Truth be told, I’ve been broken up with a handful of times in the past 24 years. The bulk of these breakups happened in my teenage years.
And every time the words: “We need to talk” left a man’s mouth, my mind jumped to a few specific questions.
“What is wrong?”
“What obstacle do we need to overcome?”
“What is wrong with ME?”
“What did I do?”
“What can I change about MYSELF, to make him love me?”
Nope, it wasn’t because I was self-centered. It was because I believed a couple things that are pretty wack.
It was my responsibility to make people like me.
If my partner didn’t love me or wasn’t happy, it was my fault (because it was my responsibility to make him happy).
My worth and lovability were defined by people outside myself.
As a result, I went through my teens and early 20’s constantly asking for “closure” as relationships and flings ended. And by closure, I really meant feedback about ways I could transform myself to be more desirable or lovable.
And let me tell you folks, I got plenty of feedback. I had a laundry list of statements men made during or after our relationship. Statements about my appearance, my sexual performance, my intelligence…the list goes on.
I internalized their comments, and strove to “improve myself,” never realizing their comments were not truly about me.
This past weekend I met up with friends from high school for Mardi Gras. As we spoke about my driving route back to Washington State, one of my friends, Charlie, mentioned a friend in Texas who might have a couch for me to crash on.
Reminding me, “don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t about you at all, but he wouldn’t be interested in hooking up. He has a wife and kid.”
I laughed graciously and smiled, I obviously had no interest in said married couch owner. However, the phrase in my friends sentence that stuck out to me was not “married, wife or kid,” it was instead: “This isn’t about you.”
I turned to my friend and said, “It’s never really about me anyway.” He tipped his head to one side and half smiled, perhaps not fully understanding what I meant. Fair enough, I didn’t expand, but I will now.
So here’s the deal. Here’s what I’ve learned after years of therapy, after a healing and loving relationship not only with a partner, but more importantly with myself…
This Texas couch owner was happily married with a baby. My friends joke about couch owners’ lack of interest was a playful way to clarify the type of homestay being offered. And in this instance, it really had absolutely nothing to do with me…
But even when if it was about me, it still would absolutely nothing to do with me.
I know, I know, you’re staying at your screen wondering if I’ve lost my mind. Let me explain.
Say this man in Texas was single and childless. Say he still had a couch for me to crash on. Hell, say he had a bed for me cozy up with him in. And say, when he looked me up on IG he revoked his offer and his bed. Say he texted my friend Charlie and asked him to “let me down easy and make up an excuse” because he wasn’t into any number of things about me:
I was too tall.
I had body hair.
I showed too much skin on IG.
I wasn’t blonde.
The list is never ending right? For whatever reason, say this hypothetically single dude didn’t like something about me, and therefore he rejected me as a result.
Well ya’ll, in reality, his dislike of me would have absolutely nothing to do with me. Instead, it would have everything to do with him:
HE didn’t feel comfortable dating someone taller than HIM.
HE wasn’t into my body hair.
HE felt insecure or possessive or any number of things about my body’s relationship with social media.
HE liked blondes, exclusively.
Yep, that’s all about him, his preferences, his insecurities, his beliefs. None of it has anything to do with me, my worth, or lovability.
I love my height, I truly think it’s perfect.
I choose to grow gardens on my body, because I think they are sexy.
I love my body and I choose to share it ways that make ME comfortable.
I am digging my natural hair color and think it’s beautiful.
When I realized that people can feel however they want about me, and it doesn't need to impact how I feel about myself, I realized:
It’s my responsibility to make myself happy!
If a man isn’t interested in me, he was never the dude for me anyway.
NO ONE outside myself can determine my worth or lovability, that’s up to me. AND BOY DO I FREAKING LOVE MYSELF. And boom, all of a sudden, I am the most lovable person in the world because of it.
Getting wrapped up in how you could change yourself, what you did wrong, or what you could fix, does you no good (unless you really fucked up and hurt someone).
But ya’ll if someone simply doesn’t like the way you look, talk, act, text…whatever, that is absolutely, without a doubt, their problem, not yours.
If you change for someone who is so clearly not for you because they cannot see your beautiful worth, no one else will be able to love the part of you you squashed for someone else, not even you.
So love yourself hard, love yourself because you’re worth it, love yourself, not just so someone else can love you (that is a convenient perk), but because being loved feels amazing, and you can give yourself that gift.
So the next time a dude from Tinder doesn't text you back, a fling from the gym benches you, or your longtime lover moves on, remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. And rest easy, knowing their opinion does not define you. You are every bit as whole and lovable as the day you were born.