Why My Girlfriend And I Broke Up After 17 Years Together

Written by Vanessa B.

Debra and I were best friends in high school. We were typical teenagers, hanging out and finding trouble to get into. We were both still into boys at that time. Neither of us had had any experiences with girls beyond playing house or doctor.

Shortly after graduation I attended Debra’s sister’s wedding and over the course of the evening, an attraction to her just came over me. I hadn’t felt anything like that toward her prior to that day. Needless to say, I was scared and confused. Ironically, she was my best friend, so who was I going to talk to about this attraction I was experiencing?

At first, I avoided her for about a week and a half, then invited her over to talk. She confessed that she had felt something the day of the wedding, also. It was all so surreal, and bizarre. I guess my curiosity won out and I kissed her, and she kissed me back. And that was the beginning of a 17-and-a-half year roller coaster of emotions and experiences.

We were together from our late teens until our mid-30s. For the first 11 years of our relationship, we were in the closet.

We loved each other very much. We had many up and downs and joys and pains. We were both free spirits and dreamers. This often meant talking about our hopes and dreams but unfortunately not seeing them to fruition.

 

We Had Different Dreams

We talked about getting married, buying a home, having a child, and traveling but we really never did anything together to make it a reality. Our personalities were such that she liked to put all her eggs in one basket and wasn’t comfortable with change and I was the total opposite. For instance, I was also a free spirit and a dreamer but I had a plan B that included college, travel, etc. She was/is a very sociable person, and a DJ with close family ties. Also, once she finished high school she was done with school forever.

So, unfortunately, we could never get on the same page about building a life together. We both lived, separately with our parents, for the first 10 years of our relationships. I eventually moved out of my Mom’s house and into my own apartment, and she moved into a house that her sister bought.

 

I Betrayed Her

Black woman in army unifform.

Vanessa B in her Army days.

After five years of being together I acted out, and betrayed our relationship by dating guys in order to continue the heterosexual farce. I was confused, and at the time, and I still cared about what my family and society thought. Nonetheless, what I did hurt her but we managed to get through it, or so I thought.

I was the one who left the relationship (at first, and in a way). Let me explain. I joined the Army. At that point, we had been together 15 years. I was at a loss and at a dead end in my love relationship and in my relationship with my family.

On sheer impulse, I walked into the Army recruiter’s office and signed up for a three-year stint. We both agreed that the change was what we needed in order to find ourselves. She was hurt by the drastic change and as a result there was quite a bit of passive-aggression, on her part. The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell,” nonsense was still intact and she resented that. Also, I was no longer around or I was unable to speak to her every day. So eventually, she broke up with me, via letter, while I was in boot camp.

We somehow managed to get back together, however, I didn’t receive any care packages from her the entire time I was in the army, including the year I spent deployed to Iraq. Also, she sent me a total of about five letters over an almost three-year period. Needless to say our relationship was rocky.

 

Growing Apart

When I returned home I felt that after all that had occurred while I was away, we needed to really sit down and have a deep and meaningful conversation. However, she wasn’t comfortable with talking about what had transpired between us while we were apart.

She wanted to just put it all behind us and move on. The problem was that in those three years, our relationship got tested in the most fundamental of ways. With regards to things like change, communication, trust, responsibility, and maturity, we had moved in different directions and reacted in different ways.

When she suggested that I move into a bedroom (not an apartment) with her, in her sister’s house, and pay rent to her sister, it became clear I had changed but not much else had. We had both grown older but only one of us had grown up. So within a month of me returning from Iraq, we broke up.

Read part 2 to learn how I healed from the break up.


 

Vanessa B.Veronica B. is an entrepreneur, and a former psychotherapist. She resides in Las Vegas, where she likes to volunteer, hike, travel and write. She is an active member of the Vegas LGBTQ community. She’s currently working on projects involving social psychology, issues of religion, and empowerment for women and girls of color.

One thought on “Why My Girlfriend And I Broke Up After 17 Years Together

  1. Pingback: How I Healed After My Long-term Lesbian Relationship Ended | Black Lesbian Love Lab

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