When a relationship ends, many people suggest that you write a letter pouring out all of your feelings. I did this recently, but then I did something that most people don’t do: I went ahead and I sent my letter. And he read it. How do I know? Because he responded.
Let’s back up a little bit.
A year ago, I met a man that we’re going to call Nate, and I agreed to go on a date with him. On this date, I found that I really liked spending time with him, so then there were more dates. As time progressed, I started to develop some real feelings for Nate. He met most of the criteria that I wanted from a significant other. I looked forward to spending time with him, and I would say we saw each other at least once a week.
However, there was one major flaw: Nate was not committed to me.
After about three months of seeing him, I asked him where he stood in our relationship. His answer was that he enjoyed spending time with me, but he was still seeing other people. And somehow, I talked myself through the bit of sadness I felt. I convinced myself that if I gave him enough time, Nate would eventually want to commit.
I’d like to believe we all tell ourselves this at some point.
It never got there though. Nate never brought up commitment, but I would get little things. He asked about the future. He met some of my friends. We continued to make plans. He always seemed as excited as I was. Things were never hard or awkward between us.
I believe they call this breadcrumbing. By six months, I had about reached the end of my string of patience, so I cut things off. It hurt me so much, but in my mind, I told myself that I was a modern woman who deserved better than waiting around forever. I knew my worth, and I was tired of giving out discounts. So I ended things.
Fast forward to the end of 2018. I’m reflecting on the year, and I’m realizing that Nate had a big impact on me. Sure, we never were officially together, but people change people. From knowing him, I learned how I am when I like someone. I learned that my standards aren’t too high and that the men of my dreams can be real. From the pain of ending things, I found the strength to say no to being treated as less than I was.
There were so many emotions going through me at the time, so I started to write to organize and comprehend my feelings. Before I knew it, I had about two pages. Two pages of thanking Nate for unintentionally teaching me so much, and apologies for what I thought were my shortcomings in the time that we spent together.
It was written relatively quickly and easily. For the next several days, I would open this document to read and edit it. It was a good letter—full of positives, none of my grievances. Those had already been said. Then I sent it one night.
I didn’t really know what would come of it. He would either respond or he wouldn’t. Either way, his reaction would not change how I felt. The letter was true, and it’s not like this letter said terrible things. If anything, he should feel flattered that I took the time.
Days passed before Nate responded through social media. He said that there were things that he wanted to say in person. I ended up agreeing to coffee.
When I saw him, I learned things that ended up helping me. At the time we knew each other, he was getting out of a rough break up. He said that when I ended things, he was shocked in the moment, but in hindsight, he wasn’t surprised. He apologized, and said how great it was to hear from me. He had been fond of our time together—that we should be friends.
Now, I don’t know how the friends thing will play out. What I do know is that I don’t regret writing or sending that letter. There is something freeing about putting all your feelings out in the world, and I got out of it something a lot of people don’t get. I got a sense of closure, with an extra side of confidence and courage to do the hard things.