It’s sort of embarrassing how long it took me to understand this, but I wish I’d realized it a long time ago: Don’t date anyone who treats you worse than a friend.
It might sound weird if you haven’t experienced it personally, but for the longest time, I viewed myself as a burden. And spending time with me as a chore.
So I felt like I had to make it worth people’s while. With friends and acquaintances, this meant that I always tried my best to be entertaining and pleasant company.
With more intimate relationships, I didn’t view this as enough. To my thinking at the time, it was a greater ask — of time, trust, and connection — to seriously date me versus have a friendship — and this meant that the cost to get someone to date me should be higher as well.
Yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds. It seemed normal to me at the time.
Anyway, because of this, it seemed impossible to give a lover enough to justify the cost of them being with me. So I always felt like I wasn’t quite good enough for the people I was with.
And I tolerated very bad treatment from lovers. Because it made sense to me. It made things “fair” somehow, going by this twisted math.
But then there eventually came a time when I did date someone who treated me well. Very well. Not just as well as my friends treated me — but arguably even better.
And I’d like to say that it was amazing. That it was like the sun coming out after a long cloudy period. But it wasn’t quite as neat as that.
Being treated so well was instead terrifying. Well at first at least. With time and patience, I came to understand what it meant — and that it wasn’t some kind of trick or trap. That the person I was dating wasn’t going to come back later demanding payment for services rendered. That they just wanted to be nice to me.
And I realized then that I’d been sorely mistaken. My companionship wasn’t a burden.
And I shouldn’t date anyone who treats me worse than a friend.
And neither should you.