I developed a crush on a guy who messaged me through this blog last year. Our connection felt intense from the start; our emails back and forth often included several paragraphs each. Over the course of several months, a decent amount happened: we both admitted to feeling some romantic desire, he wanted space to heal from a recent breakup before we talked further, and most recently, he shared he only wanted me as a friend. Cue, an image of me crying to “in my head” by Ariana Grande while driving on the highway from Virginia to Maryland at 1am.
Over the past week, I felt so much self-hatred for having ever trusted and wanted this guy who I literally only talked to over the internet so maybe we wouldn’t have been compatible anyway lol. Considering my past history with men who have used me and then left, I felt foolish for making the same mistake: liking a guy who in the end would only take advantage of me. In a therapy session, I said that I knew for a fact that I, Thomas, am indeed the most foolish, naïve, good-for-nothing person on the planet for trusting this man. I felt so much shame for how I opened up to him about my fears and my inner world, how I said I liked him and believed him when he said he liked me too.
Over the past week, I have taken a lot of time to talk with close friends, journal and self-reflect, and work my way toward self-forgiveness. In my most lucid moments, I can listen to my friends and understand I did not do much wrong: I felt interested in this guy, I opened up to him as he opened up to me, how could I have known he would treat me like he did? As one of my close friends reminded me, I form relationships with people through vulnerability, so of course it would hurt when a guy takes advantage of that, just as it feels so great when my friends treat that vulnerability with reciprocal sharing and empathy. Still, when I think about how I opened up to this guy, I want to take a permanent shower to cleanse myself of how dirty I feel or fill the pipes with acid water so my skin burns off and I never have to have feelings for a man again, I’m kidding.
But then I remind myself: sometimes we fall for not-so-great men, and we still survive. I think about Ariana Grande, who literally got engaged to the problematic, kinda mediocre comedian Pete Davidson, then ended her engagement and released the most healing, self-compassionate bop “thank u, next.” Or I think about Caroline Knapp, one of my feminist writing inspirations, who dated an emotionally distant man before releasing her powerful memoir about food and feminism and hunger and desire, Appetites. Or I think about Jenny from my favorite film An Education, who drops out of school to pursue a relationship with a con artist, before recognizing the error of her ways and recommitting to empowering herself. If each of these women can survive tumultuous relationships with problematic men, I can survive an unsuccessful crush I held for a few months wow when I write it like that it really feels like I’m kinda complaining about nothing oops there goes this post.
I liked this guy a lot, and I wanted him to like me too. In the end it did not work out. But throughout it all, I held onto myself. I put a lot of effort into my close friendships, I spent so much time on activities that aligned with my values, I played tennis and read books and bopped to BlackPink and Ariana Grande. I have not arrived at a place of complete self-forgiveness yet, and at the same time, I feel more ready to forgive myself than ever.
As Ariana Grande sings in “thank u, next”, I am learning from the pain and turning out amazing. What I have learned from this, especially in regard to potential romantic relationships: I want a guy like this guy in terms of how much he amazed me with his passion, yet I want someone who also practices active listening, who prioritizes consistency and healthy communication, and who will invest a similar amount into me as I do for them. Just like what I find in my close friends, if I do ever date a guy, I want someone I can trust, not some rando who opens up about his fear of commitment and then executes that fear of commitment with little self-awareness toward how it affects me not like that happened to me recently, nope, not the case at all. If a guy that meets my standards shows up in my life, great, and if not, no worries, because I have me. I will apply those same standards of caring and communicativeness to myself, for my students, my clients, and the people who have helped me the most throughout all of this: my friends.
Thank you all for creating a safe space for me to share my healing process! Would love to hear how you all have handled disappointing men (and I guess disappointments in general). I am so sorry for not yet responding to people’s super compassionate comments and messages; they have meant the absolute world to me and have helped me out so much, work has just been hectic this month and surviving work while making time to heal and process has been a lot. Will respond to all of them as soon as possible. In the mean time, hope you are all well. Until next post.