I’m ready to be your acquaintance.
There are a lot of reasons I don’t like you. When we dated, you still weren’t over this girl that you had a huge crush on from back home. She was high priority for you, higher than me, your first girlfriend. I was aware of this, but I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of the problem. Once, months into our relationship, we were in your room, and I realized that you had on your desk a framed photo of her. Just her, alone, pouting at the camera with big brown eyes.
I was furious. We had just had sex.
You regularly belittled my opinions, when I had them, telling me I wasn’t qualified to talk about things I didn’t understand, like politics and economics. Those were “your” intellectual domains, not mine. (Well, look who’s a Woody Woo major now.) You constantly had rage bottled up underneath the surface. And no, you never hit me, or threw things at me, but you hurled a lamp across the room once.
I’ve never forgotten that.
I tried to break up with you multiple times — when you got angry at me for reasons that weren’t my fault, when you told me to shut up (in a seminar class!), when you called me stupid. Somehow, you always manipulated me back into your life. It only ended when my increasing pressure finally got to you and, in the tenth month, you broke up with me.
Apologies don’t erase the past, but they mean something. Over the past year, you apologized. You tried to communicate with me, enough to make me uncomfortable. I read your letters and emails, but I almost never took the bait. I wanted nothing to do with you and your toxic ways. I heard stories about your creepy passive-aggressive behavior toward other girls - people I cared about - that made me want to go back and punch you.
And then my second boyfriend broke up with me, just when I was really beginning to love him and was getting ready to say so. Suddenly I understood a small part of it. Not the way you behaved when we were together, but the desperation in the aftermath of our breakup — the wanting to access someone by any means possible. But your toxicity was still there in every message, and that made me unable to respect any sentiment behind it. At the same time, I looked at the way I was reaching out to my second ex, trying so hard to get a response from him, to get him to acknowledge me . . . and I felt you and I had a little too much in common.
Our social circles still overlap considerably. We joined the same eating club, by some sick twist of fate. I hear rumors that you’re going to leave, though, and sign in somewhere else — maybe to avoid me, maybe not. After months of being purposefully ignored by me, you began to go out of your way to do the same.
Maybe we can’t be friends, but we don’t have to avoid each other the way we’ve been doing. We can acknowledge our personal problems and begin to tolerate each other’s presence again. Sure, I still dislike you — and I can’t change that overnight. But I don’t have a vendetta against you.
So stay in this eating club, if you want to. It’s big enough for both of us.