My Houseparty app still reads ‘last together: date”.
Ironically, it happens to be the actual day we were last together. I can't quite remember now, and that might give you an indication of just how long I've had to move past this, but I really hope we didn't break up over Houseparty. I mean, that has to be worse than a text.
It’s a new low when your relationship has an uncanny resemblance to an app. It boomed in the midst of a pandemic, was unexpected but exciting, escalated so quick and died in a matter of months and now only one of us keeps it in the back of their minds as a nagging reminder of what could’ve been something great while the other has moved onto better -
I guess I’m only writing this to make myself laugh. My self-deprecating jokes were something he didn’t quite appreciate because he thought I should think better of myself. It’s amongst a list of other things I know he’s right about but refuse to give in on because it temporarily entertains me. Nestled in that list is probably qualities like ‘over sharing’ and ‘being long winded’. Yet, here we are.
The isolation is setting in, I’ve spent Christmas, New Years and all of my holiday days with the companionship of well, this website, and Netflix asking if I'm still watching. I don’t know if its my introverted self retaining the energy I’d otherwise drain or the crazy that’s setting in, but the giggles have taken over as if all I’ve eaten this week were weed brownies.
I’m kidding. If anything, I’d probably bake the weed into one of the 10 thousand banana breads that I’ve perfected over quarantine - one of the things he claimed I attempted to use as a trap to make him stay. Yeah, maybe. That, and the instagram selfies he was no longer seeing because he 'hides all of his exes stories', like a healthy person, but of course I'd never know what that's like. How could I when the first thing I did was scroll through our old messages, starring my favourite ones so the self-inflicting heartache was in easy access. A prime example of a message I'd star is my response when he told me he was seeing someone new - 'when you said I was a clown, I thought you meant I was funny'. I still think I'm funny.
Dating during the pandemic was awfully similar to my last relationship (we won’t go there in this one because it would genuinely take up all the space this website has the capacity for). Mostly, greatly, probably entirely because I was back home - a swift 14 hour flight away from the UK, away from him. Most people only get blessed with that long of a long distance relationship once in their lives but I've lost count of my unlucky stars.
What topped it was the shitty (and I mean, we couldn’t even have a stable audio call without being reminded that the call was reconnecting every couple of sentences, kind of shitty) internet and the whole family being trapped under the same roof. I appreciated the two weeks I spent hauled up in my room, quarantined away from my Asian parents who would be shocked at the conundrums I got up to just to seem exciting. Let's not judge. You'd get inventive too if you were shipped off in the same month that you thought you foundthe one. Despite it all, the first couple months seemed, really great. I wrote in a journal entry that it was the perfect balance of not being smothered but not feeling out of touch. I'd say it was all in my head but thankfully, I have the receipts of two wistful lovers shocked at how easy it all seemed. Almost too good to be - oh.
Sure enough, we hit the 2-3 month period and things were starting to get patchy. We did everything we could. Communicated, compromised, we tried his way and mine and nothing seemed to be coming up right and none of my words seemed to be coming out right. I was patronising, I could see that now, passive aggressive with my 'jokes' that I used to quiver away from having a real conversation about his emotional distance. God forbid I had the balls to have a mature conversation about how I needed reassurance on how he felt about me.
He was like all of my closest friends, mirrored prisms that held everyone's attention effortlessly. They'd light up the room, their charisma and charm that could make anyone feel like they were important because they only ever reflected the conversation back to you. Their walls built high and sturdy because they only ever needed to rely on themselves. If they ever chipped, you'd never be the first ones they called. They wouldn't call anyone. You wouldn't sneak a peak until the box fully broke, or they were ready to share it because they had already put the pieces back together themselves.
I didn't think I wanted to change him, if anything my friendships with other clear boxes never seemed to work - we're all too obsessed with talking about ourselves yet not selfish enough to share what’s truly bothering us. But maybe I felt the need to be needed, to over-compensate with the one quality I thought I was better at and maybe he should've told me he was planning on moving to San Francisco - yeah, it came out of the blue to me too but as I said, I rather talk about me. The funnier I tried to be, the more offensive I was unintentionally being and the further away he felt, the more desperate I got to hang onto it.
See, I was being excessively needy. Which is, not me and all the more frustrating because of my need to over-explain the situation until I truly believe I’m understood, which just made me feel crazier. I'd say I hated being on my phone, yet answer his texts within the minute; try to be interesting and share the most meaningless stories. It’s like Trump saying he cares about Americans, yet doing everything he possibly could to prove otherwise. First I compare myself to an app, now to trump, and this is why I would never do well on dating apps.
I'm not a clinger. This most recent lockdown was a testament to that. My parents seemed to be extra worried about their youngest spending the holidays alone. My mom even asked if there was a boy I could spend it with as if she wasn't experiencing the same pandemic I was. "That doesn't mean there isn't space for romance", she cooed and I presented her with the same look of disgust that I have on right now. Boys really didn't need the extra repellent of an infectious disease to ward me off.
My flatmate and I approach the male species in different ways. We were once playing a game where we had each written on pieces of paper, mixed them in a pile and took turns trying to read them aloud without laughing. Our other flatmate's contribution to the pile included a series of her ex-flings, each scrap of paper dawned with a different persons name, all within the same friend group, of course; and for me? The notion that I like pork more than dick. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations because I truly do not know what I would sooner give up. I could only bear veganism for a week but being single is like a competition that I'm consistently winning.
It's not like I'm repulsed by them. Clearly, this whole piece is about me being infatuated with one, so there's hope. Then again, I did spend my one and only day on Tinder swiping left until the app ran out of people in my city. And I live in London.
Maybe that's why the idea of him was so hard to give up. A cocktail of knowing how rare it is to find someone I'd open up to physically and a fairytale story we talked about telling our mixed-raced kids who would rule the world. Two BAME romantics that met unexpectedly, each just grinding to chase a passion for creating and helping the world? My inner romcom geek was screaming. But if I was being honest, I tended to block out any negative feelings that might've bubbled up. I think about his mature and caring response when I shared my baggage; how he wanted to show me off to all of his friends; how he encouraged me to make my first website and dropped everything when I was upset to sit on a call with me even when I hadn't asked for it. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't perfect. In fact, there were a few days before he pulled the plug that I had considered doing the same, I even went as far as removing the contact picture of us I had assigned to his number. Deffo the same thing.
Somewhere along the way, I must've decided to keep fighting for it instead. It just so happened to be at the same time he gave up - a week before I was coming back to London.
Sometimes I struggle to remember what he sounds like, and his imaginary grasp on my waist isn't as lifelike as it used to be, I don't get the same intense warmth from remembering the way he looked at me. The feelings are like a sailor-less boat on the ocean. My limited scientific knowledge hinders my predictions of the direction that it'll sail in each day, sometimes it moves miles forwards and I think I'm back on track and other times, it drifts back.
Somehow, I'm not too worried.
There's that old tumblr (so like old, old) quote about how people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which one it was with him and how much of a better place I’m in now relative to where I was at the start of the year. Initially, it was hard to distinguish because I had so many external factors to blame. I was constantly making excuses for why it didn't work out and why my what-if thoughts were valid. Maybe if it was a slow burn, there wouldn't have been a burnout; maybe it was the timing, the loss of routine or the moving; maybe it was the uncertainty of me even ever coming back to the UK, maybe its maybelline - or the lack thereof. We’re not shallow, but, you should see what a winged liner does for me.
I spent a long time being angry about the expectations that were set up and never followed through. At the rate we were going, I’m meant to be married, with child, and set up in a home with a TV that disappears into the floorboards by now. So why am I home alone, with some hot cocoa, writing this?
The pandemic has made relationships either fail or flourish. What a joy for him that he's got to experience both, with me tied to the former rather than the latter. I know what it feels like to have your boyfriend talking to someone you know is not entirely over him and for that reason, I haven't replied since. I don't quite know when the next person will come along and swoop me off my feet, but I'd be barking up the wrong tree, even if that tree was what came whistling first. I'm just saying, we all need to pick our battles, and maybe we're better off like the app - deleted and forgotten.
February 13th, 2022: London
I remember writing this post - it was the first I ever wrote for Thoughts. Like the relationship at the time, this post stayed as a nagging reminder in the back of my head, pleading to get dealt with.
I constantly made up excuses to leave it 98% finished. "It has New Years and Christmas in it, I can't post it in the summer", "I don't know how to end it", "I'm not ready to be done with this" and later, "I don't know what it is to feel like that anymore".
Soon after I wrote that, I felt the feeling slowly trickle away. It wasn't until my best friend asked "do you still think of him?" and I responded with "who?" that we were both convinced that era had passed and was laid to rest peacefully.
If you are ever feeling how I felt last year, I hope you take some comfort in the idea that I now can't fathom that feeling. I'm with someone else, someone who never gave me those gleeful feelings of being so wrapped up with them, someone who has never made my heart squeeze or my stomach feel light. But I hear and seriously believe that it's a good thing.
He has, similarly, never made me feel anxious, never made me feel like I was overbearing and I was never made to feel insecure enough to need constant reassurance. Here's to knowing there's better out there for you and for them,because it certainly beats any high that an unstable, fleeting relationship will ever give you.