Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, I was That Person who Prioritised Men Who Treated Her Like an Option™. I ate a few poison apples in those days, so I’m done with all that, now. In my “happily ever after,” I focus on men who see me as a priority.
Life pulls us all in a thousand directions, and sometimes, we get out of the habit of those weekly coffees and daily texts. That’s okay. Not all relationships are lasting. Not all fairy tales are love stories. Relationships fail, and people grow distant, but the old me used to fight for ailing connections as though I could revive them if I just tried hard enough.
I couldn’t. That takes two hearts, and I only have one.
I was once involved with a politician who had enough responsibilities to make you choke. Somehow, he always managed to make the hour-long drive to see me. There were no “I didn’t have time to call yous,” no glaring absences, no excuses for not showing up.
I was once involved with an under-employed designer who rarely managed the 10-minute drive to see me. There were a hundred “I’m too busys”, a thousand excuses for not showing up. My self-worth plummeted… and plummeted. One day I woke up wondering if I’d ever be good enough for him.
Now I know the answer: Yes, I would be, but only much too late. He never learned to value me while we were together. I was always trying to draw him closer, and he was always trying to create distance. We pushed and pulled our relationship out of shape until it tore.
A few weeks later he told me he realised what he’d lost. He wanted me back, but some men only want women they don’t have. The trick is to have enough self-worth to leave them to their dithering instead of wishing for their love.
The trick, as Maya Angelou said, is never making someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.
My mother always said I gave too much, but I think I just gave to the wrong relationships sometimes. Love not given freely is no love at all, so one day, I began to let people go. I put my energy into the man who spent weeks planning my holiday, the date who didn’t want to let me go at the end of the night, the one who showed up instead of just talking about it.
I found there were more than enough people in the world who didn’t hurt to love.
I found that I deserved them.