About six months ago, I tweeted something along the lines of, “It will never cease to amaze me how many extraordinary women put up with awful behaviour from less than extraordinary men.”
I was referring to a friend who had recently been dumped after seven years. Even though she knew her boyfriend was treating her badly, all she wanted to do was fix what was broken so they could be together again.
Despite wishing she would Eternal Sunshine him right out of her mind and despite my kinda patronising tweet, I know how difficult it can be to leave a crappy situation your head knows is wrong. I’ve been there, too. And I thought that after unstitching my weary soul from the hemline of a bad relationship a few years ago, I would never allow myself to swim in the murky waters of a far-less-than-ideal partnership ever again.
Ha! That right there is the universe laughing at me. You see, I obviously didn’t learn my lesson well enough the first time. I’m sitting here, post crying sesh, making excuses for the (numerous) selfish actions of a guy I’ve been seeing, when intellectually I know I should be standing up for myself and swiftly showing him out the door.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we forgive and forget when we know we should walk away? Is it because we’re scared to be alone? Do we think that we’ll never find another person to share a bed and a Sunday coffee with? Maybe it’s deeper than that. Maybe it’s about learned habits we picked up from our role models growing up. Maybe, for one reason or another, our self-esteem is shattered. And to borrow author Stephen Chbosky’s famous line from his book, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
I’m using the royal “we”, but not everyone is like this. There are women who don’t stand for any BS. Who, as much as they like being in a relationship, value their happiness over being with someone who isn’t right for them.
I wish I was more like them. Because even though I rarely want to forfeit a relationship – despite it being in my nature to hold on for dear life no matter how bad things get – I don’t think you need to actually work that hard at love.
It’s true, relationships can be tricky. After all, it’s the bringing together of two different sets of personalities, baggage and TV tastes. I get that there may be tough times when you’re learning each other’s quirks and habits – but love? Love shouldn’t be tough. Love should be the opposite. It should be kind and accommodating and peaceful.
And yet here I am, holding onto the slightest shred of hope that something will give. That this guy will apologise for hurting me and change his ways so we can live happily ever after. It’s unlikely and I know I should practise what I preach and not be one of those extraordinary women I tweeted about. But I can’t let go. Still, I wait…
Image: Katarzyna Białasiewicz / 123RF.com
Text: Jessica Martin