Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When you outgrow a lover: Letting go of people who don't appreciate you

Sometimes you meet someone.

And that person takes you absolutely by surprise.

He is not your type, but he makes you want to change whatever your type is from here on out.

He is beautiful, talented, smart, well-spoken, accomplished, sexy, silly, a joy to talk to...

You could go on all day (and sometimes you do.)

But as you start to get to know him better, while you find yourself growing more and more attached, more and more transfixed by all the little things that make up his essence,

you also start to see the cracks.

The ways the two of you are so different, you don't know how you could bridge the gap.

What's worse is when you realize that even though he might want to talk to you for four hours,

he doesn't want to drive an hour to see you because he's back with his friends.

He says he hopes you two cross paths again,

but you know deep down he's not going to make an effort to make that happen.

He doesn't call when he's in your hometown, and you certainly aren't going to call him and look like a stalker and seem desperate,

but after you wipe the tears off your pillow, you still imagine the day you'll sit down for coffee and catch up with him

be reminded of the sound of his voice

the smell of his cologne

the feel of his chest against yours when he goes in for a hug to say hello

the way his eyes glimmer with mischief when he smiles.

You almost hate that other people have been soaking in all those small miracles you live for when they don't care half as much as you.

---

I'm all for unrequited love. I will stick up for anyone who loves someone who doesn't return those feelings. I think we're wrong as a society to save the label of "true love" only for those in a two-way relationship as we recognize it. I think we're wrong to belittle and berate those who fall for people who don't happen to fall as well. I think it's beautiful and selfless to love someone when you know you won't get anything out of it.

I do it all the fucking time.

I have come to realize though that the problem lies here:

Let's go back to that relationship above.

As your heart becomes more and more attached to this man, you admire him more and more. You start to take more interest in the things he likes. This seems harmless as you start learning new things and noticing things at the art gallery you wouldn't have before.

But something niggles in the back of your mind. You know he doesn't do the same. He doesn't attempt to like what you do. In fact, he even makes fun of it or just ignores it. He only likes and actively supports the parts of you that align with his interests. And you're more than those parts. You're a multi-faceted renaissance woman, dammit.

---

It's taken some time (a year), and it'll take a lot more time, I'm sure, but I'm starting to realize: maybe I'm outgrowing this man. I love him, there will always be a piece of me that loves him. If he asked me out tomorrow, I would say yes, but I am tired of always being the one to check in.

I am tired of feeling like I have to align my interests with his. I am sick of feeling anxious to the point of actually feeling physically sick if he hasn't liked my social media in a while. I am tired of feeling uncomfortable sharing about my hobbies that he doesn't take interest in when they are what I am truly passionate about. I'm overstating my case a bit, and I don't mean to hate on him, I just want to be respected. Friendship is a two way street, and I don't think it's unreasonable to support a friend even if they love different things from you.

I know I, being amiable and eager to please and learn and love, tend to let myself be overshadowed by the men I love. And I know that that is at worst dangerous and at best a shame. Because I am an incredible, multi-faceted woman. And somebody who deserves my companionship and love and adoration is somebody who loves the eclectic (sometimes contradictory) collection of interests and personality traits and moods that make up Yours Truly.

If you are outgrowing somebody, it's okay to take a while to admit it, but let the idea sit with you. If you are like me and tend to let yourself be overshadowed, let yourself downplay what you love in hopes of getting love, be more aware of ways you're doing this in your relationships, platonic or romantic. Ask yourself why. Maybe we're anxious that nobody will love us as we are because we have not been shown love before. Or, worse, we've been judged and laughed at when we have shown our true selves. Maybe the relationship is unhealthy and you feel intimidated because you know that person can easily change his/her mind to not like a person.

If you find yourself often changing yourself for people, do little things to re-affirm who you are. List what you love in life. What you love about yourself. When you have felt the happiest and what makes you the happiest. Make a collage or a Pinterest board of things you love or that just appeal to you. Redecorate your cubicle or room or even just a bulletin board on a wall with what makes you happy. Assert yourself in small ways: maybe just expressing an opinion when you would typically hold back or saying you don't like something or speaking up when you want something as small as an ice cream cone after dinner. Choose the restaurant. Say something hurt your feelings. Write a text about how you feel even if you never send it. It's a challenge for some of us -- believe me, my heart races just thinking about doing some of these things -- but do stand up for you. Because you're unique and add a bit of flavor that this world has never tasted before.

And if you're outgrowing a love: I know it's so painful. I know it's a process. You may go back and forth, clinging onto this love. Because you care for that person deeply and they have become part of the fabric of your existence, the path your mind wanders. But it's okay to slowly let go. I tell myself sometimes it's worth the wait, worth the fight -- he does care and maybe I'm being too dramatic and maybe he'll come around to care more...but ultimately if a relationship is making you feel like you're "going crazy" (as much as I hate the term, it feels apt), is it worth you feeling that way?

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