Thursday, June 2, 2011

No, I'm Not Down with O.P.P.

I'm having some boyfriend problems. No, not with my non-existent boyfriend - rather, with other people's boyfriends. I consistently find myself seriously annoyed at the choices people in my life make regarding significant others.

"But Tracy," you say, "isn't that their business and not yours?"

You're right. It is. But I can't HELP it! I want to scream at some people!

"But Tracy," you say, "aren't you being kind of a Judge Judy right now?"

Yes. Don't you think I'd love to be Supportive Susan? But unfortunately, I'm cursed with actually giving a shit about my friends. Why is it so hard for smart, confident, successful women to date guys on that same level? Why do so many women date men who mistreat them, have zero goals or who haven't been giving them what they want?

Oh, that's riiiiiight. That pesky little think called love. That's what people always say when they try to justify being with shitty people. As someone who's worked in domestic violence prevention for years now, I can tell you the #1 reason women stay with their abusers - because the women love them.

It's the same mentality for women staying with men who aren't abusive, necessarily, but just unhealthy for them in general. People think just because you have these overwhelming feelings that you need to "follow your heart." That is one of the most misused sayings in the world. How about following our heads? You know, our brains?? Or if that's not working correctly, why not listen to that little voice a.k.a. gut feeling? You're all familiar with that one - it's that annoying little bastard that we push away and try so hard to fight against......only to realize in the end that the little shit was right.

Newsflash - love does NOT conquer all! It's an emotion, and emotions can't be the sole reason we make decisions. Emotions ebb and flow; they change. They evolve. They dissolve. It's a very unromantic way of looking at things, but hey, if being realistic means I'm able to get my head out of my ass and not date an asshole, then pragmatism here I come.

I know I'm waaaay up on my sassy horse right now, and I need to just focus on my own life. But I can't describe how difficult it is when you see people settling for less than they deserve. I know people who are with guys who've had affairs, guys who've physically abused them, guys who've lied, guys who've called them every horrible name under the sun, guys who are married (to someone else). Where do we draw the line? When do we start holding these guys accountable for what they've done?

Being forgiving is important. I understand that. I do believe in forgiveness - but I feel like so many times, people are quick to forgive out of the fear of being alone.

Being miserable with someone always appears easier than being miserable alone. Trust me, I understand that concept more than anyone. I've been on the other side. When I would go back with guys that hurt me, it was a quick Band-Aid for the pain I was feeling. You get back together/make up/try to forget the past, and for a moment in time, you're "happy." All seems right in the world.

I thought that meant that being with him was what made me happy and "all better." But everytime I went back, the relationship would deteriorate and slowly erode more and more. It was never the same or as good as it was before. That "make-up" phase was just smoke and mirrors - a distraction from the actual underlying problem.

Now that I'm on the other side of it, I can safely say that being alone is not easy emotionally - at first. But as time goes on, and as I've gotten space from my past, it's been the best part of my young adult life yet. I see clearer now than I ever have. I don't have my head in the clouds or my heart wound up in messy feelings. I'm stronger and more confident than I ever have been. And it was the distance from these bad guys in my life that made me see everything for what it was. Not a week away, not a month. More like years. It's been 2 years since I've been someone's girlfriend, and while I've dated and had guys in my life since then, I've had the most amazing emotional growth spurt.

This growth has allowed me to see what I deserve from a significant other. It doesn't mean I expect perfection because, honestly, I'm not perfect myself (who is, anyway?). It just means that I recognize that there are 7 billion people in this world, roughly half of them the gender I would most likely date (OK, maybe throw my girl crush Lady Gaga in there). I realized that with all of those options out there (maybe not 3.5 billion, but even if that number was 1,000, that's still an immense amount), I don't have to settle on the next guy that makes my stomach go pitter-patter.

No one is the "love of your life" or "the one" (except that John Krasinski from "The Office" is mine, but that's just a given). We have plenty of options, and while we may eventually tie down to one person once we're married, our 20s and young adult life don't need to take a page from "The Notebook." Calm yourselves, people. Falling in love doesn't mean you've found the Holy Grail and therefore no longer need to use your brain. We have the ability to fall in love again and again and again....and the longer you stay with someone who doesn't fulfill you, the less time you'll have with someone who will.

We can all afford to be more selective. Who knows? Maybe if we were all more selective, the shitty people wouldn't keep getting free rides. The bar would be raised, so we'd actually have a larger pool of eligible bachelors.

So, ladies, let's try this on for size - if love really does conquer all, why don't we start making decisions based on the love we have for ourselves? Don't keep letting crappy males get away with being crappy. Have some standards, and for God's sake, stop this whole "love" business from making you all miserable! It doesn't have to be so hard.

*Climbs off soap box*

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