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In retrospect, it was never going to work between Josh (not his real name) and me. He is vegan, and cheese is simply too important to my lifestyle for our relationship to have lasted long-term. Still, when he dumped me via Zoom a few days ago, it still hurt even in the midst of a pandemic.
The breakup was about as humiliating as you would expect. I feel like I deserve a trophy for both anticipating it and mentally preparing to handle it with as much composure as I did during the call, as well as physically preparing — putting on a touch of foundation, some mascara, and a neutral lipstick before the call started. I didn’t want the last thing he saw before he dumped me to be my blotchy red cheeks and sad, weird, and invisible redhead eyelashes.
The strangest thing about this situation is that Josh wasn’t even really my boyfriend. I went on three perfect dates with him before the coronavirus outbreak shuttered our plans. Three of my top five best kisses of all time occurred on each of those dates: when he walked me back to my car after our first date, when I kissed him outside the bathroom of a wine bar on our third date, and when on our second date, after sitting next to each other for an hour and a half not kissing while we watched a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, we stepped inside an elevator and the second the doors closed were drawn to each other like magnets. He was the first guy in a very long time that I felt excited about. We had great chemistry, incredible banter, and a whole long bit about Stanley Tucci that obviously made me fantasize about the actor one day officiating our eventual marriage.
We had great chemistry, incredible banter, and a whole long bit about Stanley Tucci that obviously made me fantasize about the actor one day officiating our eventual marriage.
But then Josh had to go out of town for his brother’s wedding the first weekend of March. We had plans to watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again at his apartment the day after he returned. Those plans got pushed back a few days because he decided to drive instead of fly because of the coronavirus. And then those plans got cancelled because I was nervous that I had possibly been exposed when the daughter of a family friend tested positive for COVID-19. So we said we’d self-isolate, and see each other in two weeks. Those two weeks came and went, and we decided to do a FaceTime date instead of a real date. Then we did a Zoom date the following week because the quality was a little better than FaceTime, and another Zoom date the next week, and another the next. So all together, we talked everyday for a little under two months. I was fully aware that not getting to make out with the person you want to make out with is pretty low on the totem pole of problems facing our country right now, but it was frustrating nonetheless.
Despite not being allowed to put my face on his face, it felt lovely to have a confidant during this uncertain time, even if our relationship was also in this on-hold, limbo state where I didn’t even know when I’d see him again. To have someone I was getting to know, who was outside of my life, and who I connected strongly with felt like the only good and consistent thing happening for me. I had recently decided to uproot my life and move back in with my parents across the country, and even though it was my choice and I feel very lucky and privileged to not be under any financial pressure right now and to have parents I get along with by and large, it does feel pretty shitty to be nearly 27 and back home sleeping in my childhood bedroom.
It also feels pretty shitty to be in your childhood bedroom when you get a “Hey are you free to talk later?” text, and then you make the call, only to have your dad yell something incomprehensible at you from downstairs and you have to yell back, “I’m in the middle of something, Dad!” and that something is being dumped. It didn't help that the internet connection wasn’t great so we kept freezing, and I said, “we’re breaking up” and we were! It was very surreal — I couldn’t help but think of the episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon and Floyd end their long-distance relationship the same way.
Crying over FaceTime to your sister isn’t the same as getting to wipe your snot on her shoulder IRL.
I’m no stranger to breakups. It took me most of 2017 to get over my only serious relationship, and I’ve had a few smaller heartaches since then. But there is something particularly bruising about this happening in the midst of a global public health crisis. I can’t have my friends come over and bring me sheet cake and wine. Crying over FaceTime to your sister isn’t the same as getting to wipe your snot on her shoulder IRL.
But the worst part of all is that in all my other breakups, I’ve had the comfort of being able to say “FUCK HIM” and commiserate with my friends who date men about how horrible they all are. This time, I can’t do that, because this time it was actually really compassionate and nice for him to do it this way. He ended a seven-year relationship last year, and I was the first person he’d dated since then. He thought he was ready to date again, but he realized he wasn’t. He didn’t ghost me, or gaslight me and tell me everything was fine when I could feel him pulling away, or drag this out for months and months with no end in sight until we were both just tired and dead inside. He was honest and forthright, it was an incredibly decent thing for him to do, and I am miserable. There is no easy way around it.
The only thing that made me feel a little better in a convoluted way was the “nature is healing” meme. I chuckled to myself, that having dumb boy problems is my natural habitat. In a world where nothing is certain, heartbreak finds a way. And I think that’s beautiful.●
Julia Moser is a freelance writer and producer living in Los Angeles.