Listen, I have to tell you I can’t be your friend anymore.
That’s a weird thing to say to a person, and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever said it. But it’s true, I can’t.
I know this is the opposite of what I told you. You were there. You told me you didn’t want to date anyone, and I said, “Oh, okay,” and then I went to the restroom.
When I came back, I sat there quietly for a moment, then I said, “The elephant in the room, I guess, is that I wasn’t expecting to, but I really quite like you.” You said you were sorry, and that you really hoped we could still hang out as friends. The lights on the restaurant patio were behind your head, and I couldn’t see your expression. I told you I’d have to think about it.
It was only an hour later when you dropped me off at my car, so of course I hadn’t had time to think about it. But I didn’t want that to be the last time I ever saw you, so I said, “Okay. Let’s hang out.”
Then I went home and cried. I have cried nearly every time I’ve seen you since.
I don’t know why I thought I could spend more time with a person I like and think it would help me like them less. You come across as a serious person, but over the past month I’ve seen you relax a bit as you get to know me. You’ve seemed lighter. You’ve made more jokes. When you helped me pack up my craft fair booth and we decided to see if the two of us could take everything to my car by ourselves in one trip, and a volunteer came by and asked us if we wanted to use an extra hand truck, your eyes lit up as you said, “No! We’re going to do this ourselves!” To see you on a mission, to see you happy to try to do something silly–I loved that.
Sometimes at night when I’m trying to sleep, I make a little list of the things I like about you. I like the way you dress. I like the fact that you read a lot and have things to say about what you’ve read. I like that you always seem to understand what I’m talking about. I like that you’re smarter than I am. I like your politics. I like that the first time we met, I cried a little when talking about something or other, but you didn’t look the least bit uncomfortable or put off. I like that you’re close with your family. I like that when you listen to me talk, you don’t interrupt to try to restate what I’m saying in a different way. I like that we’ve hung out a whole bunch of times but I’ve never, ever seen your phone.
You told me you don’t want to be with anyone, and I heard you, and I understand. But I also know you don’t want to be with me. You respond to my texts days after I’ve sent them. You stand at an appropriate distance from me at all times and are careful never to touch me (though I am careful too). You always say yes when I ask if you want to meet for drinks or dinner, but it’s never your idea.
Sometimes you confuse me. You pay for our drinks. You say nice things about me. After we went to the movies, you dropped me off a ways from my car, and when I told you I had something for you in my glove box and I’d be right back with it, you got out of your car and followed me to mine so I wouldn’t be alone in the parking lot at night. When we walked around at the craft fair, every time I glanced at you you were looking back at me. I said, do you want to look at anything in particular at the fair, and you said, “no, I just came to see you.” You came back at the end of the fair to help me pack and load my booth, which was a thankless chore you didn’t have to do.
But these are all things I’m reading too much into, or else imagining entirely.
This is the problem. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me, and I especially don’t want to pine for someone who doesn’t want to be with me. I don’t want to spend my time analyzing your words and actions, wondering if maybe this thing means you like me, or maybe this thing, or maybe when you said x you meant y or z. I don’t want to walk with you or sit next to you at the movies or in a car and wish I could take your hand. I’ve spent the last month doing that, and all it does is make me sad.
Actually, that’s not all it does. It makes me question myself. It erodes my self-esteem. It makes me think terrible thoughts, thoughts like maybe he’d like me if I were more sophisticated, or more positive, or if my life weren’t such a mess. Maybe he’d like me if I were thinner, or quieter, or had fewer opinions. Maybe he’d like me if I were prettier.
I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want me, but I also don’t want to water myself down or smooth and polish my rough edges in case that’s what it takes for you to want me.
I’m not smooth. I’m not easy. I’m a complicated, stubborn, loud, opinionated, excitable, intense, deeply flawed person, and I don’t want to change that for anyone. I don’t even want to want to change that for anyone. But that’s what’s happening, and that’s why I can’t be your friend anymore.
If I keep spending time with you, one of two things will happen:
- As I get to know you better I’ll keep falling for you, and eventually I won’t be able to take it, and I’ll say something stupid.
- Or worse, as I get to know you better I’ll keep falling for you, and then you’ll meet someone you want to be with, and I’ll be crushed.
None of this is your fault. You didn’t ask for it. In fact, you specifically asked for not it. No, this is my problem. I thought I could do something I couldn’t, or more accurately, I knew deep down I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t want to lose you. You are the person I like talking to the most, that I relate to the most, in this whole stupid town.
I tried. I tried so hard to be the Cool Girl, to be laid back, to go with the flow, to be what you wanted me to be. But I can’t do that. And even if I could, what would it get me? This is only going to get worse if I don’t let you go.
I hope you are happy someday. I hope you get to leave St. Louis like you want. I hope you find a better job, one you like. I hope you find someone amazing who sees how great you are.
I hope I do, too.
(title from here)