My phone dinged and a rush went through my entire body. Quickly I checked and his name flashed across my screen... James.
For six years we had been off and on. Whenever a relationship ended for me he was there. But when we weren’t together romantically we were “friends.” we would text, talk on the phone, and flirt slightly… until I got too close for comfort.
This went on over course of those six years, James pushed me away and pulled me back in again and again.
Please keep in mind, I do not believe that James did anything with malicious intent. From the first time we got together, he told me that he was messed up from his past relationships. Once divorced due to a young and rushed marriage when he was very young, he wasn’t looking for anything.
Yet even though he told me those words it was difficult to believe them when his actions didn’t follow suit. James would constantly reach out to me. He would want to take me on dates, and at times we would end up romantically involved for a few weeks until he pulled away again.
James kept me at an arm’s length even when I was literally in his arms. It took years for me to realize he simply wasn’t emotionally available even though the signs pointed to it all along.
We never had set plans and he called the shots
My phone notified me that I had a text… it was from James. I was just leaving my work Christmas party and he was in town and he wanted to hang out.
Wanting to see him and the desire to wait until the next morning was a fight. I ended up asking if he had plans for the following day.
“I’m leaving first thing in the morning, it’s tonight or we won’t see each other.”
I know what you’re thinking. At first, I thought the same as well. I was just a hookup.
But the majority of the time we wouldn’t hook up. Under the guise of “friends” there were times that we would go down that path, and times he would pick me up and drop me off without even a good night kiss.
He called the shots on when we hung out, what we did, and I let him because I wanted to see him so badly.
He kept me on the hook even if was by accident
James would constantly reach out to me. He would want to take me on dates, and even when we hadn’t seen each other in months due to living in different cities, he would remember my birthday and send me a Venmo request with the message, “first round is on me.”
There was another moment when I was in a different city on vacation and James drove eight hours to see me for two hours over dinner, and immediately had to drive back for his shift at work the next morning. It was so absolutely romantic I simply didn’t understand why he would put in that kind of effort for a dinner with a friend.
Perhaps James didn’t mean anything by his actions but at the time I struggled with codependency and was fighting through my own trauma. It was extremely difficult to accept that his actions meant nothing more than friendship and I held on to a slight glimmer of hope that we would end up together.
There was a refusal to validate what we had until it was too late
For over six years James and I went through the same cycle. We would start talking on the phone every night, texting throughout the day, and constantly flirting. Then, something would seem to snap within him and he would tell me that I couldn’t expect anything from him and he would become more distant.
There was no definitive moment when I realized that it was time to move on, it was more of a gradual process. As I began therapy and working on my own set of issues, I realized that I had to let go of the relationships that no longer served me and caused me pain.
Several years went on and James and I stopped talking. In that time I began cultivating the life and future that I wanted and started attracting people who were emotionally available and willing to fully be part of my life.
Over a year ago I was waiting to fly back from a trip and my flight had been delayed. My phone buzzed and there was a message from James.
“Got a moment to chat?”
A combination of boredom and the fact that I was curious to hear what he had to say caused me to answer the phone when it rang a moment later.
We exchanged a back-and-forth polite exchange briefly and then I asked him why he had called.
“I just…. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I always wondered what it would have been like if I had just taken the chance on us and I didn’t. But I wanted to let you know that I always thought about officially dating you and I really liked you… I was just too scared.”
His words caused me to smile as they were validation of what I had always felt, but I was so far on the other side of things I just acknowledged them and told him I wished him the best.
As I reflected on our relationship, I realized that I had absolutely no hard feelings. James had been upfront with me and I continually held on to hope that his feelings would change, and he taught me a very important lesson.
James taught me that I should never wait around and make excuses for someone who only wants to give me a fraction of their heart.