I’m 27, and I find myself in situations feeling like I have to vy for the affections and attention of men. I’m rarely shaken up by other women. Prettier girls aren’t as charming as I am, less attractive women are less attractive. For years, I beat my suitors to the punch. Ignored them before they ignored me, and this year I decided to give in and my biggest fear presented itself — rejected, abandoned, on the wrong side of a love unrequited.

On my best days, Im beautiful. On any day, I’m intelligent, creative, independent, empathetic, spontaneous, and funny. On my worst days, I’m emotive, intense, indecisive, and insecure. I believe we’re all capable of identifying with all of the layers that we have within ourselves and we move through our character qualities quite often. However, unlike most, I find myself dwelling on my bad qualities and it manifests itself in my dating life, especially when you meet people who put a cap and condition on it. As much as it sucks, most people’s love have conditions and we’ll never quite truly be able to be ourselves without compromise.

I think we’ve all dated a person that makes you feel like you’re too much, even when who you are isn’t that much. Overtime, you start to believe it, you start to suppress it, and then you realize without it, the person still quite can’t show up in the relationship in the manner that you had hoped and you were better off just being yourself. You’re aware of all of this, and you still find yourself taking on the burden of the relationship not working out. Of course, it was your fault because they told you that it was.

For most people, they meet one partner that teaches them this karmic lesson. I made a habit of it, and I couldn’t tell you why until this year.

Our fathers are our first example of the embodiment of masculine, male love. Unbeknownst to most, I’m the oldest of eight children. For as long as I’ve been alive, I had to share my father’s love with them, all four of his wives, his career aspirations and his hobbies. I’m probably the most low maintenance child he has and it still didn’t grant me the most access to him. When I don’t need him, he’s not there. When I need him, I’m unable to determine if he can’t or doesn’t want to be there. This year I felt near death, and there wasn’t a spike in his attention. I didn’t get a phone call from him telling me that he’d be on his way. He never showed up bedside with a cape on in the manner that we fantasize that our lovers would if we ever needed it. I was forced to acknowledge that the competition I thought existed for my father’s presence didn’t even exist. My chance to have him in full was never there, and like the men in my life, I was never going to receive what I was expecting.

I tried entering a relationship earlier this year and it failed because he was emotionally unavailable. Like my father, I had to wait on him to choose me. However, my epiphany came when I met someone new later this year. I went on a date. Prior to our date, I was experiencing some health complications and I kept it to myself. I had got accustomed to trying to appear fine out of fear men wouldn’t be interested in me if I had obvious baggage. I contemplated saying something, but my own father didn’t acknowledge my health, why would this strange man?

The date ended early because I was experiencing some symptoms that broke my focus and he took it like a champ, he even followed me home to make sure I got inside. I cried immediately as my door closed. I had never been vulnerable with anyone like that in awhile. I don’t talk about how I feel, as I’m often told that I feel too much, even from my own mother (but I’ll revisit that another day). I didn’t think I’d hear from him again, as my past partners all have walked away from me for far less, but I did.

I’d eventually ruin this connection thinking too much. By now I know what an emotionally unavailable person looks like. This guy isn’t much of a texter and the behavior made me panic. I had a range of questions flowing through my mind, projecting my father’s and past lovers’ inability to communicate and be present on to him. I decided to ends things prematurely, and I played a game I may possibly end up learning a lesson from. I did not want to get hurt. Mind you, this connection was very new, and I hadn’t had a relationship expectation for it as my attachment style over the years have been avoidant (I haven’t dated in 4 years). The conversation and sex was incredible. I only wanted to have fun until he stopped texting. It was almost a reminder that I was still equating worthiness to male presence.

I expressed my hesitancy to explore the connection, and he told me that it was overwhelming, which was a word that I had been avoiding as I’ve heard it for years from a man that was put on this earth to love me and failed. The word hurts my feelings in a way I can’t describe, as I genuinely thought I was communicating in the most mature way possible. I haven’t effectively expressed myself like that in years and it was rejected. We talk about not dimming our light for the sake of others, but when you’re encouraged to do so by several people, it starts to feel like a good idea.

Months from now, I may look back and decide that I was wrong about misjudging this new guy’s texting patterns or I can find strength in knowing I communicated, despite it not being well received. Time would be the determining factor, and I can’t focus too much on him misunderstanding me, but I was able to connect a dot that I’ll be able to carry with me in the future.

I met this new guy who's a chef at this burger joint in a fancy food court here in Charlotte. He asked me to describe myself. I’m learning to just own all the bad shit about me, even if it makes me look crazy and intense. I want something with some substance, and I won’t get it pretending to not want depth. Out the gate, I said, “intense, emotional, beautiful, spontaneous, creative…” I hesitated for a while hoping he’d have an issue. He invited me to his restaurant for us to get to know one another. I absolutely love burgers. Let’s see how it goes.

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Consider this a tough love diary to myself for you all.

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