Publishing this post took careful thought and a few deep breaths. I encourage you to be kind, while reading it.
It is so tempting, as an avid social media-user, to only display the exciting or pretty parts of my life. It's easier, right? Unfortunately, that's not my life. My life was, at this moment, not pretty, not curated, not all cool-toned photos, and certainly not comfortable.
A while ago, a person I was casually seeing for a little over two months essentially dismissed me with little-to-no justification. I can already feel the wheels turning in your head, thinking something along the lines of "she's probably just bitter because he didn't want to be with her" and, honestly (not proudly) I've made the same assumption about multiple women in the past.
But hear me out.
I harbor no heartbreak about no longer being with him or no longer seeing him again. Truth be told, I'm doing very well about that part of the situation - so much better than expected.
(No real names used.)
Number 11 and I had already known each other for a few years when we went on our first date a couple of years ago.
We went to high school together, weren’t friends, but connected outside of that network a few years later. On that date, we had a great time but the timing wasn't right. I would run into him pretty frequently when he was in town visiting family, and we were on good terms.
When his job brought us to the same city, we began to casually see each other. On our first date, he impressed me by taking me to see a folk singer that I had once mentioned I liked a few months before. For our second date, he invited me out to dinner and drinks. Afterwards, he invited me back to his house, where he was staying with his mom for the time being while he looked for his own place. We spent some time talking to his mom and just being with each other. He even bought a ticket to come see me perform in my show in New York, and hitched a ride back home with my Mom and I so that I could spend my day off with my family.
Directly following the holidays, I felt him begin to pull away. It was hard to notice at first, but after about two weeks of lackluster conversation, I took matters into my own hands.
When I asked him for some clarification about how he felt about me, to my disappointment (and total lack of surprise), I received a text response over 24 hours later.
"The timing wasn't right for him to be anything more than friends." He even made sure to address me using my full name (which he never called me by) to keep things cool, distant, and even a little formal.
two weeks later, he rang in his birthday alongside his new girlfriend! i found out on instagram.
I know off-hand ten girls who have dealt with this type of behavior from men whom they're casually seeing. I have also heard horror stories from guys that I'm friends with - ladies, we’re guilty too.
I think it's important to explore why this type of behavior can no longer be acceptable, from one human to another.
BREAKING DOWN THE BREAKUP
I never once mentioned being exclusive to him - I never even asked him if he was seeing anyone else. In truth, one of my fellow cast-mates asked me how everything was going, and I responded that I wasn't sure. I told her that, luckily, neither of us had put any pressure and I was looking forward to just continuing to get to know one another.
Still to this day, I do not believe that it ever crossed his mind to ask me what I wanted. He never stopped to think that maybe I wasn't ready for anything more serious either. There was no possible universe that allowed for the idea that I was just trying to get to know him. The only option was that I was trying to make him my boyfriend.
For the record, that is not a term that I give to just anyone. It is a special term I would love to refer to someone I could see an actual future with. It is a term that I never used for him.
I should never have had to text him to ask if something was wrong. I should never have had to spend two entire weeks feeling like I did something wrong, all because he couldn’t be courageous or respectful enough to be honest with me.
He was doing absolutely nothing wrong by seeing another person. As I said, we had not had a conversation about being exclusive - and honestly, if we had, I would not have been ready for that. If he had been clear about the fact that he met someone else, as much as my feelings would been hurt, I would have respected him so much more, in the long run. Unfortunately, now when I run into him (because, ironically, I still do), I see an immature, self-absorbed, disrespectful person who, frankly, should have known better.
When the person you're seeing doesn't respect you or your time to think THAT you deserve any closure, make your own.
The truth is, having an adult conversation where you communicate what you are looking for or how you feel is not a lot to ask. Is it awkward? Of course, but if you don't feel like you can handle the awkwardness, you shouldn't be dating.
It IS never weird to not feel the same way about someone. It is always weird not to talk about it.
Think about it. As humans, it is normal for one person in the relationship to not feel the same as the other. The social part, the uncomfortable, awkward part where people's feelings get hurt, or the sad part where you let something go that you know won't work, even when you care about the other person, is the part that feels abnormal.
but, That abnormal, awkward, uncomfortable moment is where each person gets what they need to move on. Denying someone of that is really selfish and speaks volumes about how you treat people as a whole.
The way a person reacts to a situation is where their individuality shows. So, I challenge you to protect your peace.
Stop responding. Place their text thread on Do Not Disturb, so that whenever your text-tone sounds, you don't wonder if it's them. Unfollow them on social media - this may seem petty to some, but I'm a believer in unfollowing the things that don't serve you.
Then, once the hurt and the anger has subsided, laugh.
Delight in how lucky you are because the universe dodged this bullet for you that you never saw coming. Laugh because they think they are avoiding dealing with this scenario by ghosting you. Laugh because their immature behavior will only continue until they are completely alone or they are dating someone who will put up with it because that person does not yet know their own worth (and I hope they, ultimately, will read this someday, too).
Smile because while you've literally shut him off, his curiosity will ultimately get the best of him as he wonders "how’s everything?" a few months from now (and he did. Then he apologized a full year later and when I responded that I had moved on, he proceeded to give an explanation that the apology wasn’t for me, but so that he could feel better about himself.)
The last laugh is yours.
I just finished the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and if you haven't read it, I recommend that you stop whatever it is you're doing and get your hands on it. I could do an entire blog series on that book and the lessons, notes, and teachings I took from it, but I'll try to keep this brief.
make a promise to yourself that you will never put up with this behavior again. then, keep it.
The only thing you will receive from keeping this promise to yourself is a better partner; one who will value and respect who you are and your time. That is the only thing that keeping this promise to yourself will mean for you.
I believe on a larger scale, where relationships are concerned, the rules of relationships are that there are no rules. My parents were twenty nine years apart in age. They met in an unconventional way, and were met with enough adversity in their relationship to last a lifetime. They taught me that there are no rules to who you fall in to love with - except one.
I am about to give you the secret. The detail that everyone who you’ve spoken to about your dating issues has left out. The thing you’ve felt like you’re missing. This one rule has been valid and true for every single man I have dated since I was twenty-one years old. It is the key to knowing the truth about the guy who is keeping you on a shelf.
if a guy wants to date you, he will date you.
GIRL. If there is any inkling that you are not high on this person's agenda, walk away.
That sounds dramatic, but it doesn't have to be. It does have to be that black and white. Put your big girl pants on, take a deep breath and press send. Ask for clarification. Or, if you are not that invested, be honest with yourself and move on.
Those fifteen minutes of awkwardness are so worth the weeks of anxiety and second guessing that you will save in the long run. They are worth the years you will spend investing in someone who only thinks of you as a possibility. They are worth the exhaustive conversations that lead to nowhere because he doesn’t know what he wants.
He does. It’s just not you - and he might not even know that yet.
The truth is that people will treat you with as little respect as you allow, and if you don't value your own time, no one else will either. You set the tone for how you're treated. The less bad behavior you tolerate, the less bad behavior you will encounter.