A few weeks before Christmas, the guy I was seeing "broke up" with me.
I use the term loosely because we'd seen each other only a handful of times, but the result was the same: From that point on, we would no longer be dating. He told me he tried to be honest about these things and something was just missing between us. He didn't think it was fair to prolong the inevitable, but he would still like to be friends if I was up for it.
It wasn't the first time one of my relationships had ended just before the holidays, but this time I was sitting on my couch, listening calmly, rather than sobbing on the phone outside a restaurant in San Diego while my family waited for me to join them inside, and my mom popped out from time to time to check on me. And this time I got the speech I'd always wanted to hear.
For years, I've discussed with friends how frustrating it is when guys suddenly disappear after a seemingly normal interaction. We can't help but analyze every detail of our last encounter -- did he find that joke offensive? Did we go too far? Did we seem too eager and freak him out? Or too aloof and he thought we weren't interested?
The not knowing and the waiting for the next phone call are always worse than just hearing the truth: that he started seeing someone else, that he got back together with his ex, that -- pardon the cliché -- he just wasn't that into you. Do I expect a guy who isn't interested after one drinks-date to tell me that he doesn't see a future together? Of course not -- he'd sound so presumptuous. And trust me, I've pulled the disappearing act many a time. But past the get-to-know-you point, don't we deserve to know where things went awry? I say yes. But because it's easier not to address these topics, I've never gotten a straight explanation --at least without prompting -- until now.
Truthfully, I hadn't been 100 percent sold on this guy, but I was having fun for the time being and, frankly, there was no reason not
to keep seeing him. We liked the same bar band and, as it turns out, had been at the same concert years ago. He suggested one of my favorite restaurants for our second date but was cool with just watching "The Office" on our fourth. (That he felt it appropriate to make out with me in the middle of "The Office" was slightly less promising.)
And when he woke up at my apartment and suggested that, rather than going downstairs, we just order bagels and coffee and catch up on TV, it felt like he had read my mind: That is exactly how I want to spend a slightly hung-over Saturday morning. Basically, we seemed to have a fair amount in common, and he seemed like a good guy. (Plus, he was tall.) I was trying not to dismiss the relationship too quickly, as I'm prone to do, and, instead, listening to my mom's advice, was hoping sparks would develop.
That's when I found he had come to the same conclusion I had -- and decided not to drag it out.
I knew that something was up when he called rather than texted. And after a little small talk, he got to the point: He explained his feelings like a mature, straightforward (dare I say it?) man, and we agreed that we were actually on the same page. Such a small gesture, but those five minutes managed to magically remove any awkwardness or hard feelings down the road -- and even left the door open for friendship.
Would it have been harder if I'd been crazy about him? Absolutely. Was my ego still a little bruised? Sure. Did I proceed to drink a bottle of wine while watching "Gossip Girl" and rejoin JDate that night? Perhaps.
But at the same time, I was grateful to him, relieved to have an unambiguous answer and be able to move on.
It's so easy to complain about the things guys do wrong -- and, certainly, there are plenty -- but this one got it exactly right.
Lori Fradkin works on the Welcome Screen team at AOL and has written for New York magazine, Marie Claire and DailyCandy. She won't hook up during "30 Rock," either.
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