In the face of my silence, Cole didn’t break up with Allison. They were together for four years. Cole and I remained friends during that time, but I think we both always wanted more.
Cole has not been single since we broke up in high school. For years, we would hang out every day. Cole’s family began to hate me because they thought I was interfering in his relationships. I hated myself for not interfering.
When he moved away for college, Cole asked me to follow him. A part of me wanted to, but I didn’t. Each year, he bought me a plane ticket to visit him; I never used them. A part of me wanted to, but I couldn’t. He was always in a relationship with someone else.
He told me he loved me for the first time during winter break of my freshman year of college. We were both home visiting our parents and he threw a party. I fell asleep on his couch, and he carried me to his bed. He slept on the floor.
The next morning, he held my hair as I vomited. When I was finished, he smoothed my hair with his hand, told me he loved me, and drove me home. I felt cherished and protected, but nothing changed between us.
Until recently, we would talk on the phone every month, and he would still offer to fly me to visit him. A part of me always thought we would end up together, but I was always too afraid to tell him how I felt. Now, I fear it is too late.
Two years ago, he made me breakfast on Christmas morning. When we said goodbye, I consciously realized for the first time that we would never get back together. I cried for hours. My mother said it was the first time she had seen me cry over a boy.
I wondered if it was my fault. Should I have visited him? Maybe he was always in a relationship with someone else because he didn’t know how I felt. But why didn’t he come visit me? Since then, spending time with him is increasingly difficult.
Last year, I spent Christmas Eve with him and his family. After dinner, he and I watched The Walking Dead in his basement. Cole told me that he was thinking of buying an engagement ring for his girlfriend. He asked me how I felt about that.
History repeated during a zombie attack in an RV. I think he wanted me to stop him, but I’ll never know because I didn’t. I told him I was happy for him, gave him a hug and went home.
He’ll always have a permanent piece of my heart. But if I had said yes, it wouldn’t have meant happily ever after. With him, I’m mourning for something that never existed. What could have been.
Should I have told him how I felt? Would it have made a difference? If he could act this way toward me while dating other people, would he have done the same to me if we got together? Could I have done more? Should he have? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.