Growing up I always questioned why only boys could tell girls they liked them but girls could ever tell boys. Our society has this idea that women who express their love for men are crazy, desperate or weird. But this idea that women are not allowed to court men, to show them they care about them and have to fake the hard-to-get game is detrimental to women. I’m a firm believer that this most definitely causes obsessive over-thinking about the potential partner along with a lengthy time of dealing with the unknown. I can’t speak for everyone. However, based on my and my friends experiences with holding our emotions. I can’t express to you how many scenarios we have come up with as to why he hasn’t texted back, why he hasn’t kissed you yet or why he’s all of a sudden started to act shady. We’ve been conditioned to keep quiet and wait for men. Wait for them to tell us how they feel so we could tell them how we feel. This idea that all men love women who are quiet and shy is a horrible mask that so many women put on to disguise themselves just to be courted. Being very aware of this and recognizing that I am not the shy or quiet girl in high school, I became a firm believer that telling men how I feel about them is more for me than it is for them. So, every crush I have ever had I have told them how I felt about them.
People, including my own mother, thought I was totally crazy for telling the boys I liked that I liked them. Granted, if it was a random crush, I wouldn’t say anything because that would most definitely come out of nowhere. I only did it if the person played a significant role in my life. I told my high school crush at age 16, the guy who took me on my first date at age 17 in a pick up truck just like an old-school Taylor Swift song, the boy who lived 3 dorm room doors down, my best friend at UGA, and the guy I have been crushing on in NYC for the last two years. Each story has a different ending and a different reaction but for the most part, every single guy has been really receptive about being gentle with my feelings.
I must preface this by saying that I have never had a real boyfriend. I have gone on plenty of dates and have always been put into the friend zone. It’s hard being 26 and chronically single. It makes you feel like something is wrong with you. This is why I didn’t tell my most recent crush of two years about my feelings until two weeks ago. I decided to play by the rules that society has set for women-to patiently wait until he realizes he loves you and tells you. Over time, I waited while he dated other women, patiently hoping he would realize how perfect I am for him…sitting, waiting, wishing… Needless to say, the day never came. After my own hiccups with other men to preoccupy my time in there interim, I kept coming back to this person, how they made me feel and everything I’d hope we’d be. But again, I would just silently wait letting the thoughts flood my head and trying my best to drown them out by convincing myself I didn’t feel anything.
After kickstarting my self-care routine a few months back, I realized that whenever I talked to this person it would remind me of all of my insecurities. I would leave our conversations constantly thinking about this person and it would knock me off my track. Overtime I noticed that I would feel this way because I knew this person would never fall in love with me. Because of that, I would constantly question myself and my worth. Was I not good enough to court? Was there something specific about me that was blocking him from realizing how great of a girlfriend I would be? What could I do to make him realize how absolutely amazing I am? Then I started to realize that I needed to set myself free from him in order to truly practice the self-care I deserved. But how could I let him go if he didn’t know how I felt and how could I possibly express two years of suppressed emotions over coffee without crying or being interrupted?
So, I wrote him a letter.
If you’ve been following me on instagram, you already know how obsessed I am with the movie To All The Boys I Loved Before. To summarize it, the main character has a few secret love letters she wrote mailed out to all the boys she loved before. One of the letters lands in the hands of this absolutely gorgeous guy, Peter Kavinsky, who just so happens to look exactly like my crush. So one morning after watching the film for the millionth time, I sat down and wrote him a letter. Now, you may be thinking- OMG, I WOULD DIE / HOW COULD YOU / WHAT ARE YOU GONNA SAY?! I got a lot of reactions just like that from my friends and a few fans of the movies who would message me about it in my DMs. But like I said before, I only tell the men in my life that play a significant role and care about me as a person. I felt like I was telling him something about myself and sharing my thoughts about what’s going on in my world. He just happened to be the subject of that.
Now, my love letter wasn’t sappy nor crazy romantic. It had it’s moments but overall it was very honest and real. I know this because I had a few friends read it before I sent it and also because that’s how it was received by him too. Even though he told me he didn’t like me back, he did tell me it was beautiful and meaningful and it made him feel good. That’s always the goal when truly giving love or expressing your feelings. You want to make people feel good. I think the misconception is that when we tell people how we feel it’s always when we are upset and want to ‘let them have it’. But when it comes to love, it should never be done with anger or bitterness. Of course, I wish I was receiving a letter and I wish someone felt for me the way I feel for him. But love is about giving without receiving and that’s exactly what I did.
Now the messy part comes after the feelings are shared. What do you both do now that that information is out in the open? I will say that even though I didn’t get the outcome I had hoped for, I always had a friend in him. He didn’t want to let me go and he wanted us to continue to hang out as if nothing happened. I tried very hard to convince myself that I could do that. After all, I had been hiding these feelings for all this time-a little more time doesn’t hurt anyone…
The first time we hung out after the letter I still felt butterflies and this urge to be more than friends. I didn’t say anything in the moment as I was just enjoying being around him. The next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about him and I was daydreaming about our next encounter and if over time he would fall for me now that he knows I am a potential partner. But then I realized-no, he told me he didn’t feel the same way. He was very clear with how he felt about me. Why am I continuing to force something that isn’t there? Is there something about me I need to work on that prohibits me from walking away? Why am I still hopeful in a situation that is hopeless? Once again, I needed to tell him how I was feeling in order to protect my heart, mind and soul. I decided to check in with my online tarot card reading and I asked the universe “Will he ever love me?” and I got the Ace of Cups Reversed. I interpreted this as I am wasting a precious gift, which is my love, on someone who will never return it. I knew then I had to make a drastic change.
I sent him a message explaining everything in my heavy heart. I cried a lot during the entire process and even after. But I realized that I was not putting myself first in this relationship and I hadn’t been putting myself first for a very long time. I honed in on my courage and confidence and I drew a line in the sand and set my boundaries. I was very honest and told him exactly what I wanted and that I could not continue just being his friend while he falls in love with other women. It was bad for my mental health and my overall wellbeing.
We left the conversation and our relationship on amicable terms, wishing each other the best in life and allowing our futures to play out as they should. I’m happy that he is kind and supportive of me doing what is best for me. I’m happy he gave me the space to breathe and grow on my own without the thoughts of him lingering in my mind. I’m also happy he told me that if I ever needed to reach out-to do so with out any hesitation. I’m lucky that even when I get my heart broken, it’s done in a way that gentle enough for me to pick up the pieces in big chunks and not a million little pieces. You may be thinking-how could you be happy and sad at the same time? I believe in finding the positive in everything. I set my heart free to fall in love with myself and with someone new and I told someone I love that I loved them without getting upset at their answer. All of this is gratitude that is so important to practice in life. We have to be grateful for every experience a person gives us and everything they do to help shape us to be better people.
While not every heartbreak will result in a gentle outcome, the greater reward is that you free yourself from overthinking, over-analyzing, second guessing and wasted time. If I would have been completely honest from the very beginning (once I noticed these feelings), I would have saved myself A LOT of time. Never again am I waisting my time or jeopardizing my self-care to question myself about how another person feels about me. My final word of advice- telling someone how you feel about them is practicing self-care. It can teach you so much about yourself and how fearless and beautiful you are. It can prove to you how much love you have to give and how selfless you are in sharing that love. Even through the pain, there is a sense of freedom that cannot be compared. Embrace the freedom to be true to yourself and you will find that special someone who will also be true to you…
No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it. Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way. -Taylor Swift