TODAY’S BIG SWEETIE:
Back in September of last year, I met a guy through a dating app and sure enough, we started dating. Overall, he was cool and all, but as time went on, I realised, "Oh hey, maybe I don't actually love him" which was a bit, uh, awkward. Around January, when we both went away for Christmas, I pulled one of the most dick moves I could reasonably have and broke up with him over a phone call. In my defence, I couldn't hold it back anymore and we met up after we came back to the place where we study.
I still want to consider him a friend, but there are two things about him that make me seriously start to reconsider that:
A) He said he still loves me and I feel like keeping in touch with him could only hurt him more, since I have since found new partners (I'm polyam and nonbinary, realised around January, too) and it would probably make him feel replaced?
B) He became very creepy after the breakup, including showing up to my flat unannounced with a chocolate bar "to make sure I'm taking breaks during studying for my exams"; telling me over texts how he misses me and looks over the photos he has of me; and other generally creepy things.
What in the name of tapdancing Christ do I do with this mess of a situation?
I made a playlist for you about this situation.
You can consider that man a friend all you want, but you’re flat out wrong. That’s not a friend, that’s an ex that you feel bad about. We all have them at one time or another: a person who we confuse feeling sorry for with still being friends with. Those are different and separate things and you do not— DO NOT— need to be friends with anyone simply because they’re in a bad spot. Even if you induced the bad spotted-ness of their life via a break up.
Newsflash: breakups are part of dating just as much as kissing is. (Not numerically, obviously, I hope you’ve had more smooches than jilts, but you get it). It’s perfectly fine for that guy to be very sad that you two did not last forever and ever… and he can do that privately and on an appropriate timeline.
Breaking up with someone is about as clean as pouring a bottle of maple syrup on your whole body and rolling around on the ground, which is why staying friends afterward is so ill-advised in my humble (and often wrong) opinion. For the person who still has lingering feelings, going from dating to friends often feels like pulling the emergency break on the highway. Are there people out there who are good friends with exes? YES. Mostly when they had a strong friendship beforehand, when the breakup was mutual or semi-mutual, and when after the break up they got a little space before switching gears back into being friends. Most people should not be friends post break up. You do not OWE anyone your friendship as a peace offering since you won’t date them. You don’t owe this guy time or love or money or even opening your door when he shows up to your apartment sans invite.
If I had to hazard a guess, some of your lingering guilt revolves around the manner in which you broke up with him, which I understand more than you might imagine since I ALSO accidentally broke up with someone over the phone because I couldn’t hold it back much longer. It is indeed a terrible feeling to feel like you bungled the delivery of bad news to a person you care for, so I empathize. That said, it’s TWENTY NINETEEN BABY and breaking up with someone over the phone is… not that bad. Especially if you talk to them afterward. Especially if you’ve only been dating a few months.
(Personally, I’d rather be broken up with over the phone so I can be left alone in peace to ugly cry, but whatever).
Forgive yourself for the phone dump (seriously, it’s like the least bad thing in the world right now!!!!) and stop talking to this man full stop after you give him a nice little text/call explaining the new plan. I’d say something like this, “Listen, Bubba*, you and I had a great time dating, and I’m really glad we did, but it seems to me that you still have some feelings around it. Going forward, I think it’s best that we don’t talk anymore. This is not a punishment or meant to be cruel to you, it’s just a boundary that I need right now. Thanks for understanding.” Or some shit like that. Don’t apologize for not talking anymore. Don’t offer to talk less or “cut down” on talking. It’s got to be nothing with this guy. He’s a creep. He’s not your friend. You need to establish a boundary and fast. If he keeps responding after the boundary is set, block him (you can have a friend save his phone number in their phone just in case you ever need to reach out for any reason).
Congrats on the new partners! Enjoy some fun love with them instead of giving any more energy to this guy!
*Probably use his real name and not Bubba