I’ve talked a lot about how men have affected me over the years.
Talked about the ways they left me and how those moments all stuck with me and made me bitter and angry with men.
You can see it in literally a majority of the articles I’ve written. I can guarantee something for those men; none of them are perfect. I know that. I’m not perfect either.
My dad and I talked about this, and how healthy it was for me to get these things out, but he challenged me to see where I haven’t been my best self in relationships. A challenge I wholeheartedly accepted.
I would say that this is probably the best state I have ever been in. I have been working through some darknesses, but I have been chasing everything I am passionate about and everything I put on the back burner when I am in a relationship. That’s not to say I don’t have some toxic behaviors I should be rid of.
In the interest of personal growth, I have to also recognize where I was less than perfect in my relationships. When I was addressing where I might be toxic myself, I started thinking about the men I’ve dated and the lasting impact I’ve had on them. I wondered what impression I left behind, or how they would be viewing me forever.
Because that’s the thing. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of people I’ve encountered all harboring thousands of different versions of who I am without really knowing exactly who I am at all.
But if I clear through all of that, what is a common facet of the impression I leave behind?
For me, it was desperation.
I have always been a person desperate for love. And where do a majority of people develop such desperation? A parent.
To be clear, I have wonderful parents. But I had a less-than-wonderful biological father. So you guessed it. I have, or had, daddy issues. I had been deprived of a love I desired most, the one from a father, and that lasted for a while, until my mid-20s.
But by the time I reached my 30s and the long-term impact of an absent father stopped affecting me, I was left with years worth of bad relationship and dating habits I developed in the pursuit of being loved and accepted by someone. I had to learn how to get rid of the behaviors that I used to help me fill that void.
As you may know, being loved and accepted by someone is nowhere near as fulfilling as loving and accepting yourself, which is a journey I am still on, and coming into. I am still working every day to love myself without being loved by another.
But I have been a desperate girlfriend and partner. I can recall cringe-worthy times in which I was. So tell me if any of these desperation scenarios sound like you.
Trying Too Hard to Be the Best Understanding Girlfriend
I once dated a guy who had convinced me that we were nothing short of made for each other. He pursued me.
We had the long-distance thing going on, which glorifies the romance until you actually get home. I will never be doing that again. Ever.
When I got home, everything seemed to change. He wasn’t engaging anymore, spent all of his time playing video games, and made excuses to not see me. Naturally, I tried harder. I first tried setting up a sort of date weekend for the two of us, thinking it was just the pandemic affecting our fragile mental states. I organized for us to go go-kart racing; then I rented a hotel room where we played N64, watched movies, and ate charcuterie—all things he and I both enjoyed. He said no one had ever done that for him before.
But it still didn’t change anything. He still never took me on dates and he actively chose time with his roommate over me.
I was still desperate to make it work. So I just kept trying. And in the process of trying to win him, I lost myself. That lasted for months after we broke up.
After three months, and him ditching me to hang out with his roommate, I had had enough. I stormed to his house, demanded to know what the f*ck was going on, and asked what he wanted to do here. I felt like so much of my time was being wasted by this person who had pursued me and claimed to want me. He said he wanted to maybe take a break. And again, in my desperation, I agreed, thinking it would help.
He forgot when the break was over. So I dropped him and never looked back. It was that relationship that made me feel betrayed by men and why I have sworn myself to single life for a while now. I vowed it to be my last instance of being desperate for anyone.
Even now, I wonder if he sees me as someone so desperate to keep him, or as someone he so fiercely hurt because he couldn’t figure his own sh*t out.
Staying Even When They Tell You It’s Not Going to Happen
I started dating a guy who thought it would be cool to hang out with me. Well, we started sleeping together after two weeks of knowing each other. After our first night together, he told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious.
Naturally, I backed off, but I had a real case of “I want what I can’t have syndrome” and within a week, we were back at it again. Through the two months of spending time with him, he told me constantly, he didn’t feel like I was the one for him, to which I would always ask, “Why do you still hang out with me then?” and he would say, “Because I like you and you’re a badass babe.”
Not confusing at all, right? I was so desperate for him to change his mind about me that I stayed, thinking that if he saw me, the real me, he would change his mind. I stayed until one day he crushed me with, “I don’t want to hang out or have sex with you anymore.” Ouch.
I did not take that gracefully and threw my own temper tantrum around the whole situation. I didn’t acknowledge how desperate I had appeared for the entire duration of whatever the hell our relationship was.
Two weeks later, he was seeing someone else and she had moved in with him. Months later, his girlfriend reached out to me, saying how sorry he said he was in handling the situation. She said she hoped we could all be friends one day.
Loving Someone So Much, They Tell You to Slow Down
Before the guy above, I was with someone I loved. And I knew I loved him. I knew I wanted to be with him. I remember the exact moment I decided I wanted to be with him.
To this day, I still regard him as my best relationship of all time simply because I felt so safe with him. But obviously, we had things we disagreed on, and I wanted more from him than he could give.
About three months into our 11-month relationship, he asked me to slow down, to stop falling in love with him.
How do you stop falling in love with someone? I don’t know exactly what it is that I did; maybe he just felt it and I scared him. I don’t know. But whatever I was feeling for him was obviously coming on so soon and so strong that he asked me to slow down.
I was so certain of him. So certain of where this could lead. But maybe that was the problem. How could you be so certain after three months? Of course, it does happen, but not to everybody.
Being Gung Ho About Someone Immediately
Before the best relationship of my life, I was in the worst relationship of my life, which I talk about in my post on entitlement. I tell you, that one stuck with me for a long while.
He did everything on this planet to convince me this was real and true and spirit bringing us together. At that time, I was pursuing everyone in the dating scene because I was desperate to get married and start having babies. Every single smooth tactic he used worked on me because I was that desperate to be in a relationship.
After an amazing two weeks together, he absolutely tore me apart by breaking up with me, and then called me “easy.” He shouldn’t have done that, but I also shouldn’t have let my desperation to find a partner get the best of me. If I wasn’t so desperate to lap up every word, I could’ve kicked him to the curb. But there are lessons in everything I suppose.
Working Through Being Desperate
I am not the perfect girlfriend. And maybe desperation isn’t the only thing that makes me a terrible girlfriend, but it is a common trend.
Being desperate for that love and acceptance became so tiring, that I can’t even fathom the idea of learning about a person or teaching them about me. I’m just not that desperate anymore.
The entire dance that comes with dating isn’t even appealing to me, which tells me I’ve reached my limit.
The men I’ve dated who have said and done the things that broke us apart, they played their part and have played it wrong. But that’s on them.
What’s on me is how I transform from being the desperate girlfriend to the confident girlfriend and secure-in-herself girlfriend. What I’m learning is being desperate for anything usually pushes it away.
Sometimes, I keep myself up at night thinking about what my exes think of me now. How they still probably think of me as that desperate girl they made a mistake dating. It hurts to think about, and it makes me feel sick, knowing that might actually be my lasting impact and infinite memory.
Perhaps my memory is something a little more pleasant. I will never know. But I know recognizing that I am, or was, a desperate partner can only help me with moving forward, so I can have a healthy relationship in the future.
Maybe recognizing that desperate part of me who craves love and acceptance will go away once I’m able to love and accept myself, which is a painful journey all in itself, scraping away such years of conditioning.
To those men out there who did see me as a desperate person. I’m sorry I was that way with you. That I didn’t love myself enough to be my own person, chase my own dreams, and be that woman you were initially drawn to.
I’m spending my time alone, doing better, being better as an individual, so that when it’s my time for a partner, I know I can validate myself without the validation of others.
Each thing I do for myself is an act of self-love and a step away from being a desperate ex-girlfriend.