Being A Guy’s Placeholder Cemented My Worth—I’ll Never Settle Again

Years ago, I was in love with a guy who I thought I had a pretty solid relationship with—that is until I discovered that I was merely his placeholder until he found someone he liked better. I was completely caught off-guard and pretty upset, but the experience did have an upside: I’ll never accept less than I deserve again.

  1. I never suspected that he didn’t feel the same way as I did. I never imagined that anything about our connection was artificial or disposable. During our relationship, he made me feel so happy and safe. I guess ignorance really is bliss. I thought he was in love like I was but it was all just an act. He was never planning on sticking around long-term; I was simply someone to kill time with while he searched for ‘The One.”
  2. I’ve always known I’m a catch and never thought I’d settle. I’ve always been a girl who’s known her worth; I know that I’m a good person who deserves to be treated well. I’ve always been the type to choose singleness over settling for anyone who didn’t value me, so when I learned that this guy was just using me and didn’t even consider me girlfriend material, I was baffled. I’m a great girlfriend and a catch!
  3. Once the reality sank in, I felt ashamed. When all was said and done and I realized what I was to him—or more appropriately, what I was wasn’t to him—I felt embarrassed and angry with myself. The fact that my love for this person had completely blinded me to the reality of his (lack of) feelings made me feel like a fool. I felt betrayed by my own heart.
  4. I blamed myself for my own heartbreak. I blamed myself for being so naïve and believing his lies. I felt like it was my fault that he hurt me, that I’d brought my punishment on myself because I’d let my emotions override my instincts and common sense. I was so frustrated that I hadn’t been able to catch onto his game sooner.
  5. I went to therapy for some clarity and processing. In addition to talking to friends and family, I also started seeing a therapist. The breakup happened at a very tumultuous time in my life and there were some mornings where the pain was so excruciating, I couldn’t even force myself out of bed. Reaching out to a mental health professional turned out to an incredibly beneficial tool. I was able to speak with someone who didn’t know my ex personally and could offer non-biased, encouraging, and constructive advice while also validating my feelings and reassuring me that I wasn’t just being dramatic.
  6. I slowly began finding the confidence to believe I deserved more again. As much as it hurt to discover that someone that I loved and thought I knew was capable of such a heartless act, in time I was able to remind myself of what I already knew: I’m a strong, independent, smart woman and I deserve to be with someone who can clearly see me for who I am and appreciate me for it. I never had a hard time believing that before this guy came into the picture and while it was difficult, I was eventually able to believe it again.
  7. I started dating myselfNot gonna lie, when I found out that my ex had started dating someone else, the thought crossed my mind that it might be easier to get over him if I got into a new relationship too. However, I quickly realized that what I really needed was to spend time taking care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I tend to be the nurturer in relationships which I love, but this was the time to remind myself that I don’t need validation from a relationship to feel wanted and needed. I only need myself.
  8. I’m not jaded but I’m definitely a lot wiser now. Honestly, dating is scarier now. Being vulnerable and letting yourself feel so deeply for another person can be terrifying in its own right, but it became especially scary for me after this relationship. I was afraid to get too close to someone too soon because my ex showed me just how deceitful a person can be. I’m certainly more cautious when going into relationships now, however, I didn’t let this heartbreak prevent me from being open to love. The right one is still out there!
  9. Whether I’m in a relationship or single, I feel whole. When you’re wrapped up in love, it’s easy to lose yourself in the other person and start to feel like you need them to be complete. I put so much of my time, money, effort, and energy into this relationship that there wasn’t anything left for me. When it was over, I felt like I had nothing. Never again will I allow a relationship to make me lose my sense of identity. I know now that I can’t have a successful relationship with anyone until I’m successful at dating myself. I know that one day I’ll fall madly in love again, but my independence and personal growth are the most important things to me. I’ll have those for the rest of my life, relationship or not.
Journalist and Fiction Writer. Raised in the South but built for the big city. Book Nerd. Overall nerd, honestly. Coffee Addict. Obsessed with all things leather and lacy. I like dark lipstick and writing about my exes. I have headphones in 90% of the time.