To The Man Who Was Never Really My Boyfriend

"And then you went off with this girl, and you called her your 'girlfriend'—a title, an honor that took me years to negotiate."

I always thought you would make me your girl. When we first met, everything seemed to fall into place—we liked the same music and movies, we had the same opinions about things, and wow, our chemistry—that made me sure that we would end up together, eventually.

As the months passed and we continued dating, it dawned on me that you were in no hurry to make things official between us.

I didn’t understand; I was single, you were single, we loved each other, so what were you waiting for? Was it so hard to make that jump from dating—and okay, sleeping together—as friends to boyfriend and girlfriend?

Later on, we would argue about our romantic status, me wanting to make it official and you giving some poor excuse that there was no need to label what we had, me crumbling in a fit of tears and you trying to make it up to me the next day. But still, there would be no resolution. I felt like Tom in the movie (500) Days of Summer, constantly asking Summer to validate their relationship, while Summer just fended off his concerns. That should’ve been a clear sign that the relationship, or whatever it was, was doomed.

But we carried on anyway, because we were okay, we got along, and there was no one else for either of us.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was the philosophy that you seemed to apply to us as a couple, and at one point, I got too tired to fight it anymore. I just went with the flow; it seemed much easier than the cycle of demanding and rejecting that had become the norm.

One night about two years into our relationship, you suddenly said that if that was what I wanted, to be boyfriend and girlfriend, you would give it to me. There was no preamble, no meaningful looks, not even a passionate kiss to mark the occasion—just a long-sought concession, finally given years after its due.

I was surprised, and mildly pleased, but it felt like a hollow victory—it made me feel like I had to twist your arm into giving it to me. It was unromantic, and unceremonious, but since I had been waiting for it for years, I figured it was good enough.

On our third year together, though, everything changed. You told me that you had found someone else, and that you loved her. As you said it, you could not even say that you were “breaking up” with me, maybe because you thought that nothing had been broken in the first place. And then you went off with this girl, and you called her your “girlfriend”—a title, an honor that took me years to negotiate.

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I was devastated, naturally, but after a few months of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I could do better.

I knew—at least, I hoped—that I could find a better man—better than someone who could not go public with his relationship with me.

Three years since we parted ways, I learned from a mutual friend that you were engaged to the girl you fell for while we were still dating. It had taken you three years to propose to her—in the same amount of time, I could barely even get a squeak about our status out of you. Clearly we were not meant to last; otherwise, I would not have had to fight to be your girlfriend for so long. And I’m okay with that now. I no longer mind losing a battle I was never meant to win.

Now, I honestly wish you well, with her. It’s been too long, and the wounds have closed completely. Despite everything, I know in my heart that I did make you happy for a while, and I’m fine with the fact that that was my only role in your life.

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