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I’m a Better Fit for Him! Why Doesn’t He See That?

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 11.10.22 PM“My boyfriend never had any hesitations about being together: He wanted to be with me, live with me, marry me. For years.

One day, I come home to find that all his stuff is gone. He says he’s “confused” and isn’t sure if he loves me anymore. He says he met someone else. He takes down our Facebook pics, and puts her up instead. Then, he starts blowing up my phone, wants to hang out, so I say ok, and then he’s distant again. He tells me I’m his safety net. I know I’m a better fit for him—better looking, his age, with a good job and my own apartment. What gives?”

–Alice*

Oh boy.

This is the rock we beat ourselves against, over and over: We think that we know what’s “better” for the person we love and want, and decide our life should be dedicated to proving this fact, or at the very least, suffer endless indignation over it. I have done this many times over myself. Fruitlessly.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: It’s not about looks. Or income. Or your apartment. And what he thought or felt back then has little to do with what he does now, because we live in the present, which has been known to change. You say he never questioned his commitment to you…until he did (though did you ever think your hesitation may have played a role?). We don’t know that what he felt then was real and now is a mistake. He might have just bulldozed his way in because he wanted to. And is backing out now because he feels like it.

It’s not fair. It’s not fun. It may not even be logical. But none of that matters.

Because here’s the thing: relationships are not a logical puzzle that you solve by being the answer or getting it “right.” And the idea that being the rational choice assumes that relationships are rational, intellectual decisions. Hardly.

They are emotional, and based on how we feel, or think we feel, right now, rather than what looks good on paper (and those who go that route aren’t any happier). You may choose to ignore or repress them. Or you may choose to follow them, much to the dismay of everyone else involved.

It can be frustrating, maddening even, when someone you love willingly chooses someone you think is “all wrong” for him (or her, bear with me with pronouns here). Ask any first wife. How many beautiful, smart, capable women have watched partners cheat or leave altogether with women who are younger, dumber, broke, 20 pounds heavier, a smoker.

Good looks, a sense of humor, a string of accomplishments, and a killer bank account are not a vaccine for loss (see: Anyone with even one of those things). And the sooner you realize that, the better.

Men leave women who love them for women who don’t, or women who treat them badly, or women who just suck. And vice versa. Even when it’s deemed wrong or unethical. (Do I have to take you back to Hugh Grant and Divine Brown?)

And that’s why to assume that it’s you, or something you could have done differently, is not the answer, and it’s certainly not helpful—except that, more often than not, it helps YOU because it allows you to decide he’s stupid, wrong, making a mistake. He may be! But he’s making it anyway.

Stop wondering why he so clearly isn’t choosing the “right” fit for him. Because you’re missing the most important part of this picture: Since when was this all about how you fit his life? Don’t you also want someone who fits into yours? Because he doesn’t fit. He walked away.

I can’t read his mind and I don’t know you, Alice. But I know that if you have to build a case for why he should be with you, no case will ever be enough.

I once had a boyfriend who was 100% not a fit for me. At the time, he was earning his MBA from Harvard, and fancied himself a bit of a brainiac. And he was smart. The day I went over to end it, because the whole thing was making me nutty and not in a good way, he talked me out of it. He said, and I quote, I didn’t have a good enough “argument” for breaking up with him.

I was dumbfounded. I didn’t have an argument. I just started to cry. He attempted to intellectually bully his way out of a breakup! I’d never seen anything like it, before or since. It ended not long after.

So do yourself a favor and stop trying to rationalize why he should choose you and acting as if the court should rule in your favor because he has mistreated you. Besides, what do you win? Him? You don’t want him, trust me.

At some point, you have to take ownership of your role here. If someone can’t make you feel inferior without your consent, then no one can make you their safety blanket unless you continue to act like one.

*Alice is not her real name. I paraphrased her very long letter, and disguised the details a bit because she really does not want him to know. Obviously.

Having some dating issues or feeling stuck? I hear you. Truly I do. Use this link to get 25% off my online course, Stop Hating, Start Dating – I will change the way you think about and approach this whole thing. 

Why You Shouldn’t Believe My Instagram Feed

Team

How fun! We won! What you don’t see is how stupid and scared I felt stepping onto that field.

Don’t believe what you see on my Instagram or Facebook page.

Because it doesn’t tell you the truth. Not all of it. I’m a straight shooter, honest, direct to a fault. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I pull no punches. Shit, my whole brand is built on helping other people be authentic.

And yet, lately when I sit down with friends and colleagues, they’ve been saying things like, “Well, you’ve been busy!” and “Business must be great, right?” and I wonder where they get that information from. And then I remember: ME.

It’s not that I purposely mislead or lie. The stuff that I post is true. Things are going well! But there seems to be this outsized idea of what I’m doing compared to what I really am. To what anyone really is.

So you can’t believe what you see in my feed, and here’s why:

1. I only post pictures where I look halfway decent. My face looks fug in many of them, and you don’t know that because I don’t show you.

2. I post my own successes and usually say nothing about the other shit. OK, so I had a piece published here or was interviewed there. You don’t know the things I didn’t get or was afraid to try for.

3. You think I’m out all the time. But I’m not. In fact, I’m often right here, in my studio apartment. I like being here. Sometimes it takes great effort for me to go out, and when I do, I usually am so thrilled I’ll take pictures of whatever I’m doing.

4. You assume that because I’m single in NYC, I’m really happening. Lest you think life in NYC is a non-stop carousel of craft cocktails and sex, let me tell you: It’s not.  I spend more time doing laundry. A great Saturday is a run through the park, a visit to the farmer’s market or Sephora, followed by a nap. There are no photos of these things. Lots of times I’m home, feeling I should be out, and sometimes I’m out, and wish I could be home.

5. I’m about to go on a vacation. THIS is where things are about to go off the rails, because for many sad, stressed, or boring weeks this winter, you heard nothing from me—you didn’t know I had a breakup, or that I was lied to by an old friend. You don’t know that I look in the mirror and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my hair or my life.

But in two days, there I’ll be, waving photos of the Mediterranean at you, shoving a cocktail umbrella up your virtual nose. I’ll be on a cruise through the Greek Islands, so you can expect close-up shots of olive oil, wine, pictures of me and some friends posing on cobbled roads or laughing at something no one remembers. There will be the fancy food arranged like a still life and sunsets over the water.

Promise me you won’t turn around and chastise yourself for what “other people” are doing. Or submit to this fantasy that everyone else is footloose and fancy free while you’re trying to get ketchup stains out of a T-shirt. For years, I never took a vacation, not one. So don’t extrapolate and think that “everyone’s doing cool stuff”; they’re not. In fact, there have been plenty of times I’ve seen you running down the beach or eating a perfect picnic lunch (remember that), or looking flawless and happy and content.

We haven’t been altogether honest, have we.

Let me tell you what I’m afraid of right now as I finish packing:

  • I will bring the wrong shoes / forget a charger / run out of underwear.
  • I will miss out on something big while I’m away.
  • My cat will die while I’m away (it has happened once before).
  • I’ll suffer horrendous diarrhea. Or be constipated for days.
  • I’ll have to be airlifted out of somewhere in Croatia due to some horrible injury.
  • I’ll lose my passport / my phone / my travel companion and be crying and no one will speak English.
  • I will not be able to relax, won’t be or have any fun, and have to lie to everyone about it later.

By now you’ve likely read the absolutely heartbreaking story (“Split Image” on ESPN) of Madison Holleran, the Penn freshman and athlete who, on January 17, 2014, took a running leap off the ninth floor of a parking garage and ended her life. The fact is, Madison didn’t have some horrible secret (addiction, crime). The point the piece makes is that the too-bright artificial light of social media made her life seem darker than it was or should have been. The evidence she left on her feed shows us little but the yawning chasm between what we see and what is.

You hopefully will NOT do something so drastic as to end your life (please God no), or pick up a dangerous drug habit, or any of those things. But you may, like many, suffer despair by a thousand cuts, if you allow yourself to be seduced by what you see.

So promise me you won’t.