To All The People Who Are Out Looking For Heartbreak

You say you’re looking for love. You don’t want to be hurt again. I believe you. There’s just one problem. The love you have always known is painful. In your childhood home. At the college parties. From one tiny rented apartment to the next. 

Love is waiting — for text messages, for phone calls, for invitations. Love is coming second to someone’s work, hobbies, and travels. Love is justifying their hurtful remarks and disrespectful behaviours, telling yourself religiously they didn’t really mean it. Love is bargaining, compromising your authentic self. Love is proving your worth and hoping to be chosen. Love is unreliable, inconsistent, unavailable, absent. Love is self-doubt, insecurity, anxiety.

Love is getting hurt again and again. Looking for love is looking for that most familiar feeling, so familiar that it has become your biggest comfort. You know just exactly who to find, what to do. The person who’s just recently been out of a long-term relationship. The person whose life is so active and busy there isn’t much space left for you. The person who is into long trips out of the country. The person who is ambivalent and too cool for honest communication.

The person who seems sad and confused and just needs a little bit more time to sort themselves out. The person who is more interested in choking their ego than getting to know you. The person who doesn’t show up. The person who straight out doesn’t want you. You want these people. You want them to love you, change for you, choose you, which only means heartbreak. Well, for you, love is heartbreak. Love is wanting what you can’t have.

But even when you’re not dead set on any of these people, love is still that same old story being told over and over again. You meet a good romantic prospect. You think this time it is different. It’s mutual interest. You both feel a magnetic pull towards each other. It’s so thrilling and promising. They shower you with constant attention and affection, sending you to a new high every day with date invites and commitment talks. 

They make you trust them so hard that you quickly strip naked your body and soul. And just when you think you can finally have everything you want, you feel that tight knot in your stomach. Something’s not quite right. This person’s not quite right. Love’s not quite right. But you’re getting attached. You keep trying. And the more you try, the more it hurts.

The texts slow down, the phone calls stop, the flakiness begins. Then they say, “I’m not looking for anything serious right now”, “You’re so cool but I’m not ready for a relationship”, or “Sorry, I’m not over my ex.” Sometimes they don’t tell you any of that. You have to look for honesty in their carelessness and absence. No one explains to you why someone who seems so interested in you could suddenly treat you like you don’t matter, so you internalise it as you being unworthy of love. 

After all, it’s the only reality you’ve ever lived, a belief you have so much convincing evidence to support. You tell yourself, it must be true. And so it’s okay. You know just what to do. You hold on. You leave the door open. You drag yourself along. You bend over backwards. You take anything handed to you. You get used to the abuse.

You say you’re looking for love. But by choosing these people and situations, you’re only looking to get hurt. I understand it’s not your intention. But you must do better than this. This can’t be the norm. 

It’s not okay your heart keeps breaking apart every damn day. It’s not okay these unworthy people can walk in and out of your life as they please, using your body and heart to satisfy their psychopathy and narcissism. It’s not okay these sad excuses of a human take up so much of your precious time and headspace when they deserve nothing from you. It’s not okay you think so little of yourself and what you can offer. It’s time you retell your story and claim what’s yours because what’s yours is the whole damn cake.

I don’t know when you started slipping into this role of someone who always has to fight to be chosen, someone who always has to ask for permission to be yourself. But this role isn’t made for you. Sure, it’s a role you are used to playing because it’s there for you when nothing else seems to be, but at some point I hope you realise that it’s not your only option. It shouldn’t even be an option. At all. 

You don’t have to fight to be chosen. You don’t have to ask for permission to be yourself. You’re worthy of being chosen and you’re whole as you come. There isn’t a ceiling over your head. Stand up high and see for yourself. Is there anything up there other than your own bright face proudly showing the world that you’re here and you matter as a human being?

You might think that love is heartbreak and, damn, sometimes relationships can hurt, but it isn’t the only outcome and it isn’t unique to you. You don’t have to subject yourself to people who don’t want you. You’re free to avoid them completely. You don’t have to have anything to do with things and people who don’t instantly choose you for who you are and the values you carry. 

You’re absolutely free to cut them off of your world or, at the very least, navigate away from them. You’re allowed to live a life that only consists of people who are so damn sure about you and treat you with care and respect. You’re allowed to experience a version of love that is kind to you and does not cause you to second guess yourself all the damn time. It’s possible. It’s in your rights and power.

So, this is where you’re going to start.

First, you need to take a break from dating and meeting people romantically. Delete all the dating apps. Block phone numbers. Focus on yourself and yourself only. You need to relearn love and show yourself consistently what love means in action. Please take it seriously. Read books, watch Youtube videos, go to therapy if possible, surround yourself with the people and relationships that embody the love you want. Then study and practice that love like you’re going to have to pass the most important exam of your life. 

Ask yourself what you truly want from love and how you would like to be treated. Once you have those answers, you need to make sure you never accept less. I mean it, never. The moment someone gives you any less, you have to let them go. Do not tolerate disrespect of any kind. You don’t ask, “Do I deserve to be treated this way?” You say “I do not accept this treatment” and you walk. And the only way you can walk is knowing you’re absolutely fine being on your own. 

That’s why you need that me-time break. It’s terrifying at first but it will become enjoyable and it will serve you excellently in the long run.

Remember that love starts with you. I understand many of us don’t have a wholesome upbringing, in which case love might mean lots of things but few of them are positive. The good news is, as an adult, you’re totally capable of providing yourself with the love you need and creating a life that works comfortably for you. Hold space for yourself, especially when life isn’t going well, when you feel a bit overwhelmed, when no one seems to get what you’re going through. 

Validate your own feelings and experiences and know that your validation alone is enough. Embrace yourself with compassion. Forbid the shame. Be patient. You’re going to need time and effort to build trust with yourself and it’s going to be challenging, but it’s vital work. Show up for yourself every single day. Before long, you will be able to turn to yourself — not anyone else — for comfort and guidance. You will be able to experience in every molecule of your body a deep understanding that you’re your own person and it’s all okay.

To all the people who are out looking for love and getting hurt instead, it’s time to heal.

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