This week’s edition of Modern Love, the New York Times’ treacly Sunday Styles feature, comes from Randon Billings Noble, a literature professor at American University. “War Weary From a Dangerous Liaison” is about a Valentine’s Day email from her most significant ex-boyfriend (the one she still thinks of as her “safety net”) that forces her to break the news to him that she’s married:
I had always carried him in the back pocket of my heart. He was my safety net. During my catastrophic breakups, he was always faintly in the background, ready to be called if needed. And he felt the same way about me. At 19 we decided that if we weren’t married to anyone else by 30, we would marry each other. But by our late 20s we had broken up, gotten back together, broken up again. Thirty came and went in silence. I had thought he was the love of my life.
There are some heavy-handed trapeze metaphors and presumptuous comparisons to Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, but it’s got some poignant insights into the painful process of getting over that person you never thought you could. That said, from a student’s perspective it’s kind of TMI and would probably make taking a class with Professor Noble a little awkward–another reason to be glad you don’t go to AU!