I thought I had struck gold.
In the game of Tinder you lose or you really lose. Normally. Quality matches seem few and far between. It’s a strange place. There can be lots of cool people, but normally you chat for awhile, talk about meeting up and it’s kind of a miracle if it actually happens. Otherwise you deal with guys just looking for sex.
For whatever reason, I stood by this stupid app. Maybe because it was fun to talk to total strangers without real consequences. If you didn’t like someone, you either X’ed them or eventually unmatched. There were no strings.
In late September, early October I came across someone new, a match of which I was initially wary. I mean, he seemed nice and all but I couldn’t get a real beat on his personality or what really peaked his interest. Then one day, frustrated beyond belief with the kids I was nannying at the time, I lost it. All my pent up frustration and exhaustion from the point I was at in my life were poured into a series of messages like a fire hydrant turned on full blast. By some miracle something clicked. This guy wasn’t scared off and we began texting almost every day.
Eventually, after almost a month of just talking about anything and everything, we decided to meet up. Now, I’ve been on my fair share of Tinder dates, so I was ready for anything. I wasn’t nervous, but I knew this meeting could fail faster than my attempt to take an 8 a.m. yoga class during my senior year in college (I missed the first class and dropped it with a week). (side note: I find this especially funny now given how much I love practicing yoga, but I still will never make it to an 8 a.m. class. 9:30 is even a stretch.)
But our meeting was wonderful. Maybe it was because we had talked so often before finally meeting, but everything felt so easy and effortless. There weren’t awkward pauses in the conversation. He didn’t miss a beat when I made my first sarcastic comment. Truly, it felt right.
Again, I felt like luck was on my side. This guy, in my mind, was what I was looking for in someone else: he was smart, college-educated, had a real job and was self-sufficient, had a great personality, and, frankly, I found him incredibly attractive.
We began hanging out pretty regularly and continued texting almost constantly. It was weird to go a day without hearing from him about something, whether it was some random article, a joke or an emoji, it seemed like we were both hooked.
About a month into all of this, I freaked out a little bit. I’m not proud of it. This was the first time I felt serious about someone and I was absolutely terrified. I was afraid of how vulnerable I felt and scared that his interest was waning though he had given no real indication that it was. But it was clear we seemed to be on two different pages and I was more serious of the two. I wanted to know; he didn’t answer; I freaked and ended things.
Four days later, after a few tears (I know, I ended things, but I was still sad), I apologized for my behavior and asked for a second chance. It was granted. We were immediately back in the swing of things but it felt even better; more on par with what I was hoping for.
This was at the beginning of December. We were hanging out more frequently and finally had that talk about exclusivity. We were exclusive but not boyfriend-girlfriend. At least that was my understanding. Why there is a distinction, I have no idea. Like aren’t they essentially one in the same? How is there any difference between those titles and being exclusive?
But I didn’t care. We were only so far into hanging out, I finally had my head on straight, and why worry about something so small? So I simply didn’t. Things seemed to be going extremely well and I was continuing to fall for him. Little moments felt amazing. Whether it was beating him at darts only to immediately lose the next game or just sitting and talking, it all felt so normal and right.
The last time I saw him was the day after Christmas. If I had known that that day was going to be the last I saw him, I would have stayed longer. We ran errands in the morning and he decided to take a nap. I was wired on coffee so rather than just lay in bed with him, restless, I decided to head home.
Just over a week later he was going to effectively end things. We spent New Years apart, something I wasn’t totally on board with at first, but in the end decided it didn’t matter. We texted throughout the night and over the next few days. Then, one afternoon a text went unanswered. I thought nothing of it. The next day, another. But it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary, he’s a busy person.
Later in the evening I sent another text. Still no response. I should add here, I knew he was home. I knew because in a crazy turn of events, I was visiting my friend for the first time in forever that day and as I discovered, she lives directly next door to him. So while we made dinner I could see that he was, in fact, home.
I simply suggested I stop by and say hi on my way home. It had been quite some time since I had seen him. I received no answer. The following day, a voicemail went unanswered. And finally, a last ditch effort a day later also warranted zero response.
Without any sort of closure or any indication to the contrary, it was over. I knew it. If it wasn’t, he would have at least said “hey, just need some time and space,” which I even acknowledged might be the case in one of my final communications.
I cried for two days. It would just hit me and I couldn’t fight the tears. A tight pressure below my sternum, in that soft opening between my ribs, would mount like a balloon filled with lead. The only way to make it go away was to let myself feel my emotions, rather than suppress them.
It was the first time I really cared about someone, that I really gave a relationship any sort of life. And rather than ending on a decent note, it was ended in one of the most painful ways I could have imagined. Sure, when you’re the person cutting things off, silence seems easier, like a clean cut. But when you’re on the other side, there’s nothing more painful or jagged.
I was completely blindsided. Sure in that final week, things weren’t exactly awesome, but I assumed it wasn’t anything a good talk couldn’t fix. Turns out, he didn’t want to talk, not even one bit.
In that situation, if you’re ever in it, know this: there is nothing wrong with you. Everyone has their own reasons for their actions, and you can’t make someone care about you. All you can do is to truly be yourself, to open up, to be vulnerable — if that’s not enough for them, then it’s better to wait for the person for which it is.
After my two days, I was tired of caring so much; tired of putting any sort of energy into the situation. In the past year, I’ve had experiences where I felt wronged and held onto the anger and hurt for so long that it became this poison hooked up on a slow drip IV. And I’m tired of it; tired of hanging on to those negative feelings. It’s too much. I value myself too much to turn into a negative crone.
I’ll be honest (shocker), if he were to contact me, I wouldn’t ignore him. I would let him talk, whether he is making an attempt to explain himself, or simply sharing some news. I would by no means jump back into anything with him, but I just can’t go on holding on to that grudge. It’s not worth my time. Plus, I miss him. And that’s ok.
As Cheryl Strayed so beautifully put it in one of my all-time favorite books, Wild, “how wild it was, to let it be.”