There’s someone you love, who doesn’t care about you nearly as much as they should.
You’re sitting here, reading this, and suddenly a face pops into your head. You know who I’m talking about, even its only something you’ll admit when no one else is around. Even if this accusation about this person is something you’ll push to the back of your mind, squishing the thought with so much fortitude that it disintegrates, for a moment at least. But you know who that person is. There’s no escaping it.
There is something about this person that has you seeking their constant approval. Maybe it’s their way of speaking to you like you’re the only person in the world. Maybe it’s a long, wonderful friendship that you two have shared that has fizzled into obscurity recently. Maybe it’s that they’ve helped you through the times that felt the hardest. At any rate, you care immensely for this person. And it’s not that they dislike you, or even that you don’t matter to them, but you know that your affection and attachment is not matched. You know that you think about them ten times more per day than they think about you. You know that their love would be your elixir of life – the thing that would assure your importance and significance. But you loving them? Not nearly as life altering. You feel you don’t deserve them, it hurts so badly that they continue to put you on the back burner now.
The very blessed few who have no idea what this feels like- good for you. You’ll never scroll through social media, fiercely hoping to see their face and pretend that this public content is a private moment the two of you shared. You’ll never feel embarrassed that you continually initiate texts, plans to meet, etc, and have the crushing realization that if it weren’t for you, your relationship would dismantle at any moment. You’ll never sit alone and count how many people this person prioritizes over you, how many people they deem more worthy to share thoughts and experiences with. If you’ve never felt this way, I hope you never will. Because it hurts, and quick fixes won’t make it go away. Even if you make one-hundred promising acquaintances, this person has the power to bolster or destroy your self-esteem in a second, whether they intend to or not. You’re at their whim, no matter how much you proclaim your own strength.
This relationship can manifest itself in any form. A romantic interest, a friendship, a romantic-interested turned into a friendship, a family member, a mentor. You stay up nights wondering what you did wrong, or replaying old memories in your mind , trying to figure out when you became unlovable. Did you change, or did the other person? What is your hamartia? Can you shed your own skin, and adopt a new persona, that they will deem worthy to make a substantial part of your life?
You may even try to become someone this person could love. But it doesn’t worry. You’ll still be the second choice, if your lucky, but you don’t even want to know what number you actually are. You hate yourself for caring more about this person than they care about you. Until you realize that one day, your ability to unconditionally care is going to come in handy. Maybe your feelings will belong to someone else who reciprocates: a new best friend, a child, a spouse. Maybe it’ll show in your dedication to your passion, or your career. Or maybe it shows that part of you, even though it’s against your better judgment, is an optimist. That might be shocking, or even scary to you, but it’s a pretty beautiful thing to be.
Don’t stop caring, friends. The pay-off is on the horizon.