Everyone does stupid things for love—it’s just the name of the game, right? At least, that’s what I thought when I tried to do a 180 on my entire personality to get a guy. The thing is, by trying to be his ideal girl, I forgot who I wanted to be.
He was different from other guys I’d met before. I know, I know—total cliché. But compared to the fratty dudes I was used to, this guy was a glass of expensive wine in a party full of Keystone. He was classy, well-read, intelligent, and articulate. I loved how focused and hardworking he was. Plus, he was super principled: he didn’t drink, party, or try to hook up with every girl he saw. He also didn’t seem to mind if his friends did—perfect and non-judgmental!
Our connection was electric.We met through a mutual friend and within minutes, we were chatting away like we’d known each other for years. We had matching senses of humor and the banter just flowed. Even the friend who’d introduced us commented that it seemed like the two of us were the friends and she was the awkward third. And it wasn’t just joking: we could talk about literature and family and everything in between—not to mention he was hella fine.
I fell hard. Even though I got to know him as a friend, it wasn’t long before I was picturing us together. How could I not? Everything was just so natural, he was gorgeous, and our ‘ship name would’ve been the cutest thing ever. We would be the power couple everyone wanted to be! I felt like I finally found someone who could match me on every level.
We were so compatible but something was off. Although we got on like a house on fire, something wasn’t quite right. We hung out, but mostly when our other friends were around. I’d invite him to do things—not date-y things, just grabbing lunch or coffee—but he seemed skittish about spending time with just me. What the hell? After a while, I felt confused and pretty frustrated.
I figured it was me. Now, I’ll be straight: I usually lose zero sleep if a guy doesn’t like me. Plenty of fish and all that, right? But there was something about this dude that I couldn’t let go of. Everything else seemed so on point, so I reasoned that the problem must be something about me.
I picked myself apart. All the qualities I loved about myself—my strong voice and opinions, my honesty, my fierceness—were the complete opposite of what he was looking for! He wanted someone who was strong but not so strong that they couldn’t be taken care of. He wanted someone who would be ladylike and beautiful. Maybe my outspoken feminism made me seem like I was a man-hating feminazi?
I tried to make small changes and they snowballed. It’s not like I was submitting to becoming a housewife, right? I was just trying to make him see that I was delicate, lovely, and womanly—just like he wanted. But I didn’t realize how quickly those “small” changes would multiply. Suddenly, I wasn’t giving any opinions because I didn’t want to seem “aggressive.” I gave up my fashion sense to dress more conservatively. I also censored myself from talking about issues that mattered to me and I hated it. It felt like I was losing myself.
I started noticing his misogyny. Maybe it was my new docile personality, I don’t know, but he suddenly became a lot freer with his opinions, many of which were downright offensive. We’d walk down the street and he’d criticize girls’ clothing. Once, he insisted that women who focused on their careers were “missing out” on the joy of being a mother. The sexist comments spilled forth and I was super uncomfortable. The normal me would’ve totally called him out and maybe dumped my ice water on his head. But I was his “ideal girl,” right? That girl didn’t want to seem too opinionated, so I just bit my tongue.
He still didn’t like me. After all that indignity and biting my tongue and sweating through layers of clothing, he still didn’t want me! The more I tried, the more it seemed like he was pulling away. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I was baffled, I was angry, and I was hurt. Most of all, I was furious with myself for making such a drastic, unnecessary change to get a guy who didn’t want me in the first place.
I realized that if I had to change to be his ideal girl, he wasn’t my ideal guy. If he really was right for me, I wouldn’t have had to reinvent myself to get his attention—which failed anyway! While the whole experience was pretty humiliating, it made me realize one important thing. I deserve to be with someone who wants and accepts all of me, and I won’t ever settle for less.
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