An Almost-Lover Can Hurt You, Too

I hate that I couldn’t fall asleep after things ended, and how you used to call the way I tossed and turned in bed cute. I hate that I teared up when I passed by a Barneys on the way to work the next morning, and it is driving me up the walls how I can’t get that stupid Stevie Wonder song out of my head.

And most of all, I hate that a part of me saw this coming.

You may have been short-lived. You may have never been my “boyfriend.” But it doesn’t take a label or a thousand years and a day of “being together” with a camera roll on my phone of your face next to mine to validate what you were to me.

To my almost-lover:

For the first time in my life, I looked vulnerability in the eyes by finally allowing myself to really look into yours.

It’s the way you would hold my hand when we lay together in your bed. It’s the way you would take your arm and scoop me up right into you. Sometimes we just don’t realize how much we long for security until it feels like it’s being taken away from us.

I’ve always considered myself to be independent and secure. But it’s one thing to gain security in yourself and it’s another thing to meet someone else who wanted to give you their security to call your own, on top of the security you’ve spent years building up all by yourself.

And while I have retail therapy, overpriced cocktails, and friends who have hearts of gold by my side… having someone who willingly wanted to owe me something was a refreshing first for me.

It’s the way I was belting the Spice Girls in your studio apartment because you bought a toothbrush for me to keep there. Everything about us was so comfortable… until it wasn’t anymore.

It was the way you left to grab breakfast without waiting for me to get dressed up to go with you. It’s the way I was calling you to come back to bed as you sat on your bar stool a few feet away, texting instead. It’s the way I could feel you distancing yourself from me, and the way we were both too scared to admit why.

The thing about an almost-lover is that you would think because it never really was, you wouldn’t get hurt. But in a way, it almost hurts more. Because you find yourself embarrassed for feeling hurt or really, feeling anything at all.

But I think a lot of us would be lying to ourselves if we pretended that when someone gave us an inch, we wouldn’t give it a mile. I at least know I’d be lying if I said that the minute you gave me a glimpse of a future, I didn’t imagine it in vivid color, perfectly-filtered, adored, and so much more.

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It’s time to stop invalidating what supposedly never was. An almost-lover can hurt, too. They may not carry the title of the real deal. They may not meet the parents. They may not take up half of your Instagram feed. But it doesn’t take any of that to make you feel something, and isn’t that all it ever really comes down to?

It’s just so tough to find someone that gets you, so when you do find them, you hold onto them tight. It’s only natural, there’s nothing wrong with that, and no, it doesn’t make you crazy. It’s not about what someone is in your life that’s important; it’s about how someone can make you feel. If they matter to you, it’s as simple as that.

It’s the way you said you needed space to find out if you could miss me like you used to.

So with that said, it only makes sense that I couldn’t fall asleep the night things ended. It’s OK that I teared up while passing Barneys and that I can’t get that Stevie Wonder song out of my head.

You may not have been “my lover”, but you almost were. And for me, that was by far close enough.

Photo by Korney Violin

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