Such a wonderful thing it is, to be chased. To be adored and flattered and most certainly wanted. It is, after all, why we don’t mind when our phones beep and vibrate, letting us know that someone we not so certainly want wants us. But we keep them around because we don’t want it to stop—because that flattery is like a good scotch we want to nurse for a while. Or, at least, until we get sick of it and want to switch to gin.
I’ve been there before—holding on to something I didn’t really want just in case I decided I wanted it. Completely unwilling to cut things off for fear I’d want them again, selfishly holding on because, well, the attention is always satisfying. I’ve played and toyed with someone else’s feelings knowingly aware of the pain I’d be causing but choosing to ignore the reality. And then when it’s my turn to be toyed with, I realize how much I sucked. There are no excuses. Just because we’ve all done it to someone, at some point, doesn’t make it suck any less. Any less for them now or any less for us later—because at some point, someone is going to drag us along—our hearts on flimsy strings barely hanging on because our hearts don’t matter here.
Being on the other end, endlessly wondering and desperately clinging to any ounce of distraction from the what ifs and how comes and why nots is miserable. Every thought is peppered with a slice of wonder. Every ounce of girl talk is saturated with questions. Every blinking Gchat box filled with over analytical doubts. We decode texts and we discuss the potential outcomes like it’s a choose-your-own-adventure novel, as if there is more than one possible conclusion. And the sad truth, which we are well aware of, we pretend doesn’t exist because it’s so simple: Will he? Won’t he? Does she? Doesn’t she? Someday or Never?
But alas, we wonder and wonder if we should text, call, email or follow (both literally and on social media). We carefully craft our communication, the timing of it, the punctuation, the potential for positive or negative interpretation. And we change our minds about whether or not we should do it, typically surrendering to doing so because we know we have nothing to lose. After all, we probably don’t actually have anything in the first place. We down white wine like we’re Carrie Matthieson and listen to the Garden State soundtrack and watch 500 Days of Summer to find some form of solace in our frustration. But then again, the drama of it all, the excitement is a little bit, well, exciting. Because there’s always a chance, albeit small, that perhaps He will, She does or that Someday is a reality.
And the buzz wears off pretty easily as it does with any other drug. And coming down from it is unsurprisingly painful. But we just want to say that it’s okay. It’s okay not to like us. Not to want us. Not to pine after us the way we do you. You won’t melt like the Wicked Witch of the West if you’re honest. Nothing bad will happen. We won’t hate you for turning us down—for saying “I’m sorry. I don’t see this going anywhere,” for texting “I don’t want to lead you on. I don’t feel the same way.” We won’t scream and cry and go crazy if you tell the truth. We’ll probably want you more because we’ll respect you for your candor, for the blunt favor you did us. And we’ll back off, not wanting to of course, because when things don’t go your way, it’s tough to give in. But we will. And it might suck for you because you won’t have our attention anymore. But know that you’ll still be on our minds, a good old bittersweet memory. We’ll be wondering how we’d feel if things had turned out differently, but we won’t hate you like we would have if you’d let us downward spiral into forcing you to tell us the truth. The truth we knew all along.
It’s okay to tell us the facts, to say you don’t want us. Your actions, after all, say far more than any text ever will. But if you come clean early, we’ll love you more for it. And we’ll let you know that it’s okay.