I want to talk about relationships. Tell you a few stories that might resonate.
Specifically, I want to talk about why most of my past relationships (men who I would have called boyfriends at the time) didn’t work out. I want to talk about this because I am always rooting for love- love is inherent but loving someone better each time takes self-reflection and practice. So I offer up my own use cases. 😛
As you may know, I was single for much of my 20s. Fiercely independent- to a fault. I claimed this was a big reason why I was single for so long. It also trickles into why my actual relationships didn’t work out.
The “failures” of those relationships boil down to many things, but on my OWN account, where I claim responsibility, is this: I never let men fully inside my world. I never let them help me when I was struggling. In fact I would brush them off when they tried. I never gave them chances to feel needed. I fell into a self-fulling prophecy of always being the care taker and never letting myself be taken care of. I often acted as their therapist for their own problems and never let them in on mine. I wanted to be there for them and encouraged them to open up, but I myself was scared to do so.
…. No one wants to date their therapist.
…. No one wants to feel like they are in a one-sided relationship, on either side of the coin. (Giving or receiving.)
Here’s what I would do: I would set the tone in the beginning of every relationship as this girl who guys could “finally open up to.” They were so attracted to this- feeling like they could finally rest their head. Unload the weight off of their shoulders. I’d argue this is a huge reason men fell for me in the beginning. There is something RIGHT to this… but only if you also open up to them.
When it came to me doing the same, I kept dealing with things on my own as if I were single. Here’s what this looked like to give you concrete examples:
-I’d have some huge task like moving, and I wouldn’t even tell the guy when moving day was and I’d do it myself. Not wanting to bother them. (They’d later be like- wtf? Why didn’t you tell me? I would have helped you?!” It honestly annoyed them.)
-I’d clearly be in my head about something. It would be detectable but when they’d sincerely ask I’d GREATLY minimize whatever it was I was going through. I’d leave them very little room to be there for me or ask additional questions… telling myself, no one can help and no one would understand and also I don’t want him thinking I’m a downer. (I was always hearing, “You know so much about things I’m dealing with, but I know so little about what YOU are dealing with… what’s up?” After a while, it’s frustrating to them, and they stop asking. And stop feeling needed.)
-If they wanted to buy me something, I’d always refuse. Saying I can buy it myself. (I once had a guy get so frustrated he said, “Can’t I just do something nice for you? Jeeze!!!” Imagine if one of his love languages was GIFTS and I kept refusing?!)
-If I was sick, I wouldn’t let them take care of me. I would make it more about them not getting sick than me needing someone to check in. Almost setting this tone of them being more important than me.
-I was very slow, arguably TOO SLOW to let them in with my friends and family. They would invite me to meet their friends and family relatively quick into the relationship, and I would keep them waiting, waiting, waiting…. often times they felt like I was hiding something from them or just didn’t want them to see my “real life.” I’m so damn proud of my family and friends but bringing a guy around them felt like a huge deal. It felt vulnerable. But if you’re really liking someone, you need to take risks and let them in….
It’s interesting- I could say perhaps they just weren’t the one and that’s why I was the way I was. But really, it wasn’t fair for me to be that way. Maybe a lot of them, I really didn’t give a full chance to because of how shielded I was. Often guys would tell me in the end that they never felt needed or they felt I never gave them a solid chance because I didn’t let them ever be there for me.
Again– no one wants to date their therapist. Or someone who doesn’t have that sassy edge of “Hey, I’m not perfect, I’m going to show you that without fear and if you can handle it, you ALSO need to take care of me as I will for you.”… Men like this. We think they want perfect, they don’t.
I would be in relationships for months and I would still never tell them about my past with depression. Or other deeper things that essentially I would want the man I’m with to know because it’s a part of me. Or why I am the way I am.
If this is you– next time you are in a relationship and you really, really like the guy- LET HIM IN. He’ll be happier, you’ll be happier… you’ll be being true to yourself. If he learns something about you that he doesn’t like and leaves well– that was meant to happen! He’s not the one! Be willing to let someone go who doesn’t accept your full true self.
I also want to note that you don’t have to disclose everything right away. Too much too soon can always backfire. I’m talking about when y’all have been on multiple dates and you’re either both committed or jussssst on the brink of being committed. Peel back the curtains.
And let him be there for you. <3