“Please, please don’t leave me. I can’t live without you. I really can’t.”
The man was on his knees, tears streaming down his face, and yet this time I didn’t feel anything except embarrassment that my roommate could walk in any moment.
Instead of remorse, I had more of an existential pondering of, “How the hell did we wind up here?”
An Inkling of…Attraction?
We’d been friends for years before we briefly dated. Trever was the type of person who was always fun to be around — he had a smile that seemed to brighten even the darkest or most awkward of rooms.
I had a lot of fun with him all through high school. He was funny, sensitive, loyal, and creative. We ended up going to the same college and made it a point to hang out between classes all the time.
But friendship and desire are sometimes hard to distinguish between. It was when I saw a girl flirting with him on campus that I felt a shocking flare of jealousy.
In response, I told him, quite bluntly, “We should date.”
Trever was everything a girl could want in a boyfriend. Sweet, attentive, and goofy. He always wanted to hold my hand, cuddle, and kiss.
I was two-kisses into our relationship when I realized I made a horrible mistake: I felt like I was kissing my brother.
It was, honestly, kind of gross, no shade to Trever. Trever was cute as hell. Dimples. Curly dark hair. But our chemistry was nonexistent, and chemistry is essential on some level for a relationship to have a good start.
Jealousy is Not Romance-Exclusive
We often think of jealousy as something that only rears its ugly head for romance, but it’s not.
Have you ever been jealous of a friend or even a family member? It happens.
It’s not uncommon, and clearly, I had fallen prey to that green-eyed monster. My solution had been to snatch Trever up before he could ditch me for other girls. It had been the wrong solution. A selfish solution.
But it’s not hard for me to admit when I make mistakes.
So, it was only a week into dating when I told him, “Hey, I honestly love you as a friend, and I think we worked better as friends.”
Cue the first freakout.
Breakup Attempt #1 of Many
Instead of accepting my analysis of our situation, Trever insisted that I was wrong. That he could be better, do better, etc. That we would work. That we have so much fun together (truth).
But in the wise words of SpongeBob, the F in “fun” is for “friends who do stuff together.”
SpongeBob never said anything about lovers! Granted, Spongebob is a cartoon and lovers should totally have fun together. But my point: friends can have just as much fun (if not more) than a couple can have.
What I should have done was put an end to it right there. I should have stuck with my gut. Have you ever felt that way and then did the opposite of your gut? Doesn’t end well, does it?
Trever was looking at me with his big brown puppy dog eyes and I simply said, “Okay.”
Obviously, it didn’t work out. The title was enough of a spoiler alert there. But it dragged on for weeks.
When relationships are coming to an end, we often like to drag them out, letting them die and suffocate slowly instead of just cutting them off. But dragging it out never works well. Usually, the fallout is the same, if not worse.
The Real Breakup
We “almost broke up” twice more, and Trever made me feel guilty each time I tried.
The fourth time was what broke him.
We’d just finished watching Netflix, and he’d been cuddling up to me on my bed in my dorm. My heart pounded when he wanted to make out with a hand on my thigh. I didn’t want to kiss him. And I definitely didn’t want his hand there.
“Trever, I think we should just be friends, really,” I said, mid-kiss.
He kept kissing me until the words hit him and he pulled back, eyes wide. “What?”
“We should just be friends. I really like you, but you deserve to date someone who likes you like that.”
And I deserved to date someone that I liked like that, but I didn’t add that in here. I was trying to be delicate here.
Trever stood up, pacing, and we went back and forth. Him: trying to convince me not to break up with him. Me: trying to convince him why it was a better idea than the odd tango we were doing right now.
Basically, it was the same scene that had happened the first three times we almost split. But this time? I stuck to my guns. After thirty minutes of that, enough was enough.
“Look, my roommate is going to be back soon. I think you should go, and we can hang out tomorrow with Max and Britt. Grab some lunch, maybe?” I insisted, heading to the door to show him out.
Trever stepped in front of me, blocking the door, then fell to his knees, claiming he couldn’t live without me. Scarier: that he didn’t want to live without me. That if he couldn’t have me, he wanted to die. He sobbed and begged and pleaded.
But again, enough was enough.
Mental Health and Relationships
What was I going to do? Stay with him because he thought he’d be happier if I did? No.
I’d like to say, “We’ve all been here, right?” In a way, we have. Breakups aren’t always mutual. People cry and beg all the time.
But what do we do in those situations? I think it’s best not to be manipulated, no matter how hard it is and how much it hurts to see someone you care about that upset.
I didn’t keep dating him. What I did do was call a mutual friend to come and help him. Someone who wasn’t me who could calm him down and talk him off the ledge. I also called his parents so they could talk to him, and gave him the number to a suicide hotline.
Mental health is a serious issue. Suicide is a serious issue. It’s not something to take lightly. If someone is suicidal, they are likely suffering from serious depression.
In Trever’s case, I never saw any signs, though that didn’t mean that they weren’t there or that he wasn’t good at hiding him. If someone you know is suicidal, please get them help. Direct them to a medical professional. Get them talking to someone.
But don’t let them use their mental state as leverage against you.
You Can’t Fix Anyone Except Yourself
You can’t fix or save anyone except yourself. You can try to help others, and you should. We should work together to help each other. But at the end of the day, you don’t owe anyone anything.
And if you’re not happy, then you need to do what is best for you.
Women are more prone to feel the need to people-please, but there are two things you should know:
- You can’t fix anyone, and
- You can’t please everyone.
Trever wasn’t abusive. He was a genuinely nice person. But clinging to ideas and hopes and wishes instead of facing reality isn’t healthy for anyone.
He deserved someone who was romantically interested in him. I deserved to be able to walk away, guilt-free.