It went as perfectly perfect as a breakup could go, I suppose.
Only a few days after my last Dater X post, when I told you all about my hopes of moving things forward with Andrew, he came over to my place to hang out and, without warning, dropped a bomb on me. As usual, we made small talk for a while, chatting about our weekend plans and jobs, and worked our way into my bedroom. Mid-makeout session, I reached down to unzip his jeans, when his hand grabbed mine and pushed it to the side— a suspicious move for not having seen each other in a week. He sat upright, looked me in the eye and said, “Before we do this, there are some things on my mind that I think we should talk about.”
In that moment, I was sure he was going to tell me he wanted us to be exclusive, and ask me if I felt the same way.
“These past two months have been amazing. You’re everything I could want in a partner and you make me incredibly happy, but I don’t want a girlfriend. I’m not ready for a relationship, and it wouldn’t be fair to let this continue without you knowing how I feel.”
Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I stared at him, completely perplexed and baffled, and the only thing that came out of my mouth was “What?”
“I thought I wanted a girlfriend, and I thought I wanted that girlfriend to be you,” he said, his eyes getting wet. “I haven’t opened up like this or felt this close to anyone since my ex, but I’ve been contemplating what to do for a while now. As much as I like you, I know that I’m not ready for the commitment that comes with a relationship, and the only way for me to figure that out was to see how things went with someone I connected with. I can see a future with you and care about you so much… which is how I know in my heart that if I still feel like I can’t be in a relationship with you, I can’t be in one with anyone. I’m just not there yet.”
Still trying to process what I’d heard, my mouth suddenly started moving faster than my brain could even think.
“So you’re not over your ex? Did I do something to turn you away? I can tone things down if you want us to see other people.” I didn’t actually want to do that, but I thought maybe if we agreed to date other people, he would realize what he was missing out on and come back to me on his knees.
“I’m completely over my last relationship, but I’m also 100 percent sure that I’m not in the right mindset to go into another one yet. You’ve been nothing but great, and I’m kicking myself for even feeling this way because you’re everything I’ve wanted. I just can’t force myself into something I’m not prepared for when someone else’s heart is also at stake. I don’t want to make any decisions I’ll regret and hurt you. I haven’t been seeing anyone else, but you shouldn’t have to ‘tone things down’ for me. We’ve both been 100 percent ourselves since the beginning, and neither of us should have to compromise when it comes to our feelings for each other.” He was right.
A few tears started to trickle down my face, and I knew it was over. I couldn’t convince him to do something he didn’t want to do, and he was so honest, raw and mature about everything that I couldn’t even be mad at him for being a dick, like most of the guys I’ve dealt with who’ve ended things in less-than kind ways (I’m looking at you, GQ).
We talked some more about how he introduced me to his family and friends, and how doing so made me felt slightly misled about his intentions, but it all boiled down to the fact that he didn’t even really know what it was he wanted. I could tell he was hurting, too.
“I feel like an asshole even asking this,” he said, hugging me while my tears turned the shoulder of his white t-shirt transparent, “but where does this leave us?”
I explained that seeing him in any capacity would only leave me wanting more, and that hooking up would make things even worse. I suggested that we cut off communication— at least for now—and that if he ever feels like he’s ready for a relationship, he knows where to find me.
I asked him to leave before the floodgates opened up, we kissed goodbye, and I heard him linger on the other side of the closed door for minute before finally leaving. Minutes later, when he was finally gone, he texted me this:
“I knew that completely cutting off contact was a possibility when I decided to talk to you tonight, but I want you to know that I wouldn’t take back a second we spent together. I hope you don’t feel like these last few months were a waste, because they weren’t for me. Words can’t express how you’ve restored my faith in women, and people in general, and I’m so grateful to have met you and to have been a part of your life. I’m going to miss your infectious smile, your laugh and so many things about you, but you deserve someone who’s ready to go all in. I’m sorry I can’t be that person for you, but I can hope our paths cross again, and know that I’m always here for you if you need anything. You brought me a great deal of happiness. Goodbye, pretty lady.”
It’s been a few days since our split, and as sad as I still am about how things turned out, I’m surprisingly doing okay. There are moments where I’ll turn on a sappy love song and cry, but for every one of those sad moments, I also have moments of hope. The fact that Andrew was upfront, honest, mature and genuine about his feelings has allowed me to see that relationships don’t always have to end terribly with betrayal or harsh words. Not all men are assholes. From start to finish, Andrew treated me well and with respect, and that’s something I am grateful for. That said, I know I deserve someone who wants to commit to me. After two months of dating, I want to be with the guy who says, “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a relationship, but I can’t be without you,” instead of the guy who can walk away. I’m proud of myself for knowing that as much as I want to, continuing to see Andrew would only hurt me, and for actually having the cojones to say so. A year ago, I may not have had the willpower or the self-understanding to do the same.
I’m sure some of you will think Andrew was simply letting me down gently so he can go find someone else, or maybe you think he’s been seeing other people all along. And you can think what you want, but you weren’t there to feel the feelings. This relationship was a stepping stone. This breakup was mature. For two months, Andrew made me smile, and I consider that a success.
[Photo of a delicious-looking piece of broken heart toast via Shutterstock]