For the past week I’ve been searching for a song or a Tumblr post or something to sum up how I feel, but I haven’t had any luck.
People don’t write about girls like me unless it’s to tear them down.
Growing up, I always looked at women who would become involved with someone else that they knew had a significant other in an extremely negative light. I wondered if they cared at all about the person they were hurting. I wondered how they could sleep at night. I wondered if they were just stupid, to believe anything the guy said, to think that he would leave his current partner, to believe that even if he did it would work out. I wondered if they genuinely felt loved and cared for.
Well, now I’m ‘that girl’, and I’m learning that it’s not at all as simple as that. I do care about his
girlfriend’s feelings. I don’t know her, but I know that no one deserves heartbreak, especially when you’ve devoted so much of your life to the person you’re with. And I’m not stupid either.
I never envisioned guys who cheated on their girlfriends as being smart, interesting, and otherwise compassionate and caring people. I think I envisioned some dude wearing sunglasses and a suit or something, a Barney Stinson type.
I carry with me all of these stereotypes and beliefs that I don’t even know I subscribe to until something happens to make me confront them. Anyone can be anything. Logically I know this and always have. But in reality, I am constantly surprised.
I did feel cared for – more than that, I felt like someone was seeing me the way I wanted to be seen without me having to explain myself a thousand times, without them having to know me for years.
And maybe it is because I don’t know what it is to be loved. I know what it is to love someone else, but no one’s ever loved me. So sometimes I’m easily impressed. Sometimes I think we could be heading in that direction when really there’s no chance of that.
I’d been hurt by someone else and I was deciding that I needed to take a significant period of time to get over it, even though I didn’t want to, and then some guy comes up to me and goes, “I always see you dancing – you always look really happy.” (It’s true. I just randomly start dancing, terribly, while I’m doing regular things.)
I say, “Really? Well, thank you. Most people just tell me to stop.”
“No, it’s cute.”
And for the first time since I made that difficult decision, I felt happy and like there was hope and like maybe I was still special.
We kept seeing each other around and we kept talking. I was sure he liked me and that he was going to ask me out any day now when I found out he had a girlfriend.
I should have dialed it down after that, but I didn’t. I let him keep flirting with me, partially because I liked the fact that someone was finally paying attention to me, and partially because I genuinely wanted to get to know him and be friends.
Eventually we had a discussion about his girlfriend but kept hanging out. I told myself this was okay because even though there were flirtatious touches and comments, TECHNICALLY we were still in friend territory.
It wasn’t long though before we were cuddling on a couch and he kissed me at the end of the night.
That was all it ever was before I hit the brakes, but even so, a line was crossed.
Even my closest friends told me they would judge me if I allowed things to go any further, and did I really want to be ‘that girl’?
I felt guilty not just about the physical aspect of things but also the emotional. Mostly the emotional, actually. I felt guilty about how much I genuinely like him and how much he seemed to genuinely like me.
No one ever told me that he would be the only person in my life currently to ask me how my day was going every day and actually care what the answer was. No one ever told me that he would be the only guy I’ve ever met to voluntarily read my blog, respect it, and not be afraid to talk to me about it.
Guys who cheat on their girlfriends don’t DO that, especially not for the ‘other woman’. Guys who cheat on their girlfriends don’t actually care about the women they’re with.
So I felt like he was different, like our situation was different somehow. That even if it wasn’t going anywhere, it was somehow okay or at least not wrong.
But no. You can care deeply about someone and still do horrible things to them.
It is so, SO easy to believe the things these guys tell you because sometimes they’re true. Maybe they really do think you’re beautiful. Maybe they really do like your writing. Maybe they really do think that you deserve better. Maybe they really do just like talking and hanging out with you that much. I know in my case it was true.
That doesn’t make it okay, but it does make things a lot more complicated in your head and in your heart. It makes it a lot harder to walk away. It’s easy to walk away if you know it’s just sex, but who wants to lose someone who cares about them? Everyone can use more of those people.
I’m not a bad person.
I’m not a stupid person.
I’m not ‘that girl’.
I no longer think ‘that girl’ actually exists. Every situation is more complex than you think. And even if a girl is naive and inexperienced – never stupid – how is that her fault? How is it her fault if she just doesn’t know what real love should feel like, or what she really deserves?
I’m not just saying that because I want to be allowed to be selfish – I still admit that this is the third-worst thing I’ve ever done.
We need to stop blaming women for other people’s mistakes. We need to stop judging women so much more harshly than we judge men for giving in to temptation. It’s hard to realize that even Taylor Swift would be judging me hardcore right now (see: Girl at Home, “It would be a fine proposition if I was a stupid girl”), meanwhile male singers write about cheating on their girlfriends all the time and it’s practically glorified (see: Hedley’s Sympathy, “That’s my weakness, distracted by beautiful things. I need a little sympathy”). And maybe if women were treated better in relationships overall, situations like this would be less tempting in the first place.
I understand now how amazing women end up in situations like this. I understand now why it is so hard to just walk away.
I get it.