Best I Never Had

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He was all I ever wanted. When we met I was struck by his directness, charm, and sophistication. We were at the club where I worked and he almost immediately stood out from the other patrons. He was respectful, sexy, and not impressed by the beautiful, naked women surrounding us. We must've spoken at the bar for at least an hour about everything from education to family to art and music. The best part was he didn't take me in the back for a lap dance. He knew how to stay outside the "customer zone". Toward the end of our conversation we exchanged numbers and he said he was going to fuck me. Not that night but in the future. "I'm going to take my time," he said. And he did.

I knew who I'll call "Brent" for a few months before we had sex for the first time. I think we met around October; we weren't intimate until March. The first months were casually spent talking on the phone and meeting up to smoke the occasional blunt. Then we started to see each other more frequently--a bite to eat here, a concert there. He was determined and he kept his word--another reason I was so into him. After we started having sex the inevitable question arose: what are we? You might assume that I initiated this conversation because women often are labeled as the needy ones in relationships, the ones who put pressure on their partners to be exclusive. In this case Brent, being the secure and direct person he was, introduced the 'what are we?' conversation. That was my chance to put it all on the table, to tell him I wanted a long-term monogamous relationship. Instead I clammed up and said something like, "Isn't it too soon to talk about this? Let's just keep doing what we're doing." I was showing my immaturity. In retrospect I see how that was a yellow flag for him. 

Although I didn't explicitly tell him what I hoped for out of our relationship, I expected that he'd behave a certain way as we grew closer. I wanted the security of knowing we were working toward something. I bit my tongue out of fear of coming out of my cool and calm character. As I became frustrated with missed dates and days-long gaps without talking, Brent became frustrated with my lack of vocalizing my desires. I think the whole thing was a test, to be honest. I failed. After weeks of heightened emotions and lusty sex, Brent abruptly ended things. I was crushed. 

We sat on the stoop of my apartment. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day in May. I thought we'd spend the afternoon together enjoying the weather. I was fresh out the shower, my kinky hair carefully coiled. I winged my eyeliner perfectly. As my hair dried in the sun, my heart was unceremoniously broken on the stoop. "You're just too young," he said regretfully. I kept my composure in front of him, then went inside and bawled. 

I didn't exactly get it at the time but I do now. Although we were only four years apart I didn't know myself well enough to be emotionally involved with a man. He could see that I was still growing. Everyone says communication is the most important part of a relationship. It's a cliche because it's true. With communication comes vulnerability. A person who can't talk about her feelings isn't necessarily someone you want to dive into a relationship with. I can't say for sure that if I told Brent my true feelings he would've wanted to continue seeing me, but at least I would've been able to say I did my part, I was open and honest and true to myself. Brent wasn't the perfect man. He had his shortcomings too. He could be arrogant, verbose, and neurotic at times. I learned from him though. It was the best scratch-the-surface, almost-relationship I ever had. 

Self-Love Conquers All

Quarter Life Crisis