Dear Kiki: Coping with (and moving on from) a squished relationship

Questions about love and sex in the city of Iowa City can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki

Dear Kiki,

The woman I’ve been seeing since December broke up with me. She concluded that having a cis-het white partner was not right for her at this time in her life. I’d been feeling her discomfort when we were out in public and I’ve been expecting this for a few months, but it was still a blow. In the most recent conversations, which dealt with her need to spend more time with queer women of color and her interest in opening up the relationship, she said that in an ideal world she wouldn’t have to let me go, and I would say, “Isn’t it a shame that we live when and where we do?”

I know that she loves me. I know that it isn’t about me, but it hurts very much and a significant amount of that pain comes from knowing that on some level, that’s all I was able to be to her. I loved her and she was the first person I’ve thought about planning a life around. I had issues with white fragility, male fragility and straight fragility, and never felt that I knew how to react appropriately when she talked about personal, political things. I would get anxious and shut down.

At this point in my life, I really do want a relationship, and I want to be in love, but I don’t think that ending the relationship was a mistake for either of us. So I got back on “the apps.” In general it feels pretty shitty, both because it doesn’t feel like a genuine, wholesome or good way to connect to people. I’d like to meet someone in real life, but I’m not always sure how that works. I’m sorry for venting, though I guess that’s something that you get as a romantic advisor.

— Sincerely, Squished Heart in New York

Dear Squished Heart,

First let me just offer that we live when and where we do for a reason. Now is all we have, and it’s all there is, even if you’re from New York. You deserve love and respect just like anyone else. And I’ll add that your chances of finding love on the internet are shockingly high. (Old Kiki here found her beloved sweetie online,“Midlife_Crisis_Hotline69”. A few U-Hauls, some legal paperwork and 7 rescue cats later we’re still going strong.)

Squished, let me get this straight. After raking you over coals and eggshells, placing impossible demands on you (that you be something other than a monogamous cis-het white man) and negating/belittling your feelings (which you’ve described as “white/straight/male fragility”), the person you loved ended the relationship. She didn’t even bother with the “it’s not you, it’s me” schtick. She told you that it’s not only you, but factors of your core identity that you have no control over. So no matter how much people-pleasing and molding yourself you could have done, it would never have been enough.

So you’re a cis-het white male, and you’ve always been one. But Squished, you’re a cis white hetero man who is really sad because you got dumped in an unkind and maybe abusive way by a very confused person, and I think you have a right to feel those squishy fragile sad angry feelings without being gaslighted into some kind of twisted funhouse mirror.

So my suggestion for you, Squished: When you’ve had enough time to focus on what is good in your life, and build your confidence back up from this unfortunate encounter, you fire up those apps, and find yourself someone who doesn’t need to be socially validated by dating the correct kind of body. Use those apps to look for a person who will see you and maybe love you for who and what you are now, not who and what they wish you could be.


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— xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 204.

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