Recently I was talking to my friend (who I should add, is still very young) about how several girls have openly told me they have feelings for me, none of which I return. And I was trying to explain to her why, although I was really flattered, it was hard for me and not just for them. She of course said “but I’d be happy for someone to like me” and yeah, I get that. There are times even now when I feel lonely and un-liked and I just think “I wish anyone at all liked me”. But when it does happen, which it does to everyone at some point, it’s never as great as you think. You appreciate it, and you are flattered and maybe you feel a bit more self-confident, but you also normally feel guilty and ungrateful if you don’t reciprocate it. Now this is a topic for another post entirely, but what I am trying to get at is why we don’t reciprocate these feelings. Of course, sometimes there’s no reason other than “I don’t feel attracted to them” – but there’s often more to it than that. When my friend was responding to me she made it seem as though if someone is attracted to you it’s great and you can go for it, and one of the girls who has feelings for me even said “you’re gay, I’m gay – what’s the problem?” And in a way, I get that. Why not give it a go?
The answer to that is because, to be blunt, sometimes you just know it won’t work. Maybe you’re too similar, or you know them so well you know the things that’ll bug you, or you genuinely just don’t want to ruin your friendship. But relationships are more than feelings for someone, they’re more than just being attracted to each other: they’re about all those clichéd things like trust and shared values and future goals. Which is why I think, most people have those things they look for in a partner. There are things you want, and things you need a future partner to have. Even if it’s going to be a purely physical relationship, there are still crucial things in relationships that must be there for it to work in the most basic of ways.
I want to emphasise, this is not the same as having a ‘checklist’. Sure, I prefer brunettes with dark eyes, and someone who likes video games and binge-watching TV series – but I’m not going to rule out the possibility of something with a girl just because she’s blonde with blue eyes and prefers sports to lounging around. I’m talking about the key things. I’m talking about having standards (and not in that shitty misogynistic ‘I wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl god I have standards’ way), I’m talking about having deal-breakers.
For example, I would never be with someone, or even consider being with someone, who had cheated or thought it was anything other than a terrible thing to do. I would rule someone out immediately if they said any of that ‘not all men’ crap or said they didn’t ‘believe’ in Feminism. I wouldn’t be with someone who was transphobic or said bisexuality isn’t real, or someone who’s racist, classist or who fat-shames (or skinny-shames). I wouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t accept and support goals I set for myself, or someone who tells me ‘I told you so’ before they comfort me if I fail. I wouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t believe I can do anything I set my mind to, I wouldn’t be with someone tries to change who I am, or someone who doesn’t accept it when I try and improve on myself. They need to agree with my values, and if they don’t they need to be willing to learn about them and understand them, to accept and respect them. I wouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t value trust, loyalty and honesty above all else.
Maybe that’s a lot of deal-breakers, and I’ve got quite a few more, but it’s all really basic stuff, yet it’s surprising how many people just don’t have it.
In the past I’ve been with two people who, I now realise, ultimately broke so many of my values and ‘rules’ and things I believe in. And writing this is a message to everyone, but more importantly myself, that I won’t take that again. I deserve better, and I deserve to be with someone who works with me and my life – this time I come first and I decide what happens to me and my life. Because my feelings and my life are just as goddamn important as theirs.