I just get so crazy when he isn’t giving me what he used to. His emails used to be about how he thought of me constantly and looked forward to being with me at the end of his day… how sexed up he was at the idea of being with me—how much he really deeply loved me. I’d show up at his apartment in garters and stockings, hid away beneath my casual jeans. When he undressed me, his heart began to race. “Dear God, Stephanie,” he’d say eying me as if he didn’t know where to begin. He would always express how happy and satisfied he felt in the relationship. I did the same thing.
I was excited to see him and do fun things with him. And when that stopped, when there was a fight, and then no email about how great he felt about us… as soon as I knew he was questioning us and he was no longer secure and certain, I became extraordinarily anxious. Any time we spent together I spent worried; how could I get him to feel that way again for me? “But you can’t make someone love you.” Bullshit. You actually can. Bonnie Raitt is wrong. If you can get someone to orgasm, or feel like shit, or feel invincible in that pair of new jeans, you can get them to love you. Or at least, get them to want to love you.
Can you, forget about what old wise people say, get someone to love you? Manipulate it right if you know just what to say or do? Well, then they might fall in love with who you’re trying to be, not who you are, then you’re back to the “me” bit. We all want to be loved for who we are, just as we are, but when we’re our most loving, nurturing, patient and forgiving selves, when we’re complimentary and generous, giving our partner exactly what they need, can’t we make them love us? I think you can. I think all the books are wrong.
I’d just have to be the girl he fell in love with, be loving to him, because men like how women make them feel. They spend their lives wishing we were just as we’d been at the beginning. “Be yourself,” bullshit landed on my door in one neat advice pellet. But how can I when I’m this anxious? “You act,” I was told. “Play it cool, like you don’t care.” But I’m supposed to make him feel good, not like he has to chase me, not now; it’s too late for that. And this is the dizzy mess I danced, in my head, thinking too much. But really, only men told me I was thinking too much. Women understood and helped me strategize.
When you’re buried in emotion and decision, everything seems messy and unclear. It’s obvious to outsiders who give the advice, capping it with “easier said then done,” because they know it sounds easy, even though it will feel hard. Here’s something I wrote to myself in my journal to help me tread and navigate through it: “Talking about it doesn’t make me feel any better. Hearing that it will be okay, that neither of us wants it to end only makes me feel better temporarily. ‘Cause he knows just what to tell me, so he’s giving me just enough, without giving me everything.
The truth is that there is nothing, NOTHING, that is going to make me feel better other than hearing from him that he wants me and that he is sorry for having to have put me through this. The only thing that will make me feel normal again is if he’s so in love, so determined to have me as his wife that he declares it outright. God, it’s what I deserve. And staying and working things through will not bring him to this revelation. It won’t. It will be bending over backwards, walking on shells, worrying about what he tells his friends that he’s not telling me, all for him to maybe say that he’s still unsure. I don’t want to live a lifetime waiting in his doubts. For his epiphanies. In a world of his. It’s not a time to be patient; it’s a time to move on and live your life, not bound up in one person who doesn’t know. Life, as cliche as it is, is too damn short.”
Here’s the thing I didn’t realize when I was deep in it. When I wrote about having to not give him a hard time when he wants to hang with the guys, etc. When I tried to talk myself into being better for him, better about his parents, etc… here’s what I didn’t realize. OH MY GOD, there ARE men out there who WANT me around almost all the time, who would insist I join them at the game, men who can communicate, who don’t give a shit what their parents think, who put me first, who are so excited about being near me and doing things for me to show me this. I didn’t want to realize that maybe he wasn’t a good match for me, that maybe what I needed was someone who felt things more deeply, someone who wanted to be in a communicative important relationship, someone who honestly would rather be at a cafe with me, sipping wine than with his pals on the course—um, I’m not kidding (there are men out there who don’t care about golf). And yes, now that I’m in a relationship like that, I don’t care if he wants to spend time with others. I know we both want to be together, so when we’re not, we communicate in sweet texts, eager to see each other soon. It’s not the end of the world. But then, I didn’t want to realize that really we were mismatched. Instead I was dead set on making it work, trying to change, to bite my tongue and be a good partner. It was work, and sometimes work is too hard. So you need to make the even harder choice and leave. Which feels like quitting, like failing at another relationship, but really, you’re quitting a bad habit, the need to hold on when it’s time to let go. The need to make someone love you. Maybe you can do it, but it’s too much work, and you’ll only always question if he’s there for the right reasons. It’s no way to live or to love.