Why We Cling to People Who Don’t Love Us
I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately, as I see friends of mine trapped in similarly hopeless situations. Situations that I can see so clearly as someone who has been there and is now standing on the outside, looking in. They can’t see or think clearly because they’re in the thick of it. Too close to it. I guess you have to be really ready to see someone for who they really are. Until that moment, until the veil finally lifts, you find yourself making excuse after excuse after excuse for them. Is that you, right now? Is that where you’re at? Let me tell you about some of the thoughts that went through my mind during my seven-plus years of waiting on Mr. E to love me.
He doesn’t know how to handle his feelings. They’re too intense. He runs whenever he has serious feelings for someone. He’s emotionally immature. He’s scared of commitment. He loves me SO much, he doesn’t know how to express it. He’s so different from other guys. I can’t apply hard and fast “He’s Just Not That Into You” rules to Mr. E, because he’s a one of a kind. When God made him, he broke the mold. If I just wait a little longer, he’ll wake up and realize how he feels about me and we’ll live happily ever after. He moved across country/disappeared/stopped calling me because we started to get too close. Anytime we get too close, he runs. His feelings for me are overwhelming, so that’s why he vanishes. I know he’s the one for me. I know I just have to be patient…just give him a little more time. He moves slowly when he’s really serious about someone. He’s only committed to crazy girls in the past because he knew it wouldn’t last. Yes, that’s why he committed to them and not me…because he knows I’m keeper and once he commits to me, it’s forever. That has to be it. I’m the one for him and he knows it and we have such an intense connection, it’s scary to him. He runs because he’s scared. He doesn’t commit to me because he’s scared. He drifts in and out of my life because he’s scared.
Of course, reading that now, today…it’s easy for me to see the sheer insanity of my thought process. But this is what we do. We can’t admit the truth to ourselves because it’s too painful…so instead we write the story for the other person. We fill in the gaps with soft, shiny protective denial because the sharp edges of the truth hurt too much. We look for deeper, hidden, more noble meanings to their every word because we can’t face up to the truth that their actions are showing us exactly how they feel. We let them off the hook time and time and time again for letting us down and breaking our hearts because we just know that underneath it all, underneath the pretense and over the giant wall they’ve erected all around them, beats the heart of a person deeply in love with us. We don’t take their actions at face value because the face looking back at us is too cold and distant and removed for us to recognize…and the person we’ve invested so much time and emotion and energy into would NEVER be cold and distant and removed. Would they?
The truth is, my friends, there’s no such thing as loving someone too much to be with them. As being so overwhelmed by your feelings for someone that you run from them. As being too scared to commit to someone. These are the stories that the books and movies want us to believe because they’re fraught with drama and romanticism and tortured passion…but the truth is far, far simpler.
When someone shows you how they feel…or don’t feel about you…believe them.
If they love you, they’ll act like it. If they’re not acting like it…they don’t love you.
If they want to be with you…they’ll be with you. They won’t just SAY they want to be with you, or tell their friends they want to be with you…they’ll SHOW you. And if their words say one thing and their actions say another…believe their actions. Every time.
The truth, even when it comes to love, is far simpler than we dare imagine or even wish. If you are left with feelings of confusion and anguish and uncertainty and rejection and unease…that isn’t love. Love isn’t perfect, no…but it’s also not torturous. It’s not painful. It’s not a constant gray area. Love is certain. Love looks like love. Love doesn’t hide or dodge or run. Love shows up. Love makes itself known, and it makes itself clear.
It took me almost eight years to understand that anyone you have to wait around on to love you, is someone that will never love you. There isn’t going to come this magical day when they suddenly wake up and realize they love you. There isn’t going to be this grand gesture where they chase you to the airport or the train station to confess their true feelings for you. You can literally waste years of your life waiting on the grand gesture. And if they have the desire to run when you come around, it isn’t because their feelings for you are so intense, they don’t know how to handle them. It’s because they don’t know how to handle telling you that their feelings aren’t all that intense.
This post will probably make some people uncomfortable. It will make some people mad. Others will read it, dismiss it and stay with feet and heart firmly planted in that endless purgatory of waiting on someone to love them.
But maybe, just maybe…it will also wake a few people up. Maybe it will empower one or two people to slam a door shut once and for all and not look back. Maybe it will save someone from wasting eight years of their life on the wrong person, like I did.
I’m not sure why I waited so long on someone to love me back that was never capable of it. Maybe because I didn’t love myself enough to see that I deserved so much more. Maybe because I didn’t want to admit to myself that someone I cared about so deeply didn’t share my feelings. Maybe it was because I already had my life’s plan written out for myself and didn’t want to admit that I got it wrong. Maybe I was simply scared to let him go because I was afraid of what that feeling of holding onto nothing felt like. (Even though I was already essentially holding onto nothing, I just didn’t realize it for a really long time.)
…Or maybe it was because I was always meant to write this blog and it was always meant to change your life.
(You can read more about how I finally stopped clinging to someone who didn’t love me in my latest book, Beautiful Uncertainty.)