I was reading the blog “Stuff Lesbians Like” and one of the posts was “Being friends with their exes.” I didn’t want to agree with this, especially since the post painted this lesbian trend in a comically negative light, but then I realized the validity. I have been on speaking terms with all of my exes.
Episode One: Instant Friendship Post Breakup
One of my first girlfriends, whom I will call Clara, broke up with me one morning in between classes and she felt ready to be friends with me the instant after she broke up with me. Literally seconds after she broke up with me, the next words out of her mouth were “So what’s up with you?”
We talked for another hour after that. And it was not a maudlin discussion about her losing attraction to me or commitment issues or heartbreak, a moment I still felt I needed. Instead we talked about the same things we often talked about. Silly things, like the most recent episode of The Office and a book her roommate recommended to her. We talked about deeper things, like notions of heaven and hell, and her arguing that I should have kids someday. Naturally I have never before fought so strongly the urge to break down and cry, but I stayed and talked with her because I knew that this friendship we had could never go back to meaning more to her.
Normally on our Tuesday morning dates, I never really worried about getting to class until I had only five minutes to spare. That particular Morning, I left thirty minutes earlier than usual. She asked for a hug, and of course I gave her one, because I could never say no to her. But this hug felt different. I could not relax into it and I turned my face away from her, instead of resting it on her shoulder as I had done before.
After a couple of weeks, we went out to dinner together, just the two of us. It was surprisingly comfortable, like talking with an old friend. I was not the least bit sad all evening, until I dropped her off at her apartment, and for the first time in a while, we said good night with a long friendly hug. I walked home, convinced that maybe we were re-connecting.
The following night, she invited me to go out dancing with her and her friends (who might have been more upset about the break up than she was). I thought This is my chance to get glammed up and put effort into my appearance, the way I should have while we were together. Naturally, despite my efforts to look good when I met her at her house that night, she of course looked perfect. While dancing with her, we did not touch at all, and it bothered me that I noticed that.
We hung out consistently for an entire year after the break, hanging out on average 1.5 times a week. Sometimes we would hang out with her roommates. Other times it was just the two of us. Sometimes she would invite me to a party where she would be able to socialize with other people. Other times she would invite me out for dinner at the café I took her to the night she first kissed me, or she would ask me to wander around Chicago at night to take pictures. Sometimes she would ask me to join her shopping at random, not for clothes or recreation, but for bedding or groceries, which I read as activities for close friends or girlfriends.
One time she even invited me to the gym with her. Naturally, I did not want to embarrass myself in front of my dream girl, but I could never really say no to her. It was a torturous sixty minutes on the stair climber, not because of sweating and Charlie-horses, but because I spent the whole hour trying not to stare at her perfect little butt in her perfect little spandex, as she took each step. It was that day at the gym that I realized that I had my limits met.
What I realized eventually is that every time our friend dates ended and I walked away from her, I still had to fight the urge not to cry, even after a year.
Why did I subject myself to this? Why did I let my self love her even more after she broke up with me? It took me a year, but I finally admitted to myself. The part of me that held on to her friendship was the same part of me that still believed she might love me again.
When I came to this realization, I told her I still had the same feelings for her, and thus we could not be friends anymore, or I at least until I had a chance to fall out of love with her (thankfully I said it differently, lest I further humiliate myself). Of course she had to be wonderful and kind when rejecting me for the second time, but most importantly she said what finally needed to be said. “Let me know when you’re ready to be friends again. But Casey, be honest.”
Honestly, Clara is still one of the most beautiful most incredible people I have ever met in my life. And I cannot wait to spend time with her again. I just know that I needed to take some time to let myself fall out of love with her completely.
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Casey is a creative writing student at DePaul university. She enjoys reading, writing, and taking long walks around the city of Chicago.