only I’d tried harder, of only I’d done things differently. It’s hard not to let his disrespect of me bleed into how I see myself and my actions. He’s insulted me enough.

    I occasionally have to talk myself down from contacting him again to ask him if he’s ready to have the conversation he’d refused to have with me. To see at least if he’s ready to actually listen to me and explain himself, but I know it wouldn’t be any good. The answers I want still aren’t there, and I’d only be giving him another opportunity to treat me just as badly all over again. He didn’t care about me then, he’s certainly not going to care now.

    He was a dreadful coward. There’s not much more to it than that.

    Thank you for telling us your side of things. I always find some solace in similar stories. It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

  13. Dime-sized says:

    Wouldn’t posting this level of detail about a major upheaval kind of blow your cover to some of the people in your life that are supposedly in the dark about your Coquette persona?

    • Chris says:

      Of course not! If you read the Amazon reviews of the book, it’s an “open secret” she’s a single mom who does this to have fun.

    • Losing says:

      Are you kidding me? That shit was so vague and ghosting is more common than you think. I mean who else besides her CLOSEST friends would even know that level of detail? And even if they did, falling in love, thinking y’all are gonna get married, then getting ghosted could happen to anyone.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Oh, Coquette, I feel so bad for you. What an asshole.

    I suspect you won’t be into these suggestions, but reading “He’s Scared, She’s Scared” and “Attached” really helped me with regards to a certain ex, who wasn’t quite this bad but is somewhat similar. It’s really them freaking out and running, not anything we did. (Oh, and if they say we’re clingy? They encouraged us to cling and then freaked out.) Took me almost two decades later to find out I am not a horrible clinger who drives men off–it was them.

  15. Alexandria says:

    Fuck. Mad late on this comment thread but I am so sorry girl. I hate that someone did that to you! I’ve been reading your blog since you first started back in 2009, 2010? My heart goes out to you. Sending you good vibes, as per always.

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