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It’s been more than six months since this happened, but I could still use the advice (hence the letter, I suppose).
I used to be really close friends with this girl, Red. After we’d known each other for about a year, she asked me out on a date (the word “date” was definitely used), whereupon she admitted that she’d been flirting with my oblivious self for months. We had a great time, and went on several more of these outings together. It was, in general, pretty standard high school stuff.
After about a month, I asked Red if I could tell anyone else that we together (given that we’re both female, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t accidentally out her or anything). Instead of answering yes or no, she went on a bit of a rant about how we weren’t dating, we were never dating, and isn’t sixteen way too young for a relationship anyway? This surprised me. Even so, I immediately (and profusely) apologized for the misunderstanding. Once my anxiety levels dropped, I belatedly realized that the whole situation was weird. How had I managed to misread someone so dramatically? (Granted, I’m not good with people, but this definitely crossed the line into unbelievable.)
Red actively avoided me for two weeks. I figured that it was due to lingering awkwardness, and so I let her have her space. But then she continued to ignore me. Conversations were cut short, plans were bailed out on, and it became increasingly clear that she wanted nothing to do with me. Every couple weeks for about two months, I’d send a text to her pretending nothing was wrong (as a sort of a plea to continue our friendship), but the only contact we had was her asking about homework, coldly and via text. Which for some reason (*cough* thinly veiled desperation *cough*), I still answered.
I think the worst part of the whole situation (besides losing one of my two total friends), was that I never got any closure. I still have next to no idea why Red acted the way she did. And so I have come to you, all-powerful Auntie, following the path of so many confused high schoolers before me in my quest for answers. What did I do wrong? Did this whole situation really stem from one huge misunderstanding? Are friendships usually this easy to destroy? Should I have given up on Red? Did I quit too easily? What is the meaning of life? And most importantly, does it count as being dumped if they claim that you were never dating in the first place?
And the answers to your questions, in order, are: Nothing, not likely, not usually, definitely, definitely not, I see what you did there you sneaky minx, and of course it does—particularly when that claim is a baldfaced and patently ridiculous lie.
Not that these answers are going to give you the closure you’re looking for. Because the problem, my darling Sparkler, is that you’re asking the wrong questions. To wonder where you went astray is to imagine that this whole messy saga was the result of some misstep on your part—a lack of effort, a wrong approach, a failure to understand—when actually, it’s not your mess at all. The person responsible for this is the one who initiated and pursued a relationship in plainly romantic terms, only to freak out and push the panic button when she got what she wanted.
So when you ask how you could have managed to misread your friend so badly, the simple answer is that you didn’t. You read her exactly right! It’s just that she abruptly changed the message, and then tried to erase a bunch of the existing text for good measure.
Which was awful and confusing, of course, and it’s natural that you were left aching for answers—which is absolutely the appropriate human response to being a) dumped, and then b) told that you essentially hallucinated the source of your heartbreak, even when you know in your marrow that you’re being lied to.
What you need to realize, though, is that the lie you’ve been told was never really intended to convince you. Your friend claims that you two were never dating because that’s what she needs to believe, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep that narrative intact—including distancing herself from anyone (read: you) whose very presence serves as a reminder that the story she’s telling herself is a bunch of hot baloney. And while I have no way of knowing for sure what her motivations are, I think it’s worth noting generally that this kind of frantic denial is not unusual for a person with deep-seated identity issues (ahem), which she isn’t yet willing to confront herself (ahem!), let alone reveal publicly by way of coming out as being in a same-sex relationship (AHEM). So if, hypothetically, your friend hadn’t quite come to terms with the idea of being something other than straight, then it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if an innocent question about your relationship status sent her straight into panic-and-burn-it-all-down mode.
And for what it’s worth, she’ll probably come to regret it after maturity and experience lead her to a better understanding of how badly she mistreated you. But you don’t need to wait around for that to happen, and I hope you won’t. Red doesn’t have to validate your disappointment for you to feel it, nor does she need to supply an explanation before you can move past it. You don’t need her to give you closure. You can give it to yourself, by letting yourself understand that whatever her reasons for doing what she did, they were her reasons. It’s not your fault; what she did to you is what she would have done to anyone. But since she did do it to you, and since she’s clearly chosen to shut you out of her life rather than own up to her issues, this is the moment where you should resolve to let go, stop dwelling, and look forward to better things—and they are coming, I promise.
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