(There’s a TL;DR in the last post; but I promise things get interesting if you read the whole thing)
Sometime around November of 2013, I signed up for an OKCupid account and got a 98% match with a cutie with colorful hair (cool), who was super into social justice stuff (good!), and was super into video games (neat!), and liked to make them (ah! I used to make them, that was fun times!), and by some coincidence turns out to have made a somewhat esoteric game I happened to have played a while back.
So I messaged her to meet up for drinks — on my birthday.
She seemed pretty cool; I didn’t talk much at first, and mostly listened as she related tales of adversities she’d overcome and how they’d shaped her as a person and fueled her determination to improve the world. I was enamored, but after a while she caught herself ranting and asked about my interests and from there we discussed all sorts of stuff from art to programming to neurology to artificial intelligence to philosophy to how the “is it a game?” argument has literally been going on for a quarter century before video games even existed. At which point she showed me a copy of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus she carried around in her bag. Swoon — good birthday.
That date lasted about three days. And we went on a couple more and just kept hitting it off on every point, and within two weeks we threw caution to the wind and went exclusive — facebook official, the works.
We’d spend hours discussing anything and everything; though the conversations often turned to ethics, motivations, and stories of her past. Among the most commonly recurring were:
- Stories about how the grief and confusion of being raised by a pathological liar taught her to make it a point to always say what she meant, and to communicate at face value.
- Stories about an extremely manipulative ex-husband, who would do things like refuse to stop wearing the ring from his last relationship, and make her feel terrible or insane for any discomfort she expressed — though he was in fact cheating on her as he was making her feel terrible for being worried.
- The pain of spending most of her childhood alone, as well as the injustice of being ostracized from various groups and communities in her adulthood.
- Views on the ethics of infidelity. Which she maintained is inherently wrong even if the person who was cheated on never finds out, because (aside from willfully endangering their partner by way of increased STD risk) if the unfaithful party then has sex with their partner, they are doing so under false pretenses, and therefore without their partner’s consent. That is, sex with a partner who doesn’t know you’ve cheated on them is sex without consent.
There were other strong principled positions, sometimes brought up for their own sake, sometimes brought up in relevant situations, and almost always tied to her past, but they didn’t in any sense make up the bulk of our relationship. We’d spend a lot of time hacking around on our separate projects together, eating vegan food, flirting on tumblr, and having awesome sex.
Eventually she asked me to work with her on her new game, and I happily agreed.
She took me to IndieCade East, and she got me a pass to see her at GDC
And it seemed everything was going immeasurably well until I started succumbing to pointless and seemingly inexplicable bouts of anxiety sometime between the very end of April to the very beginning of May. We kinda broke up, but kinda not. She’d often message me to say she loved me and wanted to be with me again someday. She had eyes only for me, she said, and wanted me to say the same for her.
A few months later, around the end of June, we get back together (though this time she was worried about a mole among her facebook friend’s list, and so she didn’t make it facebook official until two weeks into the relationship, for a carefully vetted group of, by her estimate, roughly 200 friends or so). Before you know it we’re hitting on each other over tumblr again and sending cutesy couples photos whenever we missed each other.
She even flew me out to San Francisco on a last minute whim around early July (The last photo of this set is one she took of me in SF, though the goth nipples and smoke ring are both back in Boston). This was for the most part a good time —
Until I found out she’d been cheating on me with her boss (Joshua Boggs). And a few days later we have the following conversation, where I ask for her help finding and informing his wife:
Shit, man, what happened?
I mean, obviously she cheated on me (a lot actually), but why would someone violate their own beliefs on something as important to them as sexual consent? And what’s with all this fear of someone going public? What happened to her strong principled stance of unflinching honesty? Or of owning up to mistakes? What happened to the paragon of virtue I fell in love and set out to help fix the world with?
Well, the above conversation happens a few days after a considerably more painful one, where I discover almost none of the things I loved about her were true. I’ve included annotated logs of that conversation in the footer of the next act, so you can verify that I am not making any of this up, but you don’t need to bother reading them if you’re not so inclined.
Each act will have a TL;DR at the end if you’re in a rush — There’s also a TL;DR of the whole thing at the end, and even a TL;DR of that — because I wish someone had given me a “Too Long; Didn’tRelationship” before I got into all this.
The next Act starts off in a comedic tone, but that’s mostly because it was too depressing to write any other way. It gets intense near the end, and then nothing is funny anymore.