I Broke Up With My Boyfriend Because He Refused to Dance
flickr, Jen and Tony photobot
So when my boyfriend of almost a year refused to dance with me at my cousin's wedding, I broke up with him.
It would be petty, superficial and simply irrational of me to have ended a relationship based on something so trivial, right? Wrong. I broke up with my boyfriend because he wouldn't dance.
I know this is exactly the kind of fodder men all over the world are looking for so they can point at it and say "See? See? Do you SEE how crazy they are?" and for that, I truly apologize. But I would still like to share with you the story of how the lack of boogie in my relationship was the perfect metaphor for its ultimate failure.
Obviously, it wasn't always bad. I met Hunter* through a mutual group of friends, but had never really had any extended conversations with him until early last year. We both attended a Valentine's Day dance party in Brooklyn where our friend was DJing. Hunter was sarcastic, funny, smart, and handsome, so when our banter resulted in his buying me a drink, I certainly didn't resist. Did I mention this was a dance party? Hunter and I spent the night talking and dancing. What a ruse, right?
We began seeing each other after that night. Hunter had great taste in coffee shops and restaurants, taught me how to use a 35mm SLR camera, and shared my passion for bourbon and desserts. He cooks amazing breakfasts and is killer at crossword puzzles. By April, he was my boyfriend.
My cousin got engaged that summer and began planning a wedding for November. I was thrilled to bring Hunter as my plus one. I wanted him to meet my extended family and for us to get dressed up to eat tiny little appetizers and drink champagne. Due to Hunter's work schedule, we hadn't been seeing as much of each other as I would have liked, so I was happy to have scheduled an evening with him away from the crush of the city. I was also hopeful that an over-the-top Long Island love ceremony would inject some sort of fresh romance into our flagging relationship.
Seriously, what is more romantic than a slow dance? I can close my eyes right now and be taken back to sweaty, prepubescent hands gingerly touching my waist while K-Ci & JoJo's "All My Life" played as the last song at the school dance. It was magic. It is not often in my adult life that I get the opportunity to be swept off my feet and twirled a little. I wanted the K-Ci & JoJo butterflies back.
Sadly, my high expectations for my dashing boyfriend to wake up from his romance coma to lavish me with affection never came to fruition. He had worked late the previous evening and didn't mince words when it came to expressing his general lack of enthusiasm for making the trip out to Long Island.
When the DJ invited all the "happy couples" to the dance floor, I made a move to take his hand and get up from our table. A chance for redemption! "Oh no," he said. "I don't dance." At first I laughed at him, prodding a little harder. Then, he flat out refused. "Not even a slow dance?" I asked, incredulous. "Absolutely not."
I was floored. Shocked. Crushed. And I know it was written all over my face.
It wasn't simply the refusal to dance that upset me. Though, admittedly, it did. I was confused because my excitement for the day had blinded me to the possibility of this moment. What had happened between Dance Party February and Stick-In-The-Mud November?
It was incredibly obvious that I was disappointed by his decision not to dance with me. I may not have the best perspective on the situation, but it's not like I was asking him to donate a kidney or buy me a chateau. I wanted to dance. What was so hard about making a small concession and giving me the three minutes of happiness I'd been looking forward to since the invitation arrived?
Of course, my adorable and goofy father saved the day and we even reenacted Baby & Johnny's last dance at Kellerman's, complete with a poorly executed lift.
My disappointment about where my relationship with Hunter was heading manifested itself in my feeling generally starved for affection. I wanted some sign that he still cared about me. I know, I know: He came to the wedding, didn't he? Yes, yes, he did; but he managed to put in exactly the minimum amount of effort required to get through the event. And that was the metaphor for our failing relationship in a nutshell.
Would it have saved our relationship if he danced? Probably not. It was a simple moment that illuminated all of the ways I was unhappy. He wasn't putting as much effort into the relationship as I was. He preferred to do things his way, rather than compromise. And when we left the wedding early at his request (because he was driving us home), it was a small-scale example of how his schedule was more important than mine.
Upon the dissolution of my relationship, my grandmother offered me the following words of wisdom about finding a mate: "All I wish for you, Als, is a man who thinks the sun rises and sets on your ass."
As silly (and lewd) as her hope for me may sound, it has been the most comforting piece of advice since our break-up. Perhaps because of its humor, but I think more so because it is a simple and true sentiment. I have realized that I deserve to be with someone who finds my presence in this world nothing short of gravitational. So now what I'm looking for is a teammate, a partner -- A dance partner.
*Names have been changed.
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