Making the right decision isn't always easy.
I learned this lesson in love earlier this month when I had to break someone's heart.
My love life as of late has been a tricky labyrinth to navigate. I'm still figuring out what I want. The only way you can really figure out what you want in this area of your life is by taking risks. I've put my heart on the line for a few guys before and have watched helplessly as they tore it apart.
Being on the other side though (being the heartbreaker) is definitely not as painful, but it still wasn't easy for me at all.
In consideration of the guy I abandoned, I'll just mention him by the letter of his first name: "J."
I never planned to meet J., it just sort of happened one late February night. A mutual friend brought him to my apartment back in February so we could all go out for a late night on the town. To calm my nerves, I downed about a glass or two of wine before they came over. All of the sudden I had two attractive guys in my apartment with anything but innocent plans.
We spent the night dancing in a seedy club I would have never otherwise stepped foot in. Whether it was the adrenaline or the alcohol, I found myself vying for J.'s attention. It didn't take much.
The night ended in an exchange of phone numbers and the promise to meet again soon before we parted ways. I was excited because for once in my life, the attraction was mutual.
Our first date was equally nerve-racking, another glass of wine was needed before he arrived at my doorstep. Not even a week had passed since we had enjoyed each other's company under the flashing lights of the club and yet here we were having dinner and dessert on one of Portland's most romantic streets.
The first date prodded along slowly with pleasant conversation and lingering glances. By the end of it, I was feeling good about J. and where things could go.
A second and third date quickly followed, both as pleasant and effortless as before. I hardly had to lift a finger and J. figured out what we should do and where we should go. I loved that. Of course, I didn't really know much about Portland then (nor do I now), so suggesting plans was bound to be problematic for me.
He took me hiking, he took me to ice cream, he took me to a romantic viewpoint looking over Portland and all the while the relationship remained stagnant. A seemingly endless exchange of pleasantries or gripes about work. We didn't touch, we didn't kiss, we didn't even acknowledge what it was that we had.
Determined to make some headway, I looked for instances where I could kiss him. I grew frustrated as the universe seemed to have other plans, ruining every opportunity that presented itself.
Date five and I had reached my boiling point. By the end of another platonic date, J. lingered with me outside of my apartment for what seemed like a century. Just as he was about to turn away I said "Are you really going to leave without kissing me?"
It was awkward. It was absolutely terrible actually. I had so much anticipation built up around the kiss, hoping it would solidify that I was feeling something for him. But it didn't. I didn't feel fireworks, I didn't feel anything at all.
Now I was in a predicament. The dates that followed gave me more anxiety than clarity. He started holding my hand and kissing me again. I gave into it, telling myself excuses like "One kiss isn't enough to know if you like him." Unfortunately, everything about the relationship started to deteriorate in my mind even though I never revealed that to him.
The month of March was filled with travel plans for almost every weekend and I didn't make any effort to see J. because I didn't even want to. I didn't want to put myself in the painful situation of having to pretend. I was thinking of other guys, I was thinking of freedom and I felt terrible about it.
On April 1st, I bit the bullet and finally decided to break up with him. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Here was this guy who was nice, smart, interesting and so similar to me. He had a great personality and outlook on life. Those reasons alone were enough for me to prolong what we had for as long as I did.
The only thing that was missing was the chemistry. It was too easy. The excitement dissipated for me the moment our lips first locked. A part of me wonders if I was ever attracted to him at all.
I prepared for an emotional breakup, but even then J. was a gentleman. I told him I wasn't feeling a romantic connection and he accepted that. Within three minutes of an honest conversation, our forty-day romance was over. We both said we would remain friends, but I know I'll probably never see him again.
Everything happens for a reason. I didn't handle that relationship as well as I could have, but I learned more about myself in the process. We had good times and I don't regret meeting him, but I'm happy I didn't let it go any farther than it did. Even though it was a short encounter, I feel personally responsible that the relationship failed. I wanted things to work so badly and I liked the idea of having a boyfriend so much, but I couldn't force myself to make that happen with J.
In sharing this story, I hope you realize that my life is messier and more complicated than it may seem. At 22 years old, I'm still figuring things out, making mistakes and trying to, you know... avoid becoming a horrible person. I want to inspire you to find the strength to examine your own mistakes and reflect on them so that you can find the happiness that you, and everyone else in this life, deserves.
I may have broken an innocent boy's heart, but at least now I'm one step closer to discovering what (or who) I truly want.