photo by Lucas Pezeta
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It’s been said that a person can fall in love 3 times in their lifetime. This is a very startling and depressing statistic for me since I’ve already been in love 3 times. (To be honest I usually say 3 and 1/2. The half part is because to this day I’m still not sure about that one. Which most people would say means I wasn’t in love but I couldn’t have felt so tortured and depressed when it went away if I wasn’t.) Why do we only get 3? Why is there a cap on it? Does our heart not have room for more than that? Or do we become too jaded to allow for more? And what happens to those of us who have already exhausted all of our love options?!
The first great love we get is said to be puppy love. The love that looks amazing from the outside and seems to be right in so many ways. This is the high school or college sweetheart love. I had this love and it was such a special and meaningful relationship for me. But he cheated on me and I fell out of love with him and so that was that. I truly believed that I was going to marry him and would’ve felt comfortable with that choice if circumstances hadn’t made me feel otherwise. This is love that you will always look back on and smile about but know that it would’ve never worked out anyway because of how much you’ve changed as a person since then. It was lovely and it taught you how to love and be open but you had to move on.
The second great love is the painful love. The kind where your heart is a mess and you can’t seem to stop thinking about him/her even after they’ve been an asshole to you. It’s when you can never seem to communicate properly and the timing seems off and the fighting is non-stop. But you truly believe that you are meant to be with them. My painful love came in the form of someone who I was convinced was The One. And when it all went to shit I pretty much lost my faith in love all together for a while. My 1/2 love came in this category as well. I think it was just an extension of that previous love, but in a different man. One that I didn’t want as much. And I think I was just confused and projecting. But whatever it was was painful. This kind of love is when you learn all the lesson and what you truly want and need out of a partner.
The third great love is the love you never saw coming. The one that seems to develop so suddenly out of thin air. You weren’t even trying. In fact, you may have tried to fight it off from every angle. I had this with my most recent relationship which lasted 3 years, the longest I’ve ever been in one. He seemed to be all wrong for me on the surface but I gave him a chance and fell so madly, deeply in love that I could never imagine my life without him. But since we’ve been broken up I’ve surmised that he was always meant to be in my life, just not as my boyfriend. I connected on such a deep and intimate level with him and I don’t feel comfortable just letting him become someone I used to know. No. He has to be in my life forever, just in a different capacity.
So, if you don’t end up with any of the people who fell into your great love categories then what’s next? Do you either have to go back and make it work with one of these past lovers or are you destined to be single forever? I’ve decided that the 3 love rule is fucked and I refuse to accept.
Maybe some of just love more easily or more frequently than others. If someone is unmarried for 20 years of their adult life we can’t expect them to have only loved 3 people or less. That’s insane. Maybe the 3 types of love just keep repeating until they stick. So that must mean that another man will come along who will be someone I never saw coming again. And maybe that’s also why I had 2 painful loves. They repeated because I didn’t learn what I was meant to learn. Maybe I wasn’t completely ready for the love I never saw coming and therefore must be repeated. I hope so because otherwise I guess I’ll have to settle for being alone for the rest of my life.
To all of the good men out there: WE SEE YOU. We think you’re great and respectful and loyal and attentive. This essay is not for you. Most of us women have, unfortunately, way more experience with the bad guys of the world than we do with the good ones. The challenge of a bad boy intrigues us and once we get hooked in, it’s way too late. We have to see it out, through all of the heartache, tears, disappointment, and anger. But it makes us appreciate the good ones even more once we finally realize that we deserve that kind of treatment. Please be patient with us as we adjust.
To all of the not so good men out there: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? Do you want to be alone forever? Do you want to meet your match that is just as shitty as you are and bang around and be miserable together? Do you hate yourself that much? Do you just enjoy sabotaging things for fun? Or are you incapable of experiencing real human emotion and empathy?
Keeping a relationship happy and healthy takes more than just good communication and an unconditional commitment to one another. Those are the absolute basics for a steady foundation. Tell me what you’re thinking and don’t cheat on me. But it takes more than that to stand the test of time. A plant has to be watered every day and can’t survive without it. After a certain point men stop watering the plant, get comfortable, and start to slack on expectations and think that since women are such loyal creatures that we will stick around through all the bullshit no matter what. A woman with a lot of self respect won’t though. It is really awful to break up with someone and we will give our significant other many, many chances to make things right. But repeated offenses of the same things over and over again can get to the point where they are unforgivable. And the men don’t even realize what hit them until it’s really truly over and she’s over it. Because they think, I answer when you text, I show up when I can, and I haven’t put my dick inside anyone else. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?! They’ll say. Well, I’ll tell you…
The most egregious offense is a lack of attention. Women are like dogs: we need constant petting, to be taken out, played with, fed well, and loved. Our relationship is not a part time obligation and the amount of interaction we receive needs to be as consistent as possible. We can’t handle seeing you 3x a week one week and then barely speaking to you the next. That is how you handle a friendship, not a relationship. When there is an emotional attachment involved any changes in behavior or a sudden drop in attention is going to cause anxiety for us. We understand that you have lives and that you need to keep up with your daily obligations separate from us. But there has to be constant effort to be in communication everyday and in making plans to hang out. This is obviously a two-way street, but women don’t usually need to be reminded to keep it up. We CONSTANTLY think about you, want to see you, text you, and tell you how we feel. We’re amazing multi-taskers and can handle having a job, kids, appointments, meetings, hobbies, friends, and still make you our #1 priority. Men can become one track minded, especially when it comes to work, so just REMIND yourself constantly that attention must be paid. Honestly, a woman could have zero feelings for someone and if he shows her constant attention she could very likely fall in love with him. That’s how important it is.
The next worst offense, in my opinion, is bad listening skills. Obviously some of us are just more blessed with a better short term memory than others. But when you really truly care about someone you genuinely want to know every thought that goes through their head, every emotion, every childhood memory and story, and every experience and 9 times out of 10 will remember it unless you’re zoning out. A person that you don’t love could tell you a story and it would be normal to zone out during the details, or have to have them repeat it again once or twice. But with someone you love, it gets absorbed into your mind. If that’s not happening, it’s showing us that you don’t give a shit. I dated a guy once who I would quiz on certain details about my life that I was 100% sure I had told him several times. I would ask him when my birthday is, how many siblings I have, what I majored in in college. And when he struggled to answer those basic questions I knew that he wasn’t really that into me. Or maybe he was and he just wasn’t making listening well a priority. It needs to be a priority. Drink gingko biloba tea, do more crossword puzzles, or meditate to clear your mind so there is more space for your girls’ details. We remember all the dumb shit you tell us. We love to surprise you with a Christmas gift that you mentioned liking in the store that one time. We want to buy you tickets to see a game with your favorite sports team. We want to remember all the names of your family members so that we can impress you (and them) when you take us home for the holidays with you.
Which leads me to my next point. Not spending holidays, birthdays, special events, and social engagements together is unacceptable. How many times do we have to make excuses for you when you bail on us for things that you, “don’t like” doing. I don’t like going to all of the parties and celebrations that I’m obligated to go to either but it’s a chance to spend time together and be social. I was in a relationship with someone for years when he said he couldn’t come to my best friend’s birthday party with me because he had a wedding to go to. It was the double whammy of leaving me to go solo for the 3rd year in a row to my friend’s party and also not taking me as his date to the wedding. This is something that women will never be able to comprehend. How could you NOT want someone there with you that you can whisper to about how the bridesmaids’ dresses are ugly or use as an excuse to leave early or dance with? Women never want to go to a social function alone especially when everyone else is coupled up. When we have that moment of discomfort when no one is really talking to us we have to anxiously check our phone instead of find you and insert ourselves in your conversation. If you’re the type of guy who wants to go everywhere and do everything alone then be alone. Why be in a relationship with someone you don’t want to share the special moments in life with?
The last, most hurtful offense is not talking about the future. A good guy with available emotions who cares about you will talk about this subject endlessly. A not so good guy will skirt around it at every opportunity. We’ve all been hurt, we’re all afraid of rejection, we all understand that sometimes things don’t work out. That’s life. If we’re not in this relationship with at least the POSSIBILITY of settling down together then what is the point? Seriously! Are you dating us to pass the time? Are we just a pit stop on your way to the person who you really want to be with? Are you unsure about us? Because when you scoff, laugh, or make light of the subject that is exactly what you are communicating to us. We don’t need to see a detailed sketch of the engagement ring you’ve been planning for us since the day we met, but we need some indication that there can and will be progress. Meeting your family/friends, going on a trip, and discussing moving in together are all good indicators. There’s no time frame for these types of things to HAVE to happen but if it’s not happening in a reasonable time frame then you will know by how your girl starts to behave. Insecure. Anxious. Nagging. These are some of the lovely labels she will get honored with once you start to drag your feet. There is only so long we can “date” you before we get restless. Before we want to insert the Judge Judy gif where she’s tapping her watch and slapping the bench into all of our conversations. You will wear her down at a certain point to where she will let it go and just cruise along. But that bit of resentment will still be festering in the back of her head until she unleashes it again at, probably, the most inopportune moment. So shit or get off the pot.
I’m obviously generalizing greatly about what most women want and need but I feel pretty confident in saying that the MAJORITY feels this same way, whether they are being honest about it or not. It’s really not rocket science and it really doesn’t take THAT much to keep us happy. It seems like common sense and yet this is a common issue that I and my friends have experienced with countless men. You’re going to keep losing people you care about along the way if you can’t manage to at least PRETEND to be one of the good guys. Women can easily do all of this stuff without questioning any of it, why can’t you?
We’ve all done it before. Some of us multiple times before. We meet a man that isn’t quite where or who we want him to be but we believe that with time, patience, love, and encouragement that he could become the man we’ve envisioned in our heads.
Falling in love with potential is a dangerous game to play. I’m sure in certain circumstances it’s managed to work in the woman’s favor, but more often than not, it’s a definite ticket aboard the train of disappointment. And the further that train goes, the more unwarranted resentment builds. Unwarranted because he made no promises to you to change or become better. He didn’t fall in love with you and say, “whatever you need me to be or do or have I will do for you.” But we hold onto the idea that one day he will…
Women are very adaptable and much more willing to tweak and edit certain parts about themselves, especially for someone they love. Men are much less willing to do that. And they are always so CLEAR about the fact that they are who they are and that they won’t compromise that for anyone.
So why do we fall for that same idea time and time again? It’s one thing to support a man and be around for the struggle, knowing that one day he will be successful and be able to provide for a wife and/or family. It’s a whole other thing to get into a relationship knowing that the two of you have fundamental differences that you think will change once he realizes how much he loves you.
It doesn’t work that way and it’s time we start understanding that. If a man says he never wants to get married, BELIEVE HIM. If he says he doesn’t want kids, BELIEVE HIM. If he says he wants to travel the world and never set down roots anywhere, BELIEVE THAT TOO. You will never be able to love him enough to change his mind and you will break yourself in the process of trying.
It’s the same idea behind the women who always choose men who need to be saved. The addicts, the abusers, the cheaters. No amount of care and love can get a leopard to change his spots. He may change for himself, but he won’t do it for you. And the sooner you realize that the sooner you can move on.
I used to make fun of women who would come charging into a potential relationship asking, “what are you looking for?” or “do you see yourself having a family” very early on but now I completely understand. Love is not enough to sustain even the most promising relationships if you aren’t on the same page about the future. Catch it as early as possible so you can save yourself time and energy.
Everyone walking this earth theoretically has “potential” to be something that they are not. But that doesn’t mean we should give every single person that chance. People applying for jobs are put under intense scrutiny to make sure they are qualified. They need to submit a resume, references, and are subjected to a thorough interview. I’m not saying we should treat dating that way, but we should be more discerning than we are.
We’re not 19 anymore. (Well, maybe some of you reading this are, in which case the next couple of statements don’t apply to you.) We’re not dating just for fun or to fill up our time. We’re dating to find a compatible match. And when we find someone who is obviously incompatible with us it’s like we blackout, plug our ears, become amnesiac. We get blinded by attraction and all logic goes out the window.
It’s time we stopped all of that nonsense. Lets be honest, women almost across the board seek security in any kind of relationship. If you aren’t getting that then what are you doing? Security is the minimum amount of foundation you need to build a relationship upon. So if he’s not ready to be a husband, father, or even a boyfriend then move right along. He needs a longer gestation period, he needs more time on his own, he’s not that into you, or he just wants to be an eternal bachelor for life. The reason doesn’t matter, you just need to know that you’re barking up the wrong tree.
The key is to find a man who is exactly who you want him to be NOW. Not who he will be in 5 years, not who he will be once he stops fucking around and decides you are the one. Not the one who you hope will wake up one day and realize what he lost. Find yourself a man who suits your needs in the present moment. Otherwise you have just signed yourself up for years of struggle and disappointment.
It felt easy. Almost too easy.
3 years and all it took was one conversation, one phrase, “I don’t see a future with you” to stop it all dead in its tracks.
How could I have spent 3 years with someone knowing that “no future” reality right from the beginning. Why would I put myself through that? Because I fell in love, I thought he would change blah, blah, blah.
But you know the breakup is real and that it will stick this time when it’s easy. Because you have no more fight left in you. You’ve already cried all the tears. You’ve had all the arguments. You already gave all the fucks you had. And now it’s all dried up. Your gas tank is on empty. You don’t want to do it anymore. This time, the reality has been accepted.
We had already done the hard breakup. The one with all the sobbing. The one where I told him as he left to “have a nice life.” The one where I cut off all communication because I was so fucking disappointed and hurt. But this one wasn’t like that. This one was the simple conversation that was met with a simple response of “ok” and an agreement to stay in communication and friendly with each other for life.
“I’m sorry,” he said. Sorry for what? Wasting my time? I wasted my OWN time. I knew all along that he could never give me all the things that I wanted. I don’t regret any of that time, but why do I keep choosing wrong? Why am I willingly putting myself through pain?
Maybe I wasn’t ready then for a lasting thing. Maybe I’m ready now. I just hope I choose right this time. But how is it possible to fall so deeply in love with someone knowing that there is a clear expiration date. I don’t know that I can judge my instincts anymore.
Maybe this long, 3 year relationship was necessary in order to know exactly what it is that I want. To clear up any kind of confusion or hesitancy. Now I can commit to the vision that’s been in my head. The vision that caused me to end things with him.
I know that guys still exist out there that want to settle down and get married, or at least live together and share a dog. And that’s really all I’ve ever wanted. So why has it been so hard to find that? I must’ve been giving off the wrong vibes, or at best, confusing vibes.
But I will say that I feel closer than I’ve ever been to getting what I want. My pattern of adult relationships has been as follows: emotionally unavailable guy who wanted to date me but couldn’t commit, emotionally unavailable friend with benefits who couldn’t commit, and finally, emotionally available guy who couldn’t commit. So I’ve apparently finally conquered the first part. The next part is what is tripping me up.
Won’t commit, won’t commit, won’t commit. What the fuck does it take to get a guy to commit these days?!
Maybe it’s just LA. Maybe this is where all the broken people go. The people who were too good for their hometowns. The people who were running away from something. The people who prioritize career over love.
After any failed relationship the brain goes through all kinds of levels of cynicism, disappointment, and, frankly, disbelief. Duped again, we tell ourselves. Won’t happen again, we say. But I’m pretty sure I also said that after the previous failed relationship.
3 months in to our relationship, as I was headed to my brother’s wedding in Michigan, he told me that he never wanted to marry again. I replied with, “then we don’t have a future together,” and yet there I was 3 years later saying the same thing as if it was some kind of new revelation.
Why do we do this as women? Why do we always think they’re gonna change? When people tell you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. I might tattoo that on my forehead as a reminder.
I have this friend who has said on numerous occasions that I could “keep having relationships like this that don’t last and it doesn’t really matter because (I) don’t want kids.” As if not wanting kids means that I don’t give a shit about a lasting commitment. As if kids is the only thing keeping couples together.
Maybe she’s right! I mean, a lot of men, especially in LA, won’t marry a woman unless they’ve knocked her up. First comes baby, then comes marriage. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.
I didn’t even think that I wanted to get married until getting married was completely off the table. I did a pretty good job of convincing myself for a while that I was cool without it, because I didn’t want to lose him. I was gonna change who I was for him. But we never really stop wanting what we want do we?
3 years later and I am no closer to having that lasting commitment. I’ve just added more baggage.
Hey guys! I’m back! I’ve been writing a book so I’ve been off the grid for a while. Thanks for sticking with me! I’ll be posting much more often now! AND I’ve just added a new writing Instagram handle if you want to follow me there @lonelyloverlo.