“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
– Maya Angelou
For two years, I found myself in a “relationship” without any of the benefits of genuine love, desire or romance. I was in another situationship*, tragically in love with Sunshine and she knew it.
Photographing my favorite flowers, writing me an intimate except from my favorite book, demanding keys to my apartment, cooking for me when I was sick, wanting to cuddle with me in public, jealous of everyone in my life, telling me she loved me over and over… All of this and Sunshine would look me in the eye and tell me she wasn’t leading me on. She’d say it was all in my head, that she and I were only friends. And honestly, I believed it.
This confusing, frustrating, and ultimately damaging dynamic between the two of us led me to believe that I was literally going insane, so I sought professional help. My first therapist, unfortunately, enabled Sunshine’s behavior for some reason. Anytime I’d walk into a session ready to banish Sunshine from my life, my therapist gave me hope that maybe one day, Sunshine might see me the way I saw her. To be honest, that therapist’s advice is one of the main reasons I stayed with Sunshine for as long as I did.
In March of 2015, shortly after I came back from Cancun, Mexico and another argument with Sunshine about her jealously, I began seeing a new therapist. We spent my entire first month of sessions talking about Sunshine. Then the moment came… I was in therapy, and as usual, complaining about Sunshine. My therapist asked me, “When was the last time Sunshine made you happy?”
I couldn’t remember in that moment the last time being with Sunshine made me happy. It was the beginning of the end for us.
Six months prior, I met someone else, Athena** (they, them, theirs***). Someone to whom, for the first time in over a year, I was attracted.Athena didn’t know I liked them at first and we were only friends, but it made me realize I was ready to move on. It was time to end my toxic situationship with Sunshine.
Sunshine and I had previously made a mutual agreement that if either one of us met someone, and we caught feelings for this other person, we’d tell each other right way. Strange agreement for two monogamous people not in a romantic relationship, but let’s go with it.
I caught feelings for my new friend. To remain loyal, to Sunshine and my agreement, I knew that I had to tell Sunshine. Because of her possessive tendencies and jealous behaviors, I was not looking forward to it.
It was May 2015, and spring was finally here. Sunshine and I had a picnic in the park. I told Sunshine about my feelings for Athena. At first, she took it really well, and I was relieved.
We left the park and went to a store that had a vinyl player on sale. I mentioned that Athena’s birthday was coming up, and I knew they were interested in getting a player. Sunshine flipped out on me in the middle of the store and stormed out. I stood there baffled, embarrassed, annoyed, but sadly, not surprised.
Sunshine headed to our favorite frozen yogurt (froyo) spot; I followed shortly after. I wasn’t going to reward her temper tantrum by chasing her in the street. We were going to the same place; I knew this would continue there. “If you get into a relationship with Athena and our relationship changes, we’re over!” Sunshine broke the silence as we were eating froyo next to one another.
I don’t take kindly to threats. Sunshine and I sat in the yogurt spot arguing. The bottom line was that our “friendship” was inappropriate for two people who were supposed to be platonic. If either of us were to get into a real relationship with another person, no partner would be okay with us continuing to behave the way we were, Sunshine disagreed.
In the heat of the argument, Sunshine confessed that she had been hiding something from me. It seemed as if she’d found her own “Athena,” and things were progressing toward a serious relationship between the two of them.
I was furious. I wasn’t mad she was with someone; remember, I already knew I wanted to move on. I was mad because here she was threatening me and throwing tantrums because I liked someone that wasn’t her. Meanwhile, she had been talking to someone else for months. It was as if I was supposed to be a puppy that stayed in love with her forever, but I didn’t deserve to be loved in return.
By the end of May, we were giving each other “space.” Everything hurt - it hurt a lot. We’d argue, she’d say abusive things, and then she would apologize a week later. I tried to forgive her, but most importantly, I tried to forgive myself. The entire ordeal was emotionally draining.
July arrived, it was the middle of the night and I woke up to use the bathroom. I glanced at my phone to see a huge paragraph from Sunshine. The text told me how much she loved me and that “it was her and I against the world” and that she wanted me to be in her life until she died. How she told her then girlfriend that she couldn’t explain the dynamic of our relationship. Sunshine told me “WHEN" I was ready to come back, she’d be there for me with open arms.
This triggered me in the most aggressive way. For years, according to her, I had been interpreting her behavior in a way she never intended, that her actions were never more than that of a close friend. According to her, she never led me on, or allowed me to believe that we could ever be anything more than friends. But these words, these words on the screen in front of me that I read dozens of times proved me right. They proved to me I wasn’t crazy, that I hadn’t been imagining things or misinterpreting the signals.
Sunshine’s admission came off as nothing more than a last-ditch attempt to manipulate me into falling back into our old patterns. Even if her professed feelings were genuine, I knew I could never trust someone who repeatedly gaslighted and lied to me. I finally admitted to myself that Sunshine was not capable of choosing me the way I needed to be chosen by a partner nor would she accept a true platonic relationship from me. I responded to her in an email with probably the longest and most honest “break up” letters I ever wrote.
To this day, I haven’t seen nor spoken to Sunshine.
*Situationship (my definition): two people who may be sexually and/or emotionally involved with each other and behave like they are in a monogamous relationship, but neither parties are in an actual romantic relationship with each other.
Example: One or both parties displaying jealous, possessive behaviour or imposing certain requirements/expectations for one another that usually occur in monogamous relationships. This is usually accompanied with a refusal to bestow official titles (e.g., ‘girlfriend’, ‘boyfriend’, ‘partner’, etc.) and/or the avoidance of acknowledging of the relationship altogether.
**Name changed to protect identity
***They, Them, Theirs: People are using a variety of series pronouns like they/them/theirs and Ze/Zir/Zirs.
Profile Photo Credit: The Divulge Project