I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I blurted out, as my date looked on with a speechless expression. “I’m not ready to date yet. I don’t actually want to be in a relationship.”

I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship, because I was already in one with my ex at the time, but he had suggested, or insisted, that we see other people. Even though I didn’t want to, I felt like I had to agree, otherwise I’d lose him forever. The last two years of our relationship had already grown to be increasingly stormy, and I didn’t want to do something that would tip the boat, or rather I didn’t want to be the cause of our breakup.

So I dated, or at least I tried. I used Tinder, Match.com, CoffeeMeetsBagel, Plentyoffish, and dozens of other dating apps. My prospective dates piled up, but more often than not, I’d come up with an excuse to not see them. I would think, Oh not this guy, he lives 20 miles away — that’s too far, or Oh this guy owns a cat and I’m kind of allergic to cats.

The truth was, I didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone but my ex. And even though, deep inside, I had a feeling that our relationship was already one that had been broken, I didn’t want to admit it. I couldn’t admit it. My heart was torn from hearing him talk about the dates he’d go on and I could feel my dignity being shredded into pieces, but I still held on to what was a glimmer of hope, knowing that he had yet to find someone else.

It was one of the most difficult, most confusing part of my life — I had felt so emotionally insecure and lost that I had no grasp on reality. I’d have dreams that would make no sense but I believed in anyways because it was better than believing in the endless nightmares of reality. I didn’t know who I was, what I truly wanted, or what I needed to do.

No matter how hard I tried to reason myself and give dating a chance, my heart wouldn’t let me. My heart couldn’t pretend.

(To be continued…)