I’d Rather Be Alone Than With A Guy Who’s Only “Almost” My Boyfriend

Saying that a team “almost won” is a fancy way of saying that they lost. Saying that a girl “almost became a model” means that she didn’t. And being in an “almost relationship” is a sad way of being not only single but also relentlessly frustrated. So moving forward, I refuse to settle for “almost” in my life.

  1. “Almost” doesn’t happen by accident. I’m extremely cautious about saying of a man that “he was leading me on.” This kind of language is used far too often by both men and women who want to excuse inappropriate behavior. (Example: no, I’m not “leading him on” by wearing a sexy, revealing outfit, imbibing alcohol, or kissing him goodnight. And he’s not leading ME on by flirting, asking for a third date, or offering me chocolate-dipped strawberries.) But an almost relationship does spring from certain manipulations. So if he’s talking (vaguely and fruitlessly) about the future and making constant jokes about how I’m the woman he wants to marry…but he’s listed as single and flirts constantly with other women on social media, that asshole knows exactly what he’s doing.
  2. It’s cruel to get my hopes up and then refuse to close the deal. If a guy comes at me with straightforward FWB lust from the outset, I get to decide with him on fair terms whether the situation satisfies my needs. But “almost” guys are never this easy to spot. They play to my desire for connection. They give me a taste of partnership, choosing careful words and actions to bring me close. Then, once I’m caught, they leave me ensnared alone there, feeling not quite free to date other guys but also not free to be an equal half of a pair. After enough of these tangled mistakes, I’ve learned to cut myself out of a frustrating situation, even when part of me still wishes he’d get his head on straight and be unquestionably mine.
  3. I really WANT a boyfriend, but I don’t need one. Hell yes, I’m craving real, sustainable companionship. The idea of being truly alone for the rest of my life is pretty dispiriting. For all that, though, I’m hardly desperate enough to go after crumbs–no matter how tempting they may seem. Unless he’s ready to give me the whole thing–the girlfriend title, the weekend dates, the symbols of commitment that stabilize any relationship–I’m going to keep holding out for the best.
  4. A taste is worse than nothing. I usually exist in a calm state, but when I think I’m embarking on a new relationship, I experience a jolt of hope and excitement. If the relationship blooms, I get to use all my positive emotion to help the new love to grow. But when it becomes obvious that the guy isn’t an active participant, my feelings have nowhere to go and the good energy turns to frustration, leaving me out of sorts (or royally pissed off). So any guy who’s going to screw with my sense of equilibrium had damn well better be willing to see the thing through.
  5. I refuse to lose my focus. There is room and time in my schedule for a boyfriend. I can absolutely fit a great relationship comfortably into my already-fulfilling life because I know that I’ll be much happier when I have someone amazing to share my experiences with. In the right match up, my romance will actually enhance my life, not become an extra burden to manage. The opposite is true too. The wrong romance, one that makes me insecure and moody, will only drag me down, diverting my purpose and making a fool of me. I’ve been in that sucky situation a few times–which is why I’m not going to get played again.
  6. I won’t stay in endless limbo. How long does it really take a guy to decide he likes me? It’s fine if we both need a few weeks or a month to weigh our options, but once that introductory period has passed, we need to decide: is this experiment of shared lives worth pursuing? If so, we need to go about the thing properly–label it a relationship and commit to its progress. If not, we need to move on. I’m getting too old to live in half-hearted suspension.
  7. I can imagine love all on my own. The whole wishful element of the almost relationship is the reason it can be tough to let go of. But I’m a good storyteller in my own right. I already have a little parallel universe in my mind, where the love of my life comes home to me every night with a six-pack of new beer to try and an invitation to cook me a delicious meal. So when it becomes clear that my interaction with a dude has no more substance than a cheesy sitcom dream sequence, I need only to remember that he’s not filling any role in my life that I can’t fill for myself. After all, the little fantasies I can invent all alone are about as real as any almost relationship will ever be.
  8. Only a coward refuses to be upfront about his motives. We all develop our opinions pretty quickly. (First impressions DO count for a lot.) So playing hard to get makes no sense to me. I AM hard to get because I’m picky, patient about waiting until my specifics are satisfied. I’m sensitive to personality and never get close in the first place when I can tell a guy isn’t my match. But once I decide on my feelings, I lay them out: “I like you. I want to be with you. Whatcha think?” A direct question merits a direct answer. Any guy who’s shifty about his reasons for being with me lacks guts. And I’ve never been attracted to gutlessness.
  9. I can’t let a guy’s relationship expectations determine my worth. Logic tells me that a boy’s unwillingness to commit says nothing about my value as a potential girlfriend–and everything about his ridiculous insecurity. But if I comply with his vision for almostness, I’m essentially telling myself that I can’t do better: that I’ll put up with a crappy situation in order to avoid loneliness. What a waste of a good life! I think too highly of myself to stagnate in a one-sided affair.
  10. If he panics about exclusivity, I know he’s not my match. I’ve learned three important lessons in love. First, I can’t coerce anyone to fall for me. His feelings need to develop from a natural place. Otherwise, the whole interaction is a sham. Second, I can’t hustle a guy down the path to relationship readiness, no matter how much he may adore me. I’ve got to respect his individual trip. Third, if he’s either not fully interested in me or not fully ready to pursue love, I’ve got no business sticking around. It’s a down-to-the-bones attitude that’s probably cost me some fun flings in the past. But it’s also the disciplined knowledge that helps keep me sane.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.