It’s not fair: The time when you enter the world of dating is also the time hormones kick in and you’re probably in a very complicated place in life. Biology tests, gossiping cliques, annoying siblings, nosy parents—sound familiar? And on top of all that, you get to struggle with newly discovered relationships. You have no idea how to navigate what’s going on in your heart, yet you have to put on a brave face every single morning, as chances are the object of your affection goes to the same school. I have no idea how we survived it—we should be given a medal or something. Luckily, it’s over now, and we know how to tackle these love crises like adults. Or is it?
I’ve sat down with girls all over the world who, once we have one drink too many, start spilling their deep, dark secrets. They’re usually the same, more or less: There is The Person. Months ago, or even years, there was a nice beginning; one of those moments that awakens your long lost butterflies and makes you want to dance the streets. You smiled silly because that was all your face muscles could do. And there was this person that made you happy.
But somewhere along the line, the relationship shattered. It may have left you bitter and cold and it either took you a while to recover or you never really did. That is, until they appeared again. Maybe your gut told you to stay away, and maybe you were being smart, but those stupid butterflies crashed into you, and eventually you gave in.
From that moment on, that has been your life. The butterflies come and go, preceded by The Person; the pauses take weeks or months or even years, and you have no idea what The Person does in between; you have long conversations with yourself, but in the end they just leave you exhausted. You know everything your friends have been trying to tell you—oh, you know it by heart! But speaking of the heart…it can never say no. Not that you don’t want to; you do. Well, you think you do.
Please, do. And I’m not telling you it has something to do with self-respect, because I know you are a successful, beautiful, intelligent woman aware of her qualities—and can still be drawn back to this person who can have you whenever they want.
But wanna know the truth? It’s all about self-respect. I had this moment of revelation after eight years. This moment came in the form of a text message saying ‘let’s meet before 7, I’m busy afterwards’. It was 5:30. Am I not worth more than someone’s hour and a half? I most definitely am. It took one text message to decide; but getting there took many years of my life.
Don’t reassure yourself by saying you have it all under control. If they’re not around, imagine they’ll appear tomorrow. Does it make you happy? Anxious? Nervous? Anything except indifference means you’ve got nothing under control.
Maybe you’re just waiting for it to pass. But it won’t pass without your conscious decision. Time heals, but what if your Person has that inner radar that enables them to enter your life again, just when you thought you had moved on? Strength of time is nothing compared to your own willpower.
Maybe you’re just waiting for The Person to grow up, telling yourself he or she is really wonderful. And maybe they really are. But the world’s greatest guy may not be not your greatest guy. Someone who truly cares would not appear and disappear—the people who love you stay. You can shake your head in disbelief and argue with me and think about all the times they were there and lovely. What about when they weren’t?
I’m not telling you you’re missing out by sticking to The Person, as that alone shouldn’t be your reason to cut it, for good. You should be your reason. Life isn’t a Disney movie, and it isn’t as simple as “they lived happily ever after.” But take a look at your happily taken friends. It can work. It takes effort—it’s not rainbows and butterflies 100 percent of the time—but it works, and it’s even simpler than your on-off thing. No one runs away when it’s not as interesting as it used to be. People work things out, and that is what each and every one of us deserves: someone to work things out with. To fail, to learn from the failure, to try again. Maybe to leave or be left if it doesn’t work. But to know you’ve tried.
You’ve tried so many times. Second chances are good—are twenty-second chances as well?
This time, listen to your head. What would you tell to a best friend in a similar situation? Why aren’t you telling it to yourself? Be brave. Be smart. Take your own advice, and break free.