Dating for me in the last decade has been especially difficult. I have found that in adulthood, dating and relationships can, and are most times not what they appear to be. A true romantic at heart (although I am the primary facilitator and giver of the nurturing affection that go hand and had with romanticism), I want to feel the kind of love that permeates your body listening to 90’s R&B music.
India Arie’s, “I am ready for love” brings me to uncontrollable tears every time I hear it, but my life has been more along the lines of Eric Benet’s “Love Don’t Love Me.” I’ve given my all to those who God was basically in my ear screaming at the top of his lungs that they were not the ones for me, yet I stayed. Endured at times mental, physical and most of all emotional abuse. Lies and manipulation were common yet, I thought that somehow my love would change them, would make them want to be better and in the end I would have my fairy-tale, knight in shining armor.
But that fantasy faded a long time ago and I now know that love like that is only Hollywood’s ploy to make you believe in something that at times is unattainable. I’m jaded and not sure at this very moment that I believe in the true meaning of love. Every day I have to pray for the strength and faith of a mustard seed for God to show me different.
I’ve always wondered how other people get into relationships for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t exactly on-board with the idea or belief that this day and age people make such ill thought out and selfish decisions… until I experienced it first-hand.
I met an amazing guy in 2011 and we started off as strictly platonic friends, because quite honestly I was just not attracted to him… nor was he my norm. He was about 3 years younger than me, and I have an affinity for older men. Maybe it comes from my abandonment issues with my own biological father, but hey you can’t help what you are attracted to or who is attracted to you. It took over 6 months for me to even relinquish all of my inhibitions and reservations about giving him a chance. Needless to say the same person who had pursued me and thought I was as close as possible to perfection, let me down and cheated on me within the first 3 months of us being together.
I knew something was wrong, and a woman’s intuition is NEVER wrong. His phone would ring at 2-3am in the morning and he would claim “she” just wanted to talk his head off. Me knowing better I let it fester without saying anything, knowing full well that it wasn’t really a strictly platonic friendship and something really is wrong; no woman is going to call at that time or hour, but for one thing…. a booty call!
One day I just couldn’t take the deceit any longer, and by this time he had already given me the lock code to his phone so I checked his messages and sure enough all of my suspicions were validated. I was hurt and everything that I had gone through up until that point made me feel unworthy, like something was wrong with me. I believed in him, just knowing that he would protect my heart and at the very least not cheat on me like so many others. I questioned myself, as to what was wrong with me that I couldn’t get the respect that I deserved. I had prayed before this man came into my life for God to send someone to love me through it all; unconditionally.
Although we stayed together for 3 years, things were never the same. We argued over small things, tempers and attitudes got the best of us at times and most importantly I stopped believing that his intentions were good. I stayed with him because yes, he had great qualities but he needed to grow up and the daily turmoil that I experienced in my heart made it clear that I, yes, I loved him, but I was not in love with him. He hit on my basic needs but I wasn’t sure he was the end of the road for me. Especially considering that I was in love with another man who I had been friends with 2 years prior to meeting my ex. And due to my ex’s insecure nature (due to his immaturity) regarding our friendship, I had to make the toughest decision to cut off all communication with him for almost a year, with no prior notice. Something I still regret to this day.
Lets back track to my friend, I will call him BK, he and I met in 2009 when I was still in Charlotte at a poetry slam that a church called The Parks was hosting. I noticed his smile from across the room and when it was time to do the meet and greet I made sure I made a bee line in his direction. He was even more beautiful up close and his smile made my knees weak. Our initial encounter at the event turned into a budding friendship, we talked about any and everything almost every day. Went on dates to eat and movies, played old school Nintendo, chilled at his house with no expectation of intimacy, nor did he try. I was grateful for how he made me feel. He was the most amazing man that I had ever met, driven, respectful, outgoing, well connected, attentive, God fearing and just all around fun to be around. I can’t say when I fell in love with him, but like Hazel says in the movie, “The Fault In Our Stars,” when I fell for him it was the quiet in my world that had been full of storms. I fell in love with him like you fall asleep, slowly, yet all at once”.
He was the culmination of all my prayers, my dreams and desires, but after almost two years of knowing one another I finally found the courage to tell him how I felt. He, although was careful with his response so as to not hurt my feelings or ruin our friendship, basically said he did not feel the same way. I was hurt, but what could I do? I had to respect that we were not on the same page, but I wasn’t willing to lose my friend because of this unrequited love.
In 2010 I tried telling him again after I moved to another state but the response was still the the same. Once I got to Texas we stayed closed, talking just as much on the phone as we normally would. As fate would have it he accepted a job in the Houston area and that only added thoughts in my head that God was working in my favor and our destiny as a couple. When I told him again how I felt in the summer of 2011 he still wasn’t receptive, so I played the hands that I was dealt.
I gave my ex (mentioned above) an opportunity and less than a week after he and I got together, BK calls in the middle of the night. I was sleep but I texted him the next morning on the way to church and told him I would call him back after service.
When I called back I immediately knew something was different but he wasn’t saying much of anything. I asked what he had called to talk about especially considering the hour of the call and he just said that he wanted to tell me how great of a friend I was to him and how much he valued me. We talked more about nothing in particular then ended the call. But I knew there was more to the conversation than he wanted to add so over the course of my 3 year relationship, I played that scenario and call over and over in my head.
BK was constantly on my mind and I couldn’t shake him or the love I had for him, I just dealt with the situation the way I knew how. My heart was completely his and I thought about him everyday and there was nothing I could do about it because as far as I knew he didn’t reciprocate my feelings. It was about a year and a half into my relationship that I emailed him and told him how much I missed him and wish things could be different and at the very minimum I wish we could be friends even though I knew that was only a portion of the life I wanted with him. It was then that he finally divulged all of what he wanted to say.
According to him in late 2011, he had finally realized the strength of our connection and wanted to move us forward in another direction of trying to be in a relationship. I told him that I appreciated him for telling me and that I thought once he finally told me his true feelings that I would have some peace of mind but it had only made me yearn for him more. I felt that had he told me when he called, our lives would be different. That he and I would be married and happy together by now.
That he, in his stubbornness, yet nobility had kept the very thing from me that I had always wanted to hear. Had he told me when he initially called, I would not have hesitated to act on everything he had told me. We just fit together like a glove. But since so much time had passed, although I felt that I was living a lie within the relationship I was in, I could not in good conscience just leave someone who, yes made a mistake and everything had not been peaches and cream, but that I knew loved me and had been there for me when I was at some of my lowest points. I was conflicted, yet completely and irrevocably in love with BK. We have remained in touch since then and have talked about our feelings towards one another over the last 1 and 1/2 years but now something has shifted.
He has since moved back to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. My ex and I have finally broken up and as far as the communications BK and I had exchanged about working on us because of the great connection we have still stood solid. We just needed to make sure that when saw one another in person, since it had been about two years, to make sure the connection was still there.
I went to visit him and to me all was fine, the same as it should’ve been. Yes, he had his moments of being difficult but I know him so I didn’t expect anything less than him being himself. But then halfway through the 2nd day I was there I noticed things were not the same. He wasn’t being himself and acting weird. And on the last day it got even worse so I tried to have a conversation with him. It was short-lived because he fell asleep, but basically I asked what his thoughts were on our connection since spending time together. His response was it didn’t feel as natural as it once did… that being way from one another we had lost some of our momentum and that maybe it was time that we opened up our minds to other opportunities (meaning people). He added that people go through different seasons and basically he loved me as a friend and our best relationship going forward was to respect each other and support each other in whatever paths we choose. He said that the lines of communication would still be open then proceeded to fall asleep with me in his arms. My heart literally left my body. I felt so blindsided.
None of the phone conversations that we EVER had indicated such a position. Somehow I became the “everything frustrates you, and it usually leads to a snappy response” girl just because I speak on his difficult demeanor or keep quiet when he doesn’t respond or refused to respond when I know there really isn’t anything that I could say to change his mind. Somehow me talking about an “us” is an issue to him and there is no reason why it should be discussed on the phone every 2 days, which is an exaggeration. Although, this did not come to light until we were in each other’s presence.
I completely shut down and cried in silence, out of my heart being crushed into pieces and not having and adequate response or being prepared for such a slap in the face. So I packed my bags and sat in silence until we got to the airport. Once there he didn’t’ do anything but make matters worse. He got out of his vehicle gave me a half a second church hug, kissed my cheek and told me to have a safe trip before attempting to walk back to his truck. I stood there… flabbergasted at the audacity of this awful moment. I called him back over, hugged him; choking back tears, and told him that I will miss him, to which his response was a measly, “thanks for coming.” He dropped me off and treated me like I was some stranger he had just met off of the street.
I walked into the security check feeling empty, yet not devoid of emotion because emotions that I’m sure had yet to be named were flooding through my body. Tears fell against my will and I was ashamed and felt stupid. Especially considering how I had went against my obedience to God and given myself to him after 6 years, he tore me to shreds and I couldn’t think of any worse pain. I cried on both plane rides home, because I felt that I had let myself down, that God had let me down because I had prayed for this man, who until that weekend was the most wonderful human being I had ever met, and even in his moments of stupidity I still feel as such.
On both flights, all I could do is cry, I composed an angrily disappointed letter that I sent, and another riddled with disbelief and basically being in denial of all that he had told me. I chalked up his comments to his inexperience with being an actual relationship and how foreign it must be to him to try and work on one. I just knew this could not be the BK that I was so in love with telling me that his feelings had faded and all he had to offer was a friendship.
But the longer he took to respond, because as he said he was “at a function”, the more I felt that as much as this man claims to value our friendship he does not open up enough even to me, the one person who knows him better than most, because he has someone else that he wants but refuses to tell me. Or just really doesn’t respect me as much as he thinks he does.
We talked when I got home and on his end it was mostly silence and as, Etta James said’ All I Could Do Was Cry.” I asked him what was I supposed to do, loving him feeling like he would never love me in the same way? All he could say was that ‘we’ve all been there.” I wanted to say when have you EVER been in this position? I know about your history you don’t let people in. You only show want you want people to see and you make time for what you want to.
I told him once he tried to tell me that if it’s in HIS (Gods) will then it will work out, if it’s not then it won’t and that he was sorry I was hurting. I made sure to tell him that he was making a very unfounded decision. He is the only one that feels that things have changed, and exactly what are you basing that off of? When you’re away from someone as long as we have been of course there will be some awkward moments, and that can be worked on with more time spent. Especially with all the history we have…
He said he didn’t want to force anything but yet I felt he’s not giving it the opportunity it needs to grow. Flowers don’t fully bloom when you first plant them, they take lots of water and sunlight to reach their peak. Just like foundations to homes that are sturdy take effort and time, building it brick by brick. I said that you are trying to cut us off way too prematurely and if there are other reasons why then you need to tell me instead of coming up with things that are going to undermine my intelligence.
In regards to God and his will, God gives us free will to make choices outside of the destiny and calling on our lives. I told him don’t be foolish and come with some knee-jerk reaction that you miss out on your blessing, that it took time for you to see before but mark my words you will see again. All of which he could not argue with and said that we would work through this rough patch and to give us some time, that time would tell what would be best for us.
But I don’t know what I should do. Dating has never been easy for me. I’m not good at dating more than one person and I don’t want to because it’s a waste of time. I am in love. I can’t shake it and he knows it. But at the same time I can’t say for sure that he is, but something in me knows it to be true and I can support him as I always have a friend. But I won’t be able to watch the man I love so much love another and still be expected to be a friend. That is something I’ve already made clear.
Yes, he frustrates me at times but I wouldn’t walk this earth with anyone else but him, yet the more I think about it, the more I just want to say “I can’t be friends with you because I am way too in love with you to pretend like there isn’t anything other than platonic feelings following inside of me”.
Like most women I’m probably making the mistake of waiting for a man that I have become invisible to again and will remain so. If I have to let go, it will be hard, but I will have to find the courage to let him be and live our lives solely independent of one another and watch our friendship dissolve and dissipate to nothing but a pile of dust. Especially since I feel that this “we will work through it” mess is a bunch of crap to appease my broken heart… because he’s not really putting forth the effort.
He’s doing exactly what he says he does… making time for that he wants, which is clear by the lack of or extremely delayed if not completely ignored responses I get claiming he’s busy. But he has time to throw parties. A response takes all of 10 secs. I’m no fool. But I will continue to trust God to see me through this.
Kem said it best in classics “Love Calls” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “If Its Love.”