In “Both Sides of a Breakup,” the Cut talks to exes about how they got together and why they split up. Alan is a 27-year old film producer, Carrie is a 27-year old TV producer. They met in college, dated for three years in college and almost four after, and fought almost the entire way through. This is their story.
Alan: We met our first year of college. We lived in the same dorm — it was the most insane party environment. No one cared about school. And it was a very incestuous group of friends. At some point everyone made out. By the second year, I began turning to Carrie for romantic advice and we started getting serious.
Carrie: He was the funniest one of all my friends. Really outgoing, funny, handsome, and smart. We’d become each other’s better halves: very close, best friends. We fought a lot, but it was always impossible to cut him out completely.
Alan: The problems really started after college.
Carrie: Post college, it was hard from the start. The relationship now required more effort. We broke up again and again. We were growing up and figuring out what we wanted.
Alan: The stress of real life hit. All of a sudden there were just tons of issues. She didn’t want to stay at my place, or I didn’t want to stay at hers, and we could just tally that kind of stuff up, nonstop.
Carrie: We both kept tabs of everything. It was enraging at times.
Alan: I got a job and left it, then had a period of bouncing around. Then I traveled, exhausted my bank account, and had to move in with my parents. She had a solid job and a schedule.
Carrie: I got into adulthood faster than he did. He’s had six different jobs all in different industries. I found something and stuck to it. I wasn’t annoyed by it though; I got it.
Alan: There was the whole family aspect of it, too. Her family is really Wasp-y and proper. They set a place at the dinner table; they drink the right wine with food. If there is a holiday, like Christmas, there are six nights of events around it. I come from a loud, Jewish family. My parents are divorced; we occasionally have holidays together for one night, but that’s it. I’d always make excuses to get out of her family’s parties, because it was just too much!
Carrie: My family thought he was nuts, but they liked him. He’s a very hyperactive guy — they thought he brought stress to social situations, but not in a bad way. Plus, they knew we were so on and off. I remember my mom would always be like, “This isn’t for real. You would stick it out if it were real.”
Alan: Carrie will say ramen destroyed our relationship. I love Asian food; she doesn’t. Cuisine was always a conflict between us. And she’s lactose intolerant. Everything I liked, she couldn’t eat.
Carrie: One of the things that would get me so lit with anger was that the only thing he ever, ever wanted to eat was some form of Asian soup. Even if we woke up super early, he wanted ramen or pho … and I refuse to eat soup for breakfast. It sounds insane the amount of conflict this caused. Even if I’d suggest some trendy new spot I read about, he’d say he didn’t want to visit a douchey place with tiny portions where he’d wind up needing to grab ramen afterward! I was like, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SOLVE EVERYTHING WITH RAMEN.
Alan: For these reasons and more, when she brought up moving in together, I flat-out turned it down.
Carrie: Not only did we never move in together, but we didn’t take our first trip together until about five years in. We went to Tel Aviv for 11 days. Night one, I can’t even remember what we fought about, but I wanted out of the hotel. It was our first vacation ever and I was just so pissed at him … probably over nothing.
Alan: At this point she accused me of not liking kissing. But I was just so burnt out on the relationship. Foreplay just lost its value. Hand-holding, all that stuff — it lost its value.
Carrie: For the next year, things slowly dissolved, at least for me.
Alan: The big blowout at the end was around Christmas. I hadn’t gone to one of her family events. I told her it was because I was with my mom, but I wound up going to a casino with my friend. Somehow it got back to her. She found it unacceptable. She said that after six years, she was sick of making excuses for me.
Carrie: In my mind, we were actively breaking up over this whole time.
Alan: Then New Year’s came and we all went to a friend’s chalet in Montreal. We wound up with the master suite with this huge king-size bed. We argued the entire time. No sex. We didn’t touch each other once. I was like, “This is insane!”
Carrie: It was a seven-hour drive, and, again, for some mundane reason, I was just so angry the entire time. I was stewing and brooding with hatred for him. No idea why! Knowing me, it was probably over him playing music I didn’t like.
Alan: A few days later, I got to her place and she had written me a note. It said, “I can’t say this in person but I want you to read this.” I didn’t fight it. I was so on the same page. We slept in the same bed that night. But we didn’t even have breakup sex.
Carrie: It took an entire year, but finally, it was done. We were sad and holding each other. He doesn’t cry. But I did.
Alan: We made a pact not to relapse no matter what.
Carrie: I threw myself back out there … because why not. I had been in a relationship for so long; I was excited to check things out. It’s cruel to say, but yeah, I was relieved. That was a year and nine months ago. I recently become “boyfriend-girlfriend” with someone new.
Alan: We had one relapse and slept together. Everything felt wrong. I don’t see us ever getting back together. Everything needs to move forward.
Want to tell us both sides of a breakup? Email firstname.lastname@example.org