I’m a chaser.
A chaser of men, of their time, of their space, of their undivided attention, of their willingness, of their honesty, of their understanding, of their unconditional love, of being valued.
I’m a master at chasing things I can’t catch. Things that run, sprinting full speed away from me.
I am out of breath.
When my ex-boyfriend slowly made his way out the door of our relationship, I did what anyone would do, and I clung on. Soon, phone calls faded, text messages were fewer, dates grew scarce, and overall time spent together was reduced to virtually nothing.
I did what I could to make him stay. I tried to avoid anything stressful. I never brought up something that might cause a fight. I never asked for anything more than a few days of time with him a week. I tried to initiate sex more often. I thought all of this would make him stay.
I didn’t even realize me trying so hard to be understanding, calm, patient, loving, and doting was all just another form of chasing. It was me attempting to keep him.
Surely, if he saw the things I did, how much I cared, what a good person I was, he would realize I was worth it.
He was gearing up to leave; he was undecided, not invested, not willing. By staying around and trying to prove myself to him through my actions, I was chasing him.
A few months after him, I pursued a love interest that had existed for the better part of a decade.
I chased him; he chased me.
In some way, I always felt like, “Maybe this is the one that will work out one day. Just maybe.”
On a summer evening, we shared a box of red wine, talked well into the evening, got intimate. That night, I slept in one of his shirts, brushed my teeth in his bathroom, and we laughed. We laughed a lot.
It felt like any conversation between us could go on for years. It was the moment I had yearned for with him. Yet, when the time came to see if there was potential, I was given a “no” and a lengthy, “I’m not ready.”
Instead of losing my sh*t, I responded, “Okay. I understand.”
At that moment, it felt like this swinging door, which had literally always been swinging, had finally come to a stop and close. I no longer had to wonder if this person wanted me anymore. I now knew where I stood.
It was a healing moment, a relief, and a massive weight lifted.
From there, it was time to move on. Time to stop chasing the great love affair and the possibility of something more with him. I couldn’t make it work with the on-and-off lover of almost eight years. He was perhaps the only hopeful chase left. The only one I believed actually would pan out.
Now, it is nothing.
For as long as I can remember, I have been impeccably great at making something out of nothing.
Chasing cute boys on playgrounds. Chasing moments of kissing behind bleachers. Chasing guys back to hotel rooms and dormitories. Chasing drunk men in bars. Chasing grown-ass men who haven’t figured out their own bullsh*t.
Chasing this idea of what I thought I needed to be for a man to value me.
I am very rarely chased.
Men would call it clingy and desperate, I’m sure. Yet, they would scarcely take responsibility for shamelessly lighting a raging fire within me.
I wouldn’t call it clingy or desperate. I would call it fear. Fear of never being good enough. Fear of being left. Fear of literally everyone leaving. Fear of being totally unlovable.
I’ve gotten involved with someone and fallen really hard for him. Usually just in time for him to change his mind. I’ve chased thinking, this is it. Meanwhile, he had lost interest because I was too invested. As his mind changed, shifting into directions away from me, my intuition sensed the change. Then, I would desperately try to hold onto him.
I never let go of what wasn’t working. I just tried harder.
Potential loves I invested myself in took off like a kite heavy in the wind. I would yank on that string with force, trying to reel them in. I would do whatever I could to hold onto that beautiful kite. As he pulled away, I pulled back harder.
With enough tension, the kite would snap off, drifting away and leaving me with a string of nothing.
Months, or perhaps years later, I’ve caught myself thinking about that person. So, what did I do? Creep on their social media to see how they are, thinking it would be harmless. I’d recall the good things about the relationship, however short, however awful.
In some cases, I’d reach out. We would talk for a little bit and have a great conversation. I’d feel content with the sliver of possibility that I might still be wanted. Inevitably, the dopamine hit faded away, I recalled all the wrong done, brought it up in a conversation, and things would fall apart again.
Chasing the memory of what was was also a terrible habit of mine. I sought redemption. I desired to feel accepted by someone, anyone—but myself. I’ve done it with every man I’ve connected to.
What if I had stepped back, let someone chase me for once? Surely, one of them would have stayed longer, if not forever, right? I will never know.
After two painful decades of heartbreak, confusion, anger, and hatred for the opposite sex, I’ve learned this:
I rarely take time for myself.
I give all my time to the other person.
I give up on things that fill my heart.
I waste months and years recovering from heartbreak.
I convince myself I’m not good enough.
I use my hurt as a wall to shut people out.
I don’t believe in genuine connection.
I don’t believe anyone is honest.
I struggle to try again.
I trust in no man, even my closest brothers.
Nearly two decades later, I’m here, out of breath, exhausted, hurt, and through with the grand effort of chasing and trying to please.
If it’s not mutual chasing, I simply will not pursue it. Unless it is a mutual chase or investment, it’s not even considered. If I have to beg for time, I let them go. If I feel I’m losing myself to a person who could care less about me, I back off.
I no longer chase “I’m not readys.”
I no longer chase “someday we can be togethers.”
I no longer chase “some other times.”
I no longer chase consistent rainchecks.
I no longer chase indecisiveness.
I no longer chase entitled bad boys.
I no longer chase sheer charm.
I no longer chase lust.
I no longer beg for time.
I no longer chase false promises.
I no longer chase, despite blatant red flags.
I no longer chase men on their way out the door.
I’m done chasing any kind of situation resembling the above.
My time, and a lot of it, has been wasted on potential lovers. I’ve allowed a “potential” to interrupt any single good path I have ever been on. Without fail, I’d give up doing the things I love if it meant trying to keep someone around. I’ve never finished any good thing that is mine because I chased men more than my own dreams.
I’m taking my power back. Anyone who wants time with me has to earn that time now. That is my boundary.
I will not wait for that person. What I will do is chase:
Things that bring me joy and make me feel good.
Friendships that make me whole.
People who chase me too.
Adventures that open my mind.
Journeys with my loved ones.
Time dedicated to my passions.
Healthy lifestyle choices and routines.
Changes for the better,
Honesty and vulnerability.