It’s been three days since you’ve heard from him. Three days, six hours, and twenty-three minutes to be exact…but who’s counting? You've convinced yourself you did something wrong. Must be that, or he died. And at this point he might be better off dead. Because you see he's active on social media. He's liked everyone's pictures but yours. His read receipts are on...did he forget? You know that he knows that you're trying to talk to him. Three days of silence after three months of "I miss you's" and "I love you's" and "when can I see you next". You’ve spent enough time with him to know his phone is always present. Constantly buzzing, beeping, flashing. He responds to messages faster than anyone else you know. You tell yourself to not overreact. You assume it’s over and that he must have lost interest. I mean, it can’t quite be a breakup, because you were never officially together anyway. He always told you labels weren’t important, but right now one would be helpful so you could have some idea of how to react appropriately. Are you single now? Well, even more single now? In this world of dating, there is no time for healing and no such thing as closure.
Just move on, and keep quiet about your feelings.
But you can't stop thinking about these past three days. Three days of insecurities eating through you. Three days of frustration. Three days of disappointment, because the ending never changes.
All that just to get a lousy text message
on the fourth day
"Don't trip. I'm a bad texter. I never even have my phone on me."
You've been on eleven dates and have been engaging in unprotected sex for over six months. You ask him "what are we?" and he sighs. Like he always does. That question builds walls between you two. He looks you in the eyes like you have some nerve. How dare you want to know the status of this relationship. If you can even call it that. Because he doesn’t.
After offering your mind, body, and soul faithfully to one person, there's no way to avoid catching feelings at this point. He has felt you inside and out and by now you're head over heels, drunk in love, so deep in it you've seemed to misplace your common sense.
But this time something’s different. You don't take that for an answer. The sigh. It’s no longer enough. His half ass commitment to loving you is no longer enough. He explains himself further, rolls his eyes, and says nonchalantly
"I'm still young, I want to have fun"
What the fuck does that even mean?
And then it finally clicks. You realize why this can’t work. Because your definitions of fun are so far from the same. Because fun for him has to do with everyone else. Everyone but you.
You look him in the eyes and quietly let the words fall out
“Baby, fun was loving you.”
I never feel as unimportant as I do when we turn lovers to strangers in public. You walk by me with a cold, straight face, and you nod. Not even a smile. We sit on opposite ends of the same bus, both on the way to my apartment. You get off one stop early to be even more discreet. You use the spare key to get in, then grab me by the waist, and tell me you love me. Three hours later you say you have a date tonight. You kiss my cheek, walk towards the door, and tell me you’ll be back tomorrow.
We keep this up. Keep transforming from lover to stranger. Everyone around us would never- could never- know that you're madly in love with me. They can't know that you leave your toothbrush in my bathroom. Or that you wash my dishes. Or that Sunday nights are dedicated to us. No one can know that you've made reservations with me. That when you sleep with other women you accidentally call out my name. Every time. Or that you always call me before you fall asleep, even when you're upset with me. No one can ever know. Because when we step back into the world we are simply just strangers.
Because we don't want labels. And commitment is too scary. Because you think it's best we see other people, and I think it's best we take things slow. Because we’ve both been hurt in the past and we want to keep our feelings in check. Because we are unsure of how to just let ourselves be. To let ourselves feel. Because God forbid things don't fall apart, like they always do, we could be exactly what we need. We could be beautiful. If only we would let us be.
But sometimes protecting your feelings is most important. Even if that means denying a love that you deserve.
So no one can ever know. And at this rate, no one ever will.