In this piece, Hornet Senior Editor Alexander Kacala examines gay men’s relationships by recounting a recent breakup.
I really believed he was going to stay. I really believed he was the one.
Our relationship began with a message on a dating app. “Wow! Your photo is way too handsome!” I messaged him. “The handsome meters are breaking! I’m sorry but you’re going to have to take down that pic.”
It was cheesy and sweet, two things I usually didn’t include in my app salutations, sticking with boring hi’s and lackluster hey’s. But this time the cheesiness landed, and he responded that I gave him a beaming smile. He offered to bring me an iced coffee, and he showed up at my doorstep with my favorite coffee shop’s cold brew. He had the key to my heart: single-origin, blended, overpriced caffeine.
We sat in my garden talking about everything from racism to our roots. We both spent some time in Philadelphia, which made me instantly feel connected to him. I could smell the Philly on him, as he seemed laid-back and chill, a quality not many New Yorkers share.
We chatted for almost two hours that first day. In real life he wasn’t as handsome as his photo, but I felt I could still love him just the same.
I thought to myself, “Let this be known as the first time I messaged something creative on the apps and it worked.”
As an artist working on queer content, I instantly tried to help him, connecting him to people in the industry who might be able to give visibility to his work. I felt like I was being the best version of myself with him, showing him my capacity to love and help others.
We had a few dates before we had sex for the first time, a rule I seldom stick to. But because I liked him, I wanted to wait. When the sex ended up happening, it was really good. His penis wasn’t too big or too small — just right. Marrying size. I felt “hashtag blessed.”
I thought to myself, “Let this be known as the first time I waited to have sex, and it worked.”
We continued to go on dates, and he slept over a few times. I slept over at his place, too. I felt it was the beginning of my first grown-up relationship, and I felt good about the way I was approaching things. I felt calm, cool and collected, even though I had dreams of marrying him. I felt like my sexiest self around him, especially when his hands grazed my butt.
Now, he wasn’t a 10 by any means, but honestly, neither I am. I saw a few imperfections, but I also felt I was being a realist. I felt I was compromising for the sake of love, and that he may be doing the same with me.
Then, one night, I met his friends. The very next day, I introduced him to mine. Over brunch, my friends asked if he would be joining me on my upcoming week in Fire Island, to which I tried playing ‘hard to get’ and joked, “Was he invited?”
I regretted that attempt at being coy. Sometimes when I joke, I sting too hard — a quality that’s made my relationships harder. Two days later, I invited him to the Pines, saying, “I’d love for you to join me.”
He responded, “That sounds awesome. Thank you!”
We then both went our separate ways for Labor Day weekend, making plans after we both got back to the city. He told me he’d text me during the day — a text that never came. I texted him, to no response. I stood outside my gym after a workout class, waiting for his response, but it didn’t come.
I felt ditched. Like a fool. I went into a grocery store and just stared at the baked goods: Oreo cake, vanilla butter cream cake, apricot turnovers, red velvet muffins, pistachio muffins. (What the fuck is a pistachio muffin?)
He texted me back a few hours later apologizing for flaking, saying he got caught assembling Ikea furniture. I called him back telling him that I really like him, but he was making it hard. He then said he felt we weren’t vibing and that it was the beginning of the end.
Heartbroken, I said no worries and wished him good luck. I tried to brush him off as just another boy’s name in my phone, only my heart hurt this time. This time I was really disappointed.
Two friends urged me to press him to find out what was the game-changer. Was it my friends at brunch? Was it something I said? Was it my performance on social media? Was it my performance in bed?
A few days later, I decided to ask. He responded, “I just think our personalities are very different and I’m scared to get more close and go through a harder break up. I don’t want you to read this as a criticism, but more of a mismatch.”
“I just didn’t feel a strong connection,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with you. And there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”
I wanted to tell him there was something wrong with him, to point out all the nice things I did and said to him. His apologizing only made it worse. I responded, “Stop apologizing and just deal with the consequence of a broken heart.”
I ended up texting him a bunch of other ridiculous statements that show I am, in fact, a Scorpio. I then felt bad about the way I was approaching things — the opposite of calm, cool and collected. I felt like my craziest self around him, but how could I have felt so much and he felt so little?
His kindness kept showing through, making my heart hurt even more. I finally just said: “You’ve caused me a lot of pain these few days. Please just leave me alone. I’m deleting your number now.”
He responded with “OK. Take care.”
I really believed he was the one. I really believed he was going to stay.
Then I thought to myself, “Let this be known as the first time I let a man make me cry.”