The last friendly word I heard from Bob before he broke up with me was during the closing credits of Mad Men, the AMC TV show I’d turned him on to. It was at the end of a particularly intense episode, and Marilyn Monroe was singing “I’m Through with Love” over the credits. While the song was playing, Bob sent a one-word text: “Wow.”
I’ve always been drawn in by that song, which Marilyn sings in Some Like It Hot when she believes she’s been dumped by yet another saxophone player. But the song took on a particularly eerie quality when I received that text, the timing of which turned out to be symbolic when Bob broke up with me two days later.
(Here’s Marilyn performing this great song in one of my all-time favorite movies.)
Like Marilyn’s character Sugar Kowalczyk, after the disappointment of my last failed relationship, I’m through with love. It’s not because I was so taken with Bob, or that the rise and fall of that relationship was all that painful. I think in part it’s because of how that breakup came on the heels of the bad breakup with Mike, who I was taken with. And I think in part it’s because I experienced those two breakups in less than a year.
But mostly it’s because, while Mike broke my heart, Bob broke my spirit. The Mike thing was volatile from the start because of how freshly separated he was and because of how quickly our feelings accelerated, even with both of us frantically stomping on the brakes. In contrast, the relationship with Bob was low-key and easy, and I thought I knew what it was about. I thought I was adored and appreciated, and that we could float along as we were indefinitely. I sure didn’t think I’d be faced with the prospect of perusing online profiles at this point.
More importantly, I didn’t think I’d have to put my dating profile out there again, which I find especially degrading because I will be on there for months without getting one appropriate response. (And by appropriate I mean the guy is over the age of 30 and under the age of 60. I seem to have no difficulty attracting little boys and old men, neither of which appeals to me. Not even an old man with money.)
So after almost 9 years of post-divorce and 15 years of premarital dating, I’m through. Unlike the three-year period I spent recovering from a broken heart after the love of my life dumped me—I was simply in no shape to date—this time I’m choosing not to pursue romance. It’s in some ways counterintuitive, because I may be in the best shape ever for a relationship; I know who I am and what I want, and, given the painful lessons learned, I believe I’ll be much less likely to screw it up.
Except I’ve no energy for it, no tolerance for being put on display like a piece of fruit and sniffed and squeezed to see if I’m the ripest melon on the pile. (Once I’m in a relationship, I’m okay with being sniffed and squeezed.) I’m tired of men who claim they want a woman with the qualities I possess but really only want those qualities if they come in an aerobics instructor’s body.
And I’m tired of the false starts, of introducing men to my friends and family—and especially to my children—who end up becoming just another face in the photo album. As tired as I am of being the sole single at couples events, I’m more tired of showing up with a boyfriend who’s there one time and gone the next, the latest addition to the catalog of rejects that’ll be pulled out periodically and critiqued.
And I’m especially tired of the endings that mean losing someone forever. Loss is not inevitable—I’m good friends with two exes—but certain situations, such as undoing a divorce or seriously misrepresenting yourself, require complete and permanent separation.
I’m sure this feeling will eventually pass; in any case, I certainly wouldn’t fail to notice a single man in my age range and pass an opportunity by. (By what miracle I would be presented with this opportunity, I don’t know.)
Besides, I’m a bit too much like Sugar Kowalczyk. I’ll say I’m through with love, but I’ll probably reconsider when the next saxophone player comes along and pulls me back in.