In college, relationships have become a forbidden fruit. No one wants to “settle down.” You just want to have fun. You want to experience it all. But deep down, you secretly want to feel for someone else. You want to know that there is someone else that is going to be there for you during it all, who you can experience everything with. Everyone wants this, but they are not willing to work for it. You look at happy couples both with jealousy and disgust. What makes them the lucky ones? Why are they able to find happiness? Why am I so different from them? What is wrong with me? You are scared- scared of rejection, scared of falling too fast, scared of not being loved back, scared of getting hurt.
You take this fear and irrationalize it. It consumes you to a point at which you no longer feel worthy enough for a relationship. The thought of “settling down” with someone else seems so excruciatingly scary and painful that you begin to tell yourself that you are not good enough for love. You are not pretty enough, not smart enough, not funny enough. This self-hate spirals out of control.
Stuck in this vacuum of self-hate and societal pressure to always be better than you are, you find yourself empty. You go to parties, find someone, and bring them home. For a brief moment you feel something. You feel wanted, pretty, good enough. But then they leave and you’re left emptier than before. But you’re scared, so you do not change anything and continue on with this cycle. When will it ever be enough? When will you snap out of it and find happiness? Will it ever get better?
And then you meet someone. They are perfect. They are funny; they make you laugh. They make you happy. They seem interested in not only your body, but you as a human being. They care about your life. For a second you think there could something there. No. You remind yourself that you are not good enough, there is no way this could be true. So you squash that small bit of hope and pretend you didn’t have a moment of vulnerability. You remind yourself of all of the past relationships you have had. The hurt that you felt from them. You can’t feel that again.
So you play games because you know that you can’t lose this person. You can’t let someone else have them. But you are not ready to open up to the possibility of being with them. Your friends ask about them. You lie. You deny any feelings you have with every ounce of your being to avoid commitment, to avoid being hurt once again. You lie so much to everyone around you that maybe you begin to believe it a little bit yourself. But then you see them again and it all rushes back. The butterflies you feel. The happiness. The potential for love, for something meaningful in your life.
You finally admit to yourself that you have feelings for them. That you are in fact good enough, as crazy as that may seem. You begin imagining yourself with them. This could work. You admit it to your friends first. Then finally you work up the courage to tell them yourself. You confess your love for them. You feel relief. The fear has washed away. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
But your games have been hurting them too. They are now scared. Is it too late? Has your fear driven them away? They have tried so hard to break through your barriers that you had constructed, but now they are tired. They feel like they are not good enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough, not funny enough for you. They need time to think.
So you find yourself alone, empty, but in love. You don’t want to fall back into that spiraling hole again. You want to be happy. So you wait until they are ready, holding onto the hope and possibility of a relationship because it is all you have. It is now your lifeline. You wait until they can find their own way out of the hole that you put them in, hoping that you have not dug it too deep.