‘Hey, how’s it going?’

Seems like a pretty average Facebook message, right? 

Not this one. This was from an ex-boyfriend who I hadn’t seen in over a decade. ‘Congrats btw!’ he’d added. 

It was mere days after my wedding.

And we certainly weren’t friends – he was just obsessed with the idea of ‘unrequited love’. 

He’d cropped up once or twice in the past, still with the same profile picture he had when we were dating – as if he was going-on-18 forever. He’d tell me he still loved me, and regretted our relationship ending. That I was ‘the one who got away’, and his despair that I didn’t love him back, when, in reality, he was the one who pushed me away.

I was a teenager when we dated – and he was a pretty rubbish boyfriend, to be honest. He only ever replied to my texts at 3am. He was always over an hour late when we arranged to meet, leaving me waiting at the bus stop alone. Sometimes, he never showed up at all. 

Once, he even promised he’d meet me at his friend’s party, miles from where I lived and just… didn’t turn up.

He’d always grovel afterwards, though, say something nice to try and make up for it – and being young, stupid and ‘in love’, I fell for it. I forgave him for being useless, when he deserved the ‘worst boyfriend of the year’ award, instead.

We dated for a few months before he dumped me on the steps outside a Wagamama in town, using him going to university as an excuse to say we were ‘going in different directions’. He was going to university in the city where we both lived.

Years later, usually when I was newly-single, or on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, he’d crop up again – they always do – regardless of his Facebook relationship status. Try to weasel his way back into my life under the guise of ‘checking in’ – reminiscing about old, simpler times in efforts to soften me up and entertain him.

As if he’d forgotten about his inability to function as a boyfriend. Sometimes, it worked. Occasionally, I was swayed into letting him in – staying up late to message him, listening to the same music we did when we were young.

I imagined myself loving him back. Felt the whisper of those squirmy butterflies in the pit of my stomach – the place where my broken heart had dropped to when he dumped me.

It’s embarrassing that I fell for it, looking back.

He was obsessed with the idea that I was ‘the one that got away’. He’d talk of his regrets that we didn’t work out, how he wished things could have been different, before he’d disappear again. Once, he even messaged me when ‘our’ song popped up on Spotify – 10 years later.

It was like clockwork. And it would’ve almost been impressive if it wasn’t so pathetic.

But to message me with fake niceties just days after the happiest day of my life after he’d seen my Facebook name change was a new low. Safe to say, my cold reply and swift block made sure he never messaged me again. 

He wasn’t the only one to get in touch after my wedding day to offer their so-called congratulations, either. There was the lead singer of a band who suddenly dumped me because he got attention from girls after he cut his hair. The one who stood me up. The one who was a cheat.

Over the years, I’ve had to endure multiple ex-boyfriends message me out of the blue, as if nothing had ever happened and it was the most normal thing in the world. In reality, they all failed at being a good boyfriend, and wanted to make sure I remembered them. Us.

These men repeatedly had the sheer audacity to romanticise a situation that was once painful, where they royally f**ked up, thinking that – even though I looked happy – I’d want to be forever reminded of the ‘good times’ I had with them way back when. Of what ‘could have been’.

They all painted their inability to be a good partner simply as us being on different paths, the right person at the wrong age or wrong time, two ships in the night or some other BS, fairytale metaphor.

It’s degrading, infuriating and also pretty hilariously sad, if I’m honest.

I actually find it insulting, personally. Presuming that I, the girl that you dumped, would be both honoured and flattered to get a random, late-night message from you – my crap ex boyfriend – just because you wanted the pleasure of being in my thoughts… even after I got married. 

As if I was still game to view your failures through rose-tinted glasses in the name of a romantic concept that just does not exist.

After a relationship ends, it doesn’t mean that a door is always open for you; that women will keep you in their orbit throughout their lifetimes just for you to keep tabs on them and satisfy your own self-reflection.

Just because you think they’re ‘the one who got away’ when it was you who failed at keeping them.

It’s selfish and sanctimonious – and I don’t deny it happens to men, too. Multiple times has my husband snorted and rolled his eyes after a rubbish ex-girlfriend appears in his message requests folder – lamenting of good times, and lost love. It’s sad, really.

The thing is, it’s not unrequited love if it wasn’t love in the first place – so the obsession with ‘the one that got away’ trope and ‘what could have been’ needs to end.

Maybe, just maybe, the reason we ‘got away’ is because these boys were too useless to keep us in the first place? 


You’re reading Unrequited, Metro.co.uk‘s week-long series exploring the confusing, exhilarating, heart-breaking realities of one-sided love.
For more love stories, visit our dedicated Unrequited page.


You’re reading Unrequited, Metro.co.uk‘s week-long series exploring the confusing, exhilarating, heart-breaking realities of one-sided love.
For more love stories, visit our dedicated Unrequited page.

Source: Read Full Article