I write love stories.
There was a time I might have been ashamed to admit that to the Internet, but here we are.
I write love stories. Boy meets Girl. Girl meets Boy. Girl doesn’t know Boy exists. Boy doesn’t know Girl knows exactly how he feels. Girl doesn’t know Boy has loved her every day since the first one.
I write love stores partly because I like them. I’m an old, sappy romantic that way.
But partly, too, because I’ve never experienced one myself, not in any reciprocal, requited way.
I write stories about people being chosen, because no one has ever chosen me like that, and it’s the only thing I know to do.
This year marks 31 Valentine’s Days where I have been without a valentine. And as much as I would hate to add to the noise of blog posts penned around this time of year, (about singleness, dating yourself, etc., etc., gag me with a spoon), as I said above: this is my therapy. The only thing I know to do.
Because I have learned a few things in 31 years of all-by-myself.
Like hearts are breakable, breakable things.
It doesn’t take a lot. And it doesn’t take a real, solid break-up to do it, either. Break-ups aren’t the only things that break hearts. All it takes is a “no” where you desperately wanted a “yes.”
Hearts break. That’s how they were designed.
And if you’re good, if you take care of that pumping muscle inside of you, it will repay your efforts by leaping headlong into the very next possibility. It doesn’t matter if you never had a chance to begin with. It doesn’t matter if she was always going to say “no” just like that last woman. It doesn’t matter how many times it has been broken, shattered, hurt nearly beyond repair, it will throw itself in with no hesitation or fear.
And if you’re wise, you will grow to envy its courage.
I’ve learned unrequited love can be a trap, if you let it. It can open a door for anxiety to step in and whisper lies to you, tainting what could have been a good and selfless thing.
I’ve learned there’s no such thing as the Friend Zone.
Listen, somewhere out there is some guy, (it’s almost always a guy), who is ready with a counterargument to what I’m about to say. To that person I have to say: read the above. If the friend zone exists, I am its king. It’s native son. If it is a place, I have never lived anywhere else. So, when I tell you that it is a myth that will destroy you if you let it, you should believe me. I have shown my credentials.
Maybe I’ll expand on this in another post but, for brevity’s sake, let me say that the “Friend Zone” has an allure of truth about it, as many dangerous attitudes do. It makes one out to be a helpless victim of some unknowing or uncaring individual who just didn’t realize what they were missing. It’s a way to assign intent to people who reject us.
But I’ve learned it’s not true, and it’s a rotten way to treat people. People have the right to not choose us. They’ve always had the right, whether we recognize it or not. If they didn’t, none of this would mean anything. So if you can’t pay them that modicum of respect then you absolutely deserve their “no” because you certainly don’t deserve their “yes”.
Because I’ve learned if you only like people when they like you back, you don’t really like them. If you can’t love them when the answer is “no”, you never could have loved them if the answer had been “yes”.
At the same time, I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with liking someone, even if they don’t return it, even if they never even know you liked them in the first place.
If they’re with someone else, though, you’ll probably still feel guilty. You’ll probably look for ways to make yourself not like them because it feels wrong somehow. I haven’t figured out yet if that’s right or wrong.
And it will still hurt, sometimes, to see them with the person they chose, to even look at another couple. And I think that’s the idea. The hurt lets you know you’re alive. It’s the stupidest thing I could say, but it’s true. And I’ll tell you right now that realization won’t help at all when you’re hurting, but it’s still true.
I’ve learned if you’ve lived long enough not being chosen you will doubt whether you are capable of being chosen. After all, what’s the common factor in all your relationships? You might even envy the truly heartbroken, those who had love and lost. There are times you will think you might even be able to handle that kind of loss because it meant you had, even for a short while, because it would mean someone had chosen you once, even if they didn’t choose you anymore.
I’ve learned it will always hurt to not be chosen.
There’s nothing you can do to get rid of the hurt faster or prevent it from happening. This is the risk you take when you like someone. That’s the point. If you don’t want to be hurt, if that prospect scares you so much you would do anything to avoid it, then, as C.S. Lewis advises us, you must give your heart to nothing and no one.
And, yes, you won’t feel hurt, but the catch is you won’t feel anything, including love.
Madeline L’Engle said: “To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
Truer words were never spoken.
I’ve learned that’s just the way it is.
And I would like to say I’ve learned it all pays off in the end, that if your patient, if you learn to love yourself, to accept your heart as it is in all its foolhardiness, then you will find the waiting has all been worth it. I would like to say that, but I can’t.
Because it hasn’t happened for me yet. 31 Valentine’s Days alone. Will it be 32? I don’t know. I hope not. But I’ve hoped that for a long time.
Still, I keep going, because the alternative is a numb life, and, yes, as cliché as it sounds, I would rather live with the hurt than feel nothing at all.
So I keep writing my love stories. I write whole novels analyzing every aspect of unrequited love because it is the only kind I have ever known.
And I pray every day for the day I can stop because that’s no longer true.