On Valentine’s weekend I went to see the new rom com “How to Be Single.” And like most movies I see, it got me thinking.
The film’s main point was that being single isn’t a death sentence and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable. We need to learn how to be alone before we can be with someone else.
Depressing right? It’s actually a good moral, but I made the mistake of seeing the movie in a time of personal romantic turmoil. It made me really sad at first.
Our society puts a heavy burden on being single. If we’re alone that means we’re not doing something right. We may think we’re all modern and stuff, but we still have the nice little idea of meeting the perfect person, getting married, and making babies. If you can’t find that person then you have a real problem on your hands!
I’ve always made excuses for my singlehood. I was busy with school. I was busy with work. I was busy writing. I refuse to use Tinder. I used Tinder and it may have damaged me for life. It’s just really fun to disappoint your grandparents every time they ask if you’re dating anybody.
The truth is that I’ve always worried that I’m a horribly difficult person to love. I was afraid my character flaws stood out to boys rather than all the wonderful things I have to offer. That was until recently. I recently realized that you can’t always sit in your bed and cry for days because you’re worried about something you did to scare a boy away. Unless you like, I don’t know, committed murder or said you didn’t like his dog, there’s nothing you could have done to scare him away. He was going to run no matter what.
And how did I come to this conclusion? I just had a boy run. I mean really run. Run like it only took one weekend and a visit from a college girl he had “a thing” with to start the race. I didn’t check that closely, but he probably had that cartoon cloud of dust behind him when he left my apartment after he told me that he wasn’t in it anymore and “just wanted to be friends.”
My immediate reaction was to search my brain for every conversation we ever had. Every late night talk, group outing, and coffee date. What did I say that made him instantly dislike me? What did I do? Had I posted something on Facebook that offended him? Did he look at my Twitter and see how many times I tweet at Rob Gronkowski a week? Did I mention Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming Oscar win too many times? Was I not girly enough? Did I not laugh enough at his jokes? Did he not like the way I dressed or the way I wore my hair? Was he mad I didn’t cheer for the same sports team as him or that I own physical CDs of Kid Rock albums?
The list goes on and quite honestly after a week of feeling like a complete asshole, I stopped. Because I don’t deserve to be treated like that by my brain. So I asked him to meet and talk. (The boy, not my brain. Although that would be an interesting conversation.) I wanted to really hear why I suddenly wasn’t good enough. What flipped a switch somewhere in his brain (these brains I’m telling you)?
Of course, I’m not stupid and I knew the answer before we had even talked. But I needed to hear him say it, because I deserved to be treated with respect. And the “just friends” move is the opposite of respect. I needed to hear him say it so I could move on.
But here’s the thing about asking a guy to tell you why he no longer has feelings for you. He’s not going to tell you. Not exactly, anyway. And you can’t blame him for it. It’s awkward and if he’s a decent dude he won’t want to hurt your feelings. But what he doesn’t know is that by not being fully honest with you, well, you just get really mad.
And you’ll probably want to start thinking that you did something wrong again. But don’t do that. Don’t think that it’s your fault even for a second. Because it is not. Don’t think that when you ask him to tell you what happened and the first excuse he uses is that you don’t have things in common. When have two people ever liked the same exact thing? That’s not how life works, like, in general.
Don’t believe it’s your fault when he says he doesn’t want to start a relationship with you because he wouldn’t be able to handle the imminent breakup later on. What kind of attitude is that? If we all lived in relationship fear like that no one would ever date, get married, and re-populate the Earth. Now that’s depressing!
It’s definitely not anything to get worked up about when he just starts repeating himself, either. Like when he keeps saying things like “I just wasn’t in it” or “it didn’t feel right to me?” Yeah those are just the only phrases his poor brain can come up with at the moment (those darn brains). It’s also a defense mechanism to avoid telling you the truth.
So when he finally admits that it had something to do with that girl from college that visited him that one weekend, you won’t feel bad. In fact, you’ll be totally relieved that he finally got to the point. And, if you’re really lucky like me, he’ll mention that after a long conversation he and this girl had about you, he realized you and him weren’t right. But he’ll assure you she didn’t say anything bad about you to sway his thinking. But as a fellow female you sure as fuck know that’s the biggest load of bull shit you’ll ever hear. For the grand finale, you’ll ask him what he and this girl talked about. And when all he says is “I don’t know,” you’ll know for sure that he’s not worth the trouble.
By the time he admits to you that he still thinks about that girl from college (no matter how vague that sentiment will be), you will have stopped listening. You’re not being rude. In fact, you may be thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner or if it’s finally time for you to throw away that sweater you’ve had since high school. You know, just thinking about other things like how he was thinking about that other girl.
Most importantly, while he’s sitting there on your couch fidgeting, you’ll realize that this isn’t your deal. This is his deal. It’s his choice if he doesn’t want to be fully honest with you. It’s his life and if he doesn’t want to try a relationship with you because he just “wasn’t feeling it,” whether it be out of fear or because he likes someone else, then there’s nothing you can do about it.
You won’t be able to change the situation, but you will be able to walk away from it. Because you are a strong, beautiful, independent person and you are fully capable of being loved. No one is unlovable. You won’t lose any self-worth just because his deal was that he couldn’t figure it out. Because you have the ability to figure it out for yourself.
If that means you have to be single for a little while longer then that’s OK, too. There is no shame in being single. You’re not broken. Because every blow makes you stronger and more ready for the right guy. And you’ll know when you find him, because he sure as hell won’t say “I don’t know” to all of your questions.