To My Almost Exes: How It Feels To Break Up With Someone You Never Actually Dated
Welcome to the Ex Games: a content series about love lost. Whether it's the realization things need to end, the act of rejection, the reality of being single, or the resurrection that is moving on, the Ex Games has every stage of a breakup covered.
And to really bring these stories to life, we've launched the Ex Games podcast, where we delve into the two sides of a break-up story with a new couple each week, and aim to end up somewhere near the truth. Because when it comes to affairs of the heart, everyone plays, but does anyone win? Let's find out.
Disclaimer: To all the exes that I never actually dated, stop reading here, if you value your health, as well as mine. If you choose to ignore my warning – just remember, we weren't “actually dating.”
Of all my exes I never actually dated, we met in various ways, dating apps, at a bar, via friends, and even from a double or triple “like” on social media. At times there was a spark, or just an awkward hello. You'd often mention you "weren't ready,” or “not looking for anything serious.”
You'd text other guys while we hung out, and received dating app notifications while showing me something on your phone. This was all OK, however, because we weren't “actually dating.”
It didn't take long until things heated up, the first, second, or third time we met up. Sometimes it started -- or continued -- with that infamous late-night text. You'd most often leave afterward, but I enjoyed it when you stayed overnight.
It wasn't complicated; in some cases, things were just good enough. At other times, there may have been hope, or unspoken possibility. And so it went, constant flirting and texting, and even the occasional phone call. We didn't ask what else was going on -- even when both of us wanted to know. It's OK, however, we weren't "actually dating."
We saw each other a couple times a week, or even more. You became the first, and often the last person I'd speak to every day, even when you weren't in my bed.
Between flirting, we'd discuss our daily struggles and random thoughts, but I never fully understood what you did for a living or learned much about your past, and you never asked me about either. It's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating.”
Time passes, we meet each other's friends, mention our families, and now I know about your work, and daily struggles.
We're more than comfortable with each other; we debate about theories and talk big life ideas,;we divulge hopes, dreams, and fears, sharing our pasts in memories and stories. I still didn't know your middle name, and I'm pretty sure you don't know that I don't have one. It's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating.”
At this point, we feel like best friends, as much as lovers. We start to plan as if we have a future together and we're each other's plus one at events. Our friends approve of us, and even hang out together when we aren't around. We still don't ask each other about other people in our life, to be honest I was still on dating apps, and I recently saw you were, too. We avoid the questions we don't want the answers to, it's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating.”
It's hard to stay detached when we spend so much time together, and with that attachment came jealousy. We started asking about the times we weren't together, who we were with, what we were doing. I avoided answering most of the time, but then so did you, and every time one of us avoided the questions, the other pulled back. Is this what we wanted? I thought we didn't want anything serious. I missed how easy we were. It's OK, however, we weren't "actually dating.”
Everything is stressful now. We both care too much. I thought we weren't supposed to. How did this happen? You weren't ready. I wasn't ready. I want to stop hurting. It wasn't supposed to be like this. You felt me pull away, so then you pulled away, and I pulled away even more. This was the last thing I wanted, but it's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating.”
At first only a day passes – the first full day we haven't spoken to each other, but then one of us reaches out. I come over, or you do. We ignore the situation for just one night. But, things are different now, and now two days pass, and then a week. We drift apart almost as if we never met. It's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating.”
I haven't stopped looking at your profiles on social media, although I won't like or post – but it kept us connected. Then there was a “like” and then a comment. Soon there was a text message, which turned into grabbing a drink to catch up, and it happened again, but this time you didn't stay over. What were we doing? There is not an alternative happy ending here. We both knew, it had to really end. The calls, texting, and “likes” stopped. It's been months now. It's like we never knew each other, even though we were closer than most people in my life. It's OK, however, we weren't “actually dating...
To all my “exes I never dated,” it'd be a lie if I said we didn't matter, but for some reason, that's what I told all of you.
It was too real, and there was too much pain between us from not wanting anything serious. I still don't know what to say, other than I'm sorry, and sad that we lost everything we created together, but it's OK, however, we weren't actually dating.