I didn’t think it happened outside of the office but it did. When you’re in love, there may be obvious signs of incompatibility you overlook. Maybe they interviewed well and you thought it was a good fit.

Back Story

Not every relationship can or will be the, “Forever and ever, Amen.” This as a risk you accept when you embark on any romantic relationship. It’s especially hard when you think the person is right for you but the feelings are not reciprocated, or, possibly worse: the feelings are there but one or both people are scared. In that case, somebody has to step out of their comfort zone or they should both prepare for the beginning of the end. Years ago I was involved with someone I always felt was special (still do). Our relationship began casually online but after we met in person, oooweee, I had “stars in my eyes.” That’s how I felt when I looked at him. I was excited to see how our story would unfold despite it starting out long distance. It didn’t go far. Didn’t even make it down the block. It stumbled a few yards, gasped and collapsed. A few months after we started seeing each other, he called me and abruptly ended things. Although I understand his reasons now, I was heartbroken as I’d already fallen for him (didn’t take long).

We kept in touch over the years. I never suspected I was on his list of possibles but miraculously, he came at me romantically. Again, it was exhilarating. I just knew it was “our time” because he was My Guy, only… it was still a sporadic, long-distance thing. I waited patiently (more like impatiently) for it to progress but it didn’t. When I finally summoned the courage to ask why, he had no answers. I cried my eyes out as I made the only conclusion I could: he didn’t want a future with me. When I first imagined life without him, I came close to what I think an anxiety attack feels like. When the pain of missing him compounded by the fading hope of “we” became too much, I had to disengage. There was no argument or dramatic finish and we both knew it was coming but it was extremely painful – for both of us. We didn’t have an abusive or volatile relationship. I didn’t blame him for anything…we LOVED each other.

So we separated. Broke up. It hurt like HELL – like someone had ripped my heart out Indiana Jones style. Grief, profound sadness, anguish, anger, longing — I endured all of those. Sometimes I felt like myself… other times I just cried all day. Through it all I stayed close to God. Closer than I had ever been. I knew that if He could bring me through violence, death and tragedy in my life, I could get through this.

Grasping for Understanding

I didn’t get it. How did I end up without my beloved? I wanted answers! Well, there aren’t answers for everything. One can glean plenty from books but life experiences are the real lessons. I didn’t know much about commitment-phobes so I fed my intellect. Some say commitment phobia is not a real condition but I say it is. Is it paralyzing? For some, YES, but if someone really wants to be and do different, they gotta do like NIKE and Just Do It. If a man is not passionate enough about me to go for it (or vice versa), it’s a wrap. Life is too short to spend it unhappy. While I accept that things happen in God’s time, I have a new understanding about relationships… in order to move forward you should want the same thing at the same time for your relationships. If you’re marriage-minded right now and I’m not, it won’t work. If I want to explore the world and you don’t, it won’t work.

Months after the official break-up, I needed to know he was okay. Society says we’re supposed to make a clean break and you shouldn’t call your ex if you’re trying to get over them. Blah blah blah whateva. I’ve always loved this man and I knew if I was hurting, he was too. I reached out. Despite the pain, I don’t have regrets about the way things transpired because it was necessary for us to part so we could focus on what’s most important. For me it was this: no one, and I do mean NO ONE comes before or between me and God. Putting a partner, spouse or even children before God can be a form of idolatry. Why do you think He sent Abraham to sacrifice his son? [biblegateway passage=”Genesis 22:2″ display=”Genesis 22:2″]

I knew I had matured emotionally and spiritually. Maybe not giant steps but I felt different. When we reconnected I found that he had refocused himself spiritually as well. I was really optimistic at first, hopeful we’d grow closer and stronger than ever and just DO it. We both changed but the major change on his end? He didn’t trust me at all. I saw it in his eyes. I felt like he was punishing me for causing him pain by putting me at the very bottom of his list of priorities. And thus began the managing out.

Going Nowhere

So we reconnected but when things didn’t progress, I did my best to surrender my feelings of inadequacy to God (on numerous occasions), tried online dating (yuck) and continued to develop myself. I didn’t feel like we were together because I never saw him. He dreaded me asking if/when I would see him. When I asked how he could stay away from me, he thought I was being narcissistic [WRONG]. He misunderstood. My question was, if he felt anything close to what I felt for him, how could he NOT want to see me? The emotions were real but he still didn’t want a future with me. The “managing out” was subtle, masterful even.

He kept our contact from Monday to Wednesday. Never after 5pm. No weekend phone calls or only an occasional text. He put me on a schedule y’all. *smh* Forreal? He kept me at a distance because he was afraid I’d get too close again and he’d get hurt. He apparently thought I was slow too. [“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Dude. I can SEE what you’re doing.] I watched him do all of this with a smirk. He also made statements about what he was going to do that would turn out to be false – in other words, he broke his word. Maybe not to others, but definitely to me. I said nothing but I was deeply disappointed. My silence was construed as acceptance because he did it repeatedly. [biblegateway passage=”1 Corinthians 13″ display=”1 Corinthians 13″] says that love does not keep track so I know I am wrong.

Commitment-phobes use something called “future talk,” a term I used long before I read it in a book on commitment phobia. It’s language designed to make you think something will happen in the future, usually something with a “we” or “we will” in tow. Each time he sensed me pulling away, he’d charm me a little and it would rekindle my hope. Let me be clear – this is not a person that purposely sets out to deceive people – I’ve met those bustahs. That’s not him. He’s a good dude. I believe he was managing me out because he did care about me. The only confusing thing was his ambivalence. Sometimes he’d be all we-we-we and future talk… then I’d find myself feeling like a stranger. I wondered if he really wanted me gone or if he was just too afraid to take a risk. Either that or maybe he, like other grown men I’ve met, believes there’s someone better out there and the very second they commit, the REAL woman of their dreams will show up. They don’t want to settle. Check it: I am not someone a man should settle for and I am enough for the right man. 

Once I understood and accepted what was happening, I was anxious, sad and irritable for days. I took long rides and spent time alone turning things over in my head, connecting the dots, but mostly I prayed about it. One night as I prayed I felt it rise to the surface. The pain was sitting like a weight at the center of my being. The tears fell easily and I cried. And cried. Until it subsided. I told God losing this man had created a deep spiritual wound which refused to heal. I admitted that I’d kept it from healing but now I was finally ready to do the work required to close the wound and let it heal. Those tears seemed endless but I wasn’t afraid I’d never stop crying. I just knew I had to let it go. I sobbed. Blew my nose. Sobbed some more. I breathed deeply. I splashed cool water on my face so I wouldn’t look like I went twelve rounds with the champ the next day and then went to sleep. The next day I felt lighter. I’d been spiritually assured and reassured that I would be OKAY. I confronted the truth: he was pushing me out of his life and there wasn’t a daggone thing I could do about it.

People do what they want to do whether you like it or not. I am not him and had no control over him.

Doesn’t matter now. I wish he’d had the courage to just tell me there was no future – not show me by disappointing me until I got the point. In his own way, he was letting me know that I shouldn’t look for a promotion. As with employment scenarios, once the decision is made that someone has to go, even if you like the person, you take steps to manage them out. As far as break-ups go, I don’t feel like we broke up because we never got back together. I also had the niggling thought that there was someone else or that he thought he would be disrespecting a previous relationship by moving forward with me – especially given the lack of visits. That was painful to think about it but what angered me more? The thought of him doing the same thing to someone else. I suppose I can kinda respect him for quietly dumping me but, um, not really. While managing out is clearly a way to soften the blow, it smacks of cowardice. I would punch him in the throat if I thought it wouldn’t hurt him and that I wouldn’t get my azz beat in the process. I don’t run fast and he would catch me before I was ten inches away. I miss him every day but I believe God has better for both of us… and perhaps that’s better versions of ourselves in the future. Call me foolish but I maintain he is still My Guy. Though Love is not a business, I’d consider re-employment with a substantial promotion, 20 weeks vacay and free oatmeal cookies.

For the record, I have never doubted that this man loved me. No matter his situation, he will love me forever. #ditto