I once had a discussion with my friend Jesse about dating in LA. We were talking about how when you first start dating someone, you start playing a game called ‘who can go the longest without texting the other person’. Or in other words, who can show that they care the least?
I’m glad we talked about this, because it’s something I noticed in my own dating life in my early to mid twenties. You start dating someone, and you try not to get too attached. You try not to sound too desperate. You try not to let them know you miss them, or that you’re thinking about them, or that you haven’t had a date in months and that this is the first time in a long time you’ve felt this good with someone.
It is such bull shit. But we already went there.
The one thing I learned from dating was to say what you feel, and know your freakin’ self worth. Ok maybe that’s two things, but they kind of go hand in hand because you can’t say what you feel unless you know your self worth. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s not so easy.
I was real quiet about the things that were important to me in my early twenties. I said yes to dates I didn’t want. I always made myself available for certain guys whenever they wanted to hang out, no matter what my plans were. I made them my top priority, even if I wasn’t being made a priority in return. I had emotional feelings I didn’t share. I was a yes ma’am. I was a bit too loving sometimes because I thought that was what you were supposed to do.
I wanted a fairy tale relationship. I wanted to be adored. I wanted to be written about. I wanted to be the girl guys raved about on their Facebook pages. I wanted to be a ‘cool’ girl, a ‘guy’s girl’, one that wasn’t naggy or annoying, but still really strong and special.
I wanted all of this, but I wasn’t getting it, because I wasn’t very serious about myself, or my feelings. I didn’t like myself a whole lot, so guys didn’t really care all that much about hurting me. I put myself, my likes, my dislikes, my faith, my wants, my everything completely second in hopes of finding a decent guy. I molded myself into whatever the guy I liked wanted me to be because I didn’t want to be lonely, and I wanted desperately to be loved.
But you’ll never get anywhere that way. You can’t play games with people, and you can’t pretend you’re someone you’re not. And pretty soon, you just get sick and tired of pretending you’re someone who doesn’t care when that ’special’ guy doesn’t text you after two days. Pretty soon you realize you have nothing to lose, so you might as well be you. Because you matter and you deserve to be with someone who sees that.
My first serious boyfriend told me I never made him a priority. I was 21, and I was mostly interested in partying with my friends all the time. He was 26, an engineer, and wasn’t really all that interested in the same things I was.
I was a flower and he was a hammer.
I knew things were going badly about a year and a half into it, but I held on. I didn’t say how I felt because I felt like everything in some way was my fault, and I felt bad about not making him a priority, instead of questioning why I wasn’t, which made things way worse as they went on. I continued not making him a priority, even though I told him I was trying. Eventually we called it quits after 3 and a half years, but I always wonder how much grief I could have saved the both of us if I had just spoken up from the beginning. If I had told him things weren’t working out, and moved the hell on.
By the time my next semi-relationship rolled around, I was ready to start saying how I felt. Three years of being silent gave me a voice that was ready to roar. I started dating a musician, and when he didn’t make time for me, I told him how it felt. I was 26 and I didn’t care if he didn’t like the way I was feeling, or if he was going to think I was ‘psycho’. I just told him how I felt. I risked being seen for who I was, which was a person who deserved love, time, and attention. (Disclaimer, this was after about 2 months of dating, not after 2 dates. So it was a chunk of time that we’d been together before I started really getting annoyed and telling him how I felt).
Even in that case I probably should have spoken up sooner, but hey, I was doing better.
Granted, at the time, I didn’t know I was doing the right thing, I was just sort of tired of being pushed aside. But who wouldn’t be? Why should we have to settle for someone who doesn’t see the light inside of us?
I think it has to do with us feeling like we need someone to tell us we’re loved. Sometimes we stay with the wrong people for these reasons alone, even when they don’t love us, because we don’t want to be alone, and we want to feel loved.
Dr. Robert Holden says the basic fear in life is that we think we are unlovable. Everything stems back to us not feeling loved, and us being angry with ourselves for some bloody thing that happened to us in the distant past. But if we realize that we are at our core 100% love, there’s no need for us to try and find it in other people. There’s no need for us to try and find someone to validate our worth, and therefore no need to chase people to get them to like us, or make room for us.
I wish I learned all of this earlier, but then again maybe I don’t. I think I had to go through a lot of heartbreak to get to the good place I’m at now. I had to experience the silence, the not being able to speak up. And then I had to experience the speaking up, and risk being the one who was able to say exactly what she deserved.
And if people run away from you for that, let them.
The bottom line is to say what you feel and not be ashamed by it. If you love yourself enough, you know exactly what you have to say, and you know more than anyone what you deserve. Just because someone isn’t putting in the time and effort for you, doesn’t make you less valuable. It means this time around, for whatever reason, this isn’t working out. It’s not a match. And if it is a match, maybe it’s just the wrong time.
Since realizing this, I’ve been 100% truthful about my feelings in my relationships. You should hear the crazy stuff that falls out of my mouth when I’m unhappy with something in my current relationship. I’m just like “This makes me sad” and he’s like “okay”. It’s kind of funny actually. I think Adam’s used to the things I get sad about at this point, so he’s usually able to detect it. Which makes it easier, haha.
But it feels SO GOOD, because you’re not trapped in your own self-demolition derby. You’re not seething, thinking all the thoughts you wish you could say, letting them eat your insides. You set your thoughts and yourself, free. And believe me, it’s best for both of you. Because your boyfriend or girlfriend will NOT know what you’re thinking. Like, ever. (Taylor Swift voice).
And if you don’t tell them how you feel, it’s going to fester, and you’ll blow up at some small thing because you haven’t said how you feel about the bigger thing and THEN you’ll start to look truly psycho.
It’s better for everyone if you just come out with it. Not in a vile way, but a truthful way. And never assume that what’s going on in your head is going on in theirs. I guess that’s another blog post entirely.
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