Written by Anonymous
Dear first real boyfriend,
I’m writing this letter to you exactly one month from the day you watched me beg for you not to leave—literally trying to prevent you from physically walking out the door—and put us on this rocky, shaky, four-week emotional roller-coaster with Love the Way You Lie (Part II) playing in the background (a song I’ve always felt was very fitting for our relationship). For the past three and some years, I dedicated my entire life to you, the first real boyfriend I had that I actually got to see more than once a summer. If I was running for president of your heart, my slogan would have been “You First.” I chose you over my friends, I chose you over my family, and I certainly chose you over myself. As a boyfriend, I don’t think you gave as much as you got but I don’t regret it—you know I just wanted to make you as happy as I quite possibly could and spend as much time with you as possible. As feminist and progressive as I am, I loved cooking for you, folding our laundry while watching Bravo, making sure our place was spotless when I had some free time; taking care of your needs made me happy. I loved being a domesticated, dedicated girlfriend—maybe I’ve been subconsciously conditioned due to my cultural upbringing, watching my family members always put men first. Who knows? My bliss was tied to yours and I just wanted us to have a happy home—even if the home I was living in with you went against all of my parents’ traditions, norms, and beliefs. I didn’t care—you were first. I had been in a relationship before but considering my then boyfriend lived on a different continent, it couldn’t have been much of a real relationship. He and I met at the wrong chapter in our lives and I’m starting to think that maybe we did, too. Regardless, the past few years were truly my first experience in a real, adult, long-term relationship and naturally its abrupt end crushed me. But what hurts more is how indifferent you seemed to be to walking away.
I went through several phases. Anger. Sadness. Grief. Desperation. Mourning. Hate. More sadness. Crazed. You definitely witnessed some of that. Like when I had that severe panic attack that fateful Friday and pretty much lost my marbles. Or when I finally snapped and was cruel to you, telling you that “no one likes you” because of your negative energy, causing you to go from allowing me to take my time finding a new place to threatening to throw out my things if I didn’t take them out that day. Thank God my friend was there to help me move but oh how I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I’m sorry that I lashed out at you—I was always more of the sensitive crier than the one dishing out insults. Thank you for then allowing me to try to console you afterwards though and let you know I was worried about you, pushing away all the people who loved you the most. My heart broke watching you hunched over in what used to be our bed trying to hide the tears streaming down from your face—I will never be able to get that image out of my head. After that, I realized that no matter what, no matter how badly you hurt me by choosing to walk away from me—which you said was for my own good—I would always forgive you and wish you nothing but the best. How could I want anything bad to happen to the person that I loved (still love?) for so long. And I know deep down, you’re not a monster, you’re not cruel, you’re not the decisions you make or the words you say when you’re angry. I sometimes wish that you were so that it would be easy for both of us to move on.
…Anger. Sadness. Grief. Desperation. Mourning. Hate. More sadness. Crazed…
I thought that would be our last encounter but of course you just had to text me a week later when I was attempting to move forward.
I wish you hadn’t... Was it to appease your conscience? Was it to tell me you missed me and wanted to consider getting back together in the future? When I finally chose to respond to you so I could get some closure, you told me you wanted to see me in person and talk. At the time, I wasn’t ready to face you. And now I wonder if I’ll ever know since I decided it was OK to pregame brunch with margaritas, drunk text you, and show up at your door. By the way, the unbridled passion when you swung open the door and we leaped onto each other? That’s burned into my memory. I don’t think either of us will ever find that Titanic-in-the-car-style passion. Then again, we all know how that story turned out (except let’s be real, I would have never taken the float just for myself). I wish you had turned me away that fateful Sunday. I wish I had listened to my girlfriends who kept checking to make sure that I wasn’t texting you.
I know I said I could do the casual thing but that’s just not who I am. This isn’t college, where everyone pretends that they’re OK with making bad decisions and you’re not some stranger I met at a bar after one too many drinks (side note – that’s never been my thing). You were my first legitimate partner. We shared our lives together. I introduced you to my father—something that we just don’t do in our culture unless there’s a serious future in the works. Now it feels like you’ve gotten some sort of power back, like you don’t need to communicate your feelings with me or treat me how I deserve to be treated—how you think I deserve to be treated. It kills me that you can be so blasé— that on one hand you could beg me to “never give up on you” because you couldn’t bear to lose me but then on the other, have no problem telling me you “no longer loved me” and throwing me out because you “needed space.” It kills me that after so many years together, you’re so unsure of what you want but you’re OK with sleeping together and casually going out every now and then because you’re not ready to move on. I’m not either but this in-between shit is not good for either of us.
We had so much fun together last weekend. We had so much fun together a lot in the course of our relationship—something you lost sight of every single time we fought. And boy did we fight. But like I’ve always told you, it’s not the fighting that’s the problem—it’s the reaction and expression and the state to which it gets. Maybe I really should have been more of a
bitch rather than cry and make you feel guilty. But to me, our good moments far outweighed the bad.
Remember when we recreated our first date? Or when we went to music festivals? Or danced at nightclubs into the wee hours in the morning? We stopped doing a lot of those fun things when we lived together… and it seems like you didn’t want to do them with me anymore. After all, it’s what you said when we had our civil post-breakup chat the week after that fateful Friday. Yet, did we not just have so much fun casually having drinks? I understand the concept of space. I understand feeling unsure about our relationship. I’ve been there before too—but I never got to the point of walking away, despite all the pain I was put through on more than one occasion. It really hurts that it’s so easy for you to just be without me and to not care that I won’t be waiting for you to make up your mind.
…This in-between shit is not good for either of us.
But at the same time, I like to think that this horrible, ugly, ongoing breakup has brought some light into my life. I like to think that even though it’s only been a month, I am finding peace. Rather than dwelling on the past, wondering what went wrong, continuing to cry and begging for you to take me back, I am learning so much about myself and growing stronger by the day. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, part of me is grateful that you decided that the only way you could get space from me in our relationship is if you made me move out, told me you no longer
loved me, and closed the door on me despite everything we shared together. Allegedly you only said these things because you didn’t know how else to ask me for space, that you didn’t mean them… Because I said “if I move out it’s forever” and you didn’t know what were you supposed to say. Well for one, “fine” was not the correct response. “I don’t want to lose you or be without you, we just need space to cool off,” would have been much better.
You were right though—I never would have walked away. So thank you for doing it for me because it’s opened my eyes to a lot. See, we often hurt the ones we love most because we are so comfortable being our truest, rawest selves around them. And I am honored that you chose to show me every side of you—even the ugly. I still love you—I probably always will—and I forgive you. I forgive you for all the times you lost your temper with me. I understand why you react to things the way that you do. I forgive you for all the times you felt insecure about our relationship and it manifested in jealousy. I forgive all the times when you needed space but couldn’t properly communicate it. I forgive you for the hurtful things you’ve said in anger that you never meant. I want nothing but the best for you and I know you absolutely deserve it. You’ve taught me, though, that no matter how much love you have for someone, no matter how happy you try to make them, it will never be enough if that person doesn’t choose happiness and positivity for themselves; if that person isn’t happy with themselves.
Sometimes you need to let go, discover yourselves as individuals, and if it’s meant to be maybe down the line you will find each other again. And if you don’t – then it wasn’t meant to be and it certainly isn’t the end of the world. You breaking up with me made me realize just how hard I have been on myself my entire life. Ever since I was a little girl, teased in middle school and high school, I thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, cool enough. But after our breakup, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was my harshest critic. I know deep down that I am a beautiful person, both inside and out. It made me realize that goddamn it, I’m a queen and I should be treated like one. And I don’t mean I should be spoiled or treated to expensive, material things but rather that I deserve affection, meaningful gestures, and unwavering support. I need to be put on a pedestal the same way I put you on one. It’s the little things that truly mean the most to me. I never wanted to be your first or only priority, just one of your most important ones, equal to your career or yourself.
And there were times where you really did make me feel like the most special girl in the world—like when you showed up to a rally I was at and hugged me tight after the announcement of the Muslim ban with tears in your eyes. Or when I would come home after a long day to find the shower running and a glass of wine waiting for me. Or when you would take a break out of your chaotic day at work to call me and say hello—to make me feel like you had been thinking of me. You were so happy knowing that that minor thing had made my day; you heard it in my voice. There are plenty of these small yet extremely meaningful moments that I cherished and continue to treasure today—that’s what I will always remember and that’s what makes this so difficult.
But as happy as we made each other, we had several moments that cut us both too deeply—and neither of us deserves that. We both had issues—my anxiety and insecurities would manifest in overwhelming emotions and sensitivity, yours in anger and impatience—anger that would be taken out on me since I was the person you spent the most time with. I promised I wouldn’t give up on you and still to this day I really don’t want to. But this breakup has taught me to think of myself. To take care of myself. To send out positive vibes to the universe, to heal, to be strong and independent. It’s taught me that it’s OK to be selfish sometimes. To put my foot down. To discover who I am. And whether the universe has plans for us to get back together (honestly, it would take a lot to trust you with my heart again) or if we outgrow each other and find people who will complement us better than we complemented each other, I’ve learned that I have a lot of love to give and I will make sure that this love is reciprocated with just as much fervor. Love is a two-way street. It should never feel like one person loves or cares more. Partners should be equal— two unique halves of a beautifully imperfect, unconditional whole.
Your former partner in crime