My grandmother always told me that the key to a successful relationship was to be the person who loved the least. That as long as the other person needed you more than you need them you would never lose the upper hand. But as time has gone on, and relationship after relationship has come to an end because I just wasn’t that into them, I have found that this isn’t necessarily always the case.
I am not an emotional person, never have been and never will be, so I have found myself in several relationships where I was less in love with a person than they were with me, and you know what? It feels like sh*t. It feels like sh*t to know that you aren’t giving someone as much as they are giving you. It feels like sh*t to know that you could decide to walk out of this person’s life one day relatively unaffected as theirs crumbles to the floor. It feels like sh*t to hear them say they love you and half-heartedly say it back in an attempt to spare their feelings. And it feels like sh*t to be too afraid to leave the person because you know you have the power to crush them.
You see, being the person who loves the least in the relationship feels an awful lot like settling.
Realistically, why would you want to be in a relationship with a person who you aren’t head over heels in love with? Why would you want to spend all day every day with someone who you know you could go days without? And why would you let other people pass you by because you wanted to stay in a relationship in which you knew you had the upper hand?
Being the person who loves the least in a relationship feels like you are living a lie. It feels like you have to walk on eggshells so that your true colors are not shown. This is not to say that you don’t care about the person, because I am sure that you do. It is just that you will never care about the person with the same intensity that they care about you. Not only does it feel unfair to do this to them, but it is also unfair to you.
It is unfair that you constantly feel like something is wrong with you for not loving this person back. It is unfair to feel like a villain when they hold you in their arms at night and your mind is somewhere else. It is unfair to the both of you to stay in the relationship because you are comfortable, knowing that one-day you will eventually leave. And it is unfair to allow them to continue being the center of their universe when they are a secondary player in yours.
Loving someone less than they love you will forever be the elephant in the room. You are reminded by all their small acts of kindness that you don’t feel the same. It is the reason you are on edge when you meet his family at Christmas and they pull him aside to say, “You know I think she could be the one”. It is the reason that when you see his number pop up on your phone you feel a slight pang of guilt before you answer the call. It is the reason that when they talk about the future with you, you feel yourself holding back. And it is the reason you feel burdened by their outward displays of affection.
To be honest, I am not sure what would be worse, to love someone less than they love you and feel guilty about it every single day, or to be head over heels in love with someone, blissfully unaware that their love is not on the same wave length as yours. To be honest, I think everyone loses with unreciprocated love.
I don’t think anyone makes it out without any scratches or bruises when a relationship comes to an end. Whether you had the upper hand or not, feelings are feelings and it never feels good when they get hurt—especially when you are the one hurting them. I guess what it comes down to is: Which would you rather be; the person with the power to break another’s heart, or the person who left their heart in another person’s hands? I honestly don’t know.