When something is temporary, you’re on all the time. You don’t have to show the person you’re with your true self if it’s all just for fun. If there’s an end in sight, you can be on your best behavior until the final curtain call. But sometimes, a temporal situation isn’t a perfect brick-laid wall. Sometimes, the glass begins to crack, and all of a sudden, you’re crossing boundaries. You’re having deep conversations, being thoughtful, sharing special moments, and having jokes only the two of you understand.
Then one day, you fight like an actual couple. Gradually, the cuddles withdraw, and the playful banter stops. One person is on their laptop while the other person is on their phone. You’re now a bored married couple heading for divorce. Your time together has decidedly ended. If you fix this moment, admit your faults, say you’ll be better, then it becomes a real-ationship. You didn’t sign up for real; you signed up for casual and fun.
So, you think of a nice way to let go. A simple text message that encompasses all your brief, but special moments. A goodbye that leaves no room for reconciliation- a polite rejection. You don’t want to shoulder the responsibility of another person’s heartbreak. It’s not what you signed up for. You don’t want the guilt or the responsibility. You don’t want a real-ationship. The train has been put in motion, and there’s no emergency brake. You don’t need a response, you’ve said your piece, and that’s that.
But you get a response anyway, and it indeed validates the end of things. You should be proud of yourself. You made a potentially catastrophic situation better. What’s the worst that could have happened? You two temporal folks may have become semi-permanent. You both get in too deep, and in the end, you’re both drowning. Or one person gets strung along as if they were a rope tied to a stubborn mule. It’s just not worth the effort. You feel better, you go about your day, la-di-da. It’s business as usual, and you don’t think about your temporal partner anymore. You don’t even have their number. You don’t care if they miss you because you don’t miss them.
But even in temporary situationships, the heart grows semi-attached to the memories. Suddenly, one day you wake up and it hits you. Everything about your day reminds you of the person you walked away from. You can’t breathe; your heart knows something is missing. You subconsciously pick up the phone to text them, but you’ve deleted every trace of them. You can’t believe this, you need to get some freaking air. Finally, a mutual friend sends their number to you. You play around with the thought in your head for a while. But in the end, you decide it’s best if you never contact them. Never tell them you miss them, never ask for a second chance. You’re certain you made the right decision. And as long as you can deal with the consequences of a temporary broken heart, you know you’ll be fine.
It’ll take time, but soon enough, you’ll find yourself craving another temporal fix from another person. The cycle will continue until you find that one person that makes you want something real. But before you do, you’ll build up walls in your heart so that temporal relationships never matter as much to you again. This one was too close a call. But you’re glad your practical brain was strong enough to dodge that bullet.
On the flip side, maybe you’re the one who got left. You thought this temporal situation might grow into something real. You know it’s a stretch, but miracles happen, and you thought it just might happen to you. That’s why you’re surprised. You thought you had more time. You thought the door was still open, and you could still walk in and experience everything good about them. They left first and though it was short-term, you feel dumped. You can’t believe that they rejected you at your best. They never got to see the underwhelming side of you. They took all the goodness you showed them and decided that you weren’t worth the effort. It’s a Friday night, and while you’re certain they are out with their friends partying the night away, you’re home wishing the ground would open up and swallow you.
You’re going to miss them something terrible. You try your best to cut off all contact with them for a few days, but it’s beginning to drive you crazy. You’re certain that madness has befallen you. You think you’re going into cardiac arrest. There’s an excruciating pain in the center of your chest that has lasted for days. You look it up on Google and it escalates you further. You can’t sleep. You feel an uncomfortable pressure—like the punishing hand of the devil squeezing the life out of you- until you’re left withering in pain. You’re not eating; you constantly feel weak and lightheaded. A minute wind could topple you over. Every time your phone chimes, you break out in a cold sweat. Your jaw tightens up, and your back becomes stiff. You’re scared of checking your phone to see who it is. If it isn’t from them, you know you’re going to die. You can’t believe what’s happening to you. You know the palpitations and myocardial infarctions are not real. These heart murmurs are all in your head. You are not having a heart attack. It is a broken heart syndrome caused by the emotional stress of having to let someone you still value go. Your mind knows it and sends a signal to the rest of your body.
You think your worth is wrapped up in a temporal situation with a half-available human being. You need confirmation that you’re still wanted, needed, unforgettable. So, one lonely night, you text them. You tell them you miss them, that you’ll like to get coffee sometime just to talk. You’ve spent the last two weeks suppressing how much you feel so you don’t appear too involved. But you’ve reached your breaking point. They need to know, maybe it’ll change their mind. But then, they take hours to respond. And when they do, they tell you how busy they are. They couldn’t possibly make time in their schedule for you. You feel a wave of nausea wash over you. During the “fling,” all their free time was spent on you. Even when they had no free time, they made time just to see you. Now, they just can’t. Instead of this being a wake-up call, somehow it makes them appear more desirable —more valuable. You’ll do anything to make yourself stop hurting this way. You’re even willing to risk losing yourself by allowing them to live in your life commitment-free.
Question: Why is settling for a person who has shown you that you are nothing but an afterthought good enough for you? Don’t you want a person who is at least as good as their word? Here you are, settling for a sloppy version of an idea. You believe that if you can just get them back into your life, in time, they’ll want you again. They’ll make you feel valued. After all, they were the ones who took away your worth. You know they are no longer interested, and their level of effort would be zero. But you’re willing to do all the work.
If you’re the one doing all the work, then they are the ones in control. No one should have that much power over you. Comrade, deal with what they’ve shown you exactly the way it is. Not as you want or wish it could be. I’m sorry to say, but the plotting, scheming, begging — it’s pathetic. If you still have their number, they likely still have yours. They have chosen not to be the one in the awkward position of literally begging the way you are right now. People don’t forget that easily, you have not slipped their mind. The way they are constantly buzzing in your head— almost like a full-on assault to your senses so that every breath you take reminds you of them — happens to them too. So why should you be the one to make that call?
You forget that humans are selfish and selectively selfless. They have chosen what’s best for them and shown you through their actions that it is not you. You’ve forgotten that they are not angels. They have faults, faults you saw and ignored in favor of a fling. You don’t want them back, your mind just needs a moment to let go — give it time. Don’t escalate a goodbye. You risk turning a beautiful memory into something flawed because you’re unhappy things didn’t go your way, or end on your terms. The easier choice is to hold on, but the harder yet better choice is to let go. It is over. The faster you accept it, the faster you heal.
Never blame yourself or go over conversations and try to change the endings. If it was meant to end, it would have ended sooner or later. Be glad it came to an end whether it was forced, mutual, or natural. Your life is a military zone and you are the major. It means that they should no longer have easy access to you. They dropped their key card and checked out of your life. They are automatically disqualified, and no amount of you trying to connect with them again will make them good enough for you. If they want you back, they’ll come back on your terms, and not theirs.
Trying all the tricks in the book to get them back is you using emotional shortcuts. Trying to jump on someone else to feel something else other than the pain in your heart is an emotional shortcut. Please, avoid any scenarios that leave you feeling blue. Also, avoid angry outbursts or being too miserable that everyone around you just wants to avoid you. You’re gonna wake up one day and realize those you were meant to heal with have left you on your own. That’s when the real heart attack will come. Take it one day at a time. Do things that engage your mind and make you feel like you have a life outside of your pain – because you do. One day, not too long from now, you’ll meet a great person. And whether it is a temporary or full-time commitment, you’ll be more careful. Because now, you know that wasting time with the wrong person is what it is —time wasted. Hopefully, you’ll be more clear, intentional, and specific about who you choose to spend your time with. xx
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