The one where I decide it’s worth it

I’ve been conned.

I was driving to work like any other day, and the realization hit me like a load of bricks. I’ve been conned.

My whole life, in every relationship I’ve ever been in, I’ve been conned by the system. The dating system. He woos and he pursues, and so I let him in. I let him tell me he wants me. I let him tell me I inspire him to be better, that I am the woman he dreamed of.

And I believe him.

And I’m always the one to take the leap first, to stop wasting time dipping my toes in and do an enormous, unladylike cannonball right in. I’m not afraid. I know the risk will be worthwhile.

But the boy has never leapt in with me. He will walk around the pool, study the color of the water, ponder the consequences of getting wet, shrug his shoulders, and wait as I attempt to convince him hey, the water is great!

But no amount of worth has ever convinced him. And so he walks away, leaving me sopping wet and embarrassed that I cared too much.

I wholeheartedly believe my reality TV show would be a romantic comedy, but if my life was ever a tragedy the plot would follow: girl falls for boy, boy doesn’t follow through, girl faceplants, girl picks herself up, repeat. I am permanently the one who gets in too deep. My affection is literally overwhelming. And I am left ashamed, ashamed that I am forever the one giving and never the one taking. And this shames me into reluctance to open up again, believing that I will be too much. That my fault is I love too deeply.

I have been incredibly naïve to forget the dating game: the one who is less invested wields the power. Pretend to be less interested than you are, and you’ll make him want you. Play hard to get, and he’ll come after you. The less interested you appear, the more he’ll be interested.

This system has never worked for me. (Does it work for anyone?) I don’t want to play games. I don’t want to pretend his smile doesn’t make me feel allllll the feelings, and that his touch doesn’t make me cry sometimes from the sheer tenderness of it all. Because I feel deeply, straight down to my core, and I don’t think that should be a crime.

I am fierce, and I am fiercely loving.

And this boy I love now, with the enormous brown eyes and a 500 watt smile, I will not be afraid to love. Because this time it is him in the water, coaxing me in.

I think I’ll join him. And maybe, together, we’ll swim deeper than I have ever swam before.

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