Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ending things when you're in a casual, not-yet-definable relationship

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Screw getting to the other side. She was scared as hell to break up with her latest beau.

I'll admit it. I'm a chicken. I hate confrontation.

I can think of a million things I'd rather do than tell someone something I know they don't want to hear. But, it's unfortunately part of dating.

I've never really been in the position where I've had to tell someone I'm not interested after only a few weeks of dating. In the past, the relationships have always led to something more or they just fizzled out on their own.

That all changed this past weekend.

I had been hanging out with a guy for about a month. He was a super sweet guy who I knew would treat me well. The first three dates were fun. Not spectacular, I-was-swept-of-my-feet fabulous, but fun enough that I wanted to continue seeing him.

But by date number four, I started to get annoyed by him. They were stupid, petty reasons - incessant whistling, horrendous dancing, looping his arm through mine when we were walking. I told myself to stop being ridiculous and to give this geniuinely nice guy a chance.

So I did. I gave him about five more dates worth. But I never looked forward to hanging out with him. I always wished I was out with other people or at home on my couch with a glass of wine, watching some quality reality television. It became painfully obvious that something didn't click between us, and I needed to sever ties sooner rather than later.

I talked to my friends about it - just for reassurance that I was making the right decision. My friend Morgan put it best: "Just because he's done nothing wrong, doesn't mean he's right."

I decided to break the news to him before our dinner date this past Sunday. He called when he was outside my apartment and I asked him if he would mind coming upstairs first. Once he got upstairs, he said he probably needed to call the restaurant to change our reservation so we wouldn't be late.

FML, I thought. I can't have him cancel the reservation, so it looks like I'll have to do this post-dinner.

Dinner was...bearable. I've definitely had worse dates but it didn't help that I had to fight the urge to vomit I was so nervous. I had even written out what I was going to say beforehand so I would be prepared.

He kept making suggestions as to what we should do after dinner - grab another drink somewhere, rent a movie. I finally told him that I needed to meet up with Just Jack since his boyfriend had just broken up with him the day before. (This was ironically true, and I did need to be there for JJ, but it may not have been the best thing to say considering I was going to put him in the same boat as the friend I was about to leave him for.)

He was understanding about everything, though, and when the bill came, I offerred to pay my share - there was no way I was going to let him pay for me and then end things five minutes later.

On the way home, he asked what my plans were mid-week. I'm sure I was slightly deer-in-the-headlights when he asked me, but thankfully it was dark so I made some excuse about not having my planner with me and said I'd let him know.

When we got to my apartment and were saying our goodbyes, I almost chickened out. But I had called enough people that evening for moral support that I knew I needed to follow through with it, so when my friends asked, I wouldn't have to tell them I ran for the hills.

My Shakespearian-style monologue went something like this:

So, er, um - I had wanted to talked to you before dinner, but when you mentioned you ahd already made reservations, I figured we should just go ahead and go so we wouldn't, you know, um, be late. And um, I'm not sure who you feel about where things are going, but I have a good time hanging out with you, but um, I ::cough:: feel like you're more in the friend zone. I really do like hanging out with you and I know everyone says this, but I would still love to hang out as friends.

Bear in mind that throughout this entire jumbled mess, I was incessantly shaking, my voice was quivering and couldn't bring myself to look at him in the eyes for longer than .2 seconds.

His response? "Yeah, I've felt the same way for the last couple weeks, honestly."

Now, I'm not sure if he actually did feel that way or if he was trying to save face. But either way, I was just relieved to get the whole thing over and done with.

And in hindsight, I'm glad I told him to his face. I thought about freezing him out, sending him a text or calling him. But I bitch and moan enough about guys who just stop all forms of communication out of nowhere so I felt like it was good karma - and the mature route - to say everything in person.

I almost think it's harder to dump someone when you're in the beginning stages of dating. If you could really even classify it as breaking up. I mean - what are you really to a guy you've gone on maybe 10 dates with? Certainly not his girlfriend. Maybe that's what makes it so difficult. When you never make it to that next level. In essence, you're being broken up with because you're not good enough for that person - be it because of looks, personality, mannerisms, weird quirks.

Further down the road, when you're in a relationship, sure it hurts more. But that initial rejection stings like hell. I've felt it before, and I know I'll feel it again. Which made it so hard to do it to someone else.

It's also entirely possible that this guy didn't give two shits that I ended things. And maybe guys don't feel the same way girls do when this happens to them.

I just tend to put other people's feelings above my own and stay with guys way longer than I should to avoid situations like the one on Sunday night. So, as lame as this sounds, it was kind of a dating milestone for me. I've reached a lot of those, lately.

Dear God, do I still have a lot to learn.

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