“Perhaps you need to be the one to close the door.” My sister said to me as I lamented over a frustrating situation with an ex-boyfriend. After several difficult months trying to get over him, I knew that I needed to move on, but I didn’t want to face the truth.
After four months of no contact with him, a friend encouraged me to reach out.
“What’s the worst that could happen, rejection?”
He was right. If I still had hope that maybe we could make it work, I had to do something about it. I was never going to know where he stood on things if I didn’t contact him. And that’s when I realized that my fear of rejection had become crippling. I couldn’t find peace or freedom from this relationship until I figured things out.
That night I mustered up the courage and emailed him. At first, it seemed like the door was re-opening. He was open to talking. Maybe this was going to work out after all. But after several conversations, it became clear that our intentions were very different. I had hopes of romance, but he just wanted friendship.
He told me that he thought our relationship had progressed too fast. After a few weeks of dating, neither of us were really having fun anymore; instead, we were anxious about figuring out the future. There were also some major issues that we just weren’t on the same page about- something I had told myself we could work through, but in the depths of my heart, I knew it was a lie.
As difficult as it was to hear his honesty, it was also freeing. I felt like the closure that my heart really needed was finally being given to me.
I had many conversations with friends and family members who had given me excellent advice the weeks leading up to our exchanges. My sisters and brothers, in particular, recognized that although I was holding on to him, I was probably not being completely honest with myself. From the beginning, I had never had complete peace about our relationship, but this final reaching out allowed me to let go of an idea about our relationship and place me back into reality.
I learned a lot in that relationship, but there are two main things that really stick out:
- Communication is EVERYTHING: Although things moved way too fast between us, we were brutally honest with one another. Sometimes it hurt, but vocalizing our fears, desires, and frustration with one another allowed me to trust him, my gut, and the ability to be vulnerable. It’s hard and it requires a lot of effort, but I think miscommunication or the inability to be honest with one another is what divides so many couples today.
- Trust the heart: I prayed a lot about this relationship both during the time that I was dating him and after. I pretended that I had peace, but when I sat in silence and really looked at the situation before me, it was as if I were constantly lying to myself. We wanted different things in life; we both cared for one another, but once I faced reality, I was able to firmly say that I would never be totally happy in a life-long relationship with this person. I wanted more out of life and it’s good that I walked away when I did.
It’s really frustrating when a break- up makes you feel like you’re back at square one, but you’re not because we learn through experience. There are many things that I learned that really helped me grow, and looking back now, I don’t regret the risk. Love requires a risk and the man who becomes paralyzed by his own fear is the man who will never fully love at all.