Open Letter to the Men I’ve Casually Dated

To the Men I’ve Casually Dated:

I would ask how it’s going, but I already know. I know because I’m not afraid to look you up, or say hi, or meet you for drinks, even. I know because keeping up with you doesn’t torment me. I’m glad to know you’re doing well; I’m glad you’re there to Like my Facebook status, I’m glad we never made it to the point of no return.

What we had wasn’t epic, it wasn’t eternal – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t special. We swapped stories and spit; most times, we shared more than that. Beds. Meals. Toothbrushes. We met each other’s friends, but not each other’s families. That was good enough, wasn’t it? Great, even. We devoured each other’s details; we ate up the minutiae like every date was Thanksgiving. My mind felt fatter every time I left you; it was pregnant with wonder. You never gave yourself away and I’d think, “As it should be.”

Of course, it wasn’t perfect. You’d hurt me once in a while; you’d neglect my birthday or our rendezvous would become infrequent; then nonexistent. We became too indifferent to argue about anything. I wanted to hate you, but I’d have to love you first – and we never quite got there, did we? What a relief.

Don’t get me wrong. I considered it in the most casual way possible. I really Liked You. But saying, “I Love You,” and meaning it, that’s heavy. We were too fun for that. We Liked Each Other Too Much. Seems silly, seems like a copout, but we couldn’t love each other because we liked each other. ‘Like’ is a pompom, it’s a firework. It’s celebratory and exciting. But love? Love is a tattoo. Love is a 16-car pileup. Love is a scar. Permanent; crippling; ugly.

We never made it there, but that’s okay. We made it to other places. We made it to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockaway, Queens. We made it to my futon, where you made me watch Trailer Park Boys for the first time. I loved it. We made it to unmarked bars, to outdoor screenings of Casablanca, to the beach. We made it to the underside of bridges. We played poker, we played bocce, we played phone tag. We made out in the rain and in the middle of sidewalks for so long that it went from clichéd to avant-garde and then back again. We got kicked out of places together; we got locked out of places together. That certainly counts for something.

You taught me what People I Loved couldn’t – that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. That I don’t have to regret my choices. Sometimes, I made pretty good ones – like dating you. I learned that dating should feel good. It shouldn’t cause your teeth to gnash; it shouldn’t wrack you with anxiety. You taught me that the default after the regression of a relationship isn’t complete and utter destruction. It can be a friendly text, a ReTweet, a thumbs up when one of us accomplishes something we’ve been working at for years.

Thanks for giving me memories, giving me your friendship, giving me hope. I’m always rooting for you.

XO (Drinks soon?),

Steph TC mark

image – Paul Henri Debrante


More From Thought Catalog

  • Michael Koh

    Casually passing through.

    “‘Like’ is a pompom, it’s a firework. It’s celebratory and exciting. But love? Love is a tattoo. Love is a 16-car pileup. Love is a scar. Permanent; crippling; ugly.”
    Love is permanent marker. Love is crazy glue. Love is a broken vertebrae.

    • Jamesdean

      Love is Morton's iodized salt. Love is a lamp without a bulb shade. Love is a souvenir Buddha from Budapest. Love is my toenail. Love is the mold in the bathroom. Love is the puke that you find in the corner of your kitchen after a kegger. Love is a stray cat. Love is the missing brick in a chimney. Love is a loquat tree. Love is lube.

      • Jamesdean

        Also, no amount of artistic license excuses this grammatical atrocity.

        Love is a scar. Permanent; crippling; ugly.

      • Ssigelakisminski

        Actually, I thought the incorrect grammar to be refreshing and gave this section of the piece more gravity. I think you're being too much of a stickler.

      • Michael Koh

        James Dean? More like James Franco. #amirite

  • MWil

    Nice… I kind of want to copy-paste this to my ex, it's a great characterization of how I feel too.

  • xra

    this whole subgenre of thought catalog articles is annoying

  • Marthabuca


  • Brian McElmurry

    resplendent and smart

  • Cassandra Nguyen

    this is fucking fantastic

  • Jen O'Neill

    This made my day!

  • Stevie Kew

    This is looooovely!

  • Deeds

    Ohhh Memories =)

  • jessucka

    “My mind felt fatter every time I left you; it was pregnant with wonder”

    beautiful =]

  • AL

    That's a lot of experience and fondness for “like.”

  • anon

    Man, soo good! I look forward to reading your articles more than any other TC contributor.

  • Rachel

    I love when an ex validates why we were ever together with a simple “Like.”

  • P. H. Madore

    Amen. It's a beautiful life and women like you make it better.

  • ObscureHipster

    Isn't every article on TC an open letter to the people author x has casually dated. Seriously, Think about something else and then Catalog that.

  • Rachel's mom


  • sncosme

    I really enjoyed this, particularly the positive tone of the piece. It made me feel light. I also like the points it brought up about love vs. like, and how the weightlessness of the latter can sometimes be more enjoyable.

  • marty

    no! no! no! no! i dont care how much you “love” , “like” someone. there is a reason why married couples of 30 years have thier own toothbrush. its just fucking gross to share a toothbrush ewww.

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on wireswilltangle.

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on ateendiary.

blog comments powered by Disqus