I’ve been dating ever since I was 15 years old. I can count on two hands the number of relationships I’ve been in, but only on one hand the number of serious ones. And out of all the boyfriends I’ve had, I’ve only ever really been in love with one, because he was the only one who could ever meet me on my own level, and who knew how to make his life fit seamlessly with mine.
That last statement comes off a little ironic, because in all my years of dating, now matter how I felt about the boys (and later men), I always made a point of adapting myself to them. I learned their habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their lifestyles, and found a way to make room in my life for them. On some occasions, my friends mistook my conformity for actual love, and pointed out that I was losing myself by allowing my life to revolve around my boyfriends’.
I maintained that I wasn’t doing that, and that I was just being flexible, because any woman with a brain knows that it’s much easier to adapt to a man than to try and make a man change his ways for her.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally saw myself through my friends’ eyes.
I came across a post on Instagram that read: “Relationships aren’t built on how many times someone tells you that they love you. Relationships are built on all those times that they didn’t tell you, but showed it to you instead.” And at that moment I found myself thinking, If this is love, then I don’t want it.
As someone who was raised to speak her mind and never say things she didn’t mean, I don’t think I’ve ever taken back anything I’ve ever said or written about anything or anyone. Truths are hard to hear, and read, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s only because people don’t want to have to live with them. My career as a journalist only sought to reinforce my belief in writing the facts — only after having incontrovertible proof that they are true, of course — so that I never had to feel guilty or take them back.
So it was an enormous step out of my comfort zone, not to mention against my own principles, when I was asked to remove something from a recent post, but because it caused a lot of unnecessary backlash i.e. drama. And after much raging, swearing and crying, I relented, not because what I had written wasn’t true, but because I was being asked to by the first person in the world I would have given up everything for.
Immediately after I edited that post, I was filled with a sense of self-loathing and resentment so profound that I knew I would never forgive myself — or him — for what I had been made to do. I was a hypocrite for backing down on what I believed in and doing what I had always been taught never to do, all for the love of one person. I had, once again, allowed every aspect of my life to be controlled by someone I neither know nor respect, all for the love of one person. And in loving someone too much, I had lost myself.
If this is love, then I don’t want it.