It was love at first sight.
About twelve years ago.
I remember being immediately taken by her beauty and presence.
And a feeling of, “I really want to be a part of this person’s life.”
We shared a lot of amazingly hearty laughs over the years.
And an undeniably special connection.
But we never dated officially. And over time, that love at first sight became a faded, distant memory.
I used to pursue her romantically, but gave up a long time ago.
She kept turning me down, and I didn’t understand why.
It seemed obvious to me that she appreciated the depth of our connection, so I could not grasp her unwillingness to nurture and explore it.
But that’s mostly ancient history now. Well, if a decade can be considered ancient.
After a while, I just accepted that she wasn’t into me like I was into her.
We are still friends.
And now days, I have a different perception of dating than I used to.
Meaning, just because I have an undeniably special connection with someone doesn’t mean there needs to be a label, a marriage proposal, or even a romp between the sheets.
However, my friend told me something the other day that helped me gain a new perspective on why we didn’t date.
It’s closure, in a way. Closure I never expected and did not ask for. But closure is always welcome in my world.
She told me the reason she always kept me at an arm’s length was because she saw me going through girlfriends like they were a pack of Skittles.
Which is totally fair, and makes a lot of sense.
It’s true. For a large portion of my life, my dating habits were erratic to say the least.
My friend said she did not want me to be just another ex-boyfriend. Then, I’d be just some guy she didn’t want to talk to anymore.
I told her that was a good call. A 12-year strong friendship is much more promising than a flash-in-a-pan romance.
And I thanked her for the closure.
The reason I bring all this up is, I find myself realizing how easy it is, to draw conclusions about why people do or don’t do things.
And to tie those conclusions in some way to your sense of self worth. In other words, to take things too personally.
“She’s not into me like I’m into her. It must mean she’s not attracted to me. I’m just not good enough for her to care about me that much.”
“I did my best at that job interview and they didn’t call me back. My best wasn’t good enough. I’m a failure.”
“Why is he so grumpy every time I’m around? I must not be likeable.”
“This is the third time this month that my friend flaked out on our plans. I must not be worth their time.”
The examples are endless.
But the truth is, everyone has reasons for behaving the way they do. We just aren’t always privy to the details.
Sometimes, we can just ask. But people might not want to reveal the details. Or maybe they don’t even know.
It’s optimal to be OK with not knowing.
Or to just give others and yourself the benefit of the doubt.
“This is the third time this month my friend backed out on our plans. They probably want to spend time with me, but may really be struggling with social anxiety this month.”
“Why is he such a grump when I’m around? I wonder if he’s suffering from chronic pain that he hasn’t mentioned before.”
“I totally rocked that job interview and they didn’t hire me. Then again, maybe they are just backed up and haven’t had time to call yet. Or maybe they hired someone else, but I am still proud of myself for performing so well in the interview and I will rock the next one too.”
The above examples still indicate assumptions, but assumptions that take the matter less personally.
It’s still delusional if you go around making up stories about why people act the way they do, but it may be preferable to delusions tied to your sense of self worth.
However, for a non-delusional approach, embrace ambiguity:
“She seems distant from me even though we clearly have a sweet connection. She must have her reasons…”
And that’s what it all comes down to.
Everyone has their reasons.
Sometimes, you get to know their reasons.
Sometimes, you don’t.
Separate your personal sense of value from other people’s reasons.
Almost everyone is just doing the best they can to be happy, find some peace, have some security, protect themselves and their loved ones from harm.
Their reasons probably revolve around those aspects.
Maybe their reasons are weirder, simpler, or more complex than that.
Doesn’t matter, really.
One thing is for certain:
There is not a single thing anyone can ever do or say that nullifies your worth as a human being.
That’s what matters.
You’re what matters.
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