Friendship is such a funny thing – and in many ways, a lot like relationships. You spend your childhood (and let’s be honest, your adulthood) dreaming and imagining this mysterious man you’ll one day end up with. But you forget about the women, the conversations, the connections that keep you sane even after you’ve met the person you’ll share your life with. The truth is, you share your life with your friends just as much, too.
One of my dearest friends (that religiously reads this blog and edits it before you see it, so thank her!) was first a freelancer for me, then an intern and then my partner-in-NYC-drinking-wine-crimes. She has a relationship with her boyfriend of two years that admittedly, I’m a little jealous of. It’s what all good classic love stories are made of but it’s totally modern: they fell in love instantly, they moved in together, they fit together, they’re human and they’re real, and they make it through it all, still supporting, still loving one another as they learn, go and grow. But she had a “Dear Boy” story of her own before she met her man – and when I asked her to write a letter to that ex for this very post, she politely declined.
And surprised me by what she said: “I’m no longer angry at all. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am now, I wouldn’t be in a healthy, happy relationship.”
It reminded me of my entire mission for writing and collecting these Dear Boy stories: so that we all — in one swift click of the mouse – release our pain. Release feeling unworthy or burned or pissed off that these guys think their actions are acceptable. Their words meaningless when they feel like they mean everything. That boys in New York and London and Paris and South Africa and Kenya and China and where-the-fuck-ever, have the audacity to treat us so wrongly. We don’t deserve it – and they don’t deserve any more of our thoughts, our pride or our energy.
Dear Boy who booked a flight to NYC.
Meeting you at 17 on spring break was unforgettable. Seeing you again almost 10 years later I wish I could forget. You flew in and disrupted my weekend and while I said it was okay and partly invited you I thought you had other friends in the area. I must be a completely different person than I was at 17 or you got into way too many drugs in college because I don’t remember the pain of being in your presence. I’m pretty sure I never thought rough housing by holding my wrists or tripping me up the subway stairs or starting fights in bars were fun. I also don’t remember you being so fucking annoying! Your conversations were lackluster and literally sucked the life out of me every time you opened your mouth. You’re inappropriate grabs and comments were never going to be okay and when I told you nothing was going to happen between us this weekend the image of your face will never leave my memory. The people that met you or saw pictures of you thought your body looked amazing. However, every time I even thought you were going to kiss me I thought I was going to vomit right there on the city streets. Three days of hell is how I’ll remember this weekend. Three days of what was I thinking and how could I be so wrong about someone. Three days of forced city and drinking activities and three days of unwanted attention. Please don’t ever book a flight to NYC again and if I see you again…. it will be too soon. –Anonymous
Dear Boy who defines the meaning of the word arrogance.
I was incredibly excited when you invited me to France to see you for a week. After months of communication after our first encounter, you filled my head with dreams of long walks around old French streets, sipping endless coffees and thoroughly convincing me that I had finally found someone who wanted to treat me like a lady, who would finally make me feel that gentlemen still existed. After spending a pretty penny on flights, I arrived at the airport full of hope. You arrived to pick me up two hours later than planned (understandable I thought, as a rugby player I knew you had training), before taking me back to your flat. Conversation flowed and my hopes remained intact! Fast forward to the next day, spent wandering around your city and sipping coffees (so far so good), before conversation quickly turned to a one sided discussion about yourself and how great you were. Things are starting to go downhill before the big finale. You inform me, mid-kiss, that you never wanted a relationship, that you purely invited me out here for fun. Well with two days to go and a student budget, you can imagine my surprise. Sadly being incredibly British and stoic, I could only nod and smile politely (whilst inside I was ready to go nuts!). Fortunately for me I had friends in Paris who I planned to go and stay with, but there was one more night to get through. Here’s where things get comical. You offer to take me out for supper, and spend the entire four course meal talking about, you guessed it, yourself. Ironically I was thankful for this as it tired me so much I knew I’d be able to spur any unwanted advances with ease. Upon leaving the restaurant, you ask if it’s OK if we check out the menu of another restaurant, you hadn’t been yet and wanted to check it out. What you didn’t realise that although I was walking three steps behind you I was still in full earshot, so I heard you perfectly clearly when you stated; ‘Got to find somewhere to take the next one’. Smooth move. After a swift exit into Paris the next day, I’m almost glad that you never contacted me to enquire as to whether I was OK and had arrived safely, and to be honest, I’m most definitely well shot of you! –Anonymous
Dear Mr Rockstar therapist-I should’ve written this to you months ago.
How fucking dare you. Lead me to believe I’m so special and you want to be with me all the while still dating her but figuring out how to leave her so you can have your freedom and “be alone.” Or so you told me… Come to find out, I was only one of many girls you had on the side from your actual girlfriend. Although I am the prettiest of the girls (like you continually loved to mention), I didn’t make the final cut, did I? No, no. You drug me along for a year only to come into town and rub your “new” girlfriend in my face only weeks after drunkenly calling me and requesting a “tit pic” for the (unwarranted) cock shot you sent earlier in the day…
But for this, I thank you. If you had not come here with zero regard for me and my feelings, I can confidently say, I’d still be hanging on your words. Consuming every poison soaked phrase that lead down a dark path of self-doubt. Nevermind the fact I was indeed shitfaced the entire time you were here, I felt all of it. In an attempt to drink away my feelings that weekend, I actually just conjured up own ones… This may have been the smartest decision I made that weekend. Being civil and not blowing your cover, the stupidest. Especially since I didn’t hear from you for over 2 weeks after you left and when I did hear from you, it was because you wanted to thank me for “being so cool.” It’s not my style, nor do I enjoy ruining other people’s relationships… in this situation, I think you’ll be the one to pull the pin.
But I do need to thank you for the free therapy and endless compliments on my “rockin’ bod” and always telling me I look pretty without makeup… Even though usually the only thing you could manage was a simple, “goddamn goddamn.” As much as you crumbled me in the end, you built me up pretty high along the way.
…still kind of hatecha, bro. –Danielle
Dear Boy who claimed to be the nice guy, but told me that my ex had a new girlfriend so you could act like my savior.
Before we went out for drinks, you kept telling me what a nice guy you are and how you always finish last. I thought I was safe to have a drink with you since you knew I had recently went through a break-up with a mutual acquaintance. I thought it was polite to buy the nice guy a drink for once. We had our first sip, and then you dropped the bomb that you had met my ex’s new girlfriend. I was completely baffled as to why you would tell me this. You kept claiming you didn’t know that I hadn’t heard my ex had moved on. I was emotional and you could tell that I was still dealing with heartbreak. This didn’t stop you from preaching to me why I should date you. Weeks later, I decided to tell you that I wasn’t ready for a relationship and didn’t want to date you. I had to keep repeating my decision to you on the phone because you kept trying to convince me that you were the one for me. You may be a nice guy, but your tactics to get to a girl’s heart are not noble. Just as much as I need to love myself, you need to love yourself enough to not a date girl who isn’t available. –Anonymous
Dear Boy who always took me for granted.
Maybe, how I first met you should have been a sign. A sign that you were just to much of a kid, with your afro hair and completely plastered face. Trying to pose yourself that couch “sexy like” to get my attention. I tried to show you I was uninterested, but you were to drunk to notice until I got up because you were creeping me out.That was two years before we started dating. It took us a while to figure out it was you. When we did we laugh about it. It was a completely amazing joke that we could tell out friends and family. The beginning of our relationship was amazing and fun. Quickly I found out that… the beginning of our relationship was the only part I was really going to enjoy. You were still to much of a boy and not enough of a man, or even growing into a man. While work and college are important, you would completely ignore me and act like you weren’t. I’m important too. I a human whom like attention from the person she loves. I did love you, very, very much.When we finally broke up in 2013 it was a blessing. You were selfish and it was hurting me more and more. You actually did this, because I finally made you realize how much you were being selfish and hurting me. I figured you would make start bucking up and treating me right. Instead you decided that there was to much damage, that you never wanted a girlfriend anyway, and so you broke up. I found you to be a coward, even if your reasons were “good” enough reasons.You dated me for almost a year and never once did I get to meet your family. You have no idea how much that killed me. None. Family is important to me and I really wanted to meet your finally. That was really my finally and last sign. I was tired of this relationship before it even ended.There are some things that I wanted to thank you for though. Like how you reminded me that I don’t want to change for anyone. Especially for someone’s imaginary image of perfection in his mind. I am not perfect and that has always been something I love about myself. I run into things and laugh. Half the time things come out of my mouth and they sounds like this “lfjdkls;ajkl;” and it amuses me. I do not speak English properly, especially not back in the day proper English. I have stupid friends, who do and say stupid things, and something they really just don’t understand things. SO WHAT?! They are human beings, being human beings, just like me and I love them completely. They accept me for who I am, the way I am and never want me to change.To say the least, I’m glad things ended. This is my goodbye letter to you. I’ve beensaying goodbye to you for a while now, and this is my final goodbye. –Done
Dear boy who I liked way too much, way too fast.
It took me a while to notice you. I had always noticed you at work as very nice, but I mean to notice you.It took you drunkenly grabbing my face and making a move one night. That’s when I saw you as someone other than the cute coworker. You were so adorable and shy that first night when I brought you home. We talked for hours, and at the end I saw you in a whole new light. I wanted to see this “outside of work” version of you again. We had our first, and only “Date”. It was a great night, that included making out in parks and on benches and in cabs. I couldn’t get enough of you. More late night hookups happened, a trend all summer. Then the “talks” happened. I knew you weren’t right for me. Too young. Too unsure of your life. Too drunk every weekend…and too caught up in your friends to care about someone else taking up your time. Yet, I still tried. Like every girl, thinking I could change your mind. That I would be great enough to break your “don’t date a coworker” rule and make you forget that it was becoming more than a casual hookup. You warned me about just wanting casual, I ignored it. I wanted you. I had finally found someone who I was comfortable laying in bed and talking with again. Who I wanted to tell when something happened at work, and who encouraged me. I don’t click with many, and I clicked with you. It didn’t matter, and you were adamant after the summer ended that we were also ending. Now I have to sit in meetings with you five days a week and try and forget the potential I saw in you, and how it felt snuggled up against you, and what it was like to kiss you. It makes me bitter that I found you at the wrong time, but you also helped me. You helped me move a little closer to being not quite so broken from the love I had before you. From “the one” that left me in pieces for years…and for that I’m thankful. –Anonymous, 25, NYC
Dear boy who preaches that alcohol is no excuse for any actions but still claims it has his excuse for every fuck up.
I liked the expression on your face when you heard our music on the jukebox and even more so when you realized I was a cute girl and I picked it-absolutely adorable. I loved the way you made me feel completely beautiful in spite of meeting you in my “fat” jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops with a bare naked face. Your follow-up text the next morning after having me out until 5 am when I had to work at 8 was precious:
“I hope you’re feeling better than I am. You undoubtedly look better. I had a lot of fun last night. Let’s do that again please… I hope sooner than later.”
And we both know we did over the next month or so. Until I decided to show up at the bar unannounced with my BFF who was in town from Raleigh because rumor had it you were there and asking for me… I loved the giddy feeling driving to meet you. I hated walking in and you pretending I wasn’t even there. Maybe it was my stubbornness or maybe it was stupidity… but I stayed around and let our mutual friends try to push us together. Though inevitably decided to leave, only to text you the second I pulled into my driveway, tears streaming down my face and cursing your name, something along the lines of, “If I knew you were going to ignore me, I would’ve saved my pride and skipped it all together.” To which I received no response… ever.
This is where our story should’ve ended had I been any other person or you any other guy… But no, it didn’t, did it?
You ran into one of my friends while you were out one night and she proceeded to grill you until you finally broke down with some bullshit story about that night and being too drunk to form sentences much less talk to me because I made you “so nervous.” I should’ve seen through the malarkey and kept you in my NEVER EVER ANSWER box but I didn’t. I had been reading a self-help book (you know they’re my favorites) about giving second chances and let it take over… So I gave you a second chance. You showed me off for a couple weeks, all your friends fell in love with me (this is my strong suit), we were damn near inseparable…
But then I had to give you a third chance
Followed by a forth.
And finally gave up on the fifth.
You stepped on me, took advantage of my vulnerability and kind heart. We poured our past awful experiences out to one another and I felt that was pretty big because I don’t tell just anyone those things. The dreaded ex kicking me out, your ex of 2+ years leaving without reason only to jump into a relationship a couple months later, the abuse we both received in the past… I trusted you. You fucked me. –Danielle
Dear Boy who was something that I knew could never be.
But I have this thing about trying, so I tired with you anyway. We had been friends for a while and knew we have always liked each other. You liked that I never took the shit you dished out. Instead I always knew what you were trying to do and I told you bluntly to your face what I thought about your actions. Your actions were stupid and that you were being stupid. There is really not much to say for you or to you. Mostly that I’m done with you too. I tried with you, tried my hardest for you. You were interested at first, and than you weren’t and than you seemed to be interested again. You said you were very selfish and you are… The real reason I think you couldn’t be with me though, is because you weren’t completely interested in me. You realize that I’m more a friend than anything else.Which is fine, but by this point I really don’t want to be your friend either. –Tired of Stupidity
Dear boy who is brave enough to serve our country but not brave enough to end our relationship in-person (or at least a phone call, geez):
We fell in love the summer before my senior year of high school. You were my first love. You made my head spin, my heart dance, and my body burn with passion. We went fishing together, sang along to Dave Matthews Band in the car with the windows down, and climbed up on top of an old building near your house to watch the stars and steal kisses. First loves are something special. They burn so bright and end with a bang. Ours was no different. My first broken heart took some time to heal but it did, and I came back stronger than ever. I don’t blame you for that.
Actually, I’m thankful for all the lessons that our love taught me and when you reemerged in my life 7 years later, I was curious as to whether or not that first love spark was still there. It was. Your life was vastly different from mine. I was in the middle of my last year of law school. You had just returned back home from years of serving our nation in the army. You had been sent overseas and God only knows what you saw over there, but with a bullet-wound and friends who didn’t return, I’m sure it was enough for a thousand lifetimes. Your bravery earned you a trip to the White House to meet President Obama and my heart swelled with pride the first time I heard about your accomplishments.
We reunited over Christmas break, that time of year when people are always longing for someone to love and hold. Personally, I think that the fear of being alone during the holidays is what motivates people to seek out a relationship during that time, but that’s slightly off topic. We fell right back in to where we left off. It was perfect. My cynical, lawyer logic was transformed into hopeful, giddy thoughts of a girl in love and my heart raced with I thought about our future. We spent time with your family, sipped on copious amounts of hard apple cider, and fell in love all over again. Well, at least I did.
We were more mature this time around, or at least I thought we were. You were what I had been looking for and I quietly ended those one-night stands with boys who only wanted me for my body. My last semester of law school started soon after the holidays and although I knew that my life would be hectic and stressful, I was prepared to face it because I knew that you would be by my side. Or at least I thought you would. Two weeks after my classes started, your attempts at communication dwindled and I was left wondering what I did wrong. You ignored me for an entire week. No phone calls. No texts. Nothing.
Needless to say, I was crushed. I drowned my broken heart with red wine. I cried when I woke up in the morning. I cried in the library when I was trying to study. I cried when I went to sleep at night. Something broke inside of me and I desperately searched for the answer as to why you did this to me. Finally, after a week of not hearing from you, I received your text, which simply stated: “I’m sorry but I don’t think we can be together right now.”
Twelve words. TWELVE WORDS. I tried to call you, ready to use every expletive known to mankind but you didn’t answer. In retrospect, that was probably for the best. A month later, I learned you were dating another girl who lived in the same town. I sent bad vibes your way and I hope you felt them. Recently, that relationship ended (I can only imagine how) and you had the balls to try and contact me again. Ha, not in this lifetime, darlin’. I smiled as I deleted your unanswered texts and applied my mascara before a night out on the town. Our second shot at a relationship taught me another lesson: bravery is not defined by your profession or what you do for a living. It is a combination of how you treat others and your ability to be honest. And honestly, you sir, are a coward. –Chelsea
It’s been a year now. A year since our breakup. A year since our last anniversary together. I’ve tried to move on. Trust me – I have tried my damn hardest. But I simply can’t. You’re the guy I see myself marrying; trying to substitute anyone else at the end of that aisle just won’t do.
So, boy whom I truly love, just know that I’m barely hanging on. No one takes my feelings towards you seriously. No one bothers trying to understand. You are the only person who ever did. And now, it’s obvious that you simply don’t care. It would be nice if you would keep your word, and at least be the friend I need right now. It’s hard to fabricate hope, when you won’t even speak to me. –Emma
Dear boy who was the best dancer I ever met.
Where were you all summer? You waited until my last night out in Lake George to show up at Fire & Ice. I remember laughing ’til I cried as I watched you bust some serious moves on the dance floor. You made me feel so comfortable–okay, maybe with the help of a few vodka sodas–that I matched your dancing enthusiasm and we tore it up like dorks, oblivious to those around us. My cheeks hurt from smiling. A few days later you asked my friend for my number (I didn’t give you a chance to ask in person) and asked me out over voicemail (I ignored the unknown number). I loved your boldness. Thanks for letting me be myself and so graciously accepting that I was unavailable at the time. I hardly know you, but you make me believe there are still good guys out there. –Anonymous
Dear boy you would think that after all this time I could let go of.
Leave all the empty promises and endless nights behind me and move on… but I simply can’t. I have moved past the fact that we will never be together, and that is for the best, but I may never get past the fact that I lost my best friend and partner of 5 years in a tiny, one line text message.
You were my first… my first boyfriend, first confidant, first kiss and so much more. You loved me for who I am and never tried to change me even when things were rough. You were romantic to a fault and considerate beyond my wildest imagination but in the end you gave up, threw in the towel and tossed aside everything we had for another girl. It hurt, and I thought I would hate you forever, but somehow I moved past the relationship because I thought the friendship was worth saving.
I am not saying we were perfect for each other, but we were perfect best friends. Even after the ridiculous break up and our parade of new relationships we tried to make the friendship work. After countless one night flings, phone calls that went on for hours and romantic hand written letters while you were in Afghanistan we let it stop working. Maybe we were both tired of trying to make something work that was never meant to be, or we were holding on to memories that needed to die, but when I look back all I can think about is how I would not change one thing.
I loved the way you held my hand and the way your skin smelled. I loved how you would squeeze my hand three times to let me know you love me, and how just catching each other’s eye from across a room would light up both of our faces. I loved looking at the stars in the back of your truck, and talking about a future we both believed was possible. I loved you and will always have love for you, and part of me thinks you feel the same. So boy, know that you will always be a tiny flicker in my heart, pushing me to find something better and know that I wish only the best for you, and thank you for helping me realize what love can truly be. –Julianne
Dear Boy who forgot my birthday.
Everything about our relationship was about you. You could sit and talk for hours and hours about yourself but it was impossible for me to talk about my life, my aspirations or me. I just didn’t exist. WE didn’t exist.There was no room for communication. It was always a “bad time” to have discussions about our relationship, and if I did, you would say I was “crazy” or “paranoid”; I was not allowed to share my opinions specially if they differed from yours. Ever. I was never able to open up to you because whenever I did, you would use the information I gave you against me. Your communication only consisted in criticism, yelling and bullying. We never had a peaceful conversation that didn’t end in a fight or in tears. But you couldn’t appreciate silence either. You would say that silence was “not productive” and if I didn’t make an effort to stop the conversation from flagging, you would say that I created “bad atmosphere”.
Our conversations could not be about futile things, they had to be “productive”. They had to be about work or career. I had to (in every conversation) lay out my 10-year career plan for you. Whether I was just thinking about changing industries, or considering changing jobs, or going back to school, it couldn’t be just a “thought”, it had to be a precise and detailed thinking process that I had to present to you as if I were in a job interview 24/24.
When I met you, I thought that you were a talented young man full of self-confidence in a pursuit of a dream. I quickly realised that you had no confidence at all, and that you would play the role of the “misunderstood artist”around your peers, while around me you would play the role of the arrogant “know-it-all” asshole who would constantly criticize my “lack of artistic value”. You would always ask for my help whether it was for your personal projects or work projects and I was (at first) always happy to help. Little did I know that in fact it wasn’t help that you were asking for, it was more of a demand and I had to comply automatically with your wishes. You didn’t care what I was doing, or whether I was busy with work. I had to drop everything at the exact second and come to your rescue and help out with whatever you needed. Failure to comply resulted in hours of yelling and telling me how “selfish” I was. Failure to deliver “perfect” solutions for your projects equally resulted in yelling, and telling me over and over again that I was “a waste of oxygen”. I could never win with you. What made it worse was that you never appreciated what I did, you never once said “thank you”.
This relationship drained me. I gave you so much and all I got in return were tiny crumbles of shit that I held on to as if they were precious. I really believe that you had a sadistic pleasure to see me hurt. I believe you would get high on criticizing me, threatening me, patronizing me and calling me names. It made you feel powerful, didn’t it? Well in fact, it just means you are insecure.And as if this wasn’t enough to destroy someone’s self-confidence, you pushed it even further by betraying me, covering it up with lies on top of lies that just wouldn’t make sense.
It took me months of therapy to understand that you had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and that all your advice (that I used to find destructive and never constructive) was in fact emotional and verbal violence. It took me a Greg Behrendt’s book to realise that you were never really into me. It took me thousands of psychology articles and blog posts to understand that you were actually “unavailable”. It took me months to figure out what kind of person you really were. I am not bitter. I am grateful that I got to see the real you. –Anonymous
In the past several months you have grown. I know you have had a really hard time the last couple of days with yourself, but this year it seems to be the year that you are fed up with stupid things that are getting in the way of getting back to yourself. This year has really seem to be the year that you are getting yourself back. That’s all you’ve wanted the last couple of years.
You had to go through the boys. They weren’t frogs, because a toad doesn’t come from a frog, and princes can be frogs in costume, and frogs whom turn into princes are fairytale. You never wanted a prince anyway. You’ve wanted a man, a true man. Not some foofoo boy who will give you everything you need, but who will challenge you to better yourself, look at things differently, and show you new things. Who will teach you things about yourself that you never thought were possible and in turn will teach him a thing or two about himself. Someone who will let you go your own pace, but will also kick you in the ass when ass kicking is necessary. You had to go through the boys to realize this and also realize what you have to do to be yourself again.A couple years back you were going through this same thing and than you started to date someone who got in the way of this. He didn’t like things about you and tried to change those things. You tried to comply and than realized what the hell where you doing. You started to fight back, and he didn’t like that. Things got rocky for the two of you. You started to doubt yourself. Than things ended. You adapted to your “screw everyone attitude” again. You stuck to your “screw everyone attitude.”I’m very proud of you for doing that. I can tell that this time around, you won’t let some boy walk all over you again. This time around you aren’t going to be dating the boys. You’ll be dating the men, or the growing up men. You realize that you can love yourself so much, but if someone else doesn’t love you like you love yourself, it can cause a rift. It can also cause a little self-doubt. So you need to find someone who enjoys you, just as much as you enjoy yourself. If they don’t, well they just don’t know what hilarious, dorky, and smart things that they are missing. You make yourself realize, they are just a pinch of salt in the ocean. –Keep loving yourself
You’re a smokeshow. Stop making excuses for the assholes you keep accepting in your life. Remember, you ARE a badass. You’ve got more to offer people than meets the eye. Let the ones that stare down your shirt or at your ass, buy you a drink or two. Save the substance and your heart for the ones who ask about your day and favorite movies. You know the ones I’m talking about. Keep the nerds close and the cool guys at an arm’s length. You know better, babe.
End this year with a bang. We both know 2014 is going to be one for the books. You’re gorgeous, I love you. –Danielle
Dear man I fell in love with in a matter of hours.
The stories I’ve read in romance novels and watched on movie screens of the fleeting love I barely believed in came true when I met you. You were instantly the one I knew I could never let get away. I asked my mom if you could fall in love in just four days and she said, “Well… yes. Yes, you can.” I was only nine months out of a turbulent, unhealthy, and self-deprecating relationship with a man who I thought was greater than god. Little did I know that he was one of the best things to ever happen to me — he led me to you.
Throughout our two-and-a-half years together, you’ve taught me more about love, compassion, strength, and courage than I ever imagined I could learn from another human being. You are kind to every one you come across, and you treat me like an absolute angel. We may have our good and bad days just like any other couple, but when it comes down to it, you’re truly the best man I ever met and I am thankful every single day to have you in my life.
Thank you for showing me that true, love-at-first-sight love really can and does exist. –Jenn