Moving On

At the end of 2018, I asked out a girl I was interested in -- for anonymity’s sake, we can call her M -- in an effort to start 2019 without any lingering regrets. Though I had not expected M to reciprocate my feelings, given that I had previously implied my romantic interest in her months before to little reassurance, rejection is never a pleasant prospect. I have been on the “unhappy” end of rejection many times before, and even so, I do not envy the task of saying “no.”

As much for her sake as for my own, I stepped away from talking to M for some time in an effort to get her off my mind. Although I had accepted -- with more grace than even I expected of myself -- that her feelings towards me would never be the ones I wished they would be, it benefited no one to dwell on her. And as I had been the main driving force in our text conversations, once I decided to take a break from her, we soon stopped talking. It was a bittersweet decision, and though I knew it would do me good to take some time away from those knotted feelings, I knew I would miss the companionship that had attracted me to her in the first place.

Some weeks ago, nearly half a year after I had last spoken to her, M texted me out of the blue. It was an innocuous enough message -- a book recommendation, like so many of the messages from before -- but all it took was reading the words, “I read this and thought of you,” and the memory of my feelings for her came rushing back. Despite what women might sometimes perceive of men, we are just as capable of being lovestruck, and in this day and age, the giddiness of receiving a text from someone you like is a feeling that needs no description.

But it was on me again to not delude myself over M’s intentions; she has always been the kind of person who is often friendly for friendliness’ sake -- a quality in women that too often gets mistaken by men for attraction. It would have been unfair to her to presume any change in her feelings, and I knew it was time to move on.

I’ve come to understand that the way to move on -- from a lost friendship, from an unrequited crush, from a lost opportunity -- is not to completely cut oneself off from a source of happiness; instead, we must reevaluate the parameters of our happiness, and realize that it comes in many different forms. I believe that my life is happier with M’s presence -- even as only a friend -- and if maintaining that connection means adjusting to a different position than I wished, so be it. It’s long since past time to learn the lesson of humility.