Some time ago, I dated a guy. After a few months, things went downhill. We addressed the problems and mutually decided to take a break. It meant we stopped all kinds of communication. Still attached, I struggled big time to go no contact.
My feelings were naturally still there so I kept hoping that he would text me as a sign that said feelings were mutual. After a week of silence, I gave up and dropped the guy a message. We talked again. I told him I missed him while he seemed distant. It made me upset.
Suddenly, all relationship problems, the fact that my needs weren’t met, did not matter to me — all I cared about was whether he still had feelings for me and missed me as though it would magically make everything okay.
After not getting the answers I’d wanted, I accused him of being difficult and cold-hearted, telling him I could not do this on my own if he kept behaving that way.
What he told me next has really opened my eyes: he said I was toying with my own feelings.
I asked for the break — yes, very rationally I did because I was miserable with him, yet instead of giving myself the time and space to heal, I put my energy into wondering whether he would contact me or miss me. And when he didn’t do either, I got disappointed and upset.
I shouldn’t have been upset. I should’ve been thankful that he didn’t mess with me by saying one thing and doing another, i.e. breaking up yet still contacting.
By placing focus and significance on whether he still had feelings for me, or whether the relationship meant anything to him, I had missed the point entirely.
Similar things, different circumstances happened to my friend. She met a guy who showed a strong initial interest in her. After a great date, he told her he only saw her as a friend. Instead of setting the boundary, however, she kept her hope up and tried to decode his every little action to figure out whether he had feelings for her or not.
Sometimes he acted like a boyfriend and made sexual advances towards her — yep, he wasn’t the nicest guy out there. The problem was, she let him do all that, thinking it must have meant he wanted something more with her. Well, he didn’t. The next day and all the days afterward, he told her the same line: to him, she was a friend. She felt stupid and disappointed and heartbroken.
When he actually did her a favour by leaving her alone, she started to torture her mind with questions such as whether he was thinking about her, whether she meant anything to him, and want to hear from him desperately.
Yes, she was basically toying with her own feelings by fixating on those things which at this point did not matter at all.
The reality was, she liked him and wanted him as a boyfriend and he had made it clear to her he wasn’t willing to give her that. The case was simply closed. His feelings and whether he missed her shouldn’t have been questioned at all.
Same things could be said about situations when you meet people who tell you they’re not looking for anything serious, or they’re emotionally unavailable, and instead of taking them at their words and deciding whether what they’re willing to give matches your needs, you proceed with your own agenda and when they don’t behave the way you expect, you get hurt, upset and disappointed.
What’s worse is that you stick around, digging for more breadcrumbs of their feelings and hoping the situation will change in your favour as you think signs of having feelings must equate to them wanting something more with you — not necessarily. All you do is compromise your own needs and more often than not, waste your precious time and effort.
I’ve learned it the hard way that feelings are feelings. Feelings are to be felt. Feelings are variable, dependent on many external factors and therefore, not reliable. They can be great motivations at times but practically, they don’t solve problems. More often than not though, they actually cloud our judgments and stand in the way of effective decision making.
If you’re someone who thinks long-term, who wants to get what they deserve, you will need to care about more than just feelings. You will need to focus on your priorities, your needs, your happiness, set your boundaries and look at the big picture to make the best choices for yourself. With that, you will also need to learn to ask the right questions.
It might be hard at first, for sure, but it will always pay off in the long run. You’ll be proud of yourself for overcoming the urge to act on temporary feelings and being in control of your life.