Written by Jamie

It’s really shitty to be broken up with, and I don’t think anyone would deny that. But I found out recently that it also really sucks breaking up with someone. I’m not trying to compare the two, or say “feel sorry for me.” But I feel like I rarely hear about complex emotions both parties involved face, especially when you’re really good friends with that person.

I try to avoid serious relationships when possible. I can be picky, I hate conflict, and I don’t really like sharing how I feel, admittedly not the best qualities to have in a relationship, and something I’ll probably have to deal with eventually.

However, because of these qualities, I found myself in a serious relationship with a friend that I didn’t really want to be in. I enjoyed hanging out with this person and it was always fun hooking up, but for whatever reasons I wasn’t really emotionally invested in the relationship.

Even so, after a few months of hanging out and having fun, I was put on the spot about whether or not I wanted to be exclusive –after they made it clear they did– and because I hate conflict and sharing, I responded “yeah, sure, me too”—whatever the fuck that means.

To speed the story up, we then dated for awhile and it was definitely getting more serious, but I just kept putting off the inevitable. Eventually, though, I started to develop feelings for someone else. The kind of feelings I kept wishing would develop for the person I was dating, but never did. I wasn’t really sure if anything would happen between me and this new person, but remembering what it was like to really be attracted to someone cemented in my mind that I needed to break it off with my significant other.

Then came the weeks of stress and putting it off. At this point I was no longer emotionally invested in the relationship, but it was a friendship I valued and they were and are friends with several of my friends, so it caused me debilitating anxiety. I knew I would chicken out if given the option, so I texted “Hey, can I come over at some point, we need to talk?”

Those ominous words. I know that’s so banal, but I hoped the generic coding of the message would be a clue about what was coming—as if my distance the past month wasn’t. Unfortunately, the code was not obvious.

I thought it would be one of the most awkward encounters I’ve had, and I was completely correct. When I arrived at their apartment, I took off my shoes but left my socks and jacket on so I could make a speedy getaway if need be. It’s hard to steel yourself for the potential onslaught that the person sitting across from you may release, but I honestly think I would have preferred that.

Instead, they said something like “Oh, I knew we needed to talk but I didn’t see that coming.” I tried to offer some excuse. I don’t really remember what it was. I tried to be honest(ish) without being harsh. Said something about being better friends than romantically involved. I tried to avoid outright saying I wasn’t attracted to them, and then I awkwardly offered to leave because at that point there’s not much else to do.

As I write this, I still feel like a truly horrible person for letting the relationship go on as long as it did, and I’ve definitely learned a few things, but I think breaking up with them is one of the hardest things I’ve done because they were a friend.

It’s possible I handled things after even worse. I said I wanted to remain friends, but I pretty much cut them off. I knew from friends that they still had strong feelings for me, so I used that as a ruse for not texting back, but looking back I think I didn’t want to maintain contact because I felt bad and it made me uncomfortable.

Nothing much ever happened with the new person for whom I had feelings, but I’m still grateful it reminded me what it feels like to be attracted to someone because it’s possible I’d still be in my old relationship otherwise, which would have been unhealthy for both of us.

I realize I’m definitely still the asshole in this whole situation, but I was still surprised by how hard it is to say goodbye to someone you care about and whom you don’t want to hurt.

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