As I recently noted, I had a close brush a very unhealthy relationship. More accurately, I actively sought what would have been a bad relationship with a man I call CollegeCrush. Even knowing he had become a people-user, even having no respect for his values, even no longer finding him particularly handsome, I felt addicted to him. Only he could extinguish the torch I carried for him.
Fortunately, he did.
I greatly disliked the “I’m done; farewell” letter I sent CollegeCrush in anger. I had started the whole ordeal with a “thank you for the good times” missive. I did not want hostility to be our final ending. Unwisely, I sent CollegeCrush a new letter, mixing my ire at him with a more gracious goodbye. He replied with his longest letter yet, both reinforcing my irritation and renewing my hope. I again entertained the idea of trying one more time with him, and so responded.
I spoke individually to first KOH_HCl and then to SwingBot about the possibility. Aware that my idea was awful, I told them to not censor their opinions. KOH_HCl rolled his eyes and mocked me appropriately. SwingBot, though… his initial look and sigh of despair… His questioning of my motives was gentler than I anticipated or deserved. He asked me the all-important question: “Do you think any good can come of it?” No, I could not.
My resolve renewed; I would not pursue a relationship with CollegeCrush. He had not replied to my last letter after three days and I doubted I would hear from him again soon. All I had to do was not chase him. I could make that second “goodbye” letter my final closure, dismissing the exchange that had followed it.
However, what if he finally wrote again? Would my resolve stay?
Over these last three months, I have been asking myself, “Why him?” CollegeCrush used to be gorgeous to me, but his looks no longer captivate me. He once proved an amusing challenge, seeming smitten while still resisting. Yet, when my chance of winning him vanished, my desire did not. Moreover, why did I meet him — intending to say my final goodbye — and part with hopes for a new beginning?
CollegeCrush was, for me, NRE in human form. Over the first two years of our previous association, every in-person interaction made me feel like I was the center of his world. When we first met, I mainly noticed him because he openly stared at me the whole time. Each time we spent together, he focused entirely on me. His indifference in later meetings said that his affection had left me more clearly than any words ever could.
When I spent the day hiking with him last month, his affection had returned to me. Like in a scene from a romance novel, I admired the beauty of the woods around us, looked to him, and found his admiring gaze on me. Only my standoffishness prevented us from being wrapped in each other’s arms the whole day; each touch between us brought him observable joy.
In person, CollegeCrush made me feel special in a way no one else does.
Yet, he wrote manipulative and insulting letters.
I wonder if my presence intoxicates him, like his does me. On our walk, he confessed he found my passion for life attractive. That passion is most easily enjoyed in the moment. Maybe when he is not swept in the moment, he can clear his head better than I can. After all, he spends our meetings making me feel special and giving me a safe place to be, while I spend our meetings downplaying that special feeling and trampling the idea of “us.”
Five days after we had renewed the idea of pursuing a romance — two days after I changed my mind again — CollegeCrush sent me a short and kind letter, stating that he felt a romance would not work between us. I find it funny that his most courteous and clear letter was a rejection. It was also the letter that brought me the most joy in this whole affair.
I should have written him when I had changed my mind… but I did that once already, and had gone back on my words. True, my first “it’s over” had been from anger, and this one was from careful thought, but… what if something he said changed my mind again? He had not pleaded a case before; he did not need to. Even with every logical (and emotional) reason to forget about him, my mind clung to CollegeCrush.
But **my** whims cannot change **his** mind. He wrote that we cannot be… and reading that released me.
I immediately sent a short and friendly reply, accepting this ending and thanking him for his candor. I did not explain my agreement or confess my own preference for the lack of relationship. I did not want to extend even the discussion of the might-have-been romance, nor did I want to look like I was competing in “I lost interest first.” The possibility was dead, and should be buried as quickly as possible.
I feel relieved. I could not consistently close the door, no matter how little I respected him, no matter how much I resented him, no matter that I no longer found him all that physically attractive. I had an addiction, and this was my intervention.
I feel my mind becoming my own again, but left with a refreshed enthusiasm. I regret my foolish angst these past three months, but I do not regret the final result. I got my closure. I got to flirt and make out with my old crush one last time. I got a flash of NRE from that brief possibility of a new relationship.
And the chapter of CollegeCrush has fully closed for me, for certain and for good.
Part of me wishes CollegeCrush had just sent a rejection two and a half months ago, in response to my original confession. However, I know the additional turmoil — with the highs and the lows — is why I feel so free now… so joyous and giddy. I have intoxicating NRE, because I have a new relationship with myself. I no longer bear the questions that always clouded me before. There is no “maybe” or “what if” now. I know what was, and I know what will not be.