Be so ready to feel loved and feel worthy that you are not terribly picky about what that love should look like. Think of all the various degrees of love you’ve accepted throughout your life and realize that someone who maybe doesn’t call you back all the time really isn’t that bad. After all, some of the people who have said that they loved you have called you names or hit you or even abandoned you under the name of affection. When someone who is even tepidly interested comes along, it should seem like an enormous favor on their part.
Allow the courtship to go quickly, because you want to skip ahead to the part where they say “I love you.” Even though you are not necessarily getting to know them with the proper amount of reflection and hesitation, there is someone who is finding themselves frequently in your bed and giving you a sufficient imitation of devotion. You don’t feel deserving of more.
Hold onto them tightly as they lie beneath your comforter, knowing that the moment they step out of bed and go to put on their shirt, everything is going to be different. Come to understand that there love is something doled out in measured amounts, something that you are never supposed to grow too accustomed to coming home to. Watch the way they dress at the foot of your bed with a certain amount of longing, even as they are only a few feet in front of you. Know that, each time they go out the door in the morning, you are not positive about when you will see them next. Their presence in your bed is always a pleasant surprise, never an aspect of your routine.
Ask them for more significant signs of commitment, of interest, of desire. Want them to say how much they need you, but know that even if they do, it will only really be to please you. Actively dream about the version of them that aches for you the way you do them, that is happy to go into a crowd of all of their closest friends and proudly present you to each new person you meet. Imagine the life you would have together if they did not seem, on some small level, ashamed of you. Wonder if they will ever come to a point where these declarations of love are real and meaningful, but try to tell yourself that you don’t care.
You do care.
Come to see, all at once, that you love them in a way you had not anticipated. Realize that their pulling away from you only serves to draw you closer, to give you another challenge that you assume is meant to be risen to. Feel the palpable embarrassment whenever you are naked in bed, quietly begging them to stay for the afternoon as they cannot seem to put on their clothes quickly enough. Feel the power dynamics of the relationship closing in on you, but never get that punch of dignity which tells you “You deserve better than this.” Remember that you came into this never expecting much, and chide yourself for not being happy with what you have.
Be humiliated by them. Be out one night and get asked by a mutual acquaintance how long you have been together, only to be pre-empted by your lover saying, “Oh, we’re not.” Suddenly reconsider all of the things you had assumed were mutual, all of the sex which was clearly a benefit of a more platonic relationship for them, all of the planning you had been doing which was only a more elaborate version of walking off a cliff. Feel your face go red and numb. Feel your eyes well up with tears. Hear the echo of all of the awkward explaining you’ll have to do to your close friends who thought you were in a full-fledged relationship. Tell yourself you are not in love.
Know that you are.
Tell yourself that next time, whenever that next time comes, you will do better.