When I was younger, in my late twenties and early thirties, I abstained from sex for thirteen years. I did so for many reasons; the primary reason was because I had no desire to do anything that would be detrimental to my son. I have always seemed to be drawn to men who felt, at best, lukewarm about me. I have had men tell me that they were in love with me. It has only happened a few times and it was always with men I had never had any kind of sexual relationship. These were men I had no desire to be in a relationship with.
There have only been three instances in my entire thirty-nine years on this planet that I felt anything strong enough to constitute my feeling connected on a level that made me desire a commitment. Two, I could have loved the other is the only man I have ever loved. He is still the one I fall asleep thinking about, the one I dream about and the first thing I think of when I wake in the morning. What do these three men have in common? All three of them seemed to love that I was so hopelessly devoted to them but never did anything to express that they in anyway wanted to reciprocate that sentiment.
One was the first boy I ever had any sort of relationship with, my son’s father. He was my first sexual encounter and the father of my child. I think that he cared about me but he also had no respect for me which ultimately led me to sever ties with him shortly before I learned I was pregnant. The second was the first man I slept with after my thirteen years of abstinence. He was two years older than I was. He was charming, confident, handsome and a sociopath. He truly believed he was God’s gift to women. I found out we were no longer dating when he spent the night at my female neighbor’s house after we had been dating for about eight months. The third is the only man I have ever thought I could or truly wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He has misled me, built me up and tore me down, offering no more than an empty “I’m sorry,” more times than I care to retell.
The easiest explanation for this demonstration in poor judgment, on my part, is also one of the most difficult to clarify. I always want attention from the men who are least inclined to give it to me. Many women find themselves wanting the man who seems the least interested in her. Although many men may have expressed an interest in someone we still chase the one who seems to care the least. Why this happens is, most often, women feel like they have accomplished something when they get the attention of someone who seems oblivious and uninterested. It makes us feel like we have won someone over. Yet we always seem surprised when they do something later to demonstrate that they still aren’t invested in us.
Rather than cutting our losses and walking away we try harder to regain their attention. When we get it we feel successful again. We feel we have obtained something unobtainable. Again we feel like victors. Everything about your relationship seems more intense because we feel a sense of accomplishment. Then something happens, some new demonstration of how little we mean to someone we strive to please and the ball is back in our court; the cycle repeats. We always seem surprised when these men hurt us even though in hindsight it was obvious they would. I suppose we just like the hunt, we don’t want the first man who offers himself. We enjoy feeling like we won someone over.
The trick, in these situations, is to know when enough is enough. You have to decide if you are trying for the right reasons. If a man is constantly testing you, showing a lack of interest or willingness to commit then you have to be able to walk away. The longer you let this game of cat and mouse go on the more painful the realization that you are being played will feel. If you want a relationship and your prospective partner wants the same thing then manipulation shouldn’t be the thing that keeps passion and intensity in your relationship. Your willingness to grow together and face challenges as a team are what strengthens a relationship not one person constantly trying to prove themself or please their partner.
I truly thought, after thirteen years of no relationships, that I would find the dating scene to be a very different than it was when I was a young woman. It doesn’t seem to have changed much. It is difficult to find someone you are attracted to and want to spend time with, who feels the same way and values the time you’ve spent together. If you feel like you are constantly trying to prove yourself to your prospective partner then he never has and never is going to see the value in having you in his life.
The only one you should be trying to prove your worth to is you.