I Love You, But I Don’t Love You by Andy Ladenburg
For a while I swore to myself that he was what I wanted. He was just what I was looking for. In my eyes, him coming into my life was the end to all confusion about my sexuality. It was impossible to me that anyone could love me in that way, (let alone a boy loving me), but he did the impossible and so I loved him back – impossibly, of course. How can someone who knew they liked girls all of a sudden fall in love with a boy? How does stuff like that even happen? And now, I can’t tell whether this how you’re supposed to feel after a breakup or if I’m just feeling shocked that I do not have to worry about being apart of a relationship that is against my own identity. The “best” part is that I stood through it all of high school. You are probably reading this and rolling your eyes, asking, Why would she lead him on like that?, but coming out of impassioned relationships are not easy – no matter if the feelings within the relationship flowed both ways or not.
I spent the whole summer before ninth grade with him, eating popsicles on the back porch of my house and arguing exuberantly about the validity of John Lennon’s humbleness and peacefulness – (he always defended John. Me? Yoko, of course). Time passed us, and so did each and every important thing in our life. I remember clearly the way it all started out, though. It wasn’t when we first met or any of the many times we sat on my back porch, talking. We went to the winter formal together in the ninth grade. We were the last ones to leave because we wanted to get all the leftover candy and pizza. When we walked outside into the cold night, we waited patiently in front of the school for my dad to pick us up. I remember this moment clearly because there was an awkward silence and he was never the one to let those type of silences happen in a conversation. We exchanged glances until he leaned forward and boom – it happened. I felt nothing, of course. Well, I did feel confusion, but it was not about the fact that the kiss didn’t make the earth under my feet move. I was confused that I never noticed that he liked me more than friends. When we got into my dad’s car, I couldn’t help but try to replay the memories of us hanging out that summer in order to find some obscure clue that he liked me more than a friend. I thought he hung around me because our fridge was always stocked with ice cream in the summer, honestly.
He was the only person that knew about my sexuality. I told him on one of those summer days on the porch. He asked if I’ve ever kissed someone before. I decided to tell him because jeez, I had to tell someone, you know? He then shrugged and said I didn’t answer his question. I left his question unanswered and changed the subject. I regret I changed the subject instead of establishing that I had no desire in kissing the opposite sex. There was no real establishment of our dating after the night of the dance, but in his eyes – we were together. When you’re an awkward, gawky barely-teenage girl it’s hard to stay away from someone who actually thinks you’re kinda cute, I guess. Anyways, he constantly made weird assumptions like this: Because I never spoke of our kiss, that meant I was okay with the whole thing. After I never made it clear enough for him that I wasn’t really into those kinds of things, our “relationship” moved very quickly. No, no – we didn’t advance sexually. God no. It was quick mostly on terms of what memories, secrets, and ideas we began to share with each other. After months of hanging around each other every minute we could, he could read me like a book. I knew him the same, too. That’s the part that hurts the most, I think. Now that I think of it, I wish we got immediately intimate in every other way besides through emotion and conversation. There’s a kind of magical, inhuman attachment you get from being in something like that. You start to think about that person so much that they’re the first thought you have waking up everyday and the last thought on your mind before you sleep. You start to mirror them uncontrollably: you find yourself walking like them, talking like them, maybe even thinking like them – and it’s fucking weird, I know. But I guess that’s love. I hate it, though. It’s not the normal kind of love. I wish my first love coincided with my identity. Jeez, I hate love.
I clearly resent the fact that my first “true love” was with a boy, I do, but I’ve been telling myself to step back and look at everything from “start” to “finish.” Maybe the whole thing was against who I am. Maybe it was a waste of both of our times. Maybe it was something we both knew was going to end, but we didn’t know why or how – we just knew that one day we’d have to stop pretending just for the sake of feeling loved. We stopped pretending a month ago. It hurts that I was apart of such a lovely form of sadism, (we were setting ourselves up for heartbreak), but there are a few positive things I got out of it all. I had a friend. I had someone that had a hard time with accepting that I couldn’t love them the same way they loved me for reasons I could not control, but I had a friend nonetheless. I resent the love part, but I do not resent the factors of loyalty and growth that were incredibly reciprocal throughout everything.
Andy Ladenburg is a sixteen year old writer from the New Jersey suburbs.