I’ve wasted a lot of time obsessing over guys. Really shitty guys who I have no business dating in the first place and exes who should have remained a distant memory. They all treat me like a backup option, and I let them. I give men all of the control, while I play the passive bystander, awaiting their next texts and getting excited every time they view my Instagram stories. Because that has to mean they’re still kind of interested…right?
In fact, receiving texts from a guy I’m seeing determines my self esteem and how I feel on any given day. The less they engage, the more interesting and hard to get they are in my eyes, and I equate this with them being acceptable romantic partners. What can I say? I love a man who doesn’t text me back. That is, until recently.
Last September I dated this guy who was perfect on paper: French, 29 years old, had graduated from London School of Economics and now worked at Google. And he was tall, dark and handsome – literally everything I say I want in a man. Except he did this thing where he would initiate a conversation, and when I responded he wouldn’t reply again for 5 days. “Whatever, he’s just really busy working at Google”, I would say in defense of his behavior. And of course the more he did this, the more I was interested.
Since he wasn’t active on Instagram, I stalked his Venmo account history daily, and I even had my astrologist do a tarot card reading on our relationship. Two months later, when he cancelled our dinner plans at 9pm yet again, I wasn’t amused. The guy who couldn’t make an effort to respond to a simple text no longer seemed attractive, he was just annoying. I sent him the below farewell message, and I’ve barely thought of him since. Wow, maybe I should do this more often, I thought. I felt as light as a feather.
However, as much as I wished I had changed for the better at that very moment, it wasn’t so easy. Flash forward to this spring, when my ex-boyfriend from college came crawling back for like the tenth time.
“You always liked me better when I was a dick,” he said in defense of him not calling after we slept together last summer.
“I used to like guys who didn’t like me back, but I’m no longer putting up with your dick behavior,” I shot back.
I would like to say I stood by my words, but I pathetically took him back. Once again, it was me who was making all the effort. I traveled in a cramped, hot bus for nearly 5 hours to visit him in Boston…twice. Afterwards, I waited anxiously for days at a time until he remembered to contact me again. And the longer we went without communicating, the more I wanted to hear from him.
Unsurprisingly, when I finally asked him to come visit me for a change, there was hesitation on his part. I became so stressed out over the entire situation that I burst out into tears when lying on my bed one afternoon. But why was I once again letting him be the one in charge of the communication here? Instead of waiting for him to text, I decided to just tell him how I felt.
“Look you need to put in more effort if this is ever going to work,” I typed out and sent before I could change my mind.
“I can’t come until next month. I ran out of money hah,” was his lame response.
“Look at the end of the day, we’re on two separate pages. You don’t really give a shit and I do. I need someone who cares more,” I said.
Afterwards, I was surprised to find myself so calm. I realized I was only upset in the first place, because he wasn’t giving me attention. But unlike before, I didn’t need his texts and reassuring words to validate myself. I didn’t need someone period. For the first time ever in my romantic endeavors, I was building my own self esteem. Maybe I was growing up after all. Whether or not it lasts, here’s to still setting higher standards for myself in the future.