It hurts when the end comes on so slowly.
You remember the first flush of love. You met, you connected, you were wild for each other. You drank whole bottles of wine and made love. He sent you flowers at work. You were naked when he came home. You took that special trip together, snapped Kodak moments and laughed at being such blatant tourists. Everything was perfect. There were Disney bluebirds singing in the background.
Then something shifted. The flowers stopped. But you can't send someone flowers forever, you thought. In retrospect, you should have seen t as a sign. Then, you figured you were settling into the relationship, that it was leaving its first wild phase for the normal everydayness of real love. And it downshifted.
You no longer drank whole bottles of wine and made love; you went out, he had some scotch, and when you came home he was too tired to get it up. You still sometimes got naked before he came home, but he never pounced on you so eagerly, never seemed so blatantly carnal as before.
So you were settling into each other's bodies. Everyone goes through that, right? But he went from pouncing on you at the door to saying hello and asking how your day was, all while you stood there naked, and he said finally, in a tired voice, that he wasn't exactly in the mood for it today, OK? Sorry about that. And you never waited for him naked again.
Only brand-new lovers do that, you told yourself. Only brand-new lovers crush raspberries over each other's bodies or explore each other the way you two did. You settled into a sex routine: missionary in the dark, shirts on.
At first, he initiated it, wanted it, sometimes still flipped you over and took charge. But over time, the number of instances where he put in effort slowly dwindled. First, he didn't seem to want to change position anymore; sex became a turn-to-each-other-in-the-dark, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am thing.
But you were still having sex. You clung to that. Even if you always had to start stuff, you were still doing it. And once you started, he was attentive. Everyone got their cookie. You couldn't complain, right?
You suggested a trip together. Maybe, you thought, a trip could light a fire under him. Maybe he'd be more into it if you were in a lodge somewhere. But he brushed you off. You tried to talk about it. But it ended in dismissal.
He denied that anything was wrong. And he kept denying it and told you that you were crazy... for long enough that you almost started to believe it. You would have felt better if it had ended in screaming, but screaming takes some effort.
He spent evening after evening out with the guys. He had a sudden interest in drinking with them instead of you, something he'd never exhibited before. But you put up with it. I mean, he needed to be around his friends.
You'd never begrudged him a night out with his buddies. But they became more and more frequent. He came home more and more drunk. And when he came home drunk, he actively turned down sex.
"Another night," he'd say. And once, "What is it with you, woman? You always want to do it." There was a slow slide, less and less frequent, and then suddenly you couldn't remember the last time you had sex.
He no longer stared at you naked. He didn't call you "honey" or "gorgeous" or "beautiful." He came home. You cooked dinner together. Then you watched TV until you passed out or he went out with the guys.
More and more you suspected that "going out with the guys" might be code for "f*cking someone else." Because he'd always had a healthy sex drive — and he wasn't having it with you. That was painfully obvious. He flinched when you touched him. You didn't even make out anymore.
And finally, one day, the big fight came. There was no reason for it not to. Your heart was broken. This wasn't the man you got together with, and if it was, he didn't treat you the same way. Instead of the attentive, wonderful man you'd met, he seemed bored with you.
So when the fight happened, he didn't even bother to raise his voice. He didn't argue. And you didn't know who brought up a breakup but someone did, and it was done. Over. The saddest breakup you'd ever had. Because seeing someone slowly lose interest is one of the worst feelings ever.