Leading A Guy On

I was 16, and you were 18. We were kids who took up part-time jobs during the school holidays to earn some spare cash.

Over shared bus rides after work, we became friends quickly. In retrospect, I should have suspected you had feelings for me when you began to shift your break time so we could have lunch together.

At that time, I should have told you I wasn’t interested in getting into a relationship because studies were my priority and you were headed for NS.

But I was afraid of hurting you, and unintentionally prolonged the hurt you had to bear.

Being young and inexperienced, it was the first time a guy had pursued me so relentlessly and I was unsure of how to deal with the attention.

To show I was uninterested, I’d decline your offer to dabao lunch and avoided talking to you.

Even after I stopped working, you continued to pursue me by sending morning messages like “Jiayou for school today” and “Wanna meet after class?

Not wanting to come off as rude, I’d replied your long texts with reluctant “hahas” or “lols”. I know I shouldn’t have played along.

Sometimes, I could distance myself. Other times, I thought how wonderful it was to be fawned over. I let my ego get in the way.

Texting became a tedious on-and-off affair, and I wished you would’ve just stopped.

The last straw came during Valentine’s Day. I was down with a fever and you bombarded me with texts asking if I was okay, saying you had brought something over.

I ignored all your messages, replying three days worth of texts and missed calls with a “Sorry, I was asleep”.

Overwhelmed with anger at your stupidity because you wouldn’t stop pestering me, I labelled you a hopeless romantic who just couldn’t take hints. From then on, we stopped messaging altogether.

Looking back, I realised I was only looking out for myself.

Being pursued is flattering, and the ego boost made me fall into the trap of basking in the attention given by you and your friends. Subconsciously, I did not want it to end.

I didn’t give you a straight “no” because of my pride.

You had not explicitly confessed your feelings, and I feared you’d retort with an “I never liked you anyway”. I was afraid of being embarrassed, which made things even messier.

By not rejecting you, I believed that I was being kind. Rejection would have crushed you, but at least it would’ve saved you from staying in the ‘grey zone’ and harbouring false hopes.

I adopted an ‘ostrich mentality’ of pretending your feelings didn’t exist, thinking it’ll make your feelings magically go away. But it didn’t.

Rather than expecting you to read my mind, I should’ve given you a clear resounding response to avoid this tangled web of emotions.

Above all, I wished 16-year-old me would have been braver in voicing out how she felt, knowing there was absolutely nothing to feel sorry about for saying no.

After a year since we’ve drifted, you dropped me a message in the midst of my exam period asking to hang out. When we met, you handed me a huge bag of snacks with an encouraging note and left.

Though I’m confused and uncertain of what your last gesture meant, I hope your radio silence is a sign you’ve finally moved on.


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