A story of two people who love each other but couldn't be together. (Long; breakup)

Preface: Some of you will judge me for my actions. That’s fine, but I respectfully ask you keep it to yourself. For the others, please lend some support. This will be quite a long post, and I apologize for that. But writing this is a form of therapy for me. TL;DR at the bottom, but please try to read the whole story.

Back in 2006, I was at my community college testing center about to test out of English. It was there I saw this stunning German woman wearing a golden Indian sarong with a dragon tattoo on her back right shoulder. My attraction was immediate, but I figured I never had a chance with her and would never see her again. Man, was I ever wrong.

A few weeks later, it just so happened we started working the same day at the campus math tutoring lab. Recognizing my second chance, I told myself, “You need to have this woman be some part of your life.” I made it a point to strike up a friendship with her, and become close friends we did. We got our boss to always schedule us to work together, and we took classes together as well.

She was married at the time. I didn’t interfere with that. At least not on purpose. Her marriage was an ugly thing; he was an ultraconservative Christian who constantly resented her very presence. He was entirely convinced that she was cheating on him (she wasn’t), and made it his mission to prove it. I was her confidante, and while we did spend every moment we could together, it never came to anything inappropriate. Twice it came close later on, but I resisted the impulse out of respect for her.

I loved being around her, and her presence was all I needed, even if there was nothing more than friendship. I went to work every day with a smile on my face because she put me in that kind of mood. She was everything I ever wanted in a partner. But I never dared to tell her, though, as I valued our friendship too much to introduce that kind of complication.

Two years later, it was time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life. My community college years were the best years of my life, but I needed to grow. I graduated, quit my tutoring job, and moved to the city to take a full-time job. She and I stayed in touch, talking every day over text or G-Chat.

As the months went on, the talks grew more and more intimate and sexual. I finally revealed my feelings, and she said she felt the same and wished I had told her sooner.

Her husband eventually found out. She wasn’t careful like I told her to be. There’s no doubt he would have killed me if he knew where I was. Her last words to me at the time were that she would be going back to Germany to finish her master’s, and just wanted to be alone for a while. She said she would contact me again.

She never did.

The years went by and I dated several people since. But there were times I would lie in bed and just look for her on the internet, with not much success. But eventually I did find her. It was an employee profile for a company she was working at, and it included her picture and her work number. Yes, I was tempted to call it, but I didn’t for two reasons. That would have not been appropriate, and she was wearing some kind of scarf around her hair. I figured she reconciled with her religious husband and agreed to dress more modestly as a condition of staying married.

But I never stopped looking for her. Last November, on a whim, I looked her up on LinkedIn and found her. I thought sending a contact request would be innocuous enough, and if anything, she would be a good employment reference. But I never expected what was to come.

She was elated to hear from me. She sent me a long email telling me about her past seven years. She did divorce her husband, but remarried to a Muslim man and converted. She also moved 2000 miles away to Texas. Yes, I was happy to talk to her again, but I didn’t put as much energy into it as I had before, since I was disappointed that she was married again. I didn’t prioritize responding to her.

After New Year’s, she sent me another long email asking me if she has done something to upset me. I told her no and made an excuse for not responding. We did start talking in emails and texts again, and just like before, the conversations grew more and more intimate. She revealed that she remarried out of loneliness and didn’t reach out to me because she thought I would be married by now. She was wrong. She didn’t love her current husband, but married him out of a need for security, which she has now outgrown.

Early March, 2015. She promised she would visit me around the end of the month. However, she shortly hit me with something crazy: she wasn’t waiting until the end of the month. Because of the cheaper airfare, it would be sooner. It would be that week. And she came. We didn’t hold back this time. Do you know what it’s like to finally make love with someone after almost a decade of waiting and wanting? If that feeling could be baked into a pill, cocaine would be as worthless as a Greek Drachma note smeared with shit.

We said “I love you.”

On her visit, her second husband figured out what was going on. He called her, she admitted it. She fell into my lap and cried, not because she cheated, but because she wanted to end it respectfully with him. I tried to convince her to stay with me; there was nothing left for her in Texas. She considered it, but was afraid he might put her cat on the street. So she went back, and when I saw her off at the airport, I had this strange feeling it would be the last time I ever see her.

So she went home and faced him. She never went back on her decision to divorce him and move out. We made plans. She would move back to my state on May 31st. She would move in with me. We would finally be together. Despite the wait of two months, she promised me she was not changing her mind on this. She even got a job at her old company for far more money than I’ve ever made. Everything was falling into place perfectly. I would fly down to Texas and we would drive back together. This time, she said, she was choosing happiness and love over security.

Come May 29th. At this point, I had put everything together in preparation for her to move in. I moved to a new house and readied it for her. I changed my financial picture to take her income into account. Without being asked, she had already sent me half of the first month’s rent. However, that day, she asked to Skype with me. The school she was teaching Spanish at (and about to resign from) had a position opening up. She said she wasn’t really qualified for it and it would be a “one-in-a-million” shot that she would get it. But her principal wanted to speak to her the next day when she went in to submit her resignation paperwork.

May 30th. I finally hear from her at 2 p.m. Not only do they want to give her the job, but they are willing to pay for her master’s degree and her teaching certification. She said she needed to speak to some friends and family about this opportunity and decision. Longest three hours of my life. Finally, a text: “I will stay. I’m sorry and you have every right to never speak to me again.”

I was obviously devastated. But instead of ending it, I decided to fight to make it work. I loved her, after all. I suggested I move to Texas after I graduate University, even though I can’t stand Texas. She was agreeable to that and said the very next day that she immediately regretted her decision, thus setting into motion a month and a half of what I can only describe as pure emotional hell.

[We soon agreed that me moving to Texas wouldn’t be a good fit, so we tried to figure out how to get her back to my state]. She would give up on the new job, but she had to finish out her summer school contract and could be here around July 9. “Fine,” I said, “but after breaking your promise to me, I can’t wait anymore after that. I need to find a roommate.”

I have to mention here that since the day of that awful broken promise, she changed. Our conversations reversed in intimacy. Sex never became a topic of discussion again. There were no more Skype calls. Phone calls were reduced to almost nil. Texts became cool, as if two co-workers were making small talk around the water cooler. Eventually the “good morning” wake-up texts she sent every day started to draw down. Her bubbly personality was gone.

Since the day she decided to stay, her life has been rough, too. She was stuck in an apartment with an estranged husband. Her finances deteriorated to the point of her car being repossessed. She fretted over losing ten bucks because that was the only money she had for laundry. It turned out that she wasn’t going to make it here around July 9th but kept promising she would try to be here as soon as possible, and asked if I would wait for her.

But her stress changed her on a deep, fundamental level. She drew away from me, and I couldn’t figure out why. We spent hours texting and talking about the situation. She still loved me, she said. She promises she wants to be with me, she said. But I felt like I needed proof. That she owed me proof.

July 9th came and went, and the whole month has been marked with a back-and-forth dance with her. I could never get her to pin down an actual date she would be coming. She said she needed to get into financial shape before moving. Prior to May 30th, she did everything she could to make it possible to move here. Subsequently, she had every reason and excuse that she couldn’t. Something didn’t add up for me. I was sure she wasn’t telling me something big.

On July 10th, I told her I needed a few days to think about whether to continue. I was tired of the constant uncertainty. I got back to her a few days later and she admitted to me that the only reason she could think of for deciding to stay in Texas on May 30th was because of a drunken mistake I made years ago. She said she needed to know she was moving to a home with no alcohol and that I needed to agree not to spend any time with members of the opposite sex alone. I am a nonreligious agnostic and after some discussion, I agreed to latter, but not the former. In return, I gave her an ultimatum: she needs to come here now. No more bullshit. Get a job waiting tables or shining shoes and put every dollar you can into a plane ticket here. I wanted her here in time for my birthday on July 29th, or it’s over. She agreed and cheerfully stated that she was “up to the challenge.”

Two days later, I receive a long email from her, subject line: “Reflections.” I had a feeling this was bad, so I skipped to the end first. “Grieve this loss,” she said, “I know I will.”

The email was her apologizing for everything over the past few months. She said she knows she made my life hell with the constant flakiness. She is ending it now because she can’t guarantee she’ll be here by the 29th and doesn’t want to break yet another promise to me. But she also added that she is now more spiritually happy than she’s ever been in her life. She turned into more devout Islam and cannot reconcile her religious tenets with being in a relationship with me. She will always love me, but her faith prevents us from being together. There is too much past for us to be friends now. She is still moving back to my state, but she will never contact me again.

That was a wake-up call for me. I had put far too much pressure on her in a situation that must have already been crushing for her. I was demanding and entitled. But I never expected her to end it so suddenly. I sent her a text the next morning asking for a conversation about this. Surprisingly, she agreed to one. We texted for hours and I apologized for being so pushy. I asked her to reconsider, and that she could take all the time she needs to move (within reason) without pressure from me.

Then she hit me with a whopper: will you agree to convert to Islam and marry me later on? Yes or no. If not, our contact ends here for good. It turned out that in this time of crisis, she turned to God and through much prayer, decided she needed to make changes in her life. One of those changes was never again dating outside of Islam. I told her I needed a day to think about it. But I knew I would never do that.

Last night, I countered. I said I would consider it but on the condition that she meet with me when she got here so we can talk about it face-to-face. A life-changing decision such as this one can’t be discussed over text. I figured that if she saw my face and heard my voice again, she would soften her stance on this.

She said no. She said she knows I would never agree to converting. She sent me that email to end it because she didn’t want to put me in the position to answer her question. She loved me and tried to spare me from that. There is no other way. She is fully invested in Islam now. She regrets her “sin” of visiting me to cheat on her husband. She wants to be a better person in the eyes of God.

So last night, after eight years, we said our last goodbyes. Eight years of missed chances. Eight years of longing. I gave everything I had to try to make it work. I pleaded and compromised. She pleaded and compromised. In the end, however, two people who shared a deep love couldn’t be together. And that is tragic.

Thanks for reading.

TL;DR: After 8 years of wanting to be together, we never could get it to work because of life circumstances. We finally came within an inch of it, but she decided to pursue a job offer instead of a relationship with me. She regretted her decision and changed her mind again, but after a torturous month and a half of complication and chaos, finally agreed to an ultimatum from me. Two days later, she cut off all contact, citing that she couldn’t resolve her love for me with her increasingly devout religious beliefs.

I’m sure she’s a lovely human being, but going from a fundamentalist Christian husband to being a devoted Muslim wife kind of throws up a red flag re her decision making and that she is going to be hugely religiously devout regardless of her interest in you. Everything is going to be a distant second to her relationship (however constructed) with God.

You are mourning the loss of the relationship but I think you need to be focused on the fact that you have dodged not a bullet, but an artillery shell.

Thank you. I personally feel like she is in a devout “phase” because of her struggles right now. I thought that if she would just try to make things work with me, she’d soften a bit and see that she didn’t need that. I know it’s not my decision to make for her, but I just wanted us to try. If it didn’t work out, that sucks, but at least we gave it a go.

I wish you the best but I think you are being somewhat delusional. That she of her own accord has gone from being associated with a super devout Christian to being fully invested in Islam and married to a devout Muslim over the course of 9 years is hardly (IMO) a “phase”. She is extremely focused on her spiritual journey and relationship with God. Unless you are of a very like mind these tend to be lopsided relationships. She is way down the rabbit hole and that is where she wants to be.

She need to stop pining and move on. If you had married her and all these non-negotiable expectations had cropped up post nuptials you would be under the waves at this point. You have absolutely no idea how lucky you are to have gotten a pass on this avalanche hitting you.

People tell us who they are. It is up to us to listen when they do.

I am sorry for your loss. But my gosh, did you dodge a bullet.


I would argue that 9 years is a bit more than a phase. I agree with the others, duck, mourn, and move on.

Sorry man, I know how hard it is to be longing. I hope you are able to find a way to move on.

Some (Most?) times it just doesn’t work out. Life is hard. You sound like the kind of person that will move on.

Unfortunately so much that seems to be interesting, fascinating or unique in people is often rooted in pure instability of character, a lesson many of us have learned the very hard way.

Seeing you have not married, purchased property or had children with your love interest I can only say this: Very sorry to read of your pain, so very happy to see you escaped.

Good luck to you.

I’m so sorry. You’ve invested a large portion of your life to try to make this work. It may not seem like it at the moment, but there is someone out there that can make you happy. Maybe even without all of the drama and inner turmoil.

Good luck.

so sorry for the pain you have been and are going through. You deserve somone amazing, I hope you find her.

I don’t know what else to say other than I’m sorry.

Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I agree that she may be on a spiritual journey, but it hasn’t been 9 years. When she was married the first time, I asked her back then if she really believed the stuff her husband did. She said “hell no.” And more recently, while she was a bit more religious, it really came to a head only in the past month and a half. So really, she changed over the course of a month and a half, not 9 years.

At least that’s how it appeared to me.

Also, thank you, everyone, for the supportive words. :slight_smile:

You weren’t pushy at all. You were continually willing to accommodate her, and you generally backed down whenever you asked for something.

I will join those who say you are better off. I hate to say it, but it seems to me that she took up with you to provide drama in her life, and cut you loose when it got too real. She could have looked you up after the first breakup once she was divorced, but she didn’t. The second time around, when it came time to actually move in together, suddenly you can’t pin her down. A great job appears that would mean she can’t move. You start to look like you can work around that, and then she starts setting huge deal-breakers. I say this not to be brutal but to absolve you from concern about not having done enough, because anything you would have done would have been met by a new obstacle. I’m sorry; it looks to me like she never was committed to being together.

That said, based on my own experiences with bad breakups, I think there’s often value in examining one’s own behavior, to avoid repeating mistakes in the future. Twice, you let her make you into the secret that could not be revealed to her spouse. That is degrading to you; it sends the message that you are something shameful that needs to be hidden away. You don’t deserve that. Make your next relationship one where you are openly celebrated and valued.

You were also conspiring in undermining her marriages. From everything I’ve read from you over the years, I think you’re a good person, and being in such a position must have been draining upon you on some level. You deserve a relationship that you can wear proudly.

It’s not my intention to be critical, but rather just to suggest different perspectives for looking at what’s happened. And I don’t mean to act like I’m talking from any position of superiority; I’ve done terrible, stupid, embarrassing things in relationships, and I guess I’m just trying to help your recovery from this breakup go more easily than some of mine.

Tom Tildrum, I believe you may have written the most helpful post (to me) that I have ever read in my entire life on this board. Everything you said makes absolute sense in the contexts of the entire story. It’s completely possible (and probable) that this woman’s great love was being pined after. And like you said, every new concession on my part was returned with a new obstacle by her. Like I said, leading up to May 30th, she did everything she could to make the move possible. And when the time came to actually act, she did everything she could to make it impossible.

One thing I didn’t mention because I thought I would get flak for it: the last thing I told her was that my email address and phone number will never change, and she can reach out if she ever changes her mind. She responded that she killed her email account she used to communicate with me, but would be retaining her phone number and I could text her. Why would she say this when she was adamant about no contact? At first, I thought it was because she was leaving a 1% chance of something in the future, but now it sounds like she is leaving me on retainer in case she wants some more drama.

I have a little residual pain, but your post made a world of difference to me. I can’t thank you enough.

Missed edit window. The bolded sentence should be added for clarity.

Please, please, please read “It’s Called a Breakup Breakup it is Broken.” It’s aimed at women and is a little chatty, but the advice is pure gold.

The stark reality is that if she wanted to be with you, she would have done that nine years ago. She could have chosen at any time to be with you, and she chooses every day not to. That’s not a viable relationship.

The hardest part about unrequited love is that eventually the thing takes on a life of its own, and the mass of feelings and emotions becomes as much about the story as any actual people involved. You feel not only longing to her, but longing for longing for her, until the whole thing is this big recursive loop that just gets deeper and deeper. And as it gets deeper and deeper, it feels more and more real and more and more important.

And it’s hard to get out. It requires so much strength to get started-- admitting to yourself that you were wrong, mourning a lost vision of the future, facing the reality of lost time, healing.

The only thing that has ever worked for me was moving. Leaving town. I’ve gone through two brutal rounds of this (slow learner) and each time the moment I stepped on an airplane, all of that emotion just disappeared and I never wasted another thought on it. It’s amazing. From where you are, it may seem impossible. But once you get some distance, it’s amazing how quickly you can move on.

You deserve a partner that wants to be with you. You need to move on to find that.

What are the odds that a few years from now, she agrees to come back but only if you join her in converting to ultra-Orthodox Judaism?

Your story is well written and I hope writing it helped you, as I hope the comments you are getting help too. I agree that she would always have found a reason not to make your relationship real. I also have serious doubts about a woman who chooses to devote herself to a religion that seriously limits her life. Why choose this? I hope you can find someone who, as someone else said, will be proud of your relationship. And I’m sure you can. Good luck.

Consider yourself lucky, very few people get to hook up with their fantasy. I seriously doubt what you had was “love”, but more of an infatuation and lust. You two don’t sound compatible, focus on someone you can see spending years doing the mundane daily life things together.