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You make me feel like an 8th grader.

Submitted by LeahG on April 15, 2010 – 6:45 pmComments

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By: Leah Goldstein

I recently had a minor break-up that reminded me of middle school, and made me realize something about myself. To preface:

In the 8th grade, the boy who I had been staring at for two years FINALLY figured out that I liked him, and “asked me out” (to be honest, it was one of the more perfect moments of my life). In traditional middle school manner, our status as a couple was immediately established in all rungs of middle school cliques.  It’s funny; I don’t even remember how long we “dated.” However, I do remember immediately feeling like I had lost a lot of freedom. This was confusing and new to me, because I’d been dreaming about this boy for the majority of my awkward years. I knew how to act like I was happily dating someone, I went through all of the right “going out” motions that I thought my friends were expecting, but eventually I realized that something was wrong. I didn’t actually like him. And I also started having crushes on other boys, and (hating myself) I tried desperately not to flirt with them.

Important to note is the manner in which I broke up with the “cutest boy in class.” I admitted my break-up plan to a friend through a bathroom stall door during lunch (the designated “crying stall” which had two rolls of 1 ply industrial strength toilet paper). And of course, before lunch was over, everyone in my class knew what was going to happen. He was waiting for me in our usual spot after school, but he looked piqued, and wobbled on his feet, which were spread out like he was about to do a 40 yard dash. I opened my mouth to speak but he blurted out a panicked “—we need to talk!” and then spun on one heel, booking it to the carpool line. When I got home I furiously dialed his number, but he picked up after one ring and spat out, “Hi I don’t think we should go out anymore!” so quickly, it sounded like one long word. “But,” I gasped, “I,” “—I  said it first,” he replied, and slammed the receiver down. To this day, this guy (who I am still friends with) still jokingly insists that he broke up with me.

I’m obviously not pissed about that very middle school-y incident anymore, but recently I found myself feeling that same frustrated anger at this guy I had been trying to date. He seemed pretty perfect, but I felt like I was reciting a transcript from some previous, more successful relationship. That spark (or whatever) just wasn’t there, and I continued attempting to hang out with him despite our apparent inability to bond emotionally. So when he said those words: “we need to talk,” I couldn’t help but be reminded of my 8th grade self, silenced in the most frustratingly hilarious way. And, like 8th grade me, I wanted to scream, “UGH! I didn’t even really LIKE you! I was just trying this out! UGH!”

I’d really like to say that I learned my lesson after the middle school experience. But, although I have gotten a lot better at realizing I don’t have feelings for someone, I still tend to try to make myself like someone. I know that I should really only pay attention when one of my available male options has made me forget about all of the others (romantic, I know). We (us, the 20/30 somethings)  do have a lot of choices, romantic and otherwise. And although (as I say here) I don’t like time-wasters, I also don’t think it’s good to limit yourself just because you could maybe learn to really like someone.

Leah Goldstein is a writer/musician/social scientist who lives in Brooklyn, and kind of loves having ADHD. You can find her on twitter @thetarhythm

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