An Open Letter To My Summer Love: This Is Why I Walked Away

Even though I’m writing this in an attempt to articulate myself, maybe there is no way to truly define a nagging gut feeling that can’t find its way to clarity through words. But I’ve learned to trust myself, even the deepest, most unexplainable notions shifting around at the bottom of my heart. 

In short, I left you because I felt like I was walking in on unfinished business. 

I walked away when I could smell pain and sense complexity and confusion. And trust me, I understand that love can be intensely complicated, but what I felt for you, even if just for the summer, felt utterly pure. I let you into my world with unrestrained entirety and didn’t hold back, but as I reached out both my hands, I felt something on your end holding back. 

I felt all the love and affection you wanted me to feel; I believed you when you spent evenings telling me how much I meant to you and how excited you were to live out the plans we had meticulously outlined over hours of FaceTime calls, but I could never quite nod in absolute agreement when you talked about her. In fact, the root of my doubt began in all the things you didn’t say about her, swept under under the generic conversational cloak of “don’t worry, it’s complicated.”

I know what it’s like to miss someone who was once in your life, to feel reminiscent for a former lover. It was messy between you two, and sometimes it’s the complexity and the drama of the memory that intensifies the nostalgia accompanying it. You convinced me that all you remembered of her was the pain and hurt she caused you; that you could never see her in a romantic light again. You promised that you were just friends, and that you were fully aware of the manipulative, selfish facets of her personality that led her to sway you towards courses of action that weren’t always beneficial to your happiness. You practically listed out to me every doubt I had about your friendship with her. But you insisted to keep her in your life. And not just as friends, but as weirdly close friends engaging in frequent communication. 

“She’s just protective of me,” you said.

For someone so smart, I thought to myself, why is he still set on being friends with someone so poisonous, someone who he openly acknowledges does him more harm than good? I’m all for detoxifying your social circles and eliminating people who aren’t really your friends, so this especially doesn’t make sense to me. I’m also all for being amicable with exes, but my definition of amicable and friendly does not entail daily snapchats and text messages – and definitely not trash-talking the other person’s significant other. Maybe I’ll never understand what it’s like to carry around a destructive ex’s memory with a fierce need to preserve and feed the fire that once wrecked me.

“Maybe you just don’t know her that well,” you said. 

Sure enough, word went straight to her when I ended things between us – and I only know that because she began talking to some people I was with about it by the time evening rolled around. I ended up speaking to a guy who had a fling with her earlier in the month, who immediately said, “yeah, you picked up on the weirdness between the two of them too, right? Okay good, I wasn’t imagining things.”

Part of me wants to run into you on the street a few years from now when things may have changed between you and her, because I know the way you make me laugh and the incredible conversations we have will be the same. I’ll always think the world of you, and am currently in the process of trying to resurrect the memory of this summer with you as a positive one, even though the only feeling it currently ignites is a desire to resume things and run back to you.

I told my friends I shut us down because I didn’t care enough to deal with your additional “baggage” of her; that I didn’t sign up for a summer fling with this level of BS and unwanted emotional burdens. The truth? I shut it down because I cared way too much about you. What I felt for you ran much deeper than a temporary romance, and sticking around feeling like second-best all summer would’ve hurt me a considerable amount. Kissing your lips while seeing her name pop up on your phone did enough damage for the few days I endured it; seeing that all summer would’ve made me worried, confused and hurt enough to walk away eventually with quite a few more tears streaming down my face. 

It’s always hard to end things. It’s even harder to end them knowing your feelings for someone are still completely intact and that it’d be easier to stay gazing into their eyes through the rosy lens of love. But the saddest thought that stays with me today is that even if I had stayed around all summer, the three months we’d have shared have no bearing on the three years of turbulence and unrequited love and “it’s just complicated”-ness that you two have together, the nostalgia and complication of which evidently carries a lot of weight with you. 

I may have been a novelty to you, a source of easy, uncomplicated happiness for the sunny months, but at least I can say that for these few months you were really and truly everything to me. I’ll go to college for a fresh start with a heart lit with the afterglow of us, but you? The euphoria of me as a distraction will wear off, and you’ll fall headfirst back into your looped trap with her. You meant so much more than just the summer to me, but I don’t feel like I could’ve ever meant the same amount to you when there were other things on your mind, and that is why I called it quits. 

Turns out, I was not enough to shake her from you, to make you realize that it’s okay to let go of what once was and embrace what currently is. And I’m realizing now that maybe that isn’t my fault. Maybe it’s yours. Thought Catalog Logo Mark 

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