There's no sugarcoating it: I was an asshole, the fuckiest of all fuckboys. And nothing would change my ways.
Nothing, except that time my girlfriend gatecrashed my date.
Let's take it from the top -- you need context.
I was 22. I had just gotten my first job in London. I'd moved from my home in the sleepy English countryside to live in the big city with my girlfriend.
We had been together a matter of months. It was the type of whirlwind romance where you wake up one morning and think, "Really? It's been that long already?"
We were living together in London in a house with five people, and we had neighbors in the studio flat below us who cut off our electricity if we made too much noise. We had jobs in the city with long hours. Terrible shifts. No money.
But we loved it.
There was always going to be a honeymoon period, though. I can't remember how long ours lasted. It was quite a while. But things between us slowly deteriorated.
A key problem was my shift pattern (2 pm to 11 pm and a lot of weekend work). We barely saw each other. And whatever free time I did have, I spent it getting drunk with my friends. Every time she called me out on it, I shrugged it off, made excuses and took her for granted.
I was too selfish to change.
Then I went away and drunkenly cheated on her. I won't go into details -- cheating is cheating. Ultimately, that was the poisoned arrow. Rebuilding trust was an impossible task.
I flipped a switch inside her head that made her do crazy things.
We decided to call it a day, and we told our housemates we were splitting, handed in the notice on our apartment and prepared to go our separate ways. The only thing was we had to wait out the lease and that was weeks away.
We did our best to move on because we were addicted to each other. She was like heroin to me. I had to get my dose of laughs, conversation and sex with her. Because no one even came close to competing with her on those things. So we came to an arrangement: We would give it another go but live separately.
Then I did something really stupid.
"There's a girl at work who thinks you're pretty fit. Do you want to sort out a date?" asked a friend who thought I had completely severed ties with my girlfriend and was only trying to help me move on like any good friend.
I have no idea why I said yes. Did I want to have my cake and eat it too? Sure. Was I being a complete coward by not properly ending things with my other half? 100 percent. Was I just a massive asshole? Tick. Whatever reason you pick, what I did is unjustifiable.
So there I was, in a speakeasy bar sitting opposite a girl I'd met just an hour before. I had to book in advance to get this table in a secret backroom (I'm already the biggest idiot known to man, so may as well go all the way).
I lied to my girlfriend. I told her I was on a work night out. I still remember the message she sent me that night: "I feel having a cozy night tonight with lots of cuddles."
We were about three cocktails down. The banter was average; it was taking my mind off the confusing girlfriend situation back home. Suddenly, the music died down and there was a natural pause in conversation. I turned to my left.
There was my girlfriend, sitting a few feet away. She was staring right at me. My heart leapt up into my throat and exploded.
I was caught.
The girl I was out with asked, "Do you know her?" But I was completely speechless. And my girlfriend was walking over, looking at me dead in the eye. She wasn't mad. She confronted me in a surprisingly calm manner and asked me, "Who's your friend, Ollie?"
My date was mortified. The room fell silent. Everyone was watching. One guy even raised his phone and turned it landscape to film it (there's probably a video lurking in the corners of YouTube titled "Cheating Boyfriend Gets Caught Out In London Bar" that I never want to see).
You know that old cliché about the ground swallowing you up? Yeah, that's never been more real.
What happened next is kind of a blur. I remember my girlfriend signing off with, "Well it doesn't matter anymore, because now he's single. Hope you have a nice night. Bye."
You know that old cliché about the ground swallowing you up? Yeah, that's never been more real. I felt so small.
Both girls left. I saw them chatting by the bathroom. For a moment, I wondered if there was any way I could style it out and finish my cocktail. No. I was shaking, too shocked to cry, and everyone was staring at me.
I got up to go when a barmaid grabbed my arm and told me I needed to pay up. $150.
As I handed back the bill, the waitress flashed a look at me up and down and said, "Good luck sorting everything out, you massive prick."
Ground. Please. Swallow. Me.
I later learned my girlfriend had hacked into my email account due to the trust issues I sparked, spotted the reservation, made her own booking and told the bar staff the whole story when she arrived. Everyone knew. All the staff knew exactly how the night would play out, and they must have been rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the drama that inevitably unfolded.
The fallout from this date was monumental. Atom bomb scale. I flipped a switch inside her head that made her do crazy things like contaminate my big tub of protein powder with salt, slash my bicycle tires and cut up my passport. True story.
The damage I caused was simply unrepairable.
Needless to say, we're not together anymore. But we remain on great terms. And the fact we do is testament to her extraordinary character. Character that I respect now more than ever. I'm just sorry it took so long to find that respect.
I will never forgive myself for that.