In the effort of full disclosure for those of you who don’t go to school with me and therefore have not had the distinct pleasure of watching me go through a pretty miserable two and a half months, I am heartbroken. At the end of last semester I met someone who I developed very intense feelings for very quickly, and to my delight and surprise he seemed to like me back. It sounds silly, especially because of the sheer quantity of guys that I’ve dated and/or hooked up with over the past four years (a lot), but for the first time I met someone who I not only found attractive, but also thought was intelligent and funny and considerate. It’s odd how sometimes when you meet someone you just feel it for them right away; I wanted to be his girlfriend before our first date even happened. After hanging out a few times, a romantic walk late at night (he let me wear his gloves), and two of The Best Nights Ever right in a row, he told already-emotionally-invested me that he was still getting over a terrible break up and wasn’t ready for anything serious.
I was instantly crushed. I showed up to my afternoon class half in tears and had to take continuous sips of water to keep myself from losing it in front of everyone. He came to my house and we had a long talk, ultimately deciding that we should no longer see each other romantically. He stressed that he really wanted to remain friends. I told him intimate details about ending a relationship I was in a few years ago, and he told me a lot about what he was going through now—much more than I’d expect from someone who, in all honesty, I really didn’t know that well. I was so impressed by his sensitivity and thoughtfulness. By the time he left, I loved him even more, and finals week without him was a particular kind of torture.
Cut to winter break. We’re not in touch at all, until New Year’s Eve when he sends me a cryptic text referencing an inside joke we have. I felt like I’d been run over by a bus. Is it over-dramatic to think that NYE is a pretty loaded time to text someone? The whole night I’d been feeling depressed that I wasn’t ringing in 2012 with a kiss. I thought it was weird that he’d contacted me, and wondered what it meant when he didn’t write back to my response.
Since we’ve been back on campus, he’s friendly when I see him but doesn’t seek me out. At first I was disappointed—I’d hoped that he would change his mind—but I know that it’s for the best because it would be difficult for me to see him and know that we can’t be together. When I see this guy walk into a room, my breath catches in my throat. Even though it has been sad and I’ve had to work hard to regain my happiness (still a work in progress, sometimes), over time I have come to see that we probably weren’t the best fit for each other anyway. Here’s the thing though—while I can move past the fact that he’s never going to be my boyfriend, I have much more trouble moving past his failure to be my friend, and herein lies the point behind this post.
THE RANT. Like I said, I understand that it’s best that we forget the whole friendship thing. The part I don’t understand is why he made such a big production about it in the first place. I get that “but I still really want to be friends” is a standard part of many break ups, whether or not the person who says it actually means it. The difference is that I really believed that this guy was telling the truth. We have a bunch of mutual friends, and more importantly we’d shared a lot of very personal things with each other, so I figured he meant it when he said that my friendship mattered to him. I thought it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he might ask what my friends and I were up to on a Friday night or suggest we get coffee—platonically. I wasn’t shocked when he never delivered—after all, when I saw him walking into the library the other day I fantasized for around twenty minutes about how he was probably coming to find me in my carrel and tell me that he’d had a change of heart, he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, live without me, and was there any way that I would consider taking him back, so I get that my imagination can often be just a smidge wrong—but then Saturday night happened. I went with some friends to a party, and I knew he’d be there. (I dressed extra sluttily for the occasion to make him realize what he’d lost, of course.) People were packed together in the room and when he arrived he had to squeeze right by me. I touched his arm to say hi, but he walked past without acknowledging me. It’s okay, it’s fine—it’s dark so maybe he didn’t see me. BUT THEN he spent the whole rest of the night dancing two feet away from me and never said a word. He totally ignored my presence the whole time. Maybe I should have said hi again, but I had already tried. And besides, if he really cared about being my friend, he would have approached me himself.
I’m starting to think that it’s impossible to be friends with people you’ve dated. I very briefly dated a guy who had formerly been my best male friend, and since we stopped seeing each other things have been incredibly awkward between us. We barely ever hang out anymore, and when we do things just feel off. I don’t doubt that some people are capable of maintaining a friendship after they’re romantically involved, but I think that there are inevitably some changes. I used to talk to my guy friend about dudes I was interested in all the time, but now I’d never bring that stuff up in case it would upset him. There’s a chance that over time things could go back to the way they were, but it seems like a slim one.
And so I wish that the guy who broke my heart hadn’t told me he wanted to continue as friends. At the time it afforded me some solace, but now it just plain sucks to think that he wasn’t sincere. The message he’s sending is one that tells me that the time we spent together is insignificant to him, that he could not care less about me. I honestly doubt that his behavior is intentional—but it’s even worse to think that he has no awareness of the way he’s acting toward me. The other night at the party I looked at the ceiling, I mouthed the words to a favorite poem, I put all of my energy into dancing. Yes, it hurts.