I once knew a woman who told me, “You’re too young to be so jaded about relationships.” I once loved the woman who told me, “You’re too young to be so jaded about relationships.” Perhaps she was right. Perhaps 22 is too young to be jaded; to believe that no one is ever going to love you.
Well, here I am seven years later and not much has changed. Here I am seven years later and I have yet to know love in any kind of semi-permanent capacity. So, maybe I was too young to be jaded or maybe my twenty-two-year-old self had incredible insight. Maybe at 22 I already knew (or at least anticipated) that I was going to be consistently disappointed by the people who would cross my path and pretend to care about me while it suited them.
First, there was the woman I’ve already written about; the one who told me I was too young to be jaded. The one who found me intriguing and exciting and attractive for a while. The one who thought I was good enough to share her bed at night, but not good enough to wake up next to in the mornings. The one who let me fall in love with her knowing she would never be able to love me back. The one who washed her hands of any guilt after we ended by claiming that she had always been honest about what she wanted from me and what she was willing to offer me in return.
Then, there was the boy with a charming smile and easy promises. The boy who told me that he was nothing like the woman who came before him. The boy who said, “I know how much she meant to you. I know because I saw the way you looked at her – like in a crowded room she was the only person who mattered.” The one who said he would never treat my heart with such disrespect. The one who – I came to find – only thought of me as a conquest, a bragging right, a story that he could tell his friends about over a round of beers.
After him, there was another boy with better intentions. A boy who was patient and gentle and genuine. The one who said he’d wait until I was ready to give myself to someone new. The one who said he saw a future with me. The one who wanted a marriage and kids and a white picket fence and a “happily-ever-after.” The one who thought he loved me but didn’t really know me at all. The one who thought he loved me but never bothered to ask what I wanted. The one who thought he loved me, but actually just loved the idea of me and how I might fit into his picture-perfect fairytale.
Most recently, there was a girl with an adventurous spirit. A girl who asked questions as if she actually cared about my answers. The one who talked about making plans and seeing the world together. The one I almost let into the depths of my heart. The one who left after discovering that I’m not bright and bubbly and easy. The one who decided it would be too difficult to love me. The one who decided that my walls were not worth the effort of overcoming.
I once knew a woman who told me, “You’re too young to be so jaded about relationships.” Perhaps she was right, at the time. But the ironic thing is…it was that same woman (and the parade of almost-but-not-quite loves that preceded her) who left me believing that, at 22, I had humanity completely and tragically pegged.
I am so sick and tired of people who promise love when all they really want is a bit of excitement until something better comes along. I am sick and tired of people begging me to rip myself open only to quickly cut-and-run when they realize that my broken parts won’t make them feel whole.
So, tell me, why should I continue to expose myself without any sort of guarantee that anyone will stay?