I get asked this so often, you’d think I’d have an answer rehearsed and so well practiced it would come out naturally. But the truth is, it never does.
Every time I get asked this question I have to swallow hard and look away at the person asking. I have to come up with something fast and hope I’m not blushing at the mere mention of someone saying your name.
“Just friends,” stings when I say it. Because nothing about us was ever “just friends.” To label us that after everything we’ve been through would be an insult. Because friends don’t look at each other the way we did, friends don’t talk to each other the way we did, friends don’t act the way we did.
We weren’t friends.
When I say we weren’t right for each other, sometimes I wonder if the person believes me. Because along with trying to convince them, I’m also trying to convince myself.
The truth is, I don’t believe it for a second. The truth is, I still wonder if we are. And when I get caught up in fantasies, I used to think could be the reality I have to stop myself from going any further.
There are moments I still think we’d be perfect for each other. Like we still know each other better than anyone.
There isn’t anyone who looks at me the way you do and can see what I’m saying without saying it. There isn’t anyone who can decode what I actually say or do and read right through me. There isn’t anyone who has ever known me to depth in which you have. I let you in closer than anyone and it blew up in my face.
So how do I just pretend? I’m living a lie every time someone asks me that question.
There are moments I look at you and I wish I could look you in the eyes and see a future like I used to. I used to believe in you more than I believed in myself.
I stop myself because I have to accept the fact we never dated because you didn’t want to date me. It was as simple and complicated as that.
Because if you wanted me, you would have chosen me.
It took me a while to realize I was the only one fighting for an “us” that would never become the reality I envisioned.
There wasn’t anyone I loved more than you. There wasn’t anyone I tried harder for. There wasn’t anyone who consumed more of my heart than you did. And when we didn’t work out, you didn’t just break my heart, you shattered everything I thought could be my future.
They say love makes you do stupid things and if that’s true, then I was a fool from the beginning. But the heart wants what it wants and I accepted long ago.
It was either love or stupidity or both.
So when they ask why we never dated, I can’t answer that honestly because it makes me look like a fool saying I cared, but he didn’t. That I hung onto words and false promises of “one day,” truly believing it. It makes me feel like a fool if I were to explain to someone how much time and energy I invested into someone who hurt me so badly, yet I still loved you.
Maybe we were never ready for each other. And maybe we never would be. We loved each other a little too young. A little too soon. Before we even knew what the words “I love you” meant, we were handing it to each other. Before we learned how to love ourselves, we were using one another to fill some void and emptiness as we so desperately wanted to be whole.
I can’t blame you for using me or leading me on as you did. I forgive you for the pain you caused. Because I understand. You needed someone and I was the one willing to be there. You needed someone and I would have played any role you needed me to.
But every time that question gets asked, it stings a little.
It stings because it’s a reminder of what we never actually were.
It’s a reminder of what we never will be.
It’s a reminder that I was just another story in your past.
It’s a reminder of my best not being good enough because I gave you all of me.
And if that’s love, what I learned was to fear it.
If letting someone that close leads to the pain I endured, what I learned was to push people away.
So when they ask why we never dated the truth is, part of me still hangs onto hope that maybe one day we will. I keep swearing I’ve given up on you, but I know in my heart I’d still be yours if ever you’d have me. And I hate myself for that.