It’s the New Year, which means it’s time to start going to the gym, cleaning out the cupboards of all the Christmas candy, and reflecting back on the year that’s passed. The year 2014 brought with it many highs and lows, and there’s any number of things I could reflect the crap out of, but today I want to talk about dating. And friendship. And FEELINGS.
Yep. It’s gonna be one of those blog posts.
I was very lucky to have met my soul mate when I was 11 years old. She is tall dark and handsome, loves the Sound of Music more than anyone else I’ve ever met, and she makes me feel like the prettiest, smartest, most talented person on the planet. If she were a man or I were a lesbian, I would have never needed ask for anything else in my life, ever. Even after 18 years of friendship, we still text or call almost every day–who says you have to lose the magic? I literally thank God every day for sending a friend like Alicia into my life. She has taught me everything I know about being true and kind and loyal and the best friend a person could possibly be.
My college soul mate Cheryl and I have rarely lived in the same state (and sometimes even country) since graduating, but we can still Skype and text and giggle for hours. This girl has seen me at my absolute weirdest and has often encouraged me to new and horrifyingly levels of bizarre behavior. We have cried but mostly laughed together, and eaten together, and then laughed some more. I don’t know how two people who were randomly put together by a university computer system could have been so absolutely perfect for each other, unless it was that it was not a random act at all but a divine intervention to bring me the person I’ve often needed the most throughout my lifetime. I love you, baby.
There are countless other women who have meant so much to me in my life, and I could probably fill up an entire post just naming them and their finer qualities, but the point is, I love my lady friends. They are smart and funny and kind and fun and laugh at my fart jokes and love me unconditionally. I would sooner shave my head than willingly let any one of them get hurt, despite knowing it really would not flatter my bone structure (unlike this handsome devil…)
I know I’ve already written a blog post where I gave advice to myself as a young girl. At the risk of repeating myself, I want to give advice to myself again, but this time as if I were talking to my friends, one of those ladies I love and respect so much. I think we tend to be kinder to our friends than we are to ourselves—more forgiving of their faults and flaws, more willing to see the good. We know the people we love aren’t perfect, but we love them and laugh with them and believe in them anyway. We know how freakin’ fabulous they really are. And we believe that they deserve the best.
I wish I could love myself as much as I love my friends. I wish I could be as assured of my deserving someone to be kind to me as I am for them. I wish I was as assertive about what is and isn’t okay in the way that people treat me as I would be if I were protecting one of my bosom friends instead of myself.
But until then, here’s some advice for myself that I’d give if I were talking to one of these amazing, beautiful women instead of just to myself about what she should expect from the guy in her life. Brace yourself, folks. This is gonna get emotional.
- On Scheduling:
Advice I might give myself: It’s okay if you don’t hear from him that often. At least you hear from him!
Advice I should give: Don’t invest in someone who fits you into his schedule at his convenience. Find someone who makes you as much of a priority as you make him.
- On How You Feel:
Advice I might give myself: He didn’t mean it when he did that thing that hurt your feelings. Remember all the other nice things he’s done, sometimes, occasionally?
Advice I should give: Run away, as fast as you can, from someone who isn’t careful with your heart. Someone who blows you off or cuts you down or makes you feel like a burden or like he’s doing you a favor for spending time with you. Find someone who will protect your heart as much as you will safeguard his.
- On Not Knowing:
Advice I might give myself: It’s okay if he’s confused. Dating is confusing! If you wait around long enough, he will eventually realize how wonderful you are.
Advice I should give: Don’t wait for someone who’s keeping his options open. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are weird and hilarious and talented and driven and kind. You are not someone to settle for if nothing better comes along. You are not second best. You are the girl he should fight tigers for, should the occasion require it.
- On Red Flags:
Advice I might give myself: Yeah, that thing he said and that other thing he did made me nervous, but nobody’s perfect, and beggars can’t be choosers.
Advice I should give: Don’t talk yourself out of seeing the red flags. Nobody’s perfect, but your instincts are correct. If you aren’t feeling loved and valued and respected, it’s because he isn’t loving, valuing, and respecting you. People make mistakes, but mistakes are sporadic and unintentional, not consistent and premeditated.
- On Being Hurtful:
Advice I might give myself: It wasn’t a big deal. It’s kind of funny in a way. Just be cool.
Advice I should give: Don’t stay quiet when he does something hurtful. You don’t have to be rude, you don’t have to be unkind, but you also don’t have to put up with nobody’s crap. If it scares him off, fine. Someone who values you and is careful with your heart will want to actively avoid hurting you, not get offended that you dared to call him out on being a jerk.
- On Giving:
Advice I might give myself: If you do this and rearrange that and give him everything else then he will realize how wonderful you are; and anyway, you’re a giving person so you want to do it because it makes you feel good.
Advice I should give: Don’t accept anything less than what you’re giving. You don’t have to do all the work. Find someone who is willing to work for you, too.
- On Checking In:
Advice I might give myself: Well, I’m sure he got busy with work and maybe a friend stopped by unannounced and sometimes I forget my phone in the other room on silent which is probably what happened to him…
Advice I should give: If you have to track him down when he is supposed to be spending time with you, it’s time to cut your losses. We live in the day of 1000 different easy-breezy-beautiful forms of communication. He could easily let you know if he’s going to be late or can’t make it. The fact that he doesn’t? Indicates how much he values your time and his time with you.
- On Making Up His Mind:
Advice I might give myself: Sometimes he seems to like me and sometimes he doesn’t, but I’m sure I’m just being over-sensitive.
Advice I should give: Don’t waste your time on someone who’s wishy-washy. If he likes you one minute but then doesn’t talk to you for days and picks things up again at his convenience, you are just that: convenient. Not special, not valued, just there.
- On Being a Good Guy:
Advice I might give myself: He has some rough edges and sometimes he makes me feel kind of bad about myself, but I’ve seen the way he is with (fill in the blank) and I know deep down he’s a good guy.
Advice I should give: It doesn’t matter if he’s a “good guy.” Chances are, if you’ve let yourself care about this guy, he’s not a Neo-Nazi serial killer who kicks baby penguins for fun. But it doesn’t matter if he’s good to his friends, his mom, his dog, or his neighbor’s baby if he isn’t good to you.
- On Sucking It Up:
Advice I might give myself: This may be your only chance.
Advice I should give: You are worth being loved. You are not a waste of time. You are not a nuisance. You are not a bore. You are not too fat or ugly. You should not be more like that other girl. You are not just someone to pass the time until someone better comes along. You do not deserve to be ignored, or avoided, or made to feel like you’ve done something wrong for caring about someone. You should be allowed to be vulnerable without being afraid of being laughed at or having it turned against you. You are not someone to be belittled, or talked over, or down to, or told that the minimal amount of time you’re being given is too much. You deserve to be loved. The reason you’re feeling stressed out or neurotic is because you are not being treated as if the above fact is true, but it is. You deserve to be loved. I promise. I mean it. Everyone around you knows it. Now it’s time for you to believe it, too.
I say good riddance to the people who won’t be kind to you or love you for who you are. I hope that I’ll be kind enough to myself to listen to this advice. I hope that the people I love will be kind enough to themselves to listen to it, too.
And in the meantime, there’s always chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
And really, REALLY good friends to share it with.
 To be clear, this advice is not strictly for women. I believe everyone deserves to be with someone who treats them well. I just happen to be especially sensitive to my fellow sisters at the moment.