This summer I was blocked by a former romantic partner. Now, I wish I could emerge from my veil of (sexy) anonymity to gaze upon your face as you read that sentence, beloved audience member, because your reaction to my excommunication reveals loads about your romantic life. For some, this blockage serves as the ultimate blemish on my character and establishes me as a problematic partner whose involvement with someone can only end in dramatic falling-outs. For those unflinching others who had trouble even identifying what noteworthy statement I claimed to have made — I admire your confidence in your own righteousness, but perhaps this piece can prompt you to reflect on how you might better communicate with your romantic partners.
I, for one, was horrified to find myself in this situation because, as a general rule, I do my best to avoid hurting other people. I harbored no harmful intentions or ill feelings towards this person, so I had a hard time understanding how things got so out-of-hand when I told him I just wanted to be friends. I should note that by “ou-tof-hand” I mean that before blocking me he also sent a few voice memos outlining how he was simultaneously “devastated by my sudden change” and also unbothered because my “unsatiable sexual appeitite” was not something he wanted to be “dealing with” anyways.
As a reflective person I have spent a non-trivial amount of time thinking about this falling out — not because I particularly cared for this person but rather because I place such great importance on honesty that his calling me a liar (in multiple voice memos) sets off warning bells in my head over my own morality. While most of his other speculations about my character were wildly off, this accusation of dishonesty piqued my anxiety because I did go from a place of physical romanticism with him to definitively telling him I would no longer even kiss him. Given that the last time we had seen each other was when we spent hours laying in a secluded area of a park (so as not to give too much of a show to other park goers), I can understand where his confusion came from. In his mind, nothing had changed, but I had no more interest in spending another day in that park with him. So, did I lie? How does it make sense to go from initiating a sexual encounter one day to just being … over it the next?
And therein lies what I find scariest about romance and sex and love: the lack of sense. My own failure to understand my emotions and how they might change in the course of my romantic encounters makes me feel like I do not know myself — one of the worst feelings a self described “reflective” person can have. It also leaves great potential for me to hurt others, including people I really care about (engaging in romantic relationships with friends is an even deeper layer to this concern). However, the only way I ever will understand myself is through gaining experience with new people in different kinds of relationships. This seems like somewhat of a catch-22:the only way to know myself is through relationships, but I cannot fully embrace a healthy relationship until I know myself.
So, the unfortunate truth I have arrived at is that sometimes we will have to be the villain. As much as I can try to only say true things and act from a place of honest emotion, my feelings will change, and to someone else that will always look like a lie. While it has not happened yet, there may very well come a day where I decide to bar a person that I used to be fully nude with from even seeing my fully-clothed yearly life update instagram post. And, if that day comes, I can only hope that my former lover has learned something more about themselves through hurting me.
I hope I have offered you a nice guide through the initial guilt of wrongdoing all the way to acceptance for those less than ideal endings to what may have otherwise been a very nice relationship. Now I invite you, as I myself practice, to cast your reservations aside and embrace this cycle of villainy and growth and confusion and heartbreak that we all must resign ourselves to in our quest for knowledge and love.
Mike Litoris is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Meditations of a Masterbater runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.