Three months ago, just before students departed for Thanksgiving, my long-time crush came over to my apartment and spent the night. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend and we had been long overdue for some time together. Our mission was to get trashed — which we successfully completed. We had always felt comfortable touching each other but add a little liquor to the mix and that feeling increases tenfold. We were literally on top of each other for the whole night.
After hugging for a few minutes we both whispered “I love you.” Not wanting to let him go I got behind him, wrapped my arms around his tummy, and put my head under his arm. We silently walked from my bedroom to the bathroom and stared at ourselves in the mirror.
I straddled him on the couch as we had the most casual conversation that would randomly take sexual tangents … at one point, though, we quieted down and stared into each other’s eyes, and had the type of moment that’s in the movies right before the actors rip each others’ clothes off. We climbed to the summit of Mt. Sexual Tension.
When the night winded down he came to bed with me and we cuddled face-to-face. Our legs tightly intertwined, my hand caressing his back, and his hand moving slowly up and down my body. Later in the night we switched positions. This time, he got behind me and pressed into me, his arm grabbing my stomach. He started to shift as I felt a little heartbeat in between his legs.
In the morning, we took our time getting accustomed to the daylight and eventually, he left me. I texted him the next day telling him I loved him. Telling him I’m glad he came over. But my mind couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about us and how easy it was to be with him. But my thoughts were interrupted by a text notification I got from him just three days later.
“i love you too. btw i got back with my gf.”
How to describe my feelings in that moment? I don’t know if “broken” cuts it.
It’s more like when you’ve been beaten down, and you assume that that beating was the worst of them and that it can only get better from there. And it does! You get treated, and you’re recovering well, but then the person who hurt you comes back and smiles in your face while tenderly pulling back your bandages and digging into your nearly healed wounds. It’s like that.
Suddenly, I was in pain all over again, but this time, he also made me feel gross.
Had he been thinking about her when he was touching me? Possibly.
Does she know I exist? And if she does … does she know the extent of our relationship? How touchy we are? How gray our interactions can be?
If I had known their breakup wasn’t final … that they were going to be back together within 72 hours of that night, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing and saying what we did. In my mind’s eye they never really broke up in the first place.
He was in my space, and now I can’t walk around my apartment without seeing visions of him … of us there in the bed, on the floor, in the kitchen. He haunts me in my own home. Yet, his actions have liberated me, and the spell has been broken. I spoke to every close friend and family member I have and each one not only validated how I felt, but helped me move towards the dark conclusion that had been waiting for me since the day I met him. The night we had together and the text I received shortly thereafter pinched me into acknowledging the pattern of disrespect. Finally, after liking him for over two years, not only do I not have a crush on him anymore … I no longer want to be friends with him.
This may seem extreme at first glance, but I assure you that it’s not. Being close friends with someone who knows you’re crushing on them — who knows they have power over you and uses it, takes its toll. Perhaps he loves me too, but if that is the case, then our definitions of love are intolerably dissimilar. When I closely examine the nature of our friendship and some of the things he has said to me I am forced to realize that, at best, he has been inadvertently causing emotional damage and, at worst, he has been intentionally misleading me.
I’m breaking up with a man that I never had. It may seem strange, but just because you never dated them, doesn’t mean your break-up pain isn’t valid. It doesn’t mean that what you had only existed in your mind. And, if you’re having doubts about someone, just remember that love isn’t gray. It’s not a guessing game. Hold everyone accountable to your standards and principles of behavior. If you need to step away from a relationship temporarily or permanently, then do so. Even though they may be the one hurting you, they can only do what you allow. Love yourself more than you love them and make the decision that will most benefit your wellbeing, even if it may be initially distressing.
Helpless Lover Girl is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to email@example.com. Dopamine Overdose runs monthly this semester. Sex on Thursday runs every Thursday this semester.