Ending A Non-Relationship: Why I Walked Away From A Friends-With-Benefits Situation
Today I walked away from a relationship -- sorry, a non-relationship. I guess you could say I'm dealing with a non-breakup.
Non-relationships are tricky in that in order to protect ourselves, we begin to make all of these judgments about what we should and shouldn't be feeling.
The first time I slept with this guy, I immediately judged myself for being excited about it. "Shut it down. You don't want a relationship right now," I thought to myself.
Unfortunately, what we want and how we feel don't always see eye-to-eye. I decided to try something new: to allow myself to have feelings without judging them.
Yet, here I sit, judging myself for this lump in my throat, wondering how it is possible that I can feel disappointed after ending something that never really began.
How is it possible to be hurt when I'm the one who chose to walk away? In "official" relationships, a breakup hurts because a connection ends; it disappears from your life. In "non-relationships," it hurts because it never really begins.
There is only a certain amount of time two people with feelings for each other can coast along without having to choose a direction.
In the past, my mistake had always been letting the other person decide and pretending to be okay with whatever that decision was. I didn't want to do that this time.
I was not conflicted about how I felt for this person, but I was conflicted about where I wanted it to go and whether or not I was okay with it staying where it was.
Although we were definitely not at a point to make that decision, I did know what I didn't want it to be: I didn't want it to be only about sex.
Until now, I had never had the courage to speak up in a relationship because I always had this irrational fear of not getting the response I wanted. That was my mistake: thinking that the other person's response could alleviate my fears.
The truth is, no one can do that except you. You have to know what you want and how to say it, and know that you are strong enough to walk away if you don't get it. The simple act of doing that made me feel better about myself than any guy ever could, because as cheesy as it sounds, it came from me.
I tried to keep it concise and simple. I said, "I'm not sure what I want this to be yet, but I do know that I want and deserve more than just sex. If you are on the same page, great. If not, I can no longer continue."
The funny thing is, once I said it, I no longer cared about the response. Would it have hurt if he had been like, "Well, I'm really just trying to f*ck ya, so have a good life"?
Perhaps it would have; although, he isn't a raging douche bag so that probably wouldn't have happened. The point is, even if I did get rejected at that point, what was more important was gaining a sense of power that I never realized I had.
I have always been the passenger; the doormat; the "chill" girl who never spoke up because she didn't want to come across as having feelings or God forbid, standards.
The fear of "the crazy card" had paralyzed me one too many times, and I finally realized that it was bullsh*t. The reality is, if he had taken what I said as "crazy," "needy" or "overly demanding," then he would have been the assh*le, not me.
Nothing anyone thinks or says about you is valid unless you choose to validate it. The fear of what someone might think isn't a reason not to speak up. Fortunately, I did get a good response from him. I gave him an out and he chose not to take it.
I wanted this to mean that we could continue our "casual, more-than-friends, but less than a serious relationship" thing we had going on, because it seemed to work for the both of us.
However, I then realized it wasn't working. I wanted to be okay with it, but I couldn't be. I realized the source of my inner conflict: knowing that I probably should, but didn't want to walk away from a relationship that wasn’t enough.
It wasn't because I was or am afraid of being alone; I actually prefer to be alone. It was the fact that I didn't want to walk away from something I enjoyed, but knew wasn't good for me in the long run.
I'm not saying it's true for everyone, but it is for me. Casual sex can only be casual if there is truly only a physical connection. If there is something more -- a friendship, or any other type of connection that occurs when the two of you are not naked -- casual sex is an illusion, not a reality.
I was more than just sex to him, and he was more than just sex to me, but that didn’t mean it could or should continue.
It is so easy to overlook the facts because of our feelings, but the truth is, if it isn't going to progress, both people are at risk of getting hurt. I was upfront and honest about what I wanted and so was he.
If I chose to stay, he would not have been the one hurting me; I would have been hurting me. It is scary to confront these situations because once we see them for what they really are, we have to accept that reality. That reality might very well mean walking away, even if we don't want to.
Am I a little bummed? Yes. But tomorrow I will wake up, shake it off and move forward. I lost nothing from this. I mean, maybe some good sex, but that’s not all I was looking for.
I am proud of myself. For the first time in my life, I was able to recognize when someone was not able to give me what I need and what I know I deserve.
I traded in some good sex for what I hope will be an even better friendship. Though, more importantly, I found the strength to walk away from something that wasn't right for me.
As much as it hurts in the moment, it also feels pretty f*cking good.
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