After B*, I tried to keep myself busy and not think about it, or him. I threw myself to work, listened to empowering songs, went through alternate moments of declaring pure strength and crying over a family sized tub of ice-cream (often within minutes), and generally got on a life treadmill so that I could run away from feelings, but as you and I know, it does not work like that.
So, on a Sunday, as I was listening to Rumer and drinking jasmine tea in my pyjamas, I decided to take a moment and introspect. I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and exhaled. Tears started streaming down my cheeks, and what started as a weep turned into an uncontrollable sob that lasted for an eternity and a day. When I opened my eyes they were red and sore; I had let go. I was ready to move on.
During the time that things were going south with B, I met through S (my ex and best friend) a guy he was interested in, J*. We had gone out a few times all together, during which I spent the entire time worrying about B and oscillating between ‘why doesn’t he text‘ doom to ‘yeah aha, he texted, I can be happy‘ joy. Hey, I am not proud of it, but honesty is all I have.
So, I had never thought of J in that way, even when S told me that he is not interested in him anymore. One night, I wanted to go out, and as all my friends were busy, I asked J if he wanted to join me. He said yes, we met, and went to a club where we proceeded to dance all night, flirt a lot, and skip over many perfect kissing moments. As we were walking home, he asked me if I would consider dating, and I told him that after B, I felt that I needed some time. He said that the right person could wait. He then stopped, looked at me and said ‘I can wait‘. Another perfect kissing moment that I decided to pass.
We started talking. And then because of a misunderstanding, I got really annoyed with him, so he asked me to meet for a drink and discuss it. He said to me that he likes me, and I found myself liking him too. Annoyance turned to affection, and as we walked out of the pub into the rain, he turned and kissed me. The perfect kissing moment; not the perfect kiss.
When we kissed I did not feel anything, and admitting it now makes me feel like an asshole. However, I thought that probably it is the post B numbing effects, so I decided to give it a go. I went over to his, we watched a movie, and cuddled on the sofa (not a euphemism, there was no sex, just cuddles). He said he thought I was special; I liked being special for someone, and in that way he was becoming special to me.
We kept talking, however after another misunderstanding we decided that we would be best suited as friends. I kept seeing him, thinking that we were going out as mates; it was only after the third time we met that while discussing what had happened, he said to me: ‘do you think It is weird that I have feelings for you?‘ To which I responded puzzled, ‘you mean, had feelings for me‘. So, he looked at me and said, ‘why is it so difficult for you to understand that I have feelings for you and that I like you? A lot?‘ Now, you have to understand that when he said that, I was in the middle of taking a bite off a massive burger. So, I looked at him, trying to process what he was saying while I was choking on beef and onions, feeling that there was not enough oxygen in the room. However, this bought me some time to think. Do I feel the same? Do I have strong feelings for him? Do I declare my love when I can finally chew this monster of a beef patty? The answer deep in my heart was no. However, when my mouth opened, I heard myself saying: I like you too.
Now, that was not a lie; it was a truth with missing information. The full sentence should have been ‘I like you too just not as strongly and maybe not that way’.
As we were leaving the restaurant we kissed again. Again nothing. Crap. I turned to him and said, ‘I need to be honest with you. You know I recently broke up, and even more recently got broken hearted, so I want to take this slow; like super slow; we are talking glacial pace. Why don’t we say we are dating casually?‘. He agreed, said he understood, and we left.
Now, what he understood (I don’t know if it was on a conscious or subconscious level) was that my heart was not in it, so he progressively started seeking reassurance, which I unfortunately was not giving to him, and I say unfortunately as this is the point where I can say I was being a douche nozzle and was leading him on. He got closer and closer, so the day he said he wanted to introduce me to his friends, I had a mini freak out. I told him that I felt it was moving fast, and that I was not comfortable with the pace. In the back of my head I knew that someone else would have killed for that opportunity, as J was a really attractive, great guy; he was just not for me.
So, he said he understood, and that he was going to slow down. So, just as I started breathing a bit easier, he asked me if I was ok to go on a holiday with him the next weekend, and meet some of his friends there. My face smiled, my mouth said ‘of course‘, but my brain was doing a ‘Home Alone’ mirror scream.
I left, and for the next few days we started drifting apart. He asked me to go over and speak. He said he wanted a relationship. I said I didn’t. I cried, mostly because I felt like an ass for hurting him. So, I left.
He texted the next day, saying we should give it a go; and this is where I went awfully wrong: I said to him I needed time, and that maybe in the future things change. I thought that was the polite way of letting him down easy, but I now understand that I was leading him on and keeping him hooked. A couple of weeks later he texted me and I drunk texted back being super friendly (hello, my name is G and I am an expert in mindfucks), but a few days later I said to him that I am sorry for drunk texting, and needed more time.
A month later he texted again, and asked me how I was doing in what I am sure was meant as a cheeky way that ended up sounding insulting. So, I replied back in a snappy, sassy and ‘get off‘ way, thinking at I was being honest. However, I was being hurtful.
You see, in his eyes, I was taking time off. I was thinking issues over, and deciding things. A window was open for him to be part of my life, even as a friend. In my head, it was clear that this was not going to happen, but I had not communicated that to him. So, my response must have been a huge slap in the face.
He replied back really angrily. He said that we shall never speak again, and that he would not acknowledge me even if he saw me. I was ok with that; I mean, yes, it was unpleasant, but this was not about my need to be liked – or to not be hated, it was about giving him the right to feel however he wanted to feel without making it about me.
So, what I learned from this experience? Be honest. Don’t string people along. Don’t try to be nice by not telling things as it is. Let people you don’t want to keep in your life go, because then that frees a space you are taking for someone else.
Now I know that, and in will not repeat this behaviour again. I let go of someone that hurt me, and I accepted being let go of someone I hurt, and that is another brick on the single wall.