Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Proportional Response

"I haven't talked to him or seen him or anything, I swear." The lie rolled off my tongue before I had a chance to stop it.

We were mid-conversation, but my boyfriend of two years made an excuse and hung up without saying goodbye.

The line went dead with a defiant click that made my palms sweat and my stomach roll. I sat in the hallway of my summer dorm, glued to the floor, phone in hand. I didn't know how it was possible, but he knew I was lying. I was sure of it.

I told the lie to avoid destroying the fragile peace we had managed to forge.

A guy friend from college who was also spending the summer in D.C. was our current source of tension. Never keen on my hanging out with any other guy but him, my boyfriend grew increasingly possessive when he found out this friend would be in D.C. with me for ten weeks. He would call multiple times a day, and every time we talked he would find a way to ask if I had seen my friend. Or talked to him. Or had any kind of communication with him. I was tired down to my bones from trying to defend both myself and a friendship that was as innocent as they come.

Thinking it might help, I cut off all communication with the friend to help me get through the weeks until my boyfriend and I were back at school, together, where I was sure we could shore up our cracked foundation.

The source of the lie was an e-mail exchange during my eighth week in D.C. A dinner invitation was extended, which I rejected. It went no further, but somehow, my boyfriend found out and the distance in his voice when I called him back was proof.

I got up from the floor and went straight to my computer. Thinking I could fix it if we could see each other, I booked a train, packed a suitcase, and went to Long Island, where he was living for the summer.

My heart rose into my throat when I saw him in the parking lot of the train station. We had barely settled into the car when the confessions, apologies and excuses came pouring out of my mouth, fighting with each other for top billing. It would be months before it occurred to me that my reaction was completely out of proportion to the nature of my crimes.

When I finally talked myself out, he just looked at me. "I know. Your e-mail password was saved on my internet browser, so I logged in. I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I guess we're even now."

Somewhere deep inside me was the knowledge that this egregious breach of privacy and trust was unforgivable. That I should turn around and take the next train back to D.C. and leave him behind.

But I didn't.

Instead, I jumped into his waiting arms and clung to him like a life preserver, relieved, for the moment at least, that the storm had passed.


  1. I have so been there. The tension, the insecurity, the needless (or sometimes needed) excuses, the relief, the makeup hug...

    But I'm pissed that he hacked into your email, too!!!!! You always tell a great story, Sam!

  2. Oh, reminds me of my boyfriend in college. The cycle of trying to be what/who he wanted, the guilt and excuses made when I fell short, always thinking it was my fault. You brought it all back for me here. Just glad I moved on from that and hope you did, too!

  3. Ewwwww. I don't like crossing those boundaries. Boo on him.

  4. Yeah, that's not cool to invade someone's privacy like that. I'm with Christie. Boo on him.

  5. When you are young and in love you HAVE to be together. Mature love-you want to be together. I'm so happy to be at the mature love stage....

  6. Ugh, I don't like that reading email thing one bit. I'm so glad that you didn't end up with this guy. You deserve better. And you got it :)

  7. I am not a fan of invasion of privacy but this was well written.

  8. Oh, the mistakes we make when we are young. Totally been there. Glad you ended up with your Prince Charming.

  9. Do we all have to go through this type of relationship just to come out the other side wiser and stronger? Glad you made it through. That guy is well left behind.

  10. This is so well-written. Thanks for sharing it!

  11. I remember being in that position and feeling the anger when someone read things they hadn't been invited to me. It didn't matter what the content was.