There is a sick part of me that actually enjoys almost relationships. I like the adrenaline that comes along with flirting in such a subtle way that no one else notices it. I like how every text is so unexpected that it brings my heart leaping through my chest. I like how I am never sure what the day is going to bring because there is always a chance that they will invite me over at the last second.
I like almost relationships because the extreme highs and lows bring a dash of excitement into my otherwise boring life. The days when I feel worthless because the person has gone MIA and won’t answer any of my messages suck — but the days when they call me out of the blue, sweep me into their passenger seat, and stare into my eyes in a way that screams they’re interested? Those days are like a drug. Those days are worth every tear.
I like almost relationships because, for a short while, I can pretend that I am desirable. I can act like I am on my way to a real relationship. I can daydream about bringing them home and buying a dog with them and spending the holidays together. I can convince myself that everything is going to be okay. I can live inside a fantasy world.
Maybe my take on almost relationships makes me a masochist. Or maybe it’s a product of being a self-destructive pessimist. At the end of the day, I don’t actually expect anyone to date me. I don’t expect them to decide that I am the Love Of Their Life and agree to settle down with me. So my disappointment is never unexpected. I try to enjoy the short amount of time that I get to spend with them. I try to enjoy it for what it’s worth.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I move on with any semblance of grace. After they walk away, I will still stalk their Instagram to see who they are dating now so I can compare pictures. I will still get that sinking feeling in my stomach whenever I see how happy they are with someone new. I will still think about them on late nights when my tipsy fingers want to type out an I-miss-you message. I will still struggle to forget about them because they made a mark on my heart.
When it’s all over, when they are finally out of my life, I am always hit with the reality of how badly almost relationships suck. It makes me remember how unhealthy one-sided feelings are for my self-esteem. It makes me remember that I should raise my standards and only accept people who are serious about the effort they put into me.
But there’s still a strange part of me likes almost relationships, because even though they never lead to a serious relationship, that doesn’t mean the feelings never existed. That doesn’t mean I never mattered to them. That doesn’t mean the happiness I felt at the time wasn’t real.