In a perfect world I imagine my post-hookup interactions go down like this: I can double tap their picture in my newsfeed, but they shouldn’t bother holding their breath that I’ll say hi or look them in the eye if we cross paths again. I’ll sleep with them, and then I’ll sneak out and slip back into my room, pretending like nothing happened at all.
In actuality, I will be thinking the whole time about how I am incapable of burning bridges with anyone. I still have a basic level of care and concern for even the people I am the least fond of, out of pure human compassion. And while I find nothing wrong with caring too much, I also find myself embarrassed for being hung up over someone who doesn’t think twice about me. I’ll be mortified that after all is said and done, the end result is that I cared and they somehow, for some reason that God only knows, simply… could not.
A prime example of this was during a classic drunken hookup with a guy I’ve been on and off with. It took me being intoxicated to finally ask him what I had been dying to know all along: if we were truly nothing to each other. Because here we were, once again, doing “nothing” for practically an entire year. After this long, how couldn’t I wonder whether or not we truly meant nothing to one another? Had I known this all along and hadn’t been able to accept it?
His response was, “We’re nothing. Isn’t that what you want to hear?” And I found myself saying something along the lines of, “Only if that’s how you feel about me.” And with that, nothing more was said; the truth was out, we kept kissing, and eventually fell asleep.
The next morning I left feeling uncertain of how to feel. About him and about myself. I thought maybe kissing him to sleep would be just what I needed to ignore the truth of where we stood. But since here I am, writing this article, I’m clearly not someone who can cope with a year of on-and-off-again with a guy and have it mean nothing.
This experience taught me that the tragedy here is not that I felt something, it’s that the other person felt absolutely nothing. But you know what? It’s not humiliating to care. It just feels humiliating when we care and the other person doesn’t, and that’s been a hard lesson for me.
No one likes rejection. And the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from all of this is accepting that being “nothing” with someone isn’t necessarily a form of rejection. Instead, I’m rejecting my own personal values about what and who matters to me.
And that’s where I stand.
I am done beating myself up for feeling this way, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I’m over denying feeling anything with anyone. Even if those feelings range from hurt to exasperated, at least I can say I’m feeling something greater than myself. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But when he didn’t feel the way I did, I couldn’t help but think otherwise.
We need to be honest with our feelings, to accept when they just aren’t there, and stop denying them when they are. And yes, facing what may or may not be there might hurt in the short run, but imagine how much heartache we could save ourselves in the long-run?
So is being nothing really what any of us want to hear? Some people may answer yes, but for me, personally, it’s time to just spell out what my answer has been to that question all along.
No, that’s not what I want to hear. And I’m done pretending it ever was.
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