At some point in the next week or so you’re going to start to wonder why I haven’t texted you back or why I haven’t had even 45 seconds to compose you a short, sassy email. “I’m supposed to be the busy one,” you’ll think. You’re going to be even more confused when you reach out again, only to realize that our iMessage thread is becoming increasingly one-colored. Well, I don’t want to be passive aggressive with you, and I can’t adequately explain my frustration in 300 characters or less. So here, sir, (I’d call you out by name but I think I’ll leave that to Taylor Swift), is your answer.
You led me on. I thought we were on the same page. I thought when you called me “babe” and told me that talking to me makes your entire day better that you meant that you hadn’t put me on the same rung of the ladder as some guy on the rugby team. I thought when you would text me from your bed in the early hours of Tuesday to tell me that you missed me you meant “it’s 3am and I’m thinking of you as I lie here in my empty bed.” I thought that when you sent me that email telling me that I was your priority, that you would drop anything you were doing to talk to me, that you had somehow placed me in a different category, perhaps one that didn’t include your sister or your roommate. One that didn’t bear the label “friends.” I thought that when I made it abundantly clear how I felt about you and you sent me a flirty text the next morning you meant “I’m all for this,” and were trying to encourage me. I thought that when you begged me to come home early or offered to fly to another continent to see me you meant “I’m going crazy here without you. I need to see you (and, you know, kiss you).”
The thing is, I could understand you telling me that you wanted to take care of me if we were close friends or something before this escalated. (And no, I’m not crazy. It did escalate.) I wouldn’t have read into you texting me every day if we had ever been in contact beyond us bumping into each other on campus before I disappeared to another country. I wouldn’t have thought so much of you asking to travel the world with me if the last time we’d spoken face-to-face you hadn’t told me that you had always had a bit of a crush and could I please, please just come home.
So forgive me then, friend (that’s all you are, right?), if I was a bit confused last night when we Skyped and you asked if I could break up one of my best friends and her future husband so that you could date her. Pardon me if I was taken aback when you called me “dude” instead of “chica.” Please excuse me for finding it weird when during our 28-minute conversation you checked your email twice, responded to a few texts and said you were falling asleep. Don’t mind my eyes for widening when you said you intended to spend the summer chasing women. And don’t you dare hold it against me that I hoped you were joking.
But I know, with every bit of my scraped-up heart, that you weren’t. I know, with every inch of this head that has cried itself into dehydration, that whatever this bi-continental electric current was between us, it’s been shut off. I can’t know why. I can’t know if you met someone else of if I texted you first more times than was advisable or if you just woke up one morning and were bored or decided that we were in too deep.
I would offer the explanation that maybe this was nothing at all. That maybe I just romanticized everything from 5,000 miles away. That I was just reading something into the texts in which you told me how much my sarcasm turns you on.
But you and I both know that that isn’t true. I’m not crazy, and this idea of us did exist outside of the dusty corners of my mind. You, you as my good morning text, you as the subject of so much of my writing, you as the guy that I thought I might finally bring home to my parents — you were not merely a figment of my imagination. My name is not Alice and I refuse to believe I was living in Wonderland.
And as such, I posit my original thought. The thought that tore around my brain until 4:45 this morning, destroying every idea I had of you picking me up at the airport, of you telling your friends that I was your girlfriend, of us cooking that five-course meal together like we had planned. You led me on.
I don’t think you’re cruel, I don’t think you’re just an asshole and I don’t think that I should have seen through this from the beginning. But I do think you’re selfish. I think you were dealing with more than you ever have work-wise and that you didn’t have a support system in your new city. I think that I made you feel good; that our witty exchanges let you know that someone was thinking of you, that someone cared that you had spent four hours on the road of that you hadn’t slept in days. I guess I can’t blame you — everyone likes to be liked. But there is a Sharpie-thick line between politely and platonically accepting the compliment and taking emotional advantage of someone’s feelings for you. And you, friend, marched right on over it.
So that, essentially, is what I want you to know. I feel taken advantage of. I feel led on. I feel like toying with someone’s heart is one of the most selfish things you can do. Human hearts all have emotional hemophilia — let’s not pretend we don’t know how easily they bruise.
And now, now that you’ve looked up from your work long enough to notice that I’m gone, I want you to know one more thing. You’re too late. There will be no “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize what a good thing I had until it disappeared.” There will be no “Hey babe, I miss you. When can I see you?” And there will most certainly not be a point at which I decide that you, you with your quick tongue, you with your goofy smile, or you with your emails that make me feel like I’m in a movie, will ever be worth more to me than my self-respect.
People only treat you how you let them treat you. And you, sir, are done treating my heart like a tin can on a string.