“We can work through this, why won’t you work through this with me?”
“Because, I don’t want to,” he responded.
And this is how I found myself sitting on stairs, utterly convinced that no matter how much you love someone, there is no guarantee that they will love you back.
When I moved out of my hometown to a new city, I was excited about a lot of things. One of those things being a bigger and (fingers-crossed) better dating pool. Ironically enough, one of the first dates I went on was with a man I went to middle school with, who had moved to the same area a couple years prior. We were never friends, never hung-out with the same group and had obvious differences. But, he knew what it was like to be a speckle in a big new city so when he asked me to hang out, I took him up on his offer.
I invited him to my apartment. It was summer and too humid to hang out outside. I found him on my front door step, when it was fairly dark. We chatted about how crazy it was that we grew up in the same town and talked about our experiences when we moved away. We spent the entire evening talking as if we were two best friends catching up on lost time, becoming more comfortable with each hour that past.
First dates can be awkward, they’re like interviews, but more personal. In fact, most dates I’ve been on have actually felt like a job interview…but not this one. I’ve never been the kind of woman that feels like she needs a man to be happy, but we “clicked” and there was a harmony between us that felt right in my young, twenty-something year old mind.
So, we continued to hangout. In fact, we started hanging out every single day. We did everything together: workout, travel, cook, clean…you name it. He prided himself on never being this way with a woman and as naive as it was, it made me feel significant. In hindsight, I recognize the unhealthy level of codependency, but at the time I chalked it up to “love” and lived in my blissful ignorance.
We carried on like this for months. Until I returned home from spending Thanksgiving with my family, when my fantasy of “happily ever after” came to a halt.
“I’m not sure this relationship is really what I want,” he said.
Me, being the most stubborn person that I know, swallowed the lump in my throat and assured him that he was just going through a funk and it would pass. But it didn’t.
Each day I could feel him detaching himself from the relationship little by little until a week passed and his feelings (or lack thereof) were too obvious to overlook.
“I don’t want this,” he said. “I want my old life back, I want to be single.”
The dull-ache I felt was overwhelming. I didn’t understand how the same man who once wanted forever now wanted invariable separation. I cried on his stairs for hours, red-faced and blowing my nose. And knew it was really over.
We both updated our social media accounts from “in a relationship” to nothing. I took down the cutesy picture of us and replaced it with a picture that I hoped said “I’m happy without you.” I learned that no matter how many times I went to the gym or how many glasses of merlot I drank while gushing to my girlfriends…I still wanted answers, a reason why. I even convinced myself that he would come around and show back up on my doorstep.
Instead, he moved on.
I wanted his feelings to match what I convinced myself: that he had reached his highest potential with me. I failed to recognize that I was hanging on to our relationship way too long, waiting for the man I loved to rise to an emotional maturity that he wasn’t reaching for. He isn’t ready for, and that’s okay.
Despite having a bruised ego (which is sometimes a good thing in my book), I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn just how capable I actually am. You see, it was through the heartbreak, that I realized I had a choice: to stop fighting for men who don’t know how to love and get back to the project of loving myself.