I’m typing this as I’m supposed to be heading to my friend Lyndsley’s to have a New Year’s Day dinner. It struck me in the shower, and the simplicity of it is so glaring and obvious that I’m ashamed not to have talked about it before.
I know that I’m good enough. I have no abundance of confidence in my ability to treat people right, especially the people about whom I care the most.
I know that I’m a catch. Dating doesn’t scare me like it once did, and I have learned to appreciate being single and alone without letting it turn me into a disgusting bachelor who needs to be fixed by a woman looking for a project. Senior singles live sane lives, once they learn a few “basic” things.
I know that I will find someone. As picky as I am, as intense and needy as I can be, as overwhelming as my concern and care can be, I know that there’s someone out there who will fulfill me, who I can fulfill equally.
And now I know.
Now I know that if you’re that person, you have to figure it out for yourself. Every day, I see women jump into relationships just to be in one, keeping secrets or lying just to avoid ruining something that’s horribly flawed from day one. I see people in terrible relationships replete with emotional or physical abuse, eroded by an undeserved lack of trust, or so symbiotic that it makes me cringe.
I won’t do that. But I also won’t stop standing up for myself and stop being honest so that I can try to show you that you’re worth more. I won’t tiptoe around your horrible situation and demonstrate from the sidelines what it feels like to be truly, deeply cared for.
If you spend most of your time unhappy and grip onto the happy moments in your relationship like it’s flotsam in the shipwreck of your life.
If you get thrilled when your significant other makes the effort to show love or care once every six months because he or she is scared of losing you.
If you are embarrassed to talk about him or her in public because you know, in that place in your soul where nobody treads, that you’re in the wrong place.
If you find yourself not going out with your friends or anyone else or tiptoeing around your life to avoid a blowup or a fight.
You need to know that you deserve better. And better is out there. It might not be easy, it might be terrifying, and you might go a hell of a long ways down before you go up. But you deserve it, and you owe it to yourself as a human being to find it.
I can’t help you, though. I can’t be that guy who will be your emotional support every time you hate him. I’m not going to be that person who you know will make you feel better and tell you the things you need to hear and should be hearing in your relationship. Because I deserve better too.
At one point in my life, the husband of my best friend joked that I was the emotional spouse and he was the physical one. “You dig the ditches and I lay the pipe,” he joked, and we all laughed, right up until it went sour and she and I had an affair that destroyed our friendship and almost ruined their marriage.
I deserve better than that.
For the future, if you don’t have the strength, intelligence, maturity, faith, or respect for yourself to step away from what you know to be a terrible relationship, you don’t get to have me. I’ll still be your friend. I’ll be honest and here for you. I’ll listen to you and care about you.
But I won’t support your relationship. I won’t bite my tongue. And when you haven’t been touched by him in six months, I won’t be the one laying with you in my bed as you ask me to make you feel wanted, as you invite me to be one with you, as you close your eyes and wish that you could be with me every night. I just can’t. Each time, it chips away at who I am. It hurts me. And I absolutely do not deserve that.
This is not a resolution. This is a reawakening.