They say guys should do the pursuing and that women should play hard to get, but I’m not really down with that. When I met a doppelganger of one of my celebrity crushes, I couldn’t help but let him know I was available. While we didn’t end up together, actively pursuing a relationship with him turned out to be totally worth it.
I went for what I wanted and I need to do more of that.
Until my adulthood, I’d been shy all my life. A people-pleasing pushover as an adult, I would always prioritize what everyone else wanted—flexing and accommodating for their needs. Not anymore. I leave jobs that aren’t right for me even when I know it means my work will sit unattended for half-a-year until they finally replace me, book solo trips to Europe, and take PTO without feeling bad for leaving my team to pick up the slack. Everyone else is looking out for themselves, so why shouldn’t I?
I was honest about my feelings and didn’t play games.
At the end of the day, I was clear about my intentions and I’m proud of that. Previously, I dated an Australian guy who I tried to make fall in love with me without ever really thinking about whether I was actually into him and an Italian who I let spoil me with dinner, drinks, and dessert for weeks, knowing full well the relationship was going nowhere.
I learned I had a bad habit of being the boyfriend, so to speak.
This definitely wasn’t the first time I’d played the role of boyfriend or pursuer. My theory is that in my introverted nature, I see leaving my house as an investment. Why not be all in with everything I do? And although I love that I’m becoming a strong and ambitious woman, I will no longer be going the extra mile when it comes to guys.
I learned what I deserved.
I deserve to have another human reciprocate my attention and affection. I deserve to take a break from giving and giving in my friendships and relationships and be the one on the receiving end of genuine love and concern. With so much going on these days between work and school and my own passion projects, now a guy’s going to have to put in a real effort to get on my radar. He’s going to have to prove he’s worth my time and investment.
I felt confident and sexy.
After 23 years, I finally learned how to flirt. It was a combination of sass, wit, charm, and a little playing hard to get that kept him coming back for more. Now, I don’t feel so hopeless anymore.
I realized that I can’t do casual.
For the sake of getting to hang out with cool guys like him, I tried to convince myself that I could do casual. I was overseas, after all. But as I chose from the buffet of single men of all nationalities, I would quickly learn who it wasn’t worth it to see again and who I was totally into. I was clingy AF with guys I was totally into, especially when they lived on the floor above me.
He didn’t save me.
I was so lost while living in Australia. I couldn’t snag a job, had a hard time making friends and was really in a place where I was trying to figure out who I was. I was secretly hoping he’d validate me because having another person care about me meant that I was OK—that I was beautiful and interesting and worth loving. That didn’t happen and that was for the best.
I know that when it’s serious, I can make a guy feel so loved.
That guy should have felt like the sexiest, most interesting human while we were together. He wasn’t some straight-laced dude without a past like I’d usually go for these days. He was edgy and mysterious, only alluding to a bit of a dark past and I didn’t judge him for it for a moment.
I saw the potential to love myself.
We didn’t get to a place in our relationship where I believed I loved him, but I felt like I showed love to him well. I wrote him a letter the day before I flew back to the States, telling him that if I could fully accept him, it gave me hope that I could one day see and love myself the same way.
The rejection revealed my mental illness.
When he decided he no longer wanted to continue seeing each other, saying I lost my mind would be an understatement. That’s when I realized I had poor coping techniques for dealing with stress and discomfort, rejection, and lack of confidence. I started to process through my lifelong struggle with depression and was confronted for the second time with major anxiety. Years prior, I’d just brushed it off and chalked it up the college life. But when depression and anxiety kept me from having the time of my life in Australia, I knew I needed to finally deal with it.
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