By: Makeda Phillips
Picture this situation if you will; you meet a guy you really like and everything seems great. You’re meeting up regularly and are constantly exchanging texts. It really couldn’t get any better and in your mind the next step is to enter into a relationship with him.
You’re happy with how things are going but you don’t want to be untitled forever, and you don’t want to keep putting your energy into a situation that will never progress into you being called his girlfriend. So what do you do? You dig deep and find the courage to have the conversation….and he replies with, “I’m just not ready for a relationship”.
I remember the time when guys first started noticing me, I was 16 and I had just gotten my first weave. I noticed I was attracting a lot more attention than I had been, before getting it. Prior to this I was so disinterested in guys and my joy came from going shopping with my best friend, having dance battles in London’s Oxford Circus shopping district and generally just being a kid.
Nevertheless, I embraced it, a little flirt here, a little flirt there and I was in! I wouldn’t say my self esteem was particular low at this point, I mean I went to an all girls high school and was witness to many things but I was pretty happy with myself. Every young girl has her insecurities but as far as I was concerned there wasn’t anything that made me hugely unhappy. So here I was, 16 years old, embarking on the dating journey or what I know now to be the start of a recurring cycle of meeting guys who just weren’t ready for relationships.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard “I’m not ready for a relationship”, I was 17, and in my mind I was convinced I could change his mind. He told me he wasn’t ready for a relationship a couple of months after we started talking, but what I heard was “I’m not ready for a relationship YET”. So I did what most ladies do and I played the waiting game.
I waited for what ended up being 18 months, and with each day that passed my confidence and self-esteem diminished. I started to blame myself, maybe I wasn’t girlfriend material, or maybe I didn’t have the type of look a guy would want to show off to his friends? As friends around me started getting into relationships It became worse, I was in this two year “situation” with a guy I was so in love with…or so I thought.
When people would talk about their relationships I would sink into the background praying nobody asked me any questions. This drove my self esteem lower, its funny how things like that can affect your character and personality. I became very unsure about everything, I was indecisive and soon realized it was because I was resting my heart and soul on an unstable situation, he wasn’t mine.
Gone was the confident girl who was always in the middle of a joke, and here had arrived the timid girl lingering on the outskirts of every conversation to avoid the humiliating scenario of having to explain a completely unexplainable situation. In the end….and I mean the very end, I did make my way to girlfriend status in this particular situation but in reality, I lost. I lost myself a little more, I was plagued with fear everyday of the remainder of that situation that he would turn around and say, “Actually, I’m not ready for a relationship”. It was very unhealthy and I can’t help but feel I did it to myself.
After this situation ended my confidence was so low that I started pushing away guys who wanted longevity. I reacted this way because I had gotten so accustomed to my new normal of feeling unwanted, that every guy I met who showed me a future, scared me because I wasn’t sure how to react. Two consecutive guys told me they wanted a future with me, in one case, I stopped returning his calls the day after, and in the second case I used the excuse of moving to New York, which I did, as the reason why this wouldn’t work.
I was emotionally damaged, and the worst thing is, what started off as a loss of confidence and self-esteem due to someone else, ended with me pushing myself towards self-destruction. There’s only so many times I could go through situations like this without taking a look inwardly and really assessing the role I had to play in these situations. I was certain I didn’t enjoy ending up in the same place, so why did I continuously find myself here?
It didn’t take very long for me to realize that my biggest mistake was lying to myself, lying that I was content with these situationships when really I wasn’t built for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate for dating, and as a Londoner living in New York, I did my fair share of dating and enjoyed it!
My problem was, when a guy told me that they were not ready for a relationship I lied and typically replied with the fact I felt the same. However by this point I was already so heavily invested that, that every exchange from there on felt like torture.
So what happened? I got tired. Tired of going after guys who wanted all the perks of a relationship without the expectations. Notice I admit I went after them. I was attracted to them. In most cases they were completely within their rights to determine what they wanted in their life and I stand by that wholeheartedly. People choose to not enter relationships for various admirable reasons, and its important not to bash people for these decisions. It’s your responsibility to command and dictate your thresholds and what you can handle when dating.
I want to share 5 things that I learned through this journey:
1.You’re not for everyone.
As amazing and brilliant as you are, you’re not made for everyone and that’s ok. Let this realisation simmer, its important.
2. Fall in love with yourself
This may be a lonely journey but it’s pivotal. I Love myself and I am not afraid to admit it. Every stretch mark and every bit of cellulite. Once you fall in love with your self, the idea of being alone feels more like harmony. I stayed in situations far too long because I didn’t want to be alone.
3. Be honest with yourself.
If you think being honest with someone else is hard, try being honest with yourself. I find I wasn’t honest because the truth rarely portrayed me in a good light or was embarrassing. It was much easier to pretend I didn’t want a relationship too than say, “You know what, I want more”. Be honest with yourself, as great and chivalrous as this guy is, are you really on the same page in terms of relationship progression?
4. Get out & Get Active!
Do something different, something you may be fearful of. I took up boxing, and despite the fact I should spend a little more time doing it, the idea of doing something new and completely independently not only boosted my confidence and esteem but also made me proud. Its good to be proud of yourself.
5. Appreciate your journey and let things flow in your own time.
Someone else’s journey is not yours. You may have friends who can cut situations off overnight, if like me, you lead life with your heart – it may take you longer. That’s fine don’t be hard on yourself.
Small baby steps, self-nurturing and an openness to be a little uncomfortable will take you to the situation you want, I promise.