Speak Up

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guest Blogger: Jill

My story, complaints, fights, and concerns sound exactly like each and everyone of your stories. My story/relationship I thought ended with my chef two months ago.

I met my chef late night at a club in Atlantic City almost two years ago (no surprise there when else would I meet a chef). We had instant chemistry and became exclusive immediately. The first few months was a whirlwind of great restaurants, late nights and awesome food. When I first met my chef he had Sundays off and then that changed 2 months later where he worked the entire weekend. Reality started to set in when our only time together was spent on a Wednesday night, his hours were taking a toll on me and on the weekends I was left without a boyfriend.
The "talks" began a few months after we were dating...with me asking.."when are you going to have time for me? If we ever have a family when are you going to be around? How can you not have a
401k? Why do you work 60 hours a week for crappy pay?"

I love my chef very much and he had this great dream of opening his own restaurant. Every dollar he made he saved for this restaurant, which means he lived at home! He is 28 and I am 27 I own my home so you can understand the frustration of having a 28 year old bf who still lives with his parents so he can save money. And so in the back of my head I was always thinking..what about me? What about us and our future?
So my dreams of our life together had to involve his dream as well. I love my chef so much and I really thought he was the man for me, but what came with the package was this career, lifestyle and passion that
I didn’t understand. I tried to immerse myself into the culinary world. I found the chef wives blogs, watched the cooking shows etc. Every time that I would think of marrying him and starting a family I saw myself alone. This caused a lot of anxiety and fear. Then I realized I life like that will not make me happy and that I didn't want to marry a man who only has 1 day a week for me and 6 days with his job. The hardest part during my relationship was excepting that that is OK to feel that way. There is nothing wrong with me because I cant except a life like that. I tried to convince myself so many woman can HAPPILY be with their chef bf's or husbands why cant I. I just realized that I'm just not built that way, some people they can except it but I couldn’t. It was only thru talking to my friend when she said to me, "I couldn’t do it I couldn’t marry a man that works like that", for me to finally feel validated with my feelings.

So the best thing to do was come to terms with the fact that this is not the life for me. We were really starting to resent each other he wanted me to accept him for who he was and what he did (rightfully so) but I also wasn't happy. And the best thing we did for each other was give one another up. We mutually decided to break up in December…Now the key here is I never asked my chef to stop being a chef (I secretly hoped and prayed he would for my own selfish reasons) but when you truly love someone you want them to be happy. To be selfless is truly loving someone.

As of this writing it has been 2 months since our break up and more changes have taken place during this time then in the last year and a half I've known my chef. My chef soon after him and I broke up started calling me all the time and said he wanted me back. Then he said he was doing a lot of thinking about what he wanted out of life and said he just wants a wife and kids and that's what truly makes him happy. Then he told me he bought his own place. After a year and a half of b*tching to get him to move out he buys his own place within a matter of 2 months of us breaking up! AND THEN he called me said I have something to tell you...he said he was getting out of the restaurant business and is going back to school full time for. Nursing! I'm thinking WTF! Now these aren't things he's just "saying" he legitimately has bought his own place and he has enrolled in college. So where am I right now…dumbfounded. So I am taking it slow, he of course wants to get back together. To imagine a life with my chef in another career and for him to give up his dream of opening a new restaurant is hard to wrap my arms around. But he has convinced me that the restaurant industry doesn’t truly make him happy and doesn’t love him back the way I do. I'm excited for this new adventure to see where it takes us.

Lessons I've Learned Dating a Chef

1. Be honest with yourself with what you really want and what you can handle.
2. His career will NOT get easier it will only get tougher
3. Don’t ask if he's working on NYE or Valentines day the answer is always yes
4. Being alone will not kill you.
5. Wanting the same things in life is key to a successful relationship
6. Chefs are married to their careers
7. I learned I'm not ok with being with someone who is married to their career
8. I never want to be second to anyone's career nor do I deserve it.
9. Don’t ask someone to give up their happiness for you (i.e. their career and passion)
10. Don’t ever give up your own happiness for someone else.


Cristin said...

Jill, your story sounds a lot like mine. My chef and I met when we were 19 and both at university, but upon finishing his business degree, he decided he wanted to be a chef. I was very supportive of this because I knew he was so passionate about it. However, the reality of it soon set in. I loved him very much but the lifestyle was something I just couldn't handle and we ended up splitting up after 4 years together. He did suggest leaving the industry to make it work but I also knew he wouldn't be happy doing anything else and I didn't want that to be because of me. We are still good friends and he now has big dreams of working in New York (we live in Sydney)and one day owning his own restaurant which I think is great.

I agree with you that the lifestyle is just not for everyone and I really admire those of you who are able to stick by your chefs. I read this blog and sometimes wonder if I gave up too easily, but I think I made the right choice for me.

DCW Jes said...

well, it kinda sounds like he is changing because he finally realized that he is unhappy without you and knew he didnt want you to ask him to change. he made those changes without you around and figured it out, you make him happy, "the industry" doesnt. he is only 28, my chef on the other hand is 35 and has been in "the industry" for nearly 20 years. people change. i started school at 25, to go into baking/pastry. it took my chef and my best friend to realize what my passion lies and where i can make money. i have always been a creative person and didnt know exactly what to do with it. just remember, the hours of a nurse are hard too, depending on where he gets a job. good luck!

Allison said...

Wow. this is crazy to read. I (the wife) am in culinary school as we speak. my husband is in the navy. he is gone for months at a time. in fact beginning in july he's moving to guam. literally. Still. I can not imagine being without him, even though we may not physically be together. I hope everything works out for you and your chef/nurse! good luck!

K said...

Ok...COMPLETELY sounded like I could've written this.

Except I differ in the fact that my chef boyfriend and I live together (not that that really makes a difference b/c we STILL never see eachother) But the way I feel about our relationship is very similar. I've tried for two years to "get used to" his lifestyle. Only starting to realize lately that maybe I just can't. I'm still in the process of accepting this fact. I love my boyfriend very much, and I'm sure if time allowed our bond would be unbreaking. However, I've felt more and more that I'm dating a stranger. I know he loves me but our lifestyles, I think, are just too different. We've begun the "break up" process I think. I've expressed my concerns about our future, concerning kids and things...he's offered to switch out of the industry...but I know this job is what he's meant to do. He's VERY good at what he does and LIVES for food. Any chance he gets he's in new cookbook or studying his molecular gastronomy. (I actually know what that is now!)I would never want him to give that up because of me.

I've learned a lot from him as well and, of course, I'm still hoping for the the best...but you're right. I need to remember that my happiness is just as important as his. It isn't wrong or selfish to feel that way. We both deserve to live the lives we've always dreamed of. It just may happen that those lives can't mesh together.

Good luck for the future!

Marianna said...

Wow It's like you're reading MY MIND!!!! It's scary.

Brian and I broke up and I just don't think he understands how completely crazy it is trying to have a real relationship with someone you don't see for 12 hours per day. And I was SO UNDERSTANDING about his schedule, as you were too but you start to question everything!!!

Thank you so much! I believe in fate, I believe that everything happens for a reason. And if it is meant to be it shall all work out. For you, and for all of us.

But I learned a valuable lesson. Like you said, don't give up your self identity for someone else.

This is the best thing I could EVER READ right now. You helped me more than you know to get out of my rut and feel like I can be happy now. THANK YOU!!

Hilary Battes said...

First of all Jill, I apologize for the pictures on this page, they seem to be too big and blogger is not responding to the changes I'm making. You're pictures are great and I wish they could be seen perfectly.

I love all of the comments and I think you've all made very valid points. K had said, "We both deserve to live the lives we've always dreamed of." and I completely agree. I know at times that being in a relationship you may feel tempted or may even have asked him to either quit his career or quit the specific job he has that's occupying so much of his time. I think for some couples that does work. But it is certainly not a sure fire thing. The question I think couples should ask themselves is, "Am I doing what is the best thing for me?" Which should included career life AND love life. After all, some people need both.

Jill said...

Hey All,

Everyone's post has touched me more than you can imagine. To know that so many of you are going through the same thing makes it easier to accept my situation. There's one thing I didnt talk to much about in my post but I wanted to bring out here..."fear".

Since I was totally and utterly in love with my chef it was hard to stare my relationship straight in the face and take a hard look at it...out of fear. I had this nagging feeling that if I did I wouldnt like what I saw, which was facing the truth that this situation wasnt and wouldnt truly make me happy. But you cant ignore reality forever and once I did take a look at my situation and ask myself is this life for me I became relieved bc I found an answer...no it wasnt.

The point is you shouldnt just "tolerate" your chef's schedule you should accept it IF you want to be with them as a life partner. And just remember if you cant its OK it really is. Dont sacrifice your happiness to be with someone you love. You shouldnt have to nor should your chef sacrifice his passion for you!


Unknown said...

I found this site today and I'm soooooo happy I did! I can't believe I didn't think sooner to look for something like this, and just wanted to thank you all (chefwife especially)!

MC said...

^ Ditto. In a very serious 3 year relationship with a chef and there really is starting to be alot of strain. Thank-you for this blog. I will be a regular. And I think THIS website should make it to FoodTV!

Unknown said...

AMEN! I have been dating my Chef for 2 years and have to remind myself daily to have the patience and understanding to work with his scheudle. I know so many times things are out of his control but I encourage all you ladies that by having a postive outlook the loneliness will subside.

Just found this site, this week. I'm obsessed! I would love to hear more success stories as I am forever hopeful that we can make this work!


Anonymous said...

I've been in a relationship with my chef for a little over two years. Recently he just dropped a bomb on me. He wants to go "stage" at a restaurant in California where his friend works. This will most definitely lead to a position there. He just needs to go through the motions first. His plan is to work there for a year. I live in NH. I've been battling with our relationship and his schedule for the past year and feel that this is just too much for my emotions to handle. He's leaving in a month but would like to continue our relationship. He acts like nothing is wrong and basically pretends he never brought it up. It's driving me crazy because I know he's leaving so I can't just pretend everything is fine. My question, ladies is: "Is it fair of me to break it off?" Not once has he mentioned that he wants to build a future with me. When I brought it up he said that I should "just know" that's what he wants. He thinks we should do the long distance thing for a year but "anything could happen." He could "love it out there and want to stay longer."

Is it fair to make him choose between this relationship and his work? I know deep down it isn't because he should do what he needs to for his career. I just need to know what you all think because you deal with the schedules and the unstructured quality time. What do you think I should do? I need advice. Badly.

Hilary Battes said...

To anonymous: I'm usually not so bold, but it sounds like you and your chef are not on the same page. When you said he doesn't mention your future as a couple. Had you two been talking about it then you'd be faced with a long distance relationship (if he moves to CA). I recommend having a serious conversation with your chef. You need to think about yourself and what is best for you. After all, isn't that what he's doing?