This is VERY different from a usual Throwback Thursday post. It’s not from a previous Facebook note, blog post, or even radio segment. This is from a personal email I sent once, to a boyfriend. It’s probably also in a file somewhere on my computer — when I start having stress about a relationship, I start a file with the guy’s name on it where I write out my feelings. Sometimes I send them or parts of them to the guy (like this one), sometimes I don’t because it would only compound whatever the problem is, because it’s unfixable and I just need an outlet so I don’t explode. I have probably a half dozen files titled with various boys’ names floating around my computer, accumulated in the past 3 years or so that I’ve been dating. Some of them have many, many entries, some have only one or two. Some haven’t been opened in years; one was just created recently.
But I decided I wanted to post this email (editing out certain personal information pertaining to people who are not me) because it seems that I have a number of friends embarking on new relationships and new relationships are terrifying, especially when your previous dating/relationship experience has been crummy, and this email did a pretty good job encapsulating some of the many complicated emotions of that roller coaster.
It’s from November 11, 2012.
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“I’ve been having a lot of thinky thoughts about us.
What I keep circling back to is this line from the movie trailer of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — Emma Watson’s character says: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And I think that was always [insert name of another ex who has his own file on my computer]’s problem – I loved him so much more than he felt he deserved, and he couldn’t accept it and pulled away.
And now there’s you, and you’re crazy about me in ways I don’t think he ever was, and even though I’m supposed to be the one with the ego and the confidence and everything, I think on some fundamental level I feel like I don’t deserve this insanely high opinion you have of me. In a perverse way, I was more comfortable being treated worse because I know I’m not perfect so I didn’t deserve to be treated perfectly all the time. It’s like, you’re the exact kind of person I need, someone who appreciates all these things about me that other people never quite get, so you can’t possibly be real; things like that just don’t happen. So all these walls come up to insulate me and protect me from getting too attached because my brain is sure this can’t last.
What I can tell you is: I really enjoy spending time with you. I think you’re an incredible person and I don’t understand how you were still single when I met you. I really like that you’re honest about how you feel about me even when it puts you in a vulnerable position. I have to admit that I do get a little uncomfortable or pressured whenever you say something or look at me in a way that reminds me that your feelings for me right now are stronger than the ones I have for you, but that’s only because I want to reciprocate so badly and I don’t know how yet and I get scared that I won’t be able to and that I’ll hurt you and hurt myself by ruining something amazing.
I feel like there’s also this perverse instinct that we humans have, where we most want the things that we can’t have, and since you’ve made it abundantly clear that I could definitely have you if I wanted, that instinct doesn’t kick in. So I don’t have that superficial kind of “want,” and I have to build up a real, serious emotional connection instead if I want this to work.
And I think it’s pretty clear that the only way to figure these things out is to be patient and give it more time, which I of course absolutely intend to do. I just want to continue in our tradition of hot emotional honesty and make sure I keep you informed on exactly where I stand.