Lesbian Problems: I Pretended To Get Engaged For My Ex’s Attention

I was in therapy, OK?

I was OBSESSED with my ex-girlfriend. Like not just ‘typical lesbian problems’ obsessed. Codependent, mentally ill, unhealthily obsessed. She totally emotionally abused TF out of me, and it only made me more obsessed! Yes, I’ve worked through this in therapy, so that I can now provide you with your afternoon entertainment.

I met Grace* when I was 18, fell in love with her, and U-Hauled. Then we had a tumultuous, years-long, on-and-off-again mess. I’ll spare you the gory details (as if I don’t write about them for a living).

Two years into our mess of a relationship, we broke up yet again. It was around this time that I became deeply obsessed with the club scene downtown. I traded my Grace addiction for a party addiction. I spent all day sleeping, all evening in graduate classes, and all night in clubs. I thought I was very cool, but I also had a tragic haircut (or, as Zara Barrie likes to call it, mental illness bangs) and I regularly wore silver lipstick. Anyway. My favorite haunt was The Box, where I’d chug champagne like it was water in the desert and watch all of the delightfully disturbing performances, which often covered me in bodily substances. (If you’ve been to The Box, you will understand.) My sociology professor, Gabriel, and I became friends. He was super well connected. So even though my heart had just been broken, I was on a high, casually skipping the lines at NYC’s best clubs, drinking for free, and mingling with the nightlife icons I had just been learning about in class.

One night, while almost falling asleep in my eggs at the now-closed LES Sugar Diner at 6am, I scrolled past a particularly disturbing Instagram post. It was even more disturbing than the performance I had watched a few hours prior at The Box: a burlesque dancer defecating on stage then throwing it at the audience. (It’s called art, look it up.)

I saw that Grace had gotten engaged.

I practically flipped the table with my dagger length press-on acrylics and opened my glitter-crusted eyes wide in terror. WHAT?!

I spent the train ride back to Long Island staring at the picture, rereading its caption and the comments. My thoughts spun out of control. I was allowed to be over her, but how dare she get over me! Did this mean we were really done? Like, actually done? No more casually liking each other’s social media posts, hoping to initiate a casual sex meetup, only to morph into yet another unhealthy relationship? My eyes closed under the fluorescent lights of the LIRR, while the train rumbled and my own obsessive thoughts snaked in and out of my ears. I knew that I had to talk to Grace. I didn’t know what I would say, but I needed to contact her. No, no, I needed her to make contact with me. I wanted to make her jealous. So jealous that she’d have to reach out to me.

The next week, I was sloshing back Manhattans at Queen Vic with Gabriel, when I had what I thought was a mastermind plan. I pushed our drinks away from us.

“You’re going to propose to me,” I confidently declared.

“Kk,” he said (literally). He sipped his whiskey and rolled his eyes.

I acted like it was a spur of the moment idea, and it was, but I can’t lie that it wasn’t festering in the back of my mind for a week. Maybe that’s why I ordered the most gorgeous black onyx ring from Paris on Etsy.

“Get a good angle,” I directed our friend, Matt, as I reapplied lipstick and draped my other arm over Gabriel.

I don’t really know why I thought this was a believable plan, as Gabriel and I are both queer as the day is long, but I thought it was brilliant.

Gabriel slid the ring onto my finger and even kissed me for dramatic effect. Neither of us laughed because we are excellent actors and take the craft of Instagram seriously. I hungrily uploaded the footage to Instagram with the caption, I SAID YES!!!

I was practically foaming at the mouth, sure it would be a matter of minutes until I got a text from Grace. My whiskey-soaked brain told me I was a genius, an icon.

My phone blew up with other people asking, “What did you say yes to???” “Aren’t you gay?”

I texted my BFFs asking them to comment congratulations and world’s cutest couple on my post to make it more believable. I knew how absurd it was, but when I do something, no matter how performance-oriented and nonsensical it is, I COMMIT. (Like I said, I was in therapy, OK?) My phone continued to blow up with random people in my DMs, which was oddly validating, but not satisfying. After all, I wasn’t doing this for general attention, though everything else I do is motivated by general attention. I was doing this for Grace to notice me. And she never did.

Gabriel and I enjoyed our fake engagement and hammed it up all night. I stopped checking my phone for a text from Grace and enjoyed how drunk I was in the best city in the world with some of my closest friends. That night, on my usual 7am train ride home, I deleted the Instagram post. It was a hard choice considering it had hundreds of likes, and my purple lipstick looked flawless, and Gabriel looked devastatingly handsome with his tan skin and all black outfit. But sobriety reminded me how immature it was that I even did that, though entertaining.

Eventually, Grace would contact me—codependency, it never goes out of style!—her engagement had fallen through, and she wanted to go out. I met her at the only hipster bar on Long Island, where we talked. She never mentioned my faux engagement. She said I was partying too much. I said she was too. We slept together. We met up again. We fought. We stopped talking. Repeat.

My point is, and I’m not sure if I have one, is that wanting attention from my ex was wildly stupid because even when I got it, it always ended in destruction. I wish I could say that I was strong enough to recognize that, but it took a while. In the meantime, I did a lot of stupid shit, like staying out till 7am and faking an engagement to a man. I’m not sure if I learned my lesson about doing dumb shit on the internet and seeking attention from women who are clearly bad for me. What I did learn, though, is that Gabriel is a real ass friend. He even got down on one knee!

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