In Both Sides of a Breakup, the Cut talks to exes about how they got together and why they split up. Chris, a 31-year-old actor, and Sasha, a 26-year-old event planner, spent five (often sexless) years together — until he found a suspicious text, and she found the strength to finally let him go.
CHRIS: We met at a bar. I was going through a lonely period. She walked up behind me and pushed me, and then went to get a drink. My friends were like, “That was totally on purpose.” So I went over to talk to her.
SASHA: I was with another guy who was kinda being a jerk to me. So I went off by myself. I met Chris by the bathroom. We were joking about how some girl was in there for so long. He made some really awful joke about a sleeping bag. It was a horrible joke. But he was cute enough to be that dorky. He’s very good-looking.
CHRIS: I had only dated really nice girls, and she was like this funny, crazy, wild person. She had this short pixie bright-blonde haircut. She said that first night: “I’m gonna break your heart.”
SASHA: I remember thinking to myself, Oh man, I’m gonna crush this guy.
CHRIS: We started spending all this time together. We liked to have fun. It was definitely an alcohol-fueled relationship in the beginning. We were closest when we were out partying.
SASHA: I was in love with him. I had been in love before, but it was with my ex, who treated me poorly. I hadn’t had reciprocal love like this. Chris was an amazing boyfriend. He showed me that good men do exist.
CHRIS: One red flag from the start was that she was hung up on her ex. I knew there was still something going on. She was in denial.
SASHA: Chris knew my ex and I had an incredible sex life — and he became obsessive about it. I would explain: Yes, we had an amazing sex life, but we didn’t have trust or love.
CHRIS: We didn’t have a great sex life at all. I didn’t understand back then how much I valued sex as part of a relationship. Sasha didn’t value it as much as me. I’d bring our sexlessness up and she was dismissive about it. I should have said, “This isn’t good enough for me.” But I just hoped it would change.
SASHA: Something died for me sexually, with Chris. We were just such “best friends.” It was hard to do that to him … to watch him go through that. I didn’t know how to cope. We would say “let’s spice it up” and never do anything about it.
CHRIS: Moving in together after a year was probably our biggest mistake. It became really tense.
SASHA: At one point I told him that I didn’t think he was “the one,” but that I was really hoping someday I would. Looking back, I would never say that to anyone. But it was the truth.
CHRIS: The more I wanted closeness, the more it annoyed her. We’d go to a party with friends and I’d try to hang out with her and she’d tell me to go away. Then she came to my hometown to meet my family and completely clammed up. She hid in my bedroom. She didn’t want to talk to my family. They thought it was weird; I thought it was weird. But again, I pushed it under the rug. She was literally hiding in my bedroom the whole time. They were like, “Is she sick?”
SASHA: My family loved him. His family wasn’t too keen for me. I felt really nervous around them. They’re a little bit closed off.
CHRIS: She showed no desire to get married or have kids. She did have a dog who I practically raised and considered her my own. And then we adopted another dog together too.
SASHA: We were still happy at times. We adopted a dog together. If we could have kept the spark alive, we would have been great. But he was definitely a pushover. I don’t like that. I don’t want a jerk, but I don’t want someone who says “sorry” every single time either.
CHRIS: Our last two years in the apartment, we were like a 60-year-old couple who joked that maybe they’d have sex on someone’s birthday — but it wasn’t in a cute way. She was still talking to exes and ex-hookups. I kept thinking, If you don’t want me … is something else going on? Any time I’d mention the subject of her and other men, she’d blow up with anger. I once saw a text from another guy that said something about “the way you fucked me.” I totally flipped out. She downplayed it, said it was a joke. But from that point on, my trust was damaged.
SASHA: I definitely wasn’t cheating. Sure, I wondered what it would be like to be single. Then I’d casually talk to guys and think, Shit, this is horrible. That said, a part of me always knew it would end with Chris. The last year of our relationship was BAD. I was totally checked out.
CHRIS: I’d go back and forth about the way she treated me, thinking, This is NOT okay, and then, Maybe I’m just really insecure. Maybe I’m just crazy. Maybe I’m just making this up.
SASHA: I was not very nice to him; that was the only way I knew how to deal with my feelings. I don’t know why.
CHRIS: At the end of things, I booked a film and was really excited. I wanted to celebrate with her. I still had hope! At dinner, she was being quiet. I looked at her and knew exactly what she was going to say. It was over. In one look, I knew. She said she couldn’t do it anymore.
SASHA: When I moved out of the apartment with a friend, he was there all day. He didn’t help us at all. He just watched us move. Then later that day, I saw him just walking around my new street … twice.
CHRIS: I went into stereotypical “sad guy” mode — drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. She took her dog and I kept the dog we adopted. Both dogs were so, so sad. It was like splitting up sisters.
SASHA: My dog is so sad. You can see it in her eyes.
CHRIS: And I was having these post-traumatic-stress dreams. I kept dreaming we were getting back together and then I’d have to wake up and snap back to reality.
SASHA: From what I hear, he took it really badly. I took it badly as well but I was pretending I was okay.
CHRIS: It’s been a year and I’m dating someone now. She’s way different. My ex never thought I was funny. My new girlfriend is a stand-up comic and she got me into that. One of my first sets was about the breakup with Sasha and it was actually really therapeutic. I posted the YouTube video online — and in an oddly touching twist of fate, Sasha sent a message that she was proud of me. I said, “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
SASHA: Being friends with Chris isn’t working out. I’m dating someone new, but I still feel this hole in my life where he was as my best friend. It’s really hard. But I fucked that up and that’s just something I’ll have to deal with.
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