When I think back to every almost relationship I was ever in and where I am now, part of me wants to hug the girl I used to be. I wish I could tell her the right relationship isn’t going to be this complicated and hard and painful. I wish I could tell her every person I know now that wasn’t good for her. I wish I could take her hand and lead her to the person she deserved. But it’s only because I am standing where I am now that I can look back knowing exactly what I know. That maybe, every one of those relationships needed to happen in order to get where I am now and appreciate it and love the person I am for having overcome that.
If I could tell myself anything about these relationships I invested so much time into I would start with a few things…
1. You shouldn’t compromise yourself self-respect to keep them.
I can’t tell you how many times I would wake up next to someone and just lay there hoping that maybe that talk we had a 3AM they meant. That maybe this isn’t just physical. That maybe they will call and I won’t be the first one sending that text.
I would tell myself, “you don’t deserve to be some secret or some late night call.”
And even when I was doing those things I felt so guilty, because sleeping with someone casually isn’t who I am or who I wanted to be. Yet, I became that person.
The younger relationships were the ones where they say something like, “everyone is gone meet me here.” And I look back almost cringing that I went every single time. And maybe it was lack of confidence. Maybe it was caring about someone more than myself. Maybe it was being more hopeful than realistic.
But if I could tell my younger self anything, I would say it’s those texts that are hardest to ignore, they are the ones you should ignore the most.
2. And honestly, you can’t keep someone who was never yours. And you can’t lose someone who wasn’t either.
I used to think every time that “almost” relationship would cut ties with me and duck out only to return weeks later, I was losing something. I thought how sad is it I can’t talk to him every day anymore because it’s over? What if no one ever knows me the way he does? What if I never feel the way I do about him as I do someone else?
I cringe thinking back to actually feeling that way.
I was comparing this guy to someone who wasn’t real. Because you can’t have a dating standard of someone you didn’t date. And it’s so unfair comparing someone to them who doesn’t deserve to be on that pedestal you put them on.
I would tell myself, “what should hurt more is you losing yourself every time he leaves and you let it affect you.”
3. You shouldn’t try so hard to prove you deserve them.
I think back to all the effort I invested in these relationships. Emotionally, I gave some of these people my all. Mentally, I’d go periods at a time where I wouldn’t talk to anyone else but them and it would go on for so long. Physically, I was giving them a part of myself I should have valued more thinking sex would make them stay.
Effort is something that comes very easy to me. Not just with people I wanted to date, but every relationship in my life. But there are a lot of people who don’t deserve it.
I think back to the lengths I went to for some of these people and I wish I invested that in myself instead of someone who didn’t deserve me.
4. The right relationship isn’t going to force you to change
These people shined so brightly in my eyes that I didn’t realize I was taking that away from myself. I was suddenly not seeing myself for who I was but rather the things I lacked. I thought how can I change to be better? What can I do to make them like me? And I tried so hard to be what I thought these guys wanted. Honestly, I lost myself in moments trying to appease them.
If I could tell my younger self anything it would be, “the person who makes you feel like you aren’t good enough is the person not right for you.”
We get so caught up in thinking we aren’t good enough for someone but the word we should be focused on is “right.”
5. History does not mean a future.
I used to think just because I had so many memories I clung to with people I knew for so long, they owed me something. Because I was loyal to them that they owed me a relationship one day or a date or anything. And I kept reliving the past and those best moments hoping maybe they’d remember what was good, and would think about what could be.
But the what-ifs and the maybe and the one days were all just fiction.
I spent so much time hung up on what used to be I didn’t think about this moment and all the people I probably missed out on focusing on the wrong things.
6. Investing time into someone won’t change how they feel.
I would tell myself that, “you can’t change how someone feels. They either like you or they don’t.” And that’s something you are going to learn very early on because if they aren’t making moves and taking you out and calling you up in that first month, they never will. Sometimes I wish I could take back the time I wasted on those people and that relationship, but it was all a learning process.
7. The confusion and games and blurry lines does not mean they like you.
I used to get so hung up on the games. But I realized it’s so simple someone who wants to be with you will never fuck with your head or make you feel insecure. And those people who do those things, the ones who call you too late or blow up your news feed and all that other shit we’ve disguised as flattery, is complete bullshit.
If I could tell my younger self anything it would be, “to put down your phone and wait for the person who shows the fuck up, not that one who says he will.”
8. While falling for them wasn’t something you can control staying there was.
I can’t sit here and say those feelings weren’t real just because there wasn’t a label attached to it. Every time I said “I love you” to one of those people, I meant every word. The feelings were real. And don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel guilty for it.
But if I could tell my younger myself anything it would be, “you might not have control in who you develop feelings for and if they hurt you, but you can control how long you invest in someone who causes you pain.”
Even after these people hurt me or told me they’d never be with me, I stayed.
9. Take responsibility for the relationship too.
I used to pin things on them as I played the victim card. But I am just as responsible for staying invested in relationships that hurt me. Because all I had to do was ignore a text and walk away and maybe these “almost” relationships that last months to years I would have healed from earlier if I made that choice.
Instead of making a choice based on my wellbeing, I made a choice based on what I was trying to prove.
10. Someone not wanting to be with you doesn’t mean try harder.
Rejection does not mean keep trying. It’s admirable. But people aren’t something you are supposed to persevere with. You get rejected and you move onto the next person. You don’t stay there.
If I could tell my younger self anything I would say, “it’s admirable how hard you try for people.” I would say it’s “thoughtful how much you put into these people.” Because you did so much from buying things, they didn’t deserve going so many places and going so far out of your way for people who wouldn’t even answer sometimes. I’d tell myself, “it’s admirable to love as deeply as you do, but there are some people who don’t deserve that.”
There are some people who don’t deserve your best.
And I think I knew that all along. Even staying in relationships I shouldn’t have, I knew these people were bad for me. But “almost” relationships and toxic people become habits that are hard to break.
If I could tell myself anything it would be, “before you become addicted to these people, walk away because all toxic people and habits do is destroy you.”
But as much as I hate the person I become in some moments or as a result of these relationships, I’m also eternally grateful. Every wrong relationship and every bit of pain I’ve ever felt led to me by someone who didn’t have to hurt me to show me they cared. Someone whose love and patience healed me in a way all those other relationships would have never been able to if they worked out.