By Ashtyn Britt
Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is, at times, a long and exhausting process. It took me many years to completely accept myself, and try to venture into the dating world. Over time, I have ended up collecting stories and lessons learned from my dating life, which I will now be sharing every month for roughly the next year. All names will be changed to protect the privacy of everyone mentioned, as they deserve anonymity and respect – no matter how bad the stories may have ended. Instead of telling these stories in chronological order, I will be telling them by order of importance of their morals.
Readers, I like to think that despite being gay, I am in a lot of ways traditional. I’m very feminine, I want to someday get married and have two kids, have a cute home and overall a nice life. That being said, I tend to like a certain type of woman, one who is caring, smart, sarcastic, brave, kind of like a female Noah Calhoun from The Notebook. A few months ago, I thought I had met my Noah, or as we shall call her, Noa. While Noa wasn’t in every exact way my usual type, she did have a sharp wit and knew how to knock me off my feet. Noa was romantic, funny and as I would joke “had an old hero’s soul.” I understood that because I like to think I have a bit of an old soul as well.
It started the way most grand romantic modern love stories start, matching on a dating app. While I at the time hadn’t been seriously looking for love, she found me. From the start, she was very charming, telling me I had beautiful eyes and wanting to know about my life. However, I was still trying to get over my latest dead-ended encounter with Big and hadn’t let the relationship get off the ground. I made a resolution that this year, I wouldn’t be letting anybody treat me less than the way I deserved. When I thought I had caught a red flag early on in our courtship, I decided to take a break and ceased from speaking to her for about a week and a half. In my defense, I had also taken a vacation for a family wedding for that time and was trying to focus my attention on that. Much to my surprise, halfway through the trip when I had taken a picture of myself and posted it to social media, Noa reached out to me again. Noa told me “You are so beautiful,” and it had me thinking about her the rest of my trip.
When I returned home, I decided to explain my absence and give the connection a fair shot and immediately arranged a date. When we met in person, we instantly hit it off. I loved Noa’s humor and honesty and found her to be very romantic. Within the week, she had begun to show me a kind of respect I hadn’t known with previous lovers. Noa hung candles in small glass globes hanging from her bedroom ceiling to surprise me, insisted on walking on the part of the sidewalk closest to the road, would at times spoil me rotten, and gave me one of the best Valentine’s Days of my life.
However, it wasn’t flattery alone that made me fall for her over the next couple of months. Noa seemed to genuinely care about people, if a friend needed her, she wouldn’t hesitate to come and be there for them. If someone spilled a drink in her favorite restaurant, she would willingly clean it up so the workers wouldn’t have to. When my friend was too inebriated to drive, Noa let my friend stay on her couch for the night with food and water to help my friend clear her mind. I used to joke that Noa was a hero because she always loved to save everybody’s day. Noa had told me before, as well as everyone on her social media, of how often before she’d had women cheat on her or ghost her and break her heart. How many women before me hadn’t appreciated her the way she deserved, and how happy she had been that I was different from them all. I felt for her, as I knew the feeling as well. I thought I had met someone who truly understood me.
My best friend welcomed Noa into her home and gave her approval, Noa being the first person she ever gave approval to me being with. My father had been excited about the idea of someday meeting her, and showing her around my hometown. We had made plans for a potential road trip, and I felt so blessed to be with her. Noa had even written a poem in my honor, telling me it was the first time in years she had been inspired enough to write a poem. Noa had told me that the second I met her best friend and got acquainted with her, she’d officially announce our relationship to the world and we’d be happy together as official girlfriends. Not every moment was perfect, our sleeping arrangements were difficult, Noa had dietary issues, and she had issues at times opening up about her insecurities or fears in relationships. However, I chose to be patient and knew that over time she would trust me and open up when she was ready. I was falling in love with Noa and thought our relationship was full of healthy communication. For the first time since Big and I had broken up for good, I thought I had found the person I could see my long term future with.
Then, the Friday before my spring break started, the United States began taking Coronavirus seriously and started putting stay-at-home orders in place. Noa and I spent the entire week together in her home where I cleaned her home, would cook with her, helped watch her pets and happily enjoyed every moment I could with her. As the news grew direr, the more anxious she became about her being able to work and uncertainty about the immediate future. I did my best to comfort her and let her know that no matter what happened, I would be there for her. I knew even then that she was beginning to be shut off from others, but I thought that as long as I was honest and reassuring that we would be okay.
After Noa took me home, we wouldn’t see each other for four weeks due to us living in different states. Usually, we would make the drive to see each other fairly often, but with the government’s orders, we were too afraid to get the other sick. While Noa had begun to distance herself from me, I had sent her a care package, I wrote her letters, I sent her an occasional gift and I told her every morning and night that I missed her and hoped she was doing well. I became anxious and stir-crazy, especially when she stopped flirting with me and told me of her comforting a poor friend of hers named Sophie who was having a hard time adjusting to quarantine life. After four weeks, I had finally had enough and all but demanded a date to see her.
I got ready and cooked her dinner, feeling happier than I had the entire month. It was short-lived, as Noa wasted no time telling me that she wanted to break up, feeling that it was for the best to let me go. Then, I asked her the question that somehow, I already knew the answer to. I asked her if there was somebody else. She sighed and admitted there was, and that it was her friend Sophie who would also soon be moving into her home with her. Noa tried to explain herself, making a mountain of excuses about it being so hard without me during quarantine, or that she didn’t actively seek her out but they’d spent so much time together before Sophie confessed to still having feelings for her. I went quickly blind with rage and would spend the next hour telling her off until she cried before throwing her belongings into her arms and demanding she leave my home. I let her know exactly how wrong it was for her to have spent hours before lamenting to me how her exes had cheated on her and broke her heart, but now she was doing the same thing to me. I knew she left feeling ashamed of herself, and I didn’t care. I wanted her to burn.
I realized then how willfully blind I had been, how much time I had wasted, and thought of all the people in my life I would have to admit another romantic failure to. I thought Noa was my hero, but clearly, she was missing the most important part of a hero’s soul, honor. Nobody with honor would cheat on and string along a good woman who constantly cared for and looked after them, putting their own anxieties and fears aside. I may not always be a perfect partner in my relationships, but that was far from the case here. After a few weeks, I made the hard decision to completely cut off communication and blocked her from being able to contact me. As far as I cared, my hero was dead.
Noa, on the unlikely chance you read this, I hope you know deep in your soul what you did was wrong. It doesn’t matter if you sought her out or not, it doesn’t matter that we were in isolation and it doesn’t matter that you were confused and didn’t know what to do. You are an adult and you know better, there is no excuse. You actively and of sound mind made a stupid, selfish, wrong decision and now you have to literally live with that. I hope you see this, know it’s you, and feel ashamed of yourself because how you treated me was nothing short of shameful.
Sophie wanted you when she was clearly unstable and had no other options because the world was literally on pause because she needed you to survive. She pursued you, knowing good and well that you were taken, which shows she clearly doesn’t respect you or boundaries of any kind. I didn’t need you, I took care of you the best that I was able to, went above and beyond for you, and I wanted you long before the coronavirus hit and everyone lost their mind. When this is all over, and the world opens back up and Sophie breaks your heart and leaves you for some other poor schmuck, I hope you think of me and remember that you chose this. There is no room for you to complain about her on the internet, or claim how nobody understands you, or act like you’re a hero trying to find your love story because you actively signed up for this fate. I don’t know why you chose it, and you seem to have issues with vulnerability and figuring out what you really want. I suggest seeking out therapy for your issues because it is apparent that you have a hero complex rather than a hero’s soul. You aren’t the grand lovestruck hero of our story, you are the villain.
I’m telling you, my dear readers, all of this because it is important to wait and see exactly how a person’s actions match up to their words. People, who could at first seem like everything you ever wanted, may end up being snakes in the grass. It is important to stand your ground and not excuse terrible behavior, because nobody deserves to be cheated on or lied to, especially during a quarantine. If you have concerns or doubts, the correct way to resolve the issue is to communicate with your partner rather than seek comfort in somebody else. Do not take advantage of the good nature of someone who loves you, because there is no other way to describe that person other than a pure villain.