I’ve been engaged more than once. I think I’ve mentioned that before. When I was young, my parents – like most parents – always encouraged me to not be too serious about anyone I dated. They didn’t want me missing out on anything in my life because of it, and they didn’t want me tied down to the wrong person long term.
As a teen, I ignored them. Even as a young adult, I was having none of it. Like far too many people, I defined myself by the relationship I was in. If I wasn’t dating someone, if I couldn’t say that I had a boyfriend, if I didn’t have plans all weekend, I wasn’t good enough in my eyes. Oh how silly that seems now, but I know I wasn’t the only one.
And so I dated people I didn’t even really like. I remember one guy I dated in high school who was so wrong for me, and I knew it… but he had chosen me over a friend of mine. Sort of. And so I dated him until a few weeks into college, even though I had my breakup plan and timing arranged in my head since a week or two after we had started dating. Fortunately I came to my senses eventually… and I’m pretty sure my parents did a happy dance when I did so.
As I neared the end of college, I was dating another guy who simply wasn’t right for me – and I knew it then, too. He didn’t tell the truth often, and he manipulated my feelings and guilt constantly. He had grand delusions that weren’t based in reality, but I never bothered to correct him. He was someone I could hang my hat on, and that kept my self-worth up. Or down, looking back at it.
I have goals, and I always have. He didn’t graduate college and was a security guard. He ended up having to move back home with his parents, into a basement bedroom, because he couldn’t figure out how to make his paycheck fit his bills – and that didn’t bother him. If you know anything about me, I know to the penny where I spend my money, and it’s important to me to be independent and financially secure. I ignored it all.
When he bought a new (to him) car, he assumed that we would get married and I’d pay for it. He got the delusion that my dad would hire him to work for him doing… something. And there’s no way that would happen given that he wasn’t remotely qualified for it.
My eyes slowly opened after we were “officially” engaged. He hadn’t actually bought the ring yet, but we were there and talking about what we would do and how we would do it. I even went so far as to have a tasting of the food at the venue I had chosen and determined the fillings for the cake. When he told me he had bought a ring, I was informed that he’d bought it on credit. For $129. From Sears. And shallow as it may be, that’s what finally gave me the kick in the pants – not because it was a fairly cheap ring or because he’d purchased it from a department store but because he told me this with the expectation that I would hand him the cash for it.
I never saw the ring. I finally came to my senses and realized that I was setting myself up to be the Sugar Momma for a spoiled child who was never going to grow up. I remember how angry he was that I had done so because he couldn’t return the ring he’d purchased – or so he told me. He was beyond rage that I had “made him” buy the car that he couldn’t afford – though I’d never complained about his previous car nor mentioned buying a new one to him. He was furious that he couldn’t make the payments on his pink Geo Tracker – because apparently that didn’t give me a clue right there – once I’d broken up with him. I was his golden goose, escaped. At least in his head.
I found out later via friends that he was telling everyone how I’d made his life a mess, how we had grand plans of my dad the CEO (ummm he wasn’t a CEO) was going to hire him to his accounting firm (ummm he wasn’t an accountant, nor did he have a firm) to be his partner (though this boy had no college degree, let alone any experience in accounting), and I had ruined it all for him.
Can you imagine my life married to this man? I still scratch my head every once in awhile trying to figure out where some of his ideas came from and wondering how I got tangled up with him to begin with. I’m pretty sure my parents broke out the champagne when they heard this engagement was off.
I’m lucky that I escaped when I did with my dignity still intact and my self-esteem not shattered. And I stayed not engaged for many years after that, though I continued dating – some good guys and some not as much a fit for me as they should have been. In the end, I chose my husband, and we’ve been married with two children for a good long while now.
My parents still call him their favorite son-in-law. Or they did until last month when my sister got married. But hey, it’s a good sign, right?
Who did you date who you are glad you never married?
In the interest of full disclosure, this post was inspired by the book “Getting Married and Other Mistakes” by Barbara Slate, a graphic novel about Jo and her life after her sudden divorce. As part of the From Left to Write book club, we receive copies of the books, but we do not write traditional reviews. Instead we write posts inspired by the books. I was not compensated, and all opinions remain my own.