We almost date someone. We don’t put a label on the relationship, but we do everything that dating consists of. We text in between classes and while we’re stopped at red lights. We stay up until midnight talking on couches and sitting a little too close for just friends. We watch old sitcoms and make out with Netflix playing as background noise. We drive to pick up burgers or pizza together to eat in the parking lot. We even meet each other’s parents — not at an official family dinner, but while coming and going from each other’s houses.
We tell ourselves that we’re fine taking things slow. That we don’t have time for a relationship anyway. That we’re young anyway. That we are enjoying being single anyway. But in the back of our minds, we’re counting down the days until the relationship becomes real. Until our Facebook status changes. Until we can post kissing pictures on Instagram. Until we can delete our Tinder and stop searching the bar for other singles.
We assume that the relationship will eventually turn from almost into actual, but instead, there comes a time when we stop talking. We fade out of each other’s lives for no reason at all after getting so close — but we don’t disappear completely. We still text every once in a while to say heyyy how are you doing. We still like each other’s pictures. We still give little reminders that we exist and that there is a chance that we might return sometime in the future.
We never get over each other, because we never give each other the chance to get over each other. There is never any closure. There is always a bit of hope.
More time passes, and after kissing other people and thinking of our almost-ex the entire time, we start talking consistently again. We forget why we let ourselves separate in the first place. We’re older now, we’re more mature and ready for commitment, so we decide to date this time. We decide that we should have done it differently at first and hate ourselves for missing out on so much time we could have had together.
Maybe the relationship actually works now that we have admitted how we feel for each other. Maybe it leads to marriage and babies and monogamy. But if it doesn’t, we go our separate ways again and then reunite again. We are on and off, off and on. Friends can’t keep track of whether we are in a relationship or broken up or somewhere in between because it is always changing. Our relationship status is forever set to it’s complicated.
Nowadays, everyone has their Ross. Everyone has their Rachel. The person we aren’t officially with, but might as well be with. The person that we will always come back to, whether it is right or wrong. Whether they belong in our present or only belong in our past.
Nowadays, we don’t move on from almost relationships. We just keep going back to them.