Everyone has had that one person who you care for more deeply than they care about you; that is nice enough, charming enough, good-looking enough and pays you that minimal amount of attention to make you wonder “What if?”
In those situations, you’re usually left wondering, “OK, so what is this? Where are we? Are we a couple? Are we just friends?” You get along with that other person so well, that it leaves you in limbo– well, no. It actually leaves you in lust, and the other person in control.
I had an argument with a man once over 500 Days of Summer. Remember that movie? He said that she was a bitch for doing what she did in the movie and my response and argument was that men had done that to women enough that it was about time tables had turned.
Not a good argument.
What I really meant to say was, I had been through it enough times to know what it felt like to be Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in the movie. You fall so deep for someone who just plays nice with you, but don’t at all feel the same. Therefore, casting you aside like a old shoe, going on to be happy and leaving you in the dumps.
You’re there because you chose to be.
When it comes to relationships, and the failure of them, we always look for someone else to blame as opposed to taking responsibility for our own actions. “He didn’t treat me good enough,” “I loved her,” “But we worked so well together, what happened?”
This doesn’t excuse the jerks who are womanizers, the women who cheat or just a-holes who we find ourselves with — men or women. It means that as humans you should always be looking out for yourself.
I had a few light-bulb moments in my life that lead me to understand that and allowed me to be the master in my life situations. Don’t get me wrong, I was in the relationship with the douche that cheated for half the time I was with him. I have gotten my heart broken by a nice guy who wanted happiness and felt that I didn’t respect him, which after some reflection, was true. I have been with that guy who liked to have a little admirer and who I tried to make like me. I’ve been in the situation where I knew the relationship would never evolve to anything more serious by I stayed and tried to convince myself and him otherwise. I’ve been there, but in my own messed up way, I chose to be there. I convinced myself it was OK to be there and that nothing would happen to me — I was too strong to be soft and let my feelings get hurt.
They say, you don’t choose who you love, but you do choose who to deal with. And in the end there is no sacrifice when you love yourself. You know why? Because your happiness, health and love will always come first. When you love someone, you don’t want them going through these situations. You just don’t. Imagine your best friend telling you they’re being cheated on or aren’t happy or feel disrespected. What would you tell them?
I learned how to manage my feelings, learned how to look objectively at a situation and decide if it was good for me or not. I left the relationships I didn’t want to be in anymore, cut off toxic people to my life and chose happiness in the end. I needed to care for myself before knowing who would be that person to treat me as well or better than I could.
Lesson here: You control your destiny. You have the power to change your life. Make the decision to do it.
What’s love got to do with it?
When I met my husband, he assured me that he was going to do everything he could for me because, “I know what I have.” I understood that and I knew what I had, too. Never in my life would I want to hurt him purposefully; practicing infidelity, lying or doing anything for him to mistrust me. Why would I want to put him through that torture? I know what it was like and I’d never want him to feel that way again.
I was able to realize how much I loved him and what I would do for him because I loved myself. I wouldn’t want him to do that to me — I wouldn’t stand for it. And when it comes to my friends, I wouldn’t want them to endure that sort of pain either. But sometimes they have to learn on their own.
Before I met him, I watched other friends of mine who were in wonderful relationships. How did I know? You could see it. The glowed when they were together and they radiated love, kindness and everything in between. Ultimately, they were happy. That’s what I wanted to be — happy.
A couple of friends of mine made everyone feel welcome in their circle of friends. They made you feel loved and they trusted their friends. High school sweet hearts with now three children, they are two opposites who are perfect for each other.
Lesson here: The ones who truly love you will do anything they can to make sure you feel protected, loved, safe and confident. They will be proud to be with you, and make sacrifices and compromises to make sure everyone is happy.
The break up, make up game.
I’ve had friends tell me: “I know he talks to other women,” “He’s probably cheated on me before,” “He never calls me back or answers my calls,” and other things along those lines. So, leave him, I say. Why do you want to be there? Because you think there’s no one else?
Then, they break up. And you celebrate the decision telling them they made the right choice. But suddenly, the other person calls back and says they were wrong, says that they love them, throws out those little crumbs to allow you to doubt yourself and the decision you just made, even though all it is is attention that can be won ANYWHERE ELSE.
“But I really do love him…” and my response to that is: Then stop telling me about all the problems. I don’t want to know anymore.
One friend of mine was so determined to be with this girl he thought was the one. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the confidence she needed to be with him. At all. Her jealousy, rage, incomprehensible sense of self and fierce ambition to get to the top of her game (at ANY cost) had them both going in a ping-pong match for over a year. Mutual friends would talk about the situation saying, “Are you kidding me?!” when someone heard they were back on again.
I kept telling him, just let her go, man. You can’t force her into what you need her to be. But he thought they were a match made in heaven. I told him after the third or fourth break up that I didn’t want to hear about anymore. He was driving me crazy because he didn’t listen. It was around this time that I realized, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” He definitely wasn’t drinking the Kool-aid of reason and had excuses for her left and right.
After one of their “off” sessions, they got back together one last time and suddenly, he disappeared. The next thing I knew, he called me to have dinner and told me he was leaving the state. Things had gone so wrong that bridges were burned, things were said and the connections he once had, dissipated because of her. She had practically ruined the network and opportunities he had taken almost his whole career to build.
Lesson here: Don’t force it. Just don’t. Sometimes it doesn’t work, so just move on.
The other side.
I’ve also seen the other oblivious side of things. One friend of mine could never be alone. Even when he said he was single, there was always a favorite girl around him. Always. He was a good-looking, money-making guy, who appreciated a good time.
At one point, when everyone thought it was over, said bachelor claimed to be on his own. He started talking to one girl, who valued herself as everyone woman should, however needed to claim bachelor man for herself, and she did one hell of a job trying. It was pretty obvious there was something more than friendship going on, but ask the bachelor and he’d say, “No way!” Then I asked, “Does SHE know that?”
I’ll never forget when he invited us over for dinner one day. There was a group of folks, maybe six or seven of us. We all got there around the same time and there she was at the door to his apartment. She took our coats, she asked if she could get us anything to drink — she played hostess. Not to mention that she had cooked everything, too. Friends looked at each other — so, is she living here?
As we proceeded to intoxicate ourselves, we forgot all about the situation and had a good time. Later, I talked to him about it, saying, “You know she thinks she’s your girlfriend, right?” He didn’t believe me. I said, “She was treating your apartment like her own, she was claiming her territory.” He thought he was being nice by letting her. Needless to say, he had a conversation with her and basically broke it off. She was pissed. Wouldn’t you be?
Lesson here: Don’t be that person. Don’t string someone along just because you think they’re on the same wave length. Communication will always be your friend. Make sure you know whether you’re friends with benefits, casually dating or seriously in with someone.
The crumbs from the sandwich they already ate.
I had a boyfriend break up with me because he felt like I didn’t respect him. Point taken. I cried for a few days, talked to him and he was sweet but grounded on the fact that we couldn’t be together. He went about his business thinking he was leaving me in the dust.
Little did he know what was coming. I turned my life around, quite literally. I stopped drinking, I started running, I got involved in my community, I was driven, I got a new job, had new, close friends. My life was amazing. I felt free.
Suddenly, he came back to my life telling me that he can’t believe how much I changed, and how awesome I was doing without him. The big red flag here was that I had grown but he hadn’t. He was still in the same place where I left him. Obviously, he wanted to get back together with me. I was truly very hesitant to do it, but they were the crumbs I was waiting for since he had broken up with me. And I ate them.
It didn’t last very long after that. We were too different. He wanted me to pick up where we had left off, which was impossible since I was already a new and completely different person. I had learned and grown so much without him that he was desperate to hang on to what we had, not knowing it was buried with my feelings for him. Poof! Gone.
A close friend of mine was dating a guy for a little less than a year. He had just come out of a serious relationship with the mother of his children. She had been single for some time, but also coming out of a long-standing relationship. Also a mom, she agreed that they should keep their kids out of the situation for their sake.
He worked a lot and they barely saw each other once a week. He put his kids up top of his priority list as any good dad should, and she played by all of his rules when it came to them and him seeing her.
Every time I find out that a person popped out of one relationship and right into another, I’m always hesitant to think that this is IT for either person. Especially when it’s serious and their ex-partner is fully invested in the relationship because they share children. There’s always some sort of baggage and damage after a relationship like that and one should take time for themselves to reevaluate and get a grip on who they are.
After a couple of months, her feelings grew deeper for him, however the time with him hadn’t grown at all. She wanted more, naturally, as anyone would in a relationship. She was OK with how it was going, but she wasn’t happy and you could see it in her face when she talked about it.
After all that she told me, I realized that he couldn’t be alone. He was used to being in a relationship and he liked the idea of having someone but didn’t want to be committed to her, probably because he couldn’t and he didn’t know how. Physical attraction only goes so far. He needed to have time by himself, to figure out how to function as a single dad, balance his life, his two jobs, his two children before he could reach out and be with someone new AND be committed to her.
When I understood that, I told her to let it go. That she couldn’t expect to come before his kids. If she truly was happy, she would have to stop asking certain things and be OK with coming second in everything. She said she was.
A few weeks later she tells me that he said he needed space. She was crushed. I felt bad, but I thought, “I told you so.” It was clear as day that this would eventually happen, unfortunately love blinders make it so difficult to see.
I did what any friend would tell her to do: Cut it off. He dumped you. Cut off communication, don’t talk to him anymore because another thing was clear, he was a nice guy and he had a charm to him that she couldn’t deny. I told her it would be easier if she did that, because if anything he would find it easy to reel her in again to…what exactly?
A few weeks after that, she says that he asked her to dinner. No, I thought. Not a good idea. There hasn’t been enough time to get over what they had and it was not fair that he could make those decisions and it would be all based on HIS timeline. She initially told him she would go, but again I said, “What happened to needing space? What’s the purpose of this now?” And I kept repeating to her, What would you tell your girlfriend if she told you about this?
She had to be strong, love herself, spend time alone because then she would see her self-worth and what she actually truly deserved as a person on the other end of a real relationship. Not something that only she was giving to in hopes that it would grow. When she canceled with him, all he said was that he wanted to do something nice. Nope, not needed. To me, that felt like a pity dinner. There are plenty of other deserving people, friends, family that can do nice things for her. He was no longer a priority and shouldn’t be treated like it.
When I was younger, I was talking to a guy who was nice and mysterious. He was insightful and fun and I thought I was so into him. More like infatuated. He paid attention to me, he gave me time, we would talk and I totally thought he was into me. He would tell me that I was his favorite person, gave me one of his t-shirts and all that gooey crap that you’re fed in those situations.
After a while, I heard he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, and I realized that there was no consistency with me. I’d wait desperately for his call, wait for him to ask me to go for a drive or to go get food. Thinking about it now, I can’t believe how young and stupid I was, but hey, we all go through it.
This was kind of my version of 500 Days of Summer.
When I realized that he was just stringing me along, I cut it off. I stopped calling, stopped looking for him (these were pre-cellphone days), stopped everything. I had no need for that, because I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. Then one night he called, later than usual. He came by to sit on my front steps and told me some made up story about a friend of his and how he wanted to come and talk to someone about it.
OK, sure. Talk, I said. Instead of talking about this agonizing thing with my friend, he wanted to ask about me and talk like we always had. “What about your friend?” I asked trying to bring him back around to his point of being there. He really had nothing to say. That was the last time we hung out.
He only wanted to give me attention again because to him it was a cat and mouse game. When I didn’t look for him, he had to keep me around for his ego’s sake. It’s nice to feel wanted but not at the extent of someone else. This time, I brushed the crumbs away.
Lesson here: Give your break-ups time. People don’t change or grow over night. Don’t eat the crumbs just because they fall.