Over the years, multiple women have told me that I broke their heart. It’s one of the most emotionally painful things that can hit your eardrums or your soul — knowing you were the cause of hurt and pain for someone else. If you’ve ever been heartbreaking, you know how awful the feeling is; hearing that you were the reason someone else experienced the same is demoralizing.
Fortunately (I guess?), these women were my girlfriends at the time. Well, being that each occurrence came at the end of a breakup, technically they were now my ex-girlfriends. The point is that it was understandable for them to be hurt. We had committed to one another, cared for one another, and in some cases, loved one another; in a way, I kind of hoped they would be heartbroken. If they weren’t, did they even care to begin with?
Breaking someone’s heart is a shitty feeling, and there’s no sugarcoating that. I thought nothing could really compare to that sense of guilt. That was until I was told something I had never been told in 27 years of my life: You led me on.
I’m a staunch advocate for transparency and honesty. If I don’t want to be led on, I sure as hell don’t want to lead someone else on. Even if, in my defense, I truly didn’t believe I led her on, that’s not really the point. The point is that something in my actions during our time together that led her to believe something was there that wasn’t, and that’s not okay.
We weren’t seeing each other very long. We reconnected after losing touch for a few years, went out a couple of times, and even addressed the, “What are we?” issue.
I told her that I sincerely was not looking for anything, that I wanted to go with the flow. Most times I assumed something was casual, it blew up in my face; most times when I wanted something serious too soon, it really blew up in my face. I wanted to protect myself, first and foremost. I liked spending time with her, and I told her that. I wanted whatever we would become to unfold naturally, which goes against my impulsive Aries nature.
After grabbing a drink with her one night, I realized there was no spark between us. I had gone on a date the night with someone else the night before and felt fireworks. I knew it wasn’t an off night or anything; it just wasn’t there. I kissed her at the end of the night, perhaps hoping it was all in my head, and it wasn’t there.
I spent most of the week figuring out how I could broach the subject and how to deliver the blow. Then, she beat me to the punch:
“Every time we hang out I feel like there is something there with us, but I’m not sure if you feel for me like I feel for you.”
I wasn’t going to lie to her. She was right — I didn’t feel the same way about her, and now I had confirmation of how she felt. Proceeding in any way would have been intentionally leading her on, and I wasn’t about to be that guy. I told her I didn’t want to lead her on or waste her time, and that we were better off as friends if she was open to that.
“I feel like you kind of did lead me on until this point, which is why I’m glad I’m saying something,” she said.
Fortunately, she took it well, but I still can’t get everything out of my head.
I’ve always been horrible at finding the line the line between friend and more than friends, much less making sure not to cross into the wrong area. I tried replaying every detail of our time together. Did I say something to make her believe otherwise? Did I touch or look at her a certain way? Was it because she met some of my friends?
I didn’t think it was anything physical, which led me to believe it was something emotional. Even if I can’t put my finger on what it is, it makes sense.
I feel like most men lead women on by way of emotion. Some guys tell women they love them (knowing full well they don’t), and some guys will promise a girl anything in order to get her in bed or keep that option open.
Women have the reputation of being the more emotional sex. Many will chalk up a woman’s emotional outburst to, “Oh, she’s just being a woman,” while a guy opening himself up is looked at as this rare, noble gesture.
Some men know how to play a woman’s emotions against her to get what they want, so they go for the easiest target — the soft spot: her heart. If anything physical happens in the process, he has an out of some kind: “You initiated this,” “Nothing happened that you didn’t want to happen,” “I went along with what you wanted.”
As is the case with anything I write based off a personal experience, I’m well aware she can find this post and read it. I believe in learning from our experiences, both good and bad, and that sharing them can help someone in some way. I hate that she felt led on and that I unknowingly did so. Hopefully this post will save someone else from experiencing either one in the future.