Love & Sex

Nerve Endings: Male, 18, Saratoga Springs, NY

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"Even at eighteen, I knew her problems were way out of my league…"

Male • 18 • Saratoga Springs, NY

We met near the end of the first semester at college. I was awkward, shy outside of the theater department, and sexually inexperienced. Lana was twenty, brassy, and the captain of the soccer team. Somehow, we took an instant liking to each other. I had no problem with her status as BWOC — plus, she had a fake ID and could get us beer. She had no problem with me being inexperienced, and was great at instructing me on the ins and outs of good college-dorm sex.

After less than a month together, things started getting difficult. Lana's plans to spend the second semester abroad were thwarted by a paperwork snafu, and by the time the dust settled it was too late for her to re-enroll for the spring at our college. So she decided to stay with her parents and spend the semester at a local college. Great for me, I figured — better to have her four hours away than overseas.

Or so I thought. After Lana visited me at home over winter break, things got distant. We talked nearly every day, but her life was becoming more difficult. Her parents, who had married young, were going through a nasty separation and eventual divorce. Her dad, whom Lana was very close with, was distant as he continued to have an affair. Her brother, due to the problems at home, had kept his distance from his parents and her. Living in the middle was tough on Lana, and it no doubt led her back to bulimia. 

I was glad she confided in me all her problems, and felt closer to her for it, but even as an eighteen-year old with limited hard life experience, I knew her problems were way out of my league and there was no real advice I could offer. Except one thing: "Have you ever thought about therapy? I'm happy to listen and offer advice, but I bet you can go farther in therapy."

She agreed, saying she had thought about it before, but that hearing me suggest it helped her make the decision to proceed. As her parents' struggles got worse, she knew it might be her only ticket to regaining her sanity, so she scheduled her first appointment. On February 14th.

We had both played down Valentine's Day due to her problems, my course load, and of course, not being together. We vowed to make it up to each other next time we hung out. But I still couldn't wait to hear how it went. The phone rang around eight p.m.

"Hey! How's it going?"


"How was therapy? Did you go?"

"I did. It was so wonderful. I'm so glad I went."

"That is so great to hear. I know you can't talk about the specifics, but if there's anything —"

"Actually, there is one thing. My therapist says after listening to me that I'm too dependent on the men in my life. My dad, my brother, you… he said I need to be a truly independent person, so I need to be by myself. I can't really cut my family out of my life, so…"

And so our relationship ended, on the spot. Deep down I knew we weren't destined to be together forever, and pretty soon I was able to joke about it. After all, I was dumped on Valentine's Day by my girlfriend, on the advice of the therapist whom I'd recommended she see. The irony that she selected and stuck with a male therapist was not wasted on me.

We're looking for stories about memorable breakups. Email with 300-700 words. (Don't worry, we won't print your name — but please do make sure to include your gender, where you were, and how old you were.) Submissions may be edited. And if you're ready to get back out there, have you considered Nerve Dating?