Dear Captain Awkward,
I began dating someone in August even though we both knew we were moving to different cities at the end of the month. August was great, I learned more about what I want in a relationship, and we left on good terms.
This person was in my new city recently (in early October), and we resumed our “relationship” for the week he was here, but I said that after he left I wanted to stop communicating for 2 months so I could concentrate on my new city and get over him. He agreed and said that was fine.
Which brings me to today. This person and I have begun the “2 months of no communication” that I requested. It has been about a week and I just received this message from him:
“I know we are not supposed to communicate but I was thinking about the mean comment I said the other day. It was dumb and hurtful. I am sorry, I was stupid, you re sweet.”
So here is the incident where the mean comment occurred:
While we were together in my new city, we met some friends for brunch. I mentioned that the previous night he and I didn’t go to a certain concert/club because we weren’t dressed up enough. He said something like “Yea we can’t go dressed like shit. I mean, can you get in dressed like that?” and he gestured at me. I can’t remember his exact words but he basically proclaimed that I was dressed like shit in front of friends. I completely froze. He could tell something was wrong so after we left the restaurant he asked me what it was and I told him. He said I was right, that was fucked up, and he is sorry.
And now he is saying sorry again. I appreciate this, but the problem is it feels like “sorry” is not enough.
So my question is, how do I respond to this? This is a person I enjoyed getting to know, who I felt a connection to, and who I hope I can have a friendship with. Here are two drafts I came up with:
1. Thanks for saying this.
2. I’ve been thinking about it too. And a lot of other things. The past, patterns I get into with people. Maybe you can help me answer some of my questions sometime. For now, let’s stick to the 2 months thing.
Do you have any suggestions or insight? Your scripts always seem so mature and brilliant. I think, ”Obviously! That’s what you should say! Why didn’t I think of that!”
Thank you so much! I love your blog.
It’s nice that he apologized and realized that he really hurt your feelings. He could have referred to himself being too poorly dressed for whatever club it was. (Rules for jokes like this dictate that you can only mock someone’s outfit if they are in fact dressed to the nines, the way you can say ‘what a dump!’ only when walking into a spectacular mansion or yacht, and only then if everyone within earshot knows each other very well). His message also has a tang of “Are you really serious about that whole break from communication thing? Let’s test that! Thinkin’ boutcha.”
What if you didn’t respond at all? What if you let your break from communication do its work to get the romantic prospect of this guy out of your system? Past You had a really solid idea for helping Present You let go of this person so that you could move to your new city without the effort of a long distance relationship. What if Future You gave Past You a big high five, filtered this guy’s messages to somewhere you don’t have to look at them right as they come in? Your mention of “past patterns” hints at maybe being with a mean person or people before, and maybe it’s worth you sitting with that awareness of what he said (vs. the apology) for a while longer while you work it out in your own mind.
I think what you do depends on what you really want to happen in two months. If you want to be friends and not date, you could say “thanks for saying that” or just leave it be entirely for now. If it upsets him to be left hanging, let him worry about that. You aren’t being mean or rude, you are just sticking to what you said you needed. The break is there to let all the uncomfortable feelings die down so that when you do talk again it can be more relaxed and not all about feelings.
If in your heart of hearts you want to continue a romance with him, you could answer now, or soon, or in two months. Take whatever time you need to know your own desires. Planes, trains, and automobiles exist, and there are lots of ways to say, “Why did we break up again, like, exactly?”
If you and Apology-man are meant to be friends, it will happen because you have common interests and affection and you find a way to stay in each other’s lives. If you’re both still thinking about tearing each other’s clothes off and staying up all night talking and making adorable moony faces at one another, you’ll make that happen somehow. If this person was just meant to be in your life for a short time to remind you of what you want in a romance without actually being that thing, you’ll drift apart over time and that will be a good thing. How you respond or don’t respond to his message right this second doesn’t have the power on its own to determine (or fuck up) any of these outcomes, so do whatever feels right to you.