“I’m Sorry” — Breaking Up the Thing that Never Was
This is my first Medium piece, published at the encouragement of a friend. For context, I’m currently a graduate student, and I live my life openly as a gay man. Last December, a close friend of mine (who’s also a graduate student) came out to me as bisexual. He’s still in the closet, and though we’ve had many deep conversations over the past two years, I did not see it coming. I also never expected us to have several more conversations over the next few months about the possibility of entering into a serious relationship, about skeletons in our family closets, about our innermost desires and lifetime aspirations. He was seeing a woman at the time; yet we grew intimate, even if not physically. A little over a week ago, over coffee, he revealed that he was still involved in another relationship, that he was physically intimate with a second woman, and that he wanted more time to decide whether he was ready to dive into something serious with me. My e-mail to him is below, and to protect his identity, I’ve written this post anonymously, disguising names and locations as well. Why I continue to care enough to safeguard our friendship, I’m honestly not sure. Feedback, on my writing or predicament, is welcome.
It’s been several hours since we’ve spoken, and my mind keeps wandering to that conversation. I wasted three hours on campus this afternoon trying, futilely, to work afterward. You followed up with a text with “more information,” letting me know that things began with you and the two girls back in November. What did you expect me to do with that? Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?
I expressed some sympathy during our chat, but the more I reflected after it, the more emotional I found myself becoming. In those hours I when I was trying to let it go, I notified our student club that we’d won the Graduate Student Organization of the Year award, and I’m sure you saw it. Yet, despite a flurry of very public e-mail traffic personally congratulating me for my leadership and efforts, I couldn’t shake the pain that I felt after you told me that things were growing more, not less, serious with the girl you’re seeing and that you’re also physically involved with someone else. Why the fuck was I wasting my time with you? I couldn’t help but surmise that under any scenario with you — dating, not dating, quasi-dating — I will inevitably wind up hurt. Reflection forced me to accept that I desperately wanted you to have the emotional maturity to examine and decipher what you truly desire, be it in me or someone else, but the reality is that you don’t. You don’t have the maturity to tell the girls “no” or to tell me “no” or to tell any of us “yes.” Your words profess a longing for something serious, but your actions manifest an elaborate joke you’re playing on the three of us, the biggest fool of which is me.
I can’t deal with this. It wrecked my afternoon — one in which an incredible accomplishment should have overshadowed the taint of your immaturity. What makes me so angry is that I never asked to be put in this situation. You pursued me, not the other way around. I gave you the option to explore something real. You turned it down. I gave you the option to pretend like nothing ever happened between us. You turned it down. Now, you expect me to be sympathetic because even though you’ve had three months to make up your mind, you can’t seem to do so. You seem to expect me to be your intellectual affair, filling a void in your other romances, stringing me along with a gesture of warmth and enthusiasm every now and then. I know that you think that I’m an open book to anyone, but I’m not. I’m a carefully crafted one, and I only unlocked pages of my life story because I thought it would bring us closer. Now I feel foolish for thinking that. I feel angry that you outed yourself to me, kissed me, and told me not to tell anyone. I’m confused as to why you’d do this to a friend.
I’ve been trying to stay patient and to withhold judgment, but I can’t any longer. You’ve put me in a strange purgatory. I can’t emotionally engage with you in public; yet, we don’t really have anything in private for me to have confidence in. To the extent to which we can still be friends, let’s give that a shot. But we have to stop talking about a potential romance that you’re not interested in actually exploring.
I’m sorry to have sent this via e-mail, rather than to just tell you in person, but I needed to clear my head and couldn’t wait until Wednesday to do it. Actions and inaction have consequences, David. I’m sorry that the door has to close for now.