Somehow, despite my consistent relationship failures, I seem to be the go-to person for my closest friends when it comes to dating and relationship advice. Perhaps it is because I am so open and honest about my sexploits as well as my emotional highs and lows that people feel comfortable disclosing their own dating tribulations. Or, maybe because I am a good listener and have a degree in psychology, people appreciate the way I validate their upset, help them to draw their own conclusions, and enable them to select a course of action they find best rather than solely dictating my opinions and expecting them to adhere. Whatever the reason, my friends come to me almost daily to discuss their forays in singledom, long-term relationship woes, or pre-marital bliss and I never tire of being on speed dial.
The other day I received a flurry of texts from one of my besties who is conflicted about her current relationship. She has been on and off with her guy for over a year and is not sure whether she should stay with him and make it work or leave to try and find happiness with someone else since she is not attaining it with him. She loves him and feels as though she needs him in her life but he always leaves her upset, filled with self-doubt, and questioning if she is capable of ever being loved or if there something inherently wrong with her. I think a lot of young woman experience this same situation. They date a guy because there is a comfort in companionship and consistency; then, suddenly it is six months later and they have become dependent upon a relationship they are not even entirely certain they want to be in.
I am not sure how much time guys spend thinking about their relationships or worrying about how their other half perceives them because only rarely do my guy friends confide details that intimate to me. I tend to think they do not have the fear and dread that women do and once in a steady, committed partnership they no longer worry about it. They just live their lives, are happy to see their significant others and spend time with them, and text their girls when they feel like it without over-analyzing or thinking the situation through beyond the facts of the moment. However, when it comes to dating, women are never really comfortable and settled. We always have a fear of him dumping us or cheating on us and worry that he is not the one and that we may be missing out on someone better. We are afraid that he will leave yet we are scared to stay and endure the tribulations of our cognitive dissonance every day.
When my friend texted me about how confused and miserable she was with her boyfriend, what I deduced from her series of texts was that the two of them differed in what they wanted out of the relationship. He wants casual and has friends and family as his top priorities while she wants something more serious and puts her relationship above all else. She is not sure if she is in love with him or perhaps just the idea of him. With everyone around her telling her that she can do better and deserves to be happy, she is beginning to wonder if the relationship will ever meet her expectations and if he will ever give her what she needs. He is indifferent about her feelings and does what he pleases; yet, if she goes out with friends or does something independent of him that gives her a few minutes of bliss, he finds reason to be indignant and puts her down until she feels bad about it. She is a hardworking, witty, beautiful, sexy, confident woman—except when it comes to him. While it never ceases to baffle me that some of the most amazing women date guys who make them feel inferior and chip away at their self-esteem daily, I have been in the same boat as my friend and I would reason that countless other girls have as well.
Sometimes we get comfortable with someone or get so caught up in the attraction we have for a guy that we lose sight of the big picture. There is a fine line between accepting someone as they are and adapting yourself to fit someone else’s needs. I once dated a guy who I was extremely attracted to and quickly began to fall for. He did not meet all of the criteria of my type but there was something about him that drew me in So many of his behaviors were actions that would annoy me if performed by anyone else and I let him get away with whatever he pleased because I cared about him and wanted to make things work. However, you get to a point where you have to evaluate the situation and ensure that you are not compromising yourself and your morals to be with someone. If you are looking for something serious, which I was, yet are with someone who wants infrequent and casual, which he did, and neither of you are willing to budge, then you need to admit defeat and go your separate ways. In my case, I decided to take a break from dating in general and was fine with a friends with benefits scenario, but you have to ensure that when you make the decision to meet him where he is at that you are doing it for yourself and are fine with the reality that it will likely never go anywhere further.
If you are in a relationship where you and your partner are in different places and looking for dissimilar things, do not blame yourself and do not force yourself to endure daily strain over the disparity between what you have and what you want. Either make your intentions known and give him an ultimatum or take some time to cool off and re-evaluate. While I hate to buy into the notion that dating is a game and every move has to be calculated, sometimes being forthright and open does not work and you have to resort to more devious measures. I personally have a habit of being passive aggressive when I am upset and it has really never worked out for me because men take things at face value and if you say “no it’s fine,” they assume that to be the case and do not dig deeper to learn that you are pissed off. If you are not getting what you want from your guy but are not willing to call it quits just yet, take a communication break. Stop calling, texting, Facebooking, chatting, etc. Do not click like on his Facebook statuses and do not get yourself upset by checking out his page several times a day. If he texts or calls you then it is ok to respond but do not hang on his every word or jump at the chance to see him. Live your life, spend time with friends, and take up activities that you find gratifying and if he wants to be with you he will have to fit into your life.
Do not let yourself to fall into the trap of allowing him to dictate your life. If you get invited to a party on the weekend and want to go, confirm attendance without checking with him. If he asks you later in the week what you are doing Saturday, tell him about the party and only bring him with you if he expresses interest. Ultimately, dating and relationships are about finding someone to share a life with who will be a loving companion, an equal, and will enhance your life but not rule it. Changing personal characteristics that you find flawed or improving yourself because you want to is an integral part of growing up and evolving with the world; just make sure you never change for anyone else or allow someone to make you think you are not worthy. If someone was does not want to be with you, then they do not deserve all that you have to offer and you should move on to the next.