Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities. Click here to anonymously submit questions regarding sex, relationships and sex education.
“How do I deal with always liking guys who either have no idea I exist or probably would never be seen with me?” - Hopeless Romantic
Dear Hopeless Romantic,
Sounds like you kind of have a taste for jerks.
Of course, everyone has the right to unrequited feelings or attraction, but when you say they "probably would never be seen with [you],” maybe you should reconsider wanting to be seen with them.
Your observation tells me that whatever person, or people, you’re referring to doesn’t actually see your value as a person. There is a big difference between not wanting to be with someone and not wanting to be seen with someone. The latter implies some sort of shame — Why would you want to give your time to someone who feels shame or embarrassment around you?
The simple answer: You don’t. You’re a hopeless romantic and –– if I were to take a guess –– that means you’re in love with love and searching for a genuine connection. In your pursuit for romance, you can’t forget that love and respect must be a package deal if it’s truly worth your time.
When it comes to people who act like you don’t exist, chances are — to them — you don’t. It’s kind of like when people say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s likely there hasn’t been the interaction — perhaps an introduction or spark of intrigue through conversation — necessary for a space to be created for you in their mind. Think about how many people you pass each day without realizing who they are, the life they’re living or perhaps even their existence. There might be someone who feels that way about you right now. This sort of situation is exactly why we need this seemingly cliché advice: You have to put yourself out there.
Demanding respect and pursuing whom you want places a lot of responsibility on you because, in a way, I’m saying you have to make your own kind of love. (That’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?) At some point, we need to recognize what we manifest in our own lives by how we treat ourselves, letting others know how to treat us (which is a little less romantic).
The hard truth is that if you keep chasing after the wrong people in the wrong places, you’re going to get exactly what you’re getting now. If you continue to rationalize why someone is treating you poorly — or rationalize that they aren’t when they really are — they’re going to continue treating you poorly. This does not mean what they’re doing is okay –– or that you deserve it –– just that people do as they please.
Despite that, I do believe that there are many good people out there — and probably a person in search of someone just like you.
If you're falling for the wrong guy again and again, you’re not learning from your mistakes. The “wrong guy” — if you think about it — actually tends to be a lot of different people who don’t see or appreciate you. Think about how often people go through love and relationships and learn about themselves before figuring out what they need and how to handle a relationship. While these are people that you can learn from, be careful you don’t make the same mistakes and end up dealing with too many “wrong guys.”
Look at your past mistakes — er, past loves — and be honest about what’s working and not working for you. Sometimes this means identifying a trait or characteristic that you find absolutely delectable as something that actually isn’t healthy for you.
It might be time to question whether you're allowing yourself to see the people who really do deserve a chance. Sometimes we don't allow the right person in our lives because they're too nice or perhaps feel “too right.” At that point, you should ask yourself, "What happened to me that was so bad that it has led me to believe someone is too nice for me?"
Sometimes we overlook the things we deserve because we don’t feel like we deserve them. In this same strain of behaviors, sometimes we romanticize the people or things that are bad for us — but that’s not romantic.
What is romantic is taking care of yourself.
Demand respect. Cultivate loving relationships. Celebrate each other. Don’t compromise for the wrong guy. Don’t lose yourself looking for the right guy.