It goes without saying that the modern dating scene is the perfect playing field for those who don’t want to get too attached, are emotionally closed off, are merely looking for sex, or otherwise just plain don’t want a relationship.
Then there’s those like me. People who don’t want to play the game, but fall for those who are. And so you go along with it, because what else can you do? But you tell yourself it’s okay, that somehow it will work out. You’re different, so it’ll be different. It won’t be a total disaster. It’ll be fine, just fine. Against your better judgment, you let your guard down. You talk, you get to know him better, you think God, we’re so compatible. Surely, this will work out in your favor. All in due time.
You take what little he gives you, while you give him all of you.
You give it all away with reckless abandon. You do this despite the uncertainty of it all. You’re leaping off the cliff without knowing if he’s jumping with you. Without knowing if you’ll fall or fly. It’s brave, but it’s also stupid.
You ignore the subtle manipulation, the texts that don’t sit well with you, the low-key disregard he has for you in front of others.
You don’t let yourself dwell on any of this. Instead, you make excuses for him. Because when it’s just the two of you, it’s good. You feel wanted, safe, secure. You live for those soft conversations, his tender touch, and the hope that someday, that will be your every morning and every night.
But he’s not ready. He has excuses. More excuses. Excuses about his job. It’s just a job, you tell him. It’s something we can work around. This, us, this is more meaningful than any job could ever be. Excuses about distance. Ours wouldn’t be the first long distance relationship there ever was, you say. It’ll be hard, but we can make it work. Because if you want something bad enough, you make it work.
Any normal, sane, practical girl might’ve wised up at this point. But you’re in denial. You’re in too deep. You’ve gotten too attached to the idea of him to face the reality of him.
And then it all blows up. One last request from you for something more, because you’re finally at your breaking point, you’re tired of waiting, wasting time. And he responds with even more excuses. He says your lives are going in different directions, he’s a workaholic and he doesn’t have a lot of extra time to devote to a relationship, if only you lived next door – it’d be more likely for something to happen. He says you deserve someone better. It’s over.
And because it was only an “almost” relationship, you don’t feel as though you have the right to mourn it like a “real” relationship break up.
Only a handful of your friends know about your true involvement with him. Your family definitely doesn’t. You feel ridiculous about wanting to lay in your bed all day and cry. You feel foolish about the whole chain of events – you should have known better. You should have confronted the truth sooner.
At first, you feel raw. You find yourself constantly holding back tears. But when you’re truly alone, the floodgates open. You cry yourself to sleep. You cry in the shower. You cry while you drive, taking the long way to anywhere so you can look presentable when you arrive. It’s hard, but you get through it. Time is your friend. It helps you heal as you pick up the pieces of your heart, alone.
Then you learn that he is in a relationship. The guy who supposedly wasn’t ready to commit to you is now in a committed relationship with someone else. The self-proclaimed workaholic has willingly made someone else a priority in his life. You find out about the timeline of their dating. Your mind reeling, it’s like you’ve been punched in the gut and sent to the ground with even more punches and kicks raining down on you. He was already involved with her (9 months, to be exact) before you two had your last this-is-it-it’s-over conversation.
You cry. You blow up his phone. You cuss him out and call him every name in the book. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what he didn’t see in you.
Maybe most of all, you’re livid that he gets off scot-free.
What exactly does his not-so-new girlfriend know? Surely, not the whole story, otherwise she wouldn’t be with him, would she? And his family, all the people in his life? He played it right. They know nothing. They get to go on seeing him as the honorable brother, son, grandson, cousin, nephew, friend, and godparent he has always been in their eyes.
He gets to move on – he already has – while you have to battle alone with your sadness and your anger.
You have to go about your everyday life like nothing is wrong. Like you’re not totally wrecked.
But deep down, you know you’re worth more than this. That’s what will get you through. He was a lesson worth learning, because you know now that you’re worth more than the distance between two points on a map. You’re worth more than text messages full of empty promises. You deserve more, so much more, than he was willing to give you.
So to all the girls (and guys) out there mourning “almost” relationships: you’re not alone. Be sad. Be mad. Be whatever. You have the right to feel what you feel. Just because your relationship wasn’t Facebook official, doesn’t make it any less meaningful. And as the days go by, as things get easier, as you make your way through it to the other side, you owe it to yourself to realize your worth. To accept that he (or she) wouldn’t have been able to fulfill your life like you hoped in the beginning. There are better days, and there is better love, ahead.
And finally, to everyone in this modern “dating” culture: be kind. Be honest. Don’t be an asshole and don’t fuck around with people’s feelings.