Is “Right Person, Wrong Time” a Valid Excuse for the End of a Relationship?

A couple of years ago I went out for drinks with a newly divorced man who ghosted me after our first date. The whole situation was pretty interesting because after the same exact first date I came to the bold conclusion that we were in love. Every time I worked myself into a rejection and confusion fueled tizzy, my friends would reassure me that “timing is everything!” “Clearly, he’s going through a divorce and has a lot on his mind!” They were right about his emotional unavailability, but to me, it didn’t feel like a timing issue. It felt more like someone who just didn’t like me enough to risk opening his heart up again.

And this is how I’ve come to see the “bad timing” excuse in relationships—it’s a blameless cop out you award to someone who just doesn’t love you enough. But for the past four months I’ve been seeing someone who I really care about and who I believe really cares about me too. Our relationship is coming to an end, and because I refuse to acknowledge the chance that our connection may have always lacked the depth necessary to blossom into something more, I’ve found myself uncharacteristically blaming its demise on timing. Have I been wrong all along— is bad timing a legitimate excuse for the end of relationship? Or is this how I’m coping with the heartbreak of watching something crumble that I so desperately want to remain whole?

I moved to Los Angeles (brief hold for applause and simultaneous pity) in May of last year. Soon after, I made it pretty clear that I absolutely loathe LA and everything it stands for, and the minute the “timing was right” I would pack up shop and move right back to Chicago with my tail between my legs. And for the past year, as I’ve waited to find the courage to fully let go and accept that I failed at starting a new life for myself here, I’ve felt lonely, isolated, and very hot. Not hot in the good way, hot in the climate change way. This summer I finally decided that I’d be ready to leave “early fall.” The decision acted as an open ended deadline that could be left up to my own interpretation. One minute that was Labor Day Weekend, the next it was “at least before the end of the year.”

Pretty instantly after committing to a relocation timeline, I became involved with one of my few close friends in LA. “Involved” being the avoidant way of saying that I’m sleeping with someone but refusing to talk about my feelings, and it’s my favorite kind of relationship to have. It’s like my subconscious thrives when I’m at risk of heartbreak at any possible moment, I swear to G*d. We’d been friends for a year, but the more I saw him the fonder I grew of him. The fact that I was leaving never fell off the table, though, instead it just acted like an unavoidable barrier we were catapulting directly towards. 

Being vulnerable enough to vocalize my feelings is already difficult for me, but knowing that speaking up about the way I felt could risk me losing one of my closest friends, completely halted me from saying anything at all. The thought of rendering myself lonely and heartbroken in my last few months here was enough to stifle any desire to gain clarity about what was going on between us. I never brought up how much I adored him, instead using flirtations like “A KING! A BABE! A HOTTIE!” as an outlet to express my emotions without saying, “I really like you, can we be a little more serious?” Dr. Neil, my famed therapist and self proclaimed biggest fan, could not disapprove of this self sabotaging journey any more, it’s rather endearing. 

Now, I’m less than a week away from my move. A couple of days ago, I couldn’t bury my frustration with how things were ending any longer. Because I get a high off of keeping men on their toes constantly, I sobbed hysterically after sharing a rather enjoyable evening together— seemingly blindsiding him, which is a greaaaat way to enter into any serious discussion with someone you deeply care about. I told him that it didn’t, and still doesn’t, seem fair to me that I finally found someone who means a lot to me and I have to accept that we were doomed from the start. I told him I was heartbroken that he never expressed how he felt about me. Completely void of the creativity it takes to make up his own excuse, he shared the same sentiment, blaming our stunted growth on my inevitable departure. It’s like we both saw the barrier we were hurtling towards, but we chose to ignore it, and now we’re slamming the breaks and asking each other, “wait, why didn’t you tell me that barrier was scaring you too?” But in the words of 2006 Jojo, now it’s just too little too late. 

The excitement that I feel about being back home in Chicago with people that I love is now being overshadowed by my overwhelming sadness for witnessing the end of something that I would give anything to keep alive. I’ve always thought that some relationships are like picking a rose off a bush— you can water it, leave it in the right light and ultimately do what it takes to make it live as long as possible—but that rose was never going to last forever. And maybe this relationship in LA is one of those. However short and beautiful it was to me, maybe wasn’t meant to last any longer than it did. I hope, though, that “bad timing” is an acceptable excuse, and it’s neither of our faults—not his nor mine—for failing at this. Or, maybe we both just shorted ourselves from turning a little something into a bigger something.

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