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Kiss and Tell: “I got married to a guy I’d known for only a few months. Then he got cold feet”

Holly, a 34-year-old teacher, was shocked when her new husband suggested they live apart

Two hands removing a wedding ring on a background of pink hearts

Welcome to Kiss and Tell, a series about the steamy, surprising and frequently absurd world of Toronto dating. Send your most memorable stories from the pursuit of love and lust in the city to .

—As told to Juliann Garisto


I met Scott while I was backpacking through South America. I was actually looking forward to spending some time alone, but then I went swimming in Buenos Aires. All I had with me was one of those compressible fast-drying towels, and it didn’t work very well. It was still wet from my most recent dip, and I was shivering.

Then this short, lean guy with green-blue eyes approached me with an extra towel. I was immediately attracted to him, and we ended up exchanging names and chatting. He told me that he was interested in working as a gymnastics instructor for kids; I told him that I taught kindergarten. After warming up a little, we went to grab dinner.

We quickly fell into a very serious, committed relationship. Scott had all these theories about us being in the right place at the right time because of kismet and past lives. We each had about a month of travel left before having to catch flights back to our hometowns (Toronto for me, New York for him), and we ditched our respective travel groups to be together. We both believed that, despite the physical distance at home, we could make a relationship work. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to move that quickly with him, which was a little scary. But Scott was exactly the kind of person I wanted to be with: kind, open-minded, spiritual and a bit older.

The night before my flight home, Scott and I clung to each other in our hotel room. Neither of us got a wink of sleep. Despite his reassurances, I was nervous that we would lose touch. He promised me that everything would be okay, that he would drive to Toronto on weekends and book trips for us to cottages or to Europe. Then, to my utter astonishment, he pulled a ring out of his pocket and proposed. I nearly choked.

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Eventually I said, “Are you serious?” He answered, “I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life.” There was definitely a voice in my head saying, This is crazy—I can’t get engaged to someone I’ve known for just a few weeks. Meanwhile, my stomach was doing somersaults. I was euphoric. It was easier to ignore my caution than to ignore the intense physical sensations of happiness. So, the following morning, I got on my flight with a ring on my finger.

Scott kept his promise of coming to visit me on the weekends. We talked every day on the phone, and every night I fell asleep with him on FaceTime. I eventually had to replace my phone because the battery was fried from overuse; if it wasn’t plugged in, it died in a matter of minutes. But logistics don’t really matter when you’re in love.

About four months after our trip, Scott announced that he’d found a remote job that would enable him to move to Canada for the foreseeable future. I maniacally cleaned my studio apartment in preparation and told my parents and friends that it was finally time for them to meet my future husband. But, two weeks after he moved in, the pandemic happened. The Canada–US border was about to close, and Scott was really anxious about being permanently stuck away from his immunocompromised parents.

I hated seeing him like that. I thought that, if we fast-tracked our marriage, we could get dual citizenship and have fewer issues crossing the border. Scott was game, so we got married at city hall the very next day. I didn’t hesitate because I expected that we’d be spending the rest of our lives together. Some of my friends were surprised, but they knew how crazy I was about Scott. Ultimately, they were supportive. The day after the wedding, he drove back to New York.

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It turned out that being married didn’t make any difference at the border, so it was impossible to see each other. For the next year, I often had to look down at the ring on my finger to remind myself that I was still someone’s wife. I felt lost and anxious, but in the beginning, Scott called and texted every single day. He sent flowers on a regular basis, along with other gifts like jewellery and even new furniture. But, when border restrictions were lifted and I asked when he was coming back, he demurred. “I’m just not sure I want to live in Toronto, let alone Canada,” he said. I was shocked—that had always been our plan—but I tried not to let it be a deal breaker.

After that, though, Scott was less affectionate. He did start driving down for the occasional weekend, but each visit felt more forced. He would get quiet and introverted around me. It seemed like he was coming because he had to, not because he wanted to. He also stopped wanting to have sex, so instead of feeling like his wife, I started to feel like I was just a friend.

Then, one visit, I told him our marriage was clearly failing and that I wanted to see other people. I cried as I told him—it was really hard to say. But he understood right away and said it would be fine if I went on dates with other men while he sorted his priorities. We didn’t officially break up, but we agreed to put things on pause and be in an open relationship.

So I downloaded Hinge and started seeing other men. At first, no one compared with Scott. Most of them just wanted to hook up. But, after a few months, I met Julian. I explained my situation to him and mentioned that there was a chance me and Scott might get back together. He said he didn’t care and that he wasn’t looking for anything serious. Julian was very understanding. He was a smart, easy-going guy, and most importantly, he was physically and emotionally present.

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After we’d been seeing each other for a few weeks, he confessed that he really liked me. It was nice to hear, but I wasn’t sure if I felt the same way, so I didn’t reciprocate. Our relationship did start to feel more serious over the next couple of months, though. Julian met my friends, my family and even some of my co-workers. I realized that I was falling for him, not just because he was actually present in my life but because I really liked him and respected him. I guess I was recognizing the value of really taking the time to get to know someone as opposed to following the impulses of instant attraction.

Just as I was starting to relax into my new relationship, Scott called. I was home alone, thankfully, because I blushed when his name came up on caller ID. After a bit of small talk, he told me he missed me and that he was planning to drive up that weekend. I felt a little burst of excitement mixed with fear and anxiety. “Are you going to stay?” I asked. He said he still wasn’t sure but that he loved me. I froze. I couldn’t bring myself to say that I’d met someone else. So I gave him the go-ahead to come to town, omitting the fact of my new boyfriend.

That night, I told Julian about the call and admitted that I still had feelings for Scott. Julian was hurt, but he told me that I should do whatever I needed to do. I felt immense relief. I knew I would regret moving forward with Julian if I didn’t take this last opportunity to see if my marriage had a chance.

The day before Scott’s arrival, I couldn’t stop crying. He’d driven all day, so we basically went to bed as soon as he got to my place, and it was odd to sleep together again. The next day, we got into it. I asked where he saw himself in ten years. He shrugged. I asked where he saw himself in five years, and again he said he didn’t know. “What about two years? One year?” He had no answers. I was annoyed by his ambiguity. I knew he wasn’t trying to be malicious, but it hurt that he couldn’t commit. At the same time, it enabled me to move on. “So why did we get married?” I asked him. “Because we’re in love,” he said. “We were in love,” I corrected.

After that, I told him I’d met someone else. Scott was pretty devastated by this, but we spent a few hours together digesting the change. He asked if he could still reach out to me on my birthday and holidays, and I said yes. He left later that night.

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The next day, I told Julian everything. He was visibly relieved. We’re still together to this day, and it’s an easy relationship with a lot of love. We definitely want the same thing, which is to move slowly and let our relationship run its natural course. As for Scott, we’ve initiated the process of filing for divorce. I haven’t seen him since we broke up, but he still sends me flowers every once in a while.

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

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