Love & Sex

Grand Gestures of Love Gone Wrong

Pin it

Five true stories that prove it’s better to have loved and won.

Brother for Life

Connor was apparently an heir. That was the second thing I learned about him. The first was that he was adorable. And the third was that he was latently gay.

I was a freshman in college, not latently anything, and we met at an “icebreaker” event. He was a senior; he’d snuck in, staggeringly drunk, with a female friend so they could amuse themselves by pretending to be small-town yokels. When the man in track pants asked us all “divide up by astrological signs!” I followed him and his friend out the back to his house.

When I woke up, it was the third day of college and I was smitten.

Which turned out to be a fraternity, populated by somewhat athletic, very straight, good-natured young men. And he was their interloper king — fraternity president, captain of the sailing team, and a liar. We did cocaine off the back of a record, listened to the new Rilo Kiley album, and I spent the night. When I woke up, it was the third day of college and I was smitten.

Three months later, he convinced me to pledge. “For me. I need someone I can trust inside the house so I can finally be honest with everyone.” At the time, my friends were a rag-tag bunch of music nerds, bespectacled, thin, and far too edgy to understand joining a frat. Even ironically. And they could understand everything ironically.

So I did it, obviously. I stood on a coffee table in the dark and got shot with squirt guns full of cold water. I drank twenty four natty lights and then vomited into a barrel. I wriggled on my stomach through a maze of cardboard boxes filled with whipped cream and cold spaghetti and then ran off to meet my friends at a Grizzly Bear concert. I let them call me AlphaFag.

A few weeks later, a day into my second semester, the administration asked Connor to a “voluntary leave of absence” to deal with his burgeoning coke problem. At the next night’s pinning ceremony, I was named brother for life.  — Benjamin Warren

Have you ever done something totally crazy in the aftermath of a breakup? Experienced temporary post-relationship insanity? Tell us about it! Submit your 300-500 word true story to submissions@nerve.com or click here for more information

Weekend Getaway

After my sophomore year in college, the love of my life left to visit her family in the Dominican Republic, a period I decided was far too long for me to go without seeing her. This was the time for something big: she was the girl I’d fallen for at first sight and pursued for over a year before anything happened. After nearly two years, we still hadn’t quite made it to boyfriend-girlfriend.

I decided I’d fly down and book the nicest hotel I could afford. She would sneak away from her family and spend three perfect, idyllic days with me. It was to be an unforgettable affair. We would frolic naked and feed each other fresh fruit.

Impetuous and in love, I had much less trouble convincing myself than I did convincing her, but I did it. She’d tell her parents that she was spending the weekend with some girlfriends who were vacationing nearby and then sneak off to meet me.

I’d come 1,500 miles to miss her by five inches.

Things started to go wrong when her mother offered to drive her to the hotel. She said she was fine, and didn’t want her to go out of her way. Her mother insisted, she again refused, but her mother, like most mothers when they sense something’s up, was adamant.

At the hotel, she tried to say her goodbyes in the car, but her mother wanted to come inside and “meet these friends I’ve been hearing about." Flustered, my sort-of girlfriend struggled to come up with a believable reason for why that was impossible. Which, of course, made her mother insist.

I was waiting in the lobby, unaware and positively overcome with childlike excitement. The moment I spotted her I was sure there was nothing else in the world. It took most of my available mental capacity not to run over and tackle her.

I forced myself to walk over coolly, and luckily so; my feigned nonchalance bought me just enough time to notice the expression of terrified urgency on her face. She was furtively waving me away, trying to pretend that her friends were a no-show.

It went way too fast. I course-corrected, confused, and pretended not to know who she was. I brushed by her, my shoulder inches from hers, teasing but never touching. Then I sat in the lobby and watched as she pretended to be confused and annoyed, speaking to her mom. Then I watched her leave. I’d come 1,500 miles to miss her by five inches.

I spent the rest of the weekend sitting alone in my hotel room. She called eventually and apologized profusely. Despite everything, I forgave her.

That trip was neither the first nor the last in a long line of bad decisions inspired by my love for this girl. Four years and numerous grand gestures later, I’d like to tell you how it ended, but I’m still working on that. — Jude Gibson

Have you ever done something totally crazy in the aftermath of a breakup? Experienced temporary post-relationship insanity? Tell us about it! Submit your 300-500 word true story to submissions@nerve.com or click here for more information

The Journal

My sophomore year of high school, I started keeping a journal. By that summer, it was up to two-hundred pages or so, and I was about to turn sixteen. I didn’t have a job or much else to do that summer, so I spent a lot of time hanging out at the pool, where my secret crush, Lily, was a lifeguard. A lot of times there was no one else around, so I’d just sit with her trying not to gawk at her body in her red one-piece swimsuit and hoping that she wasn’t gawking at mine (pale, acne-stricken, somehow both scrawny and fleshy at once).

I’d had a bunch of crushes on random unavailable girls up to that point, but Lily was the first girl I liked and was actually friends with. She was extraordinarily good at making you feel special — sharing private jokes and intimacies and judgments — and every time I spent time alone with her, I came away giddy with a feeling of grown-up love. The shared moments I recorded in my journal, which made them seem even more important.

I was narcissistic enough to believe that no one who learned everything about me could fail to love me.

In retrospect, she must’ve needed to create that sense of intimacy as much as I needed to feel it. I think she needed to be adored, wanted the validation of having others reveal themselves to her in trust. (Which I’m making sound sinister and manipulative, but really, she was just a sixteen-year old too.) Anyway, that’s probably why she kept asking to see my journal, even though I doubt she had any conscious idea how much exposure she was really asking for.

I didn’t either, but I had enough adolescent narcissism to believe that no one who saw me in totality could fail to love me. The last time she asked, I trotted from the pool over to the high-school computer center, where I burned out an ink cartridge printing out all 200 pages in the tiniest font, then brought it back to her all but in a bow. I knew that towards the end, she'd discover my true, more-than-friendly feelings about her, and I eagerly awaited her response.

For weeks after that, as she read through, she’d call me to tell me about little things I’d written that made her laugh or cry. (Very heightened times, these.) Finally, I couldn't wait any more, and when she was hanging out at my house one day, I just pointed to the right page and made her read it. By that point I was quivering and having trouble talking. She looked, and said, slowly, "Oh… I didn't know," and then, looking apologetic, "…and now I have to leave." And after that, we weren't really friends anymore. — Jason Carp

Have you ever done something totally crazy in the aftermath of a breakup? Experienced temporary post-relationship insanity? Tell us about it! Submit your 300-500 word true story to submissions@nerve.com or click here for more information

A Foray into the Domestic Arts

Many years ago, I baked chocolate chip cookies for a guy I’d recently started sleeping with. For me, this was a much bigger deal than having fucked him in the first place.

"You must really like him, my friend said. "Either that, or the sex was phenomenal."

She was right on both counts. He was electrifyingly intelligent, funny as hell, genuinely sweet, all muscle, and prodigiously talented. The sex positively crackled, as did our conversations. I found myself aroused at random and inappropriate places (Kinko's, the pharmacy) and felt grateful that I couldn't sport a telltale hard-on.

So, I baked. As I don't keep a well-stocked cupboard, I drove to the store at midnight, when my creative bouts usually seize. I giddily plucked just the right chocolate chips and organic flour from the shelves. Me, the writer girl, in my look-at-me red leather boots, reading labels on bottles of gourmet vanilla. The novelty of it all. Surely, he would be moved by the depth of my affection.

Back home, I put on Sarah Vaughn and Elvis Costello and had at it. I found an apron on the top shelf of my closet. I excavated the electric mixer my mother gave me years ago, when she still hoped I'd become someone who gave dinner parties. I meticulously cracked eggs and added baking powder with long-ignored measuring spoons. God help me, I sifted.

If he doesn't want me now, he never will, I thought.

Two hours later, buzzing from pilfered dough, exhaustion, and ardor or something like it, I took the final cookie sheet out of the oven. My kitchen and I were both a mess, but I was happy. "The Great Cookie Offering," I called it. If he doesn't want me now, he never will.

Which, as it turns out, was precisely the case. He was touched and appreciated my effort and consumed the entire batch in one sitting. But he didn’t want a relationship, and while he said this could change, I doubted it would.

My heart more bruised than broken, I couldn't help but think that this was a lousy reward for my once-an-election-cycle culinary endeavor. Damn it, I baked. I shelled out forty bucks for ingredients even though I was in between permanent day jobs. I went to my crappy temp job the next day on two hours of sleep and with a splitting headache. All so I could be told that he thought I was an amazing, beautiful, intelligent woman whom he was really attracted to, but that it "could be another six months to a year" until he figured out what he wanted from a relationship.

Over a decade later, I still haven’t baked for anyone else. I don’t mind swallowing, but the Great Cookie Offering left a bad taste in my mouth.— Litsa Dremousis

Have you ever done something totally crazy in the aftermath of a breakup? Experienced temporary post-relationship insanity? Tell us about it! Submit your 300-500 word true story to submissions@nerve.com or click here for more information

The Scavenger Hunt

I can’t lie about the fact that I’ve seen Amelie one too many times. I have an irrepressible whimsical streak and so was delighted one crisp November morning to be struck by inspiration: I knew what I was going to do for the birthday of the then-object of my affection (who I’ll call Casey). Said inspiration was well-timed, because his birthday was the following day. I awoke after dreams of overturning Parisian cobblestones to reveal clues, photographs and lipstick, and called him.

“I have a huge birthday surprise for you,” I said. Casey seemed charmed. I was not usually the take-charge-of-your-birthday type. I assumed my most authoritative voice as I instructed him to show up the following morning at an East Village coffee shop wearing comfortable shoes.

I then proceeded to scheme giddily. I was about to join the ranks of those who had executed a classic maneuver: the romantic Scavenger Hunt. The next morning came with some intense negotiations. Could I please stash a clue in a bin of lube at Babeland?  Would Economy Candy abide by a love note hidden at the bottom of a heap of wax lips?

Right then, he walked in. Though, to be fair, it was more like a defeated stagger.

After a long day of clue-hiding, I went home and dressed to the nines. I imagined Casey skipping through the Lower East Side, finding shreds of my love under hot doughnuts, next to mugs of steaming coffee, nestled between sheets of poetry. It was extra-cold out for November, but in the Amelie version of this particular fantasy, Casey was rosy-cheeked, ecstatic and on a mission. Eventually, I went to Paladar, where the final clue was to lead my love to share one sublime mojito with me before heading home.

I waited. I sipped my first mojito through a tiny straw and felt charming. By mojito number three, I felt a bit more tragic. Where was he?  I hadn’t made the clues that hard, had I?  I went into the bathroom, freshened up. I was determined to be utterly dazzling when Casey walked in.

And walk in he did. Though, to be fair, it was more like a defeated stagger. I leaped up. There were no rosy cheeks, more of a greenish pallor. He could barely speak, but rasped something about migraines, vertigo, and the inability to breathe, and to the hospital we fled. It was, as it turned out, pneumonia. As we approached our third hour in the fluorescent waiting room, I sheepishly apologized for the scavenger hunt. How was I to know it would result in grave illness? Casey managed a wan if chartreuse smile.

These days, I just make mixtapes. I usually include a track from the Amelie soundtrack for good measure. — Temin Frutcher

Have you ever done something totally crazy in the aftermath of a breakup? Experienced temporary post-relationship insanity? Tell us about it! Submit your 300-500 word true story to submissions@nerve.com or click here for more information