Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips

In the last month, I went on three great dates with the same guy. After our third date — which involved bacon cheeseburgers, handcrafted cocktails, and some overnight snuggling — I was ready to get to the point and ask him where this was leading.

In high school, three solid dates would have locked this thing into a relationship status. But post-college, “It’s Complicated.”

Because I’ve had such bad dating luck in my past, I’m making an effort to really get to know someone before making it exclusive.

So, I was prepping myself for our fourth date, when I would simply ask him if he was dating to get to a relationship (eventually) or dating to just date.

But when Thursday night rolled around and he hadn’t so much as asked what I was up to for the weekend, I was starting to think I should take a hint.

It felt like he was giving me The Fade — that slow, painful decrease in communication when someone isn’t interested in you, but doesn’t want to say it.

Part of me felt like he didn’t owe me a breakup line, because we weren’t officially together. But the other part of me, the part he saw with no pants on, felt like he had a little explaining to do.

“But that’s the thing about dating. There’s always this perfect little world in the beginning, until it’s just not right.”

I was confused. I’d done everything right; I was polite, let him take the lead, and withheld sex in hopes of eventual monogamy.

So, I shot him a quick text asking him what was up, because it definitely seemed like something was wrong.

He fed me the whole, “Work is so crazy…”

Yeah, not really falling for that one. Next?

After my terse reply, he called me the following night to tell me the actual reason why he was acting weird.

He had a talk with his ex. Oh, yeah, her.

Apparently the conversation they had was enough of something to make him stop talking to me. Because the only words I’ve heard from him since? “It’s not you, it’s me…”

I didn’t know people actually used that excuse, but now I can report they do, and although I was sad to read it (because it was a text), it made me laugh on the inside.

The thing about exes is, we’ve all got them, especially at this stage in the game. If anyone knows a thing or two about exes, it’s me.

But the difference between me and my disappearing crush is that 1. I don’t speak to my exes, and 2. I’m not letting baggage get in the way of a potential relationship.

Most of my breakups have ended clean – we split, and we never talk again. That is how I prefer it, in order to avoid situations like this.

A few days after this guy told me about meeting up with his ex, I was sad. Why did something good have to end over something from the past?

But I realized that I wasn’t quite sure how things ended with them. We’d talked about previous relationships already, but not the nitty gritty. Perhaps he still had feelings for her.

Later, when I got the infamous text message, my sadness turned to anger. It was a copout.

But that’s the thing about dating. There’s always this perfect little world in the beginning, until it’s just not right.

And a guy actively meeting up with his ex? I’m not into that. While I do wish it were handled better — say, a phone call — I know that I can’t go into a relationship with a foundation of trust issues.

The silver lining is that I saw this guy’s true colors after just three dates, so I wasted very little time.

“But you deserve those answers,” a girlfriend told me during our weekly wine night.

Yes, I would have liked to know if he was getting back with his ex, or if he just needed space for awhile. But words are like people — sometimes they say more when they’re absent.

Read more about Holly’s favorite breakups on her blog, TheBitterLemon.com.

Getting Rid of Baggage

How to throw out the past:

1. Digital Delete – Pictures, texts, contact info, whatever is in your phone from the ex, delete it.

2. Silent Treatment – If you’re still getting texts, calls, or emails from an ex, do not respond. Even negative replies give them fuel.

3. Do You- Focus on yourself, your needs. Stay busy by participating in a new hobby, or an effort you care about. You’ll gain confidence to move forward on your own.


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