It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact it would take years after our first meeting to even become friends, let alone anything more.
Let’s dive into some real talk about being in a dead end relationship. To do this, I will need to tell you our story.
To be honest, I can’t quite recall how we started talking as friends, but I can tell you it was some time after we had both broken up with our respective significant others. Our friendship didn’t come naturally either. He would make up excuses to not hang out with me and I would avoid inviting him because I figured he was uninterested in being my friend. But somehow, eventually, we ended up meeting up almost every day just to walk and talk. It wouldn’t be until a year later that I would even agree to try a relationship with him. But I will give it to the guy; he stuck around, never gave up, and got what he wanted.
Every relationship seems beautiful and perfect at first. We’re both very blunt people with a lot of messed up thoughts running through our heads at all hours of the day which made it easy for us to get along in our own weird way. Before we started dating we were honest about everything we wanted in life, or at least I was. We rarely fought and if we did, we made up and apologized quickly after. Our biggest flaw though was that I was emotionally unavailable and he wears his heart (and mind) on his sleeve.
A few months into our relationship we finally had a nice big fight. In this time, some truth came out. Truths that would break our relationship forever. Turned out that we wanted completely different things out of life and we had utterly different desires for our futures. Those goals and aspirations made us incompatible. We, of course, broke up.
But this wasn’t the end of our story.
It should have been. By all logical accounts, it ought to have been the end of any romantic ties between us. But we would go on to be one of those annoying on-again, off-again couples until we just completely stopped labeling our relationship, stopped updating our Facebook status, and just said “It is what it is.”
We existed floating somewhere in between a state of togetherness and friendship, getting along quite well for a spell before breaking up again; agreeing to just remain friends. Until we encountered a medical emergency. For the sake of his privacy I will not go into detail of these events since that is not my story to tell. But we did agree to get back together as a couple to make things easier when dealing with doctors and other such nuances.
He said it best as he joked with me about asking me to be his girlfriend again; “It’s like firing your best employee right before Christmas, then realizing that you need them back.”
It might sound harsh or cold, but it is the best analogy for our situation. Both of us found our health declining and we created a mutual support system within each other. Both of us had felt totally abandoned by our friends at this point, especially because we had tried to reach out to others, only to be denied. Our relationship was now just us working together to hold each other up. If one of us caved for a moment, we both fell down. We knew it wasn’t healthy, but if I have learned anything from my years as a freelancer it’s that you cannot succeed without external support. It didn’t matter if we wanted to be together; we needed to be together lest we both crumble.
I cannot speak for him, but I can say for my part I thought about how much time we were wasting often. How pointless every moment was, no matter how good or bad it might have been. We would talk about it here and there. His answer was always the same: “We both know it’s going to end, but we can still enjoy the time we have.” The final say always fell in my hands. In the past, this was never an issue; I was always the one who broke up with the other person. Now for the first time I was hoping someone would break up with me. I felt a little guilty every time I thought about ending it for good. I thought for sure if we walked away from each other, one or both of us would suffer. I kept pushing aside my selfish want to be independent because, for once in my life, I didn’t want to be the “bad guy”.
But you know what?
I’m glad to have been in that dead end relationship.
For better or worse, I grew as a person in that time. I didn’t just bail on a relationship because things got hard and I wanted more. I learned to put myself on the back burner sometimes. I learned that I need to at least try to express what I feel when it’s important. I learned rejection. I learned how important it is to not be embarrassed when you’re at a low point in life and you need to ask someone to come over even though you don’t feel like putting your makeup on. And I learned that there’s nothing wrong with knowing exactly what you want and going for it, even if that conflicts with what others around you desire.
We should have broke up years ago. The majority of our relationship, or whatever you would call it, was rather awkward. Our friends shook their heads at us, mocked us, and pointed out how toxic we are together sometimes. But I don’t hate him and I can say for sure that he doesn’t hate me. We don’t regret our time together and we are each other’s best friend. I’ve always been that friend with the open door policy, always there if you really needed me no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, and for the first time I actually feel like I have someone like that in my life. Someone I can call if I need someone.
Things might be a bit strange now, but I know that I do hope that in his future is all the things he hopes for. I do hope he finds a loving wife, has his kids playing with their dog in the backyard, and a job that makes him feel fulfilled at the end of a day. And I will send him post cards from whatever corner of the world I might find myself.
Choosing to stay in a dead end relationship doesn’t make you stupid. It’s realizing your situation and addressing it as it is, knowing that everything in life ends, and that this is just one short path on your journey to a better self. It’s not letting the resentment take over, and learning to take things as they are, not what they could be. I have a much more clear idea of what I need in a romantic partner, not just what I want. I also am more aware of my personal flaws as a lover.
I’m far from perfect, but this imperfect relationship helped me become just that much better than before. It’s been difficult at times and many people find it strange that my ex-boyfriend is my best friend and that we have zero intentions of ever getting back together. All in all though, we have developed a deep friendship that I doubt would have ever happened had we not made the choice to stay together even when we knew it was over. We struggled to become friends, and now we both agree that we will always be friends no matter how much of a distance we create.