We Didn’t Date So Why Did It Hurt So God Damn Badly

Priscilla Du Preez

We didn’t date. I didn’t need that spelled out for me.

I felt it every time I the words ‘just friends’ came out of my mouth. The words tasted bad but I couldn’t lie about what we were and I couldn’t pretend to be something we weren’t.

The problem with feelings and matters of the heart though is your heart does not give a fuck whether or not there is some label there. Your heart decides and that’s it. Suddenly you’re at the whim of making irrational choices that can only be justified because you love this person.

People argued it wasn’t real love. They say love is that which is reciprocated. Love is that which leaves you whole and not empty. That real love doesn’t hurt.

I don’t think love can be so simply defined. I don’t think it’s black and white. I think there are a lot of grey areas that gets lost and not talked about just because it isn’t the typical standard of what love is supposed to be in the eyes of everyone watching.

We didn’t date but I still looked at you like you were the best thing that happened in my life. Because at the time you were.

Every conversation. Every laugh. Every moment spent together where I envied anyone that took up your time that wasn’t me.

I missed you before you even said goodbye and wished I could freeze moments.

We didn’t date but I still compared you to everyone I met. And they always fell short of these expectations I suddenly had in someone.

Because it wasn’t just opening my door and paying for some tab or making sure I walked on the inside of the sidewalk, it was the respect you had for me.

In everyone I met it was you I was looking for only to realize someone like you couldn’t be replicated.

We didn’t date but my heart still raced every time we were in the same room and every time your name appeared across my phone. There wasn’t a smile bigger than the one you brought to my face.

We didn’t date but I still talked about you like you put the stars in the sky. Because you really did change my life so much for the better.

We didn’t date but you were everything I wanted so badly at one point. If people were interested in me I didn’t even notice because you had every bit of my attention.

And it didn’t matter what we were or rather weren’t, I was just happy to have you in my life. I was happy to have your time and attention even if it came few and far between sometimes.

Then suddenly everything changed with one conversation.

It’s the conversation that defines what you are and what you’ll never be. The conversation that depletes any hope of anything every happening in a future that will never be. The conversation that suddenly makes every encounter after that awkward.

Once every card is laid out and everything is talked about there is no hiding how you feel. There’s no secrecry or wondering. There is no hope. And you’re overcome with guilt for falling so hard like it was all your fault.

Then you have to get over it.

But how do you even heal and get over someone who wasn’t yours to begin with.

I sat in airport with a ticket like flying 10,000 miles away thinking that would make me forget him and how I felt. If anything it made it worse. I realized no matter where I went or how many airports I’d find myself in, during those few months, he was everywhere. Haunting my in a way. Found in street corners and gift shops.

When you love someone they don’t leave just because you did. You take them with you.

I realized eventually I was going to have to face this head on. I was going to have to get over it. And there wasn’t going to be anyone comforting me because they all saw it coming and they were entitled to say I told you so.

When you fall for someone you aren’t dating you are blinded with rose colored lenses while everyone else wants to warn you that you shouldn’t do this, as if it was a choice you got to make.

You don’t pick who you love and you sure as hell don’t have a say in when it stops.

Real relationships have this start and end period. Concrete dates to look back at of how long it’s been. Concrete feeling that were mutual at one point. But almost relationships just have a bunch of grey areas and nothing defined and lines that drawn and rewritten. It’s games played and mixed signals and confusion.

Whether the other person wants to admit it or not I think feelings are present a least a little bit. Even almost relationships can’t be maintained if it’s just one sided and one person’s interest. For any relationship to last even if it’s just an emotional connection it requires the effort of both parties.

When those relationships end we put it all on ourselves thinking we were stupid and it was our fault we felt that way. But nothing is ever all yours to own entirely.

You look back at moments and you can’t believe you said the things you did or acted the way you did. But that’s love for you. If you aren’t being a complete fool and going to absurd lengths, I question if you really love the person.

We didn’t date but there were still nights I was crying myself to sleep at night.

We didn’t date but there were still moments where I’d do anything to numb the pain I was feeling.

We didn’t date but everything about him hurt like any other relationship I had actually been in.

Pain does not discriminate. And it doesn’t hurt any less just because you never dated. Sometimes that factor alone makes it hurt more.

I didn’t realize it was love every time those words drunkly slipped out of my mouth with goodbye.

I realized I loved him when all that pain hit me at once realizing what we’d never be.

Love is to happiness as heartbreak is to depression.

And I watched myself turn into this version I didn’t even know nor could I recognize. It hurt like hell because even if there wasn’t some label to it I couldn’t deny that everything I felt was so real.

We didn’t date but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced pain so badly in my life.

We didn’t date but I was barely eating sleeping or functioning because it hurt so badly.

And I had to present it to the world like I wasn’t feeling these things so heavily. I had to face everyone like I wasn’t falling apart inside. I had to carry on like getting through 24 hours was easy. But the reality was I dismissed myself often to breakdown and cry alone. And I couldn’t talk about it because what do you even say?

The hardest part of getting your heart broken by someone you didn’t date is when they want things to go back to what they were and you want to be strong but everything about their presence makes you weak. Part of you wants to say, ‘I need time to get over you. I need time to heal.’ But then you think that’s selfish.

You don’t want to lose them in your life but it hurts like hell standing in front of someone who isn’t yours when you are so in love with them.

It hurts like hell watching them love someone else and you have to just put on a brave face and stand there.

It hurts like hell playing the role they need you to but you love them enough to hurt yourself and do just that.

Because the truth is what they taught you most about love is how selfless it is sometimes. You love someone and you want them to be happy even if it doesn’t include you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Kirsten Corley

Writer living in Hoboken, NJ with my 2 dogs.

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