I met my ex boyfriend many years ago in Australia, three weeks before his Australian visa ran out. He was British and I was Australian, and at the time I was in Law School. It took us those three weeks to fall madly in love, all the while knowing that he would inevitably have to leave, and we would both have to return to our regular lives without each other. Everything about the situation screamed “bad timing.”
But it’s rare to connect with someone, and rarer still to fall in love, so we decided not to let a little thing like bad timing – the fact that we lived oceans apart, that I had yet to finish school, and that we were both super poor – hamper our relationship. After four months of long distance, I deferred uni (as we call it down under) and moved to London. We spent two incredibly happy years together.
Being that he’s my ex-boyfriend now, the distance eventually overcame us. I didn’t want to stay in London (seriously, that place is horrible) and he didn’t want to go back to Australia. I have been asked if I have any regrets, and I don’t. I’m glad we gave it our best shot, and I’m not sorry about any of it.
And yet, there have been times when I’ve used bad timing as an excuse. I’ve used it on guys who have lived a block away, when I’ve had all the time and freedom in the world. Because that’s all bad timing is really: an excuse. If work is extra busy, you’ve got friends visiting from out of town, or you’re just feeling like a bit of a hermit, “bad timing” is a great way to soften the blow of saying “Actually, I just don’t like you enough to try to fit you in.”
Tom, a 30-year-old social media professional, had used bad timing as an excuse after a traumatic break up, “I was pretty wounded in the wake of the break-up, so it would have been difficult to be a caring and thoughtful partner to another woman during those times,” he says. “But [saying there was bad timing] felt like a simpler, more humane way to break things off, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. It’s not always necessary to be brutally honest with people, especially if you don’t plan on having any meaningful contact with them going forward.”
But Tom’s also been on the receiving end of the “bad timing” excuse too, “It was mostly frustrating, because I got the sense they didn’t like me for other reasons and were just saying that cause it felt simpler and more humane,” he says. “In other words, they were doing what I had done, and turns out it’s not as humane as I had come to think.”
Janice, a 22-year-old student, is also a victim of the excuse, where the guy she was seeing used “bad timing” as a euphemism for “I’ve got a girlfriend.” She didn’t take it well. She and this cheater had used “bad timing” as an actual excuse over their four years of friendship, but the final “bad timing” was the one that was a lie. “I guess it was a convenient excuse for him,” she says. “I don’t even know if I really like him that much or I just like the idea that he’s technically unattainable.”
This is why it is always a lie, because timing can be circumvented. It’s my true and honest belief that when you fall for someone, no matter how fast it feels, you will do anything, come hell or high water, to make a relationship with that person work.
Tom told me the woman he is currently dating attempted to use the “bad timing” excuse on him, but he pursued her anyway. “By sheer coincidence I ran into her on the subway a couple hours after she blew me off and convinced her to have drinks me with a week later. I ignored her excuse because I felt like I had met someone truly special,” he says. “Several months after she left me she came back, apologized and said she was ready. I forgave her and took her back, and since then things have been really wonderful.”