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Dear (Name Redacted),
Bear with me here.
I like you. I really do. I like going on dates with you. You seem pretty cool. You can hold a conversation. I even liked hanging out that one Sunday, aka “The Day of Man,” except when you asked me, “What’s going on?” during Game of Thrones (I’m masturbating, that’s what’s going on). And the sex is great — you’ve got the body of a jungle cat and the eyes of the Cobra from Ricki Tick Tavi. But this thing — whatever it is — has to end.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This is insane — you’re ending this thing via an 800-word column for a website mostly about wearing boat shoes. We weren’t even together. We were just hooking up!” True, but any consistent hook up is a trip on a slow monorail; we can see the end, our heads popping out the side, yet we both refuse to acknowledge it. In Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character says this: “A relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” Are we denying the scourge of time in this relationship? Time pushes couples forward; there are socially recognized mile markers we adhere to, and which exist in your expectations. Believe me, you will not be okay with us just “hooking up” for the next two years. Bar-meets lead to sex, which lead to dates, which lead to titles, which lead to butt-stuff, which lead to meeting parents, which lead to picking out which mason jars we want the guests at our wedding to drink out of. So, we both know where this is going: either it’s nowhere, or it’s dancing to “Crazy Love” — me in a tux, and you in a lace gown. There’s no in-between. There never has been. So I’m getting off this ride.
But I couldn’t just let it die, either, could I? Imagine the alternative. Maybe one day I just stop answering your texts, or ignore you in a bar. Then I’m an asshole, right? Me and the rest of my gender would be fodder for an intense brunch with the ladies. Thinking of all the men that have done you wrong, you guys would squeeze your mimosa glasses until they shattered, rubbing the blood from your hands all over your faces like war paint, swearing vengeance, then eating a stack of pancakes because “you don’t even care.” You’d all cut a wide swath of judgement about how I wasn’t a gentleman, about how I’m stupid, about how my penis, while girthy, lacks the length of your previous hook-up (who, incidentally, was also an asshole).
And you will have lots of questions. “Why did you go out with me in the first place?” “Don’t we have fun together?” “How come we can’t just make this work?” And my answers will involve the words “timing” and “work” and “not being ready for a relationship.” But you and I know that’s bullshit. The real answer is this: you and I started as an attraction, and I knew this would never result in marriage, so I had sex with you until the moment one of those mile markers were coming. A mile marker, that would be a lot more complicated than masturbation. You’re attractive, I know you’ve been on the other side of this, casually stringing some poor bastard along until you realized he’d never give you your “Carrie” moment (“Sex and the City” Carrie, not “pig blood at the prom” Carrie). I’d wager the mortgage on my not-yet-purchased houseboat that you didn’t give that level of honesty. So do you expect it now? Do you then have a higher standard for males than you do for females? Would you also like someone to take away your right to vote?
If you’re being honest, you’re upset, not at man’s piggishness, but because he doesn’t want you. Yes, that blows and you want to blame someone. I’ve been there, but when my heart was broken (I’LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN, KARA), I wallowed in self-loathing, not defiant blame. You were a complicit party in this adventure. I did not show up at your house after Sunday service and ask your father to take you on a date over tea. I did not promise you the rest of my life in order to con the poodle skirt off you in the back of my car after a sock-hop. No, I went full Michael Douglas on you after our first date, and you practically shoved my head down there. So, what is this vague chivalry you’re expecting?
Here’s ultimately what I want: for you to understand that this isn’t an act of rejection. That to find out that we’re not right together isn’t about a winner and a loser. It’s about the combination. And we, as men, are not to be blamed. To assign blame is to prostrate yourself as the victim. You’re not a victim; you’re a beautiful, strong young woman, just not the one for me. Do me a favor: ignore the text message I send you this weekend looking for sex at 2am. We’ll just have to do this all over again.