Obama's Ex-Girlfriend Said They Broke Up Because He Wasn't 'Enough' at the Time: "I Pushed Him Away"

Obama's Ex-Girlfriend Said They Broke Up Because He Wasn't 'Enough' at the Time: "I Pushed Him Away"
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC

In 1983, Barack Obama began his relationship with Genevieve Cook when he met her at a Christmas party in New York's East Village. David Maraniss, in an adaptation of his Obama biography, uncovered the unseen tale of the ex-couple's time together in an article for Vanity Fair. The most talked-about portions of Barack Obama: The Story were the diary entries from one of Obama's lovers during his early 1980s New York days.


In his piece, Maraniss quoted from Cook's notes, shedding light on Obama's romance with her and the separation that followed. Obama's senior by three years, Cook was 25 years old when she met him. According to Maraniss, she represented 'the deepest romantic relationship of his young life.' She smoked Lucky Strikes and unfiltered Camels, according to him, and her favorite beverages were Baileys Irish Cream and Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth that she sometimes drank straight from the bottle. Unfortunately, the couple's romance didn't last more than 18 months and they broke up in June 1985.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Spencer Platt
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Spencer Platt


Maraniss recounted the relationship's varying degrees of commitment: "When she told him that she loved him, his response was not 'I love you, too,' but 'thank you.'" Later Obama wrote in his memoir, "I pushed her away. We started to fight. We started thinking about the future, and it pressed in on our warm little world." However, from Cook's perspective, Maraniss stated, "My take on it had always been that I pushed him away, found him not to be ‘enough,’ had chafed at his withheld-ness, his lack of spontaneity, which, eventually, I imagined might be assuaged, or certain elements of it might be, by living together." 

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Maraniss went on to draw attention to the section of Cook's notes that detailed her breakup with Obama. As per the outlet, Cook mentioned in her diary, "Barack leaving my life—at least as far as being lovers goes. In the same way that the relationship was founded on calculated boundaries and carefully, rationally considered developments, it seems to be ending along coolly considered lines. I read back over the past year in my journals, and see and feel several themes in it all … how from the beginning what I have been most concerned with has been my sense of Barack’s withholding the kind of emotional involvement I was seeking. I guess I hoped time would change things and he’d let go and 'fall in love' with me."


The Australian reported that Cook's father was a 'prominent Australian diplomat.' Michael, who was born in 1958, spent many years working for the government and was the head of the Office of National Assessments in Canberra, Australia. After that, the Hawke Government appointed Michael to be the ambassador to the United States. Cook met Obama while she was an assistant elementary school teacher in New York. Prior to that, she had worked for a publishing company in Manhattan. Cook and her father traveled extensively, and she lived in Indonesia around the same time as Obama, by coincidence.

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