Step 176: If you are dating someone that you are crazy about but is not crazy about you, then you need to break up
And now, it’s time for a guest entry from my friend Max, followed by some color commentary from yours truly, because seriously this is important and you will save yourself from an emotional sunburn that doesn’t fade by following it. Max?
When I was 17, I was crazy about my very first girlfriend. She made me want to be smarter, better looking, more driven, a better dresser/kisser/person … all of the things I wasn’t when I was 16. The only problem was that she didn’t seem to feel the same way.
So I sat her down and told her I was crazy about her and asked her if she was crazy about me.
Having only dated me for one month, being 17 herself, and not crazy about me, she said she didn’t know. She wasn’t sure.
But my stepmom had given me some advice, and it was sound. I shouldn’t, she said, date someone unless they’re absolutely crazy about me. So I told the girlfriend I didn’t want to date anyone who didn’t feel that way about me, and we broke up.
I was devastated. I told all my friends that it was better to have loved and lost, blah blah blah.
Fast forward a decade: I’m 27 and single. In spite of this occasionally frustrating fact, I still think my step-mom’s advice is sound, and I’ve learned a few more things about it.
Thing 1: The advice actually cuts in both directions. Not only should I not date people who aren’t crazy about me, but I shouldn’t date people I’m not crazy about.
Thing 2: What it means for me to be crazy about someone (I need to feel compelled to better myself, a la Pip in Great Expectations. Yeah.) isn’t necessarily the same as what it means for them to be crazy about me.
Excellent points from Max. Here’s my take: I think people always, as a matter of habit, project their feelings onto others since the feelings in your own head are the only emotional condition one is ever fully exposed to. So when we are just so, so burningly into someone, it feels like they must be so, so burningly into us too.
But that is not how feelings work. There is not an even exchange rate going there, and the best you can do is to look for someone who at least has a similar exchange rate to you. If your feelings are Euros and theirs are (an extremely worthless currency but I’m not going to pick one because I don’t want to hurt feelings), then get out. If you stay with someone that you adore, and they don’t adore you, it will erode you in the most painful way. I promise. Yes, ending it will feel awful shitty, but take your pain in a lump sum payment rather than small, unending bits.
NOTE: This does not apply to the first couple months of a relationship. You do not need to be batshit crazy in love the first time you hang out (though that is nice). But soon enough, you’ll start to sense where the other is at.