Patterns from Past Loves

Pre-Will, I had a history of poor decision-making skills when it came to suitors.

Like the chick-lit character you love to hate, I was always drawn to the guys who didn’t want girlfriends. These guys weren’t shy or subtle in expressing this disinterest in relationships, but I was unable to hear or absorb it. Besides, I was the exception. I was going to make the unloving love.

Men (or anyone, for that matter) don’t regularly dissuade others from idolizing them, so I was rarely turned away. I mistook this acceptance for emotional closeness and convinced myself that I was loved.

I put up with all manner of poor behavior largely because I was scared that I couldn’t do any better. We all have dating war stories, I know. Saying I was cheated on, called fat, ignored, and belittled shouldn’t really inspire pity, however, as I accepted such treatment without question.

Case Study: Grad School Boyfriend [name redacted].

How it started: I wore flip-flops to a local bar in the town where I went to college. Grad School Boyfriend approached to tell me that he hated flip-flops. I immediately began a campaign to garner his attention and secure his affections.

How it ended: At a close friend’s wedding where I was too busy bridesmaiding to absorb what was going on. I made him leave to avoid causing a scene and we ended up hashing out our feelings (or lack thereof) in the car much later that night. Yes, I was dumped at a wedding. Nothing short of a housecoat and a herd of cats tops that on the “you will probably die alone”-scale.

When I first saw him clearly: When he made fun of my sister’s shoes. We ran into Grad School Boyfriend at the mall several months post-breakup. Kerry was wearing leg warmers and flip-flops as was the trend that winter. In fact, I think she’d just gotten the leg warmers for Christmas (and Kerry, if you are reading this, I’m sorry! You know that guy was a jerk!). My own flip-flops were fair game, but I’m the only one allowed to mock my sister.

Why the double standard? Shouldn’t the guy I love treat me in a way I’d expect people to treat my sister? While the no-teasing-my-sister rule holds fast, I am, in a sense, glad that the leg warmer incident happened. Something clicked.

I’d love to say that I immediately put this knowledge into action and held out until Will came into my life, but then my memoirs would be devoid of delicious heartbreak and drama. Awareness was, apparently, only part of the key to breaking patterns. Will came along years later – after I’d gathered enough experience to really appreciate him.

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About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on August 11, 2011, in Love & Relationships and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I would never, ever tell anyone to count on being the one who can change someone’s mind. You accept people for who they are and where they are. And guys tend to say pretty much what they mean.

    But. I got to know Matthew well starting in the spring of my senior year of college, and that summer we talked a lot, just as friends. He very specifically told me he didn’t see himself ever getting married.

    … of course that was before he fell in love with me 😉 (And to be fair, he was only 20 at the time — a lot can change as you get older.)

  2. Hahaha Looking back now I shouldn’t have really jumped on that trend’s bandwagon, but I didn’t realize it was so bad to induce mockery. Oh well, that boy was a jerk and it is amazing what we will turn a blind eye to when infatuated.

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