November 18, 2020

A Message to Men: Please Stop Asking to be Friends after a Breakup.

I’m red in the face, eyes swollen, drooping face.

I’m searching for any words to tell you just how much I hate you. How much I hate you for doing this to me. How everyone I’ve dated has done this to me too. How you knew that, because I told you so. You’re rambling off some excuse about why you, “Just can’t do this anymore.”

Neither can I.

I’m at a loss for words as I rummage through my thoughts, ignoring you, trying to understand where this all went wrong. How we could be so good for one minute and then not so good the next.

It’s over.

What I want to do is talk this out, resolve the issue—whatever it is. I ask a lot of questions because I want to understand the real issue. You continue to insist it’s over. There’s a physical distance between us and it’s expanding with each word out of your mouth.

I keep crying; you just stare at me with a frown. I can feel your eyes on me as I raise mine to meet yours. I can see the sadness on your face. I wonder if it’s because you actually feel remorse for this ending or if you just don’t like how hurting someone else makes you feel. Maybe you don’t like how long you had dragged this on, how long you had led me on. Maybe it’s something else.

Then you shoot the ugliest phrase at me, “Maybe we can still be friends someday.” My sadness turns to rage.

How a man could ask to be friends with a woman after he hurts her is ineffably frustrating.

I walk out your door since nothing else can be said. I stop in the parking lot, feeling loose asphalt crunch beneath my feet. The sky is a darkening blue, and nothing but silence comes from your window. I’m outside, wailing, trying to contain my hurt, trying to keep from screaming out every raw thing I’m feeling. I walk back to my car, my cheeks wet with tears. I cry all the way home and then some.

I recall all the things we did, all the things we could have done. I cry some more. I feel the tightness in my chest. Like it could split open and expose my heart. Maybe that would be the only way this tumultuous hurt leaves my body.

I breathe between sobs, focusing on the dusk falling over the city and the headlights cutting through the dim blue. Home is just a few miles away from where you live. I recite some of your words. The sobs intensify, building up speed, lifting me to a panic. I’m unable to catch my breath.

I get home, curl up in bed underneath a blanket of total darkness. I wonder how I’ve ended up here—again. I sob into my pillow, drenching it with my grief. I recite what I must do from here in an attempt to move on.

I’ll cry for a long time. I’ll be angry too. I’ll feel inadequate, ugly, and worthless. I’ll have one good day followed by a few more weeks of sadness. I’ll bitch and complain to my closest sisters, who are tired of seeing this happen to me. They’ll be patient and loving anyway. I feel better for another day. More painful days follow. This will go on for weeks, potentially months, maybe even years until the pain is gone. But it’s never really gone. It’s always there, a stinging reminder that, like everyone else, you left me too.

However sad I am, I remind myself I’ll get better. I’ll get over it. I know I will emerge from this dark place and glow. But I’m not there yet.

In the midst of my recovery, I’ll replay all your words, resting on the most upsetting ones.

Let’s be friends.

On days when I feel I have made strides in overcoming your gut-wrenching rejection, I remember those words and find myself enraged again.

What a f*cking slap in the face. A horrible demotion. What kind of selfish and disgusting request is that?

It’s: “I don’t want you, but I want you in my life, but only in the way I choose.” Selfish.

Sure, if we had a mutual, clean, breakup and all was good, I could see a friendship—maybe.

But we didn’t. At least one of us will take time to recover. Maybe you can set aside your romantic feelings, forget them completely, but I can’t.

I don’t know how to make you understand that it’s too painful to be just friends with someone you think you might be in love with. 

I don’t know how to make you understand that it would be too painful to be your friend and watch you move on with someone else. 

I don’t know how to make you understand that you hurt me, and I don’t want to be friends with someone who is okay with that.

I don’t know how to make you understand that no single bullsh*t benefit of being friends will overcome the way you left me feeling.

I don’t know how to make you understand that I can’t just switch off my feelings as easily as you can.

I don’t know how to make you understand this is not an appropriate question.

How can you watch me ugly cry in front of you, desperately trying to mop up my tears and snot while you’re dumping me, and then say, “Maybe we can still be friends?” How can you do this?

Whatever list of reasons you choose to word vomit in front of me, however transparent or secretive, they won’t make sense to me.

You don’t want to lose the potential lover, just in case greener pastures aren’t so green? Don’t care.

You don’t actually want to be friends but say it to make yourself feel better? Just don’t say anything.

You want to keep me around for emotional support without the commitment? That’s not mine nor any woman’s obligation to you.

You think I might be a booty call when you’re feeling lonely? Serious pass.

You actually genuinely want to be my friend? Sorry, pal. Maybe 30 years from now or better yet, never.

I’ve never successfully remained friends with someone I’ve dated, especially someone I’ve had intense romantic feelings for. In the few instances I’ve tried, it’s ended up at two destinations: sex and a second round of heartbreak.

It’s a routine I’ve fallen for too many times.

You are not and will not be the exception. I simply won’t do it.

And, no. I won’t just “suck it up” and “be adult” about it. Call me a child, tell me I’m unreasonable, or say I’m immature. You will not change my mind on this.

I won’t be your friend, so I can cater to your feelings. That time is now over. You made sure of that.

I won’t be your friend because it will make you feel better. I don’t owe you anything.

I won’t provide you with the relief of a simple friendship, so you won’t feel guilty. I don’t owe you a single shining drop of relief after how you’ve made me feel.

Sometimes, you don’t get what you want, and you’re not entitled to.


Please stop asking to be friends after a breakup.


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