Four years on, and no regrets for gains and losses.

Today is the four year anniversary of the first communication between me and Jennifer. :-) We’ll likely celebrate on Friday by having a date night at BJ’s in Pearland, which is where we had our first official date. It’s funny… it seems like such a short time, but I honestly can’t imagine having ever lived life without her now. It’s great. :-)

This past weekend, while we were out running errands, Jennifer asked me a question that I honestly wasn’t expecting: “Do you ever miss Misty?”

Misty, for those not aware, was my girlfriend before Jennifer and I started dating. She lives in Mississippi, and we had met online many years ago; though she had held a torch for me for a long time, we didn’t actually start dating until 2006. We started off as a long-distance relationship, and, well… it never progressed further past that.

To be perfectly honest, after about the first year or so, the relationship started falling apart. A relationship lives and dies by communication, and this is even more important in a long-distance relationship. Misty tended to withdraw into herself more and more, to the point where many days in a row the only communication between us would be me IMing her to let her know I was home from work, followed by me IMing her to let her know I was headed to bed a few hours later (with oftentimes no response). She also never made any effort to visit me in Houston; while I came and visited her four times in total, any attempt to get her to visit was rebuffed with excuse after excuse. She also insisted on us doing our own separate things, where if I made any suggestion of going with her to do something she liked and she didn’t think I would like, she would refuse. She also had no interest in meeting any of my friends, where she literally once said, “They don’t look like the kind of people I would get along with.” This was well after I had come up to Mississippi with her specifically so I could accompany her to her best friend’s wedding.

The most telling example of how bad things were getting was in the fall of 2008. For months I had been suggesting things for us to do together online to spend time with each other. One of the things I had suggested was World of WarCraft, as she enjoyed playing MUDs in her spare time. Her response to that was to tell me she didn’t care for World of WarCraft. A few months later, she went pretty much radio-silent after Black Friday. After about a week or so, she IMed me saying, “I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I’ve been playing World of WarCraft.” She had bought the game at a Black Friday sale and hadn’t told me, even though she remembered me suggesting it earlier.

A month or so later, I called her and told her I was done. I ended up giving her another chance after she sobbed and begged me not to leave, but I made it conditional on her improving her communications with me. She got better for a short time, but before long she had fallen back into her old habits of not communicating. Finally, I had had enough and ended the relationship. I maintained the friendship, though, as I still considered her a friend. I didn’t tell her I had started dating again, though, as I didn’t think she could handle it.

Several weeks after I started dating Jennifer, I left work on a Friday and told Misty via IM that I was out for the evening. Her response was a bit surprising, telling me not to meet any pretty women. I asked why not, and was floored by her response: “We had agreed not to see anyone else while we work on our relationship.” I had made no such promise, and said as much. She went off on me, especially when she learned about Jennifer. I ended up spending the next twenty-four hours being berated by her via the phone and via IM. The worst part was that Jennifer got to witness most of it. Finally, I told Misty that I was cutting communication lines with her because I did not feel like she could handle the fact I was seeing someone else. I said that depending on how things went, I might reestablish ties down the line, but for then, I had to cut her off. I then blocked her on IM and Facebook, and stopped taking her calls.

That did not stop her at all. If anything, things got worse. She constantly called my phone, to the point where I had to download and install a silent ringtone to assign to her so I could sleep without being woken by her calls. I would wake in the morning and found she had called 20-30 times overnight. She would call in evenings, and during her lunch breaks. She would keep emailing me. I always deleted her voicemails without listening to them (thank you, visual voicemail), and what little I saw of the emails alternated between her begging me back and her angrily lashing out at me. It got so bad that several of my friends and I ended up talking one evening about whether I should change my number. It got exhausting.

She only stopped when she made the mistake of sending Jennifer a catty message on Facebook along the lines of, “Take care of him because he has lost his friend.” At that point, Jennifer had seen me go through a month of ignoring her as best I could and saw what it was doing to me, and she had had enough. Jennifer ended up writing a several paragraph long “reason you suck” letter that bitched her out and told her to leave us alone. After that, she did, with the very very occasional message afterwards. To give you an idea of what it was like, the first message after she went silent was on my birthday, and simply said, “Happy birthday, fucker.” The second was around New Year’s, and said, “Are you really going to let the year end on a bad note between us?”

Now, I compare all of that to Jennifer. Jennifer and I had different lives and different experiences, but she was nothing if not very open. She not only had things she enjoyed doing that I had never done before, she encouraged me to join her in them. When I had things I wanted to do that she never did before, she joined me without any hesitation. We introduced each other to each others’ friends, and accepted them with open arms. We even encouraged each other to do things we would never have done before without each other. The previously mentioned birthday featured a party that Jennifer had put together herself, complete with gifts I had never even known to ask for but were still absolutely perfect.

Through it all, she’s remained my best friend, the person I feel most comfortable and myself with. With her I’ve been a better person, and I’ve grown so much more with her guidance. I was worried at the very beginning because she saw the crap I went through with Misty, but instead of making it solely my problem, she held my hand, and supported me in a way I hadn’t felt supported by a girlfriend in a very long time. Like I said before, I can’t imagine life without her now and wish I had met her much earlier, so that we could have had more time together.

After Jennifer asked me if I missed Misty, I looked at her for a second, shrugged, and replied, “No. Not at all.”