The Non-Break-Up: Walking Away From Something That Never Really Began

I recently walked away from a relationship. Sorry, a non-relationship. So I guess you could say, I’m dealing with a non-break-up. Non-relationships are tricky in that in order to protect ourselves we begin to place 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.”  

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? And how is it possible to be hurt when I’m the one that chose to walk away. In “official” relationships, it hurts because something ends. In “non-relationships”, it hurts because something never 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 was. I didn’t want to do that this time. I was not conflicted about how I felt about 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 just 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 for you. You have to know what you want, 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, once I sent 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, 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 realized that it was bullshit. The reality is, if he had taken what I said as “crazy”, “needy”, or “overly demanding”, then he would have been the asshole, not me. Nothing anyone thinks or says about you is valid unless you choose to believe 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. Until I realized, it didn’t in fact work for both of us. I wanted to be okay with it, but I wasn’t. And I realized the source of my inner conflict: knowing that I probably should, but didn’t want to walk away from something. It wasn’t because I’m 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, and by that I mean, 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 doesn’t mean it can 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 things. Because once we see it for what it really is, we have to deal with it. And that might mean walking away, even if we don’t want to.

Am I a little bummed? Yes. But when I am done writing this, I will shake it off, and move forward. I lost nothing. I mean, maybe some good sex, but hey, there are other dicks in the sea. I am proud of myself, because for the first time in my life I was able to recognize when someone was not able to give me what I need and know I deserve. I traded in some good sex for what I hope will be an even better friendship. But more importantly, I found the strength to walk away from something that wasn’t right. And as much as it sucks, it also feels pretty fucking good.

katiehaller

I am a comedian, writer, actress, & also rapper living in NYC. I'm 4'11 so naturally my rap name is T-Spoon. Dating confuses me, so I like to write about it. The way to my heart is probably through fart jokes and puppies. (Here's the part where I encourage you to follow me on twitter @halleratyou)

7 Comments
  1. I just went through the same thing, and didn’t even get the dignity of a response. I’ve been struggling with if I did the right thing. This confirms it. Thank you.

  2. “I found the strength to walk away from something that wasn’t right” …yes I am not a twenty-something BUT I had a relationship with a twenty something guy who even though he was declaring words of love to me over and over and begging me not to leave him somehow his actions never matched his words! Now this guy was a Special Ed teacher and a former HS championship football player (linebacker). On the surface everything seemed to be too good to be true. Just a guy who would say … “I don’t want no young girl… Baby I only want you…”…” You are my everything..you bring something to my life that I don’t have and I need it… “And so on and so on. Now he claimed to have a very sick mother ….said she was an alcoholic. Nope that turned out to be a lie. He had a young girlfriend who was with him all the time! (Thanks Facebook) and he denied her said she was just a friend of the family!!!!..he lied one final time about a family trip that turned out to be a trip to see her family in New Jersey…(thanks again Facebook) and he was so convincing that I fell for all his crap. Now I am an educated older woman who saw red flags popping up everywhere and should have walked away because something wasnt right but yet I stayed…. Yes because the sex was simply amazing. And he was good at begging me to stay…and soon I sent the young girl a nice detailed email about what her boyfriend was doing behind her back and of course she wanted to know how could he have time to cheat because he was with her almost everyday and every night…. Nope. So his mother was indeed not deathly ill! So it was a girlfriend along… Seems like he was “cougar-hunting” all along as I later found out he had profiles on every cougar dating site there were! And this young girl whom he said: “I can only tolerate her but for so long…” was pinning wedding stuff on Pinterest like crazy and here he is denying it profusely!!!! Saying to me I am not getting married to her or anyone…. Fast forward: I see pics of him and her all over everywhere….guess his mom made a recovery…wow. So your stating that you had the strength to walk away when something wasnt quite right shows me how intuitive you are and how I wished I had listened to my intuition sooner instead of wasting time with a guy who lied profusely and hid a girlfriend from me for almost a year. Oh and this guy was 30 years younger than me. And I wish I had your wisdom but this guy was sweet and intelligent and I trusted him. I applaud you for your strength to walk away when it didnt feel right. And this guy to this day says he will never stop loving me….that I was the best thing to happen to him….that he cried over losing me…. Blah blah blah… I now look back and say…”what was I thinking?”……….

  3. I just got through exactly the same thing. And the thing that you wrote exactly spilled the beans about my feeling right now. Cheers! 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing this. This couldn’t have been said any better. Props to you for figuring this out, and thank you for sharing your insight with the rest of us. Every woman should read this and learn from it. Please keep these coming. You’re amazing!

  5. I just did the same thing, like last night…. but he said he ‘doesn’t care if it’s casual’…which I Know is not true, and I wasn’t strong enough to officially end it…. at least I was honest, it’s all I can do I guess. And your right, it’s so hard when you know it’s a good thing, but you know in the long run it won’t.. we can be our own worst enemies…

  6. Thankyou this article resonated with me and I found it reassuring to hear that I am not alone. Being true to myself and maintaining personal boundaries no matter how much I like a guy is how I keep my integrity and self esteem. It doesn’t hurt them to know you expect respect either. If a man doesn’t want to be with me then I sure as hell aren’t going to waste my tine hanging around to see how it plays out

  7. You have a piercing insight into these things that I really, really appreciate. Your articles are just what I needed to read right now.

    I’m a 30-something man who developed a very strong emotional intimacy with a woman in her mid-20s. The connection is powerful and many-leveled, to me it feels like a soul friendship. The sexual chemistry was also intense. I am overwhelmed by the strength of my feelings and I stated that I wanted to be in a committed relationship with her, I wanted to commit to her.

    She, however, decided that emotional/intellectual intimacy with me was all she wanted. She preferred to sidestep the challenging ‘romantic’ aspects or ‘sexual’ aspects of the connection, to kind of keep me on the back-burner, or keep me as an option, maybe give herself more time to see if feelings developed (She uses the term ‘friendship’ for this). That’s all well and good, except my feelings for her are not under my own control. I was in love to the point where it hurt, and I acknowledge that this might indicate an imbalance on my part, or an unhealthy relationship with love, but regardless, these are my feelings. I am prone to intense feelings and its just part of who I am.

    Your article has inspired/confirmed me in my decision to say what I said, which was basically: Acknowledge the romantic and sexual nature of our connection, or set me free and let me heal. I do not take our connection lightly, and if we choose not to honor this as a love connection, then in fact I do have to go, and be alone with myself until I have regained my balance and freedom.

    It was very challenging but also enlightening, very reminiscent of the anecdote you related in this article. Having standards for how we let others treat us is tremendously important, even if a magical and God-given connection may have to fall away to let us honor our standards. It is a lesson I hope I will never forget. Today I thought about writing her and so maybe I need to say to myself: I hope its a lesson that I’ve actually truly learned!

    Thank you so much for your insights.

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