While getting dating advice from a friend not too long ago, he said to me, “Crazy attracts crazy.” His words, not mine. Those three words hit me and they hit me hard.
The relationship he and I were discussing has long since ended, for the better, but the conversation was about how I tend to go for girls with… issues. Why? Because I want to fix things. Everything. Not just in relationships, but life. I want to fix everything, as long as it has nothing to do with myself and how I’m living. That is my default. Self-denial and rationalization. If I can fix other people’s problems, mine don’t matter. I’m sick, I know.
But here’s where things get tricky. I have a type, and it’s not just “broken.” I tend to gravitate toward women who battle depression and self-loathing while also being strong, badass chicks. Like, don’t-take-shit-from-anybody badass. It sounds contradictory, but life is contradictory, deal with it. The women I’ve dated in the past all fit this profile in one way or another. They had something they struggled with but they also wanted to change the world and knew they could. They didn’t need me to “fix” them. And inevitably, the relationships all ended because they were all toxic. Not because of the women, but because of me.
Crazy attracts crazy.
I am a recovering hopeless romantic. I still relapse at times and it gets gross, but I make progress every day. The problem with me being a hopeless romantic is that I get confused with caring and controlling, love and codependency. You see, I learned everything I know about love from rom-coms and thought that’s how it should be. Every argument ends in laughter after falling into a pond, or perhaps a comical neighbor shouts and you’re brought back to your senses, then smile and embrace. End scene. Stupid, I know. But, that’s what I felt love was. I thought that’s how it was done.
Real life is much dirtier than that. It’s much more complicated than that. My struggle was always trying to fit that enormous, complex thing into a 120-page manuscript. I tried to create that third act resolution that brought everyone the happy ending they wanted.
I followed a formula and tried to mold my partners to fit into it. In a way, I had no respect for the person, only that idea, that formula.
My partners were cast as the supporting role in my make-believe indie film they didn’t audition for. They fit a trope in my head and all I had to do was follow the precedent set by the movies that taught me everything I knew about love. I realize now how utterly asinine my way of thinking was. The issues weren’t caused by the other person. They were caused by my own small way of thinking.
These strong, intelligent, beautiful, complex women were not in the relationship because of the idea of movie love. They are strong, independent women who wanted to grow, as individuals and as a couple, and that gets messy sometimes. I wanted to grow in the way a plot unfolds. I did all the right things that Ryan Gosling might do to woo his leading lady. I would even mess up like the movies. And in my head all I had to do was follow the imaginary script and all would be better.
But love is not like the movies, and I get that now.
I’m not saying that being romantic is a bad thing. Being romantic is a good thing; but that word also has an extremely broad definition. Being romantic can mean picking up some Taco Bell on your way home from work without being asked. Being romantic can mean making a stupid pun that your partner hates to love. Being romantic can mean building a pillow fort and having Nerf gun fights. At the core of being romantic is romance. And at the core of romance is love. Love is different for everyone and it can’t be defined as a movie trope. Now, I know we can get scientific with the explanation of love being a chemical reaction and blah blah blah. But I think a simpler way to define love would be to say that it is not a destination but rather a journey. You decide every day to love. In this decision it can’t be the movie love either. It has to be the real, dirty, complicated, frustrating love.
And that has been my downfall when it came to relationships. I didn’t want that. I wanted the shiny, choreographed, post-production love. I wanted to be a character when the other person wanted to be a human. I realized the failures of my previous relationships were my own. And I would like to formally apologize to my exes for that. I didn’t treat them like people. I went through the actions. I was acting. I was acting at being in love and at that time, it was the same thing as being in love. I am sorry. It’s not my truth anymore.
So what’s the point? What’s my advice? I don’t know. Everyone is different and who am I to tell you what to do or how to feel? If you’ve gotten this far and are actually looking for advice I’ll say this: just be yourself, find your own way of love, and don’t push that idea on someone else. Respect the person enough to not try to mold them. Don’t force anything because you feel like you should be in love. It’s okay to not love someone. It’s okay to realize a relationship isn’t working. It’s not okay to keep trying to force those things to keep going when you know deep down they’re not. That only creates animosity. Love isn’t like the movies. Love is crazy.
Find the crazy that matches yours.