Today, I am single. I have been in love, been rejected, and been ignored.
But today, I still believe in love.
Love isn’t terrifying, rejection is. Love is extraordinary; it is beautiful.
Today, I was asked if I still believe in love, to which I answered, “of course. How can you not when there exist so many fascinating and enrapturing people to fall in love with?”
Today I am grateful. I am grateful for those whom I have loved and lost for growing me. I am grateful to those who have stuck by me and nurtured me. I am grateful for those who I have not yet met who will also grow me, and nurture me, and be the light in my eyes someday.
Today, I reminisce on what I know of love. (Ignore my grammatically incorrect plural pronoun, I’m being inclusive)
Photo 2015 ft Megan Miller
Chris Foote and daughter Rachel Foote exhibiting typical father/daughter bonding
casually using all my own photos so I dont have to deal with copyright issues (:
Tina Foote with children Rachel and Connor Foote. Even without a father, a strong and loving family dynamic is possible.
Rachel Foote with brother Connor Foote. When a father passes, a son takes the role as man of the house if present. This is a lot of stress for a child.
It’s how the very vibrations of their voice mean more to you than the words they are saying.
It’s when they dry tears they didn’t provoke, and mend cracks they didn’t create.
It’s that moment when you’re laughing so hard at something so stupid that for a fleeting instant every torturous, agonizing trauma you’ve been through, for just a moment, ceases to exist.
It’s when you’re a mess that they never complain about having to clean up.
It’s crawling into bed at midnight, but staying up ’til 3am talking about nothing and everything at the same time.
It’s when vomit, tears, and everything gross don’t matter.
It’s when society’s standards of beauty are irrelevant, because a look in their eyes somehow resonates in your soul that you are flawless just the way you are.
It’s the 2am “can you come get me” that never goes unanswered.
It is the equal appreciation not only of successes and triumphs, but of demons as well.
It does not have to be your forever. It doesn’t even have to be your “right now.” Love can be your best friend, your mother, your neighbor, or the boy from your class.
Love can be your salvation, your torture, your nightmare, and your dream.
What’s important is not WHO you love, but simply that you allow yourself to.
Today, I do not count my tears. I do not count my unanswered texts, my discarded love letters, or funerals I’ve attended.
Today, I count smiles. I count laughter. I count kisses.
Imagine this: you log on to Twitter. You scroll through your news feed and WAIT. STOP. Tammy’s boyfriend bought her the new Naked Palette.
And a Costco teddy bear?!?!
You turn to your own worthless, thieving boyfriend beside you. All he’s ever done is tell your you’re beautiful everyday and wipe every tear you’ve cried. Jackass.
“Get out,” you yell as you push him off the bed.
He seems confused, and in a chaos of “Babe, I don’t understand”s and “what did I do wrong?!”s, that asshat finally leaves.
Did he not think your love was worth a Naked Palette? Or at least 100 roses delivered to your office. Jeez. Gifts should be an every day part of a relationship, and if a guy isn’t giving you that, then he just isn’t worth it. Move on, girl!
Besides, if I don’t snap, tweet, and Facebook-offical my relationship, how will people ever know how happy and adorable we are and be jealous?!
Aaaaaand stop. I’m sorry. I couldn’t even write the satire anymore. I was going to throw up.
Now let me start with a disclaimer, because apparently I need to do this now, *clears throat*
THIS POST DOES NOT APPLY TO ALL PEOPLE WHOSE BOYFRIENDS BUY THEM GIFTS OR WHO POST THEM ON TWITTER OR WHO BREATH OR EXIST IN GENERAL.
There we go. Now.
In an age of social media, I feel like we’ve lost sight of what #RelationshipGoals should actually be.
And, since I apparently need to clarify this as well: I, TOO, HAVE AT TIMES BEEN IMPERFECT AND TRIED TO IMPRESS PEOPLE WITH THE ADORABLENESS OF MY RELATIONSHIP, as if my imperfectness was not already implied.
So while it is completely fine for your boyfriend or significant other to buy you gifts, and while it is alright (if not immensely cliché) to post this on social media so that other girls can be jealous and so that guy you used to hookup with but still aren’t really over can see how well your guy treats you (don’t lie, I see you), let’s keep in mind some REAL relationship goals that seem to have gotten lost behind the “wear me @ 6 tonight”s and new-contouring-kit-madness.
#RelationshipGoal he respects you. Duh.
#RelationshipGoal he isn’t afraid to say no to you–because although you may be his “princess,” you are not his ruler. You are his partner.
#RelationshipGoal he thinks you’re beautiful with or without all the expensive makeup he may or may not buy you, and reminds you of that. Even when he sees you down six tacos or an entire bag of SkinnyPop.
#RelationshipGoal he’d be a good father (if you see it being long-term).
#RelationshipGoal he has seen your flaws, accepts them, and knows how to cope with them, not coddle them (enabling isn’t good for anybody).
#RelationshipGoal he’s intellectually stimulating–because when he’s old and flabby, and so are you, all you’ll have are each other’s minds. So make sure you like that shit.
#RelationshipGoal he makes you the best version of yourself. Because anyone who makes you a worse version of yourself, though fun to party with and probably good in bed, is not someone you want for the long haul, although feel free to live a little and take that short-term.
Another disclaimer: I’m not a relationship expert, obviously. I’ve been in love with the same guy since I was 15, and still can’t seem to get it together enough to be a girl he deserves (sup, Superman), BUT he’s taught me how a girl deserves to be treated and given me more than a few reality checks. SO REMEMBER:
Money can always be made, abs can always be sculpted, jobs and futures can always be changed, but a man who will love you, be loyal to you, and adore you is born, not made. And THAT should be your real #RelationshipGoal.
(*read this in the fast voice that happens at the end of prescription drug commercials* A boy giving you gifts does not lessen the seriousness or intensity of your relationship. The message the author is trying to convey is that your relationship should be about love and respect and not about buying/doing/being things that will look good on social media. If this article somehow -impossibly- offended you, you may comment because this is America and we are free and shit, but, like, seriously?)
I was never that girl. I never pictured my wedding, or fantasized about a husband, or dreamed about being a Mrs. So-and-so. I dreamed about being a lawyer, or a cardiologist. I had crushes, but I couldn’t for the life of them get them to notice me. And if they did notice me, it’s because I was insanely and utterly creepy towards them (sorry, Jerry).
I had my first “real” boyfriend in seventh grade. And I thought I was in love with him and that I’d marry him and all that jazz. Same with my sophomore year boyfriend. But they came and went and after a couple months, I’d move on and I wouldn’t even miss them.
My junior year, I switched schools. I asked my friend who went there, and who the “big men on campus” were. She mentioned a guy I went to grade school with and this other boy. Ironically, I met the “other boy” at a party that weekend, and I did my very best to blow him off in an attempt to knock his ego down to size. But the boy knew the game, and he knew it well. I was no match.
I fell and I fell hard. And for the first eight months it was something out of an ABC family movie: nominations for homecoming court, kissing on the football field after games, walking each other to class, and passing notes in between. For the first time in my life, I felt normal. I felt stereotypical. I felt my age. Then college admission time came. That was the beginning of the next two years which would be a hectic, dramatic, on-off nightmare. However, even though things got bad, when we were good, we were still really, really good.
But in those three years, we’d both really messed up. He’d broken my heart a few times, and my trust, and I’d betrayed him in ways so shallow I’m still ashamed of them. The love was still there, but there was a pain now too. There were cracks in our perfect “high school sweetheart” armor.
Neither one of us would admit it. We tried to force long distance, balance different friend groups and lifestyles, and ignore all the shit we’d put each other through.
But we couldn’t. And that was just life.
I feel like our generation is so scared of emotional attachment due to being products of divorce, single-parents, infidelity, and numerous other relationship breakers that seem to be more prevalent in our parents generation than in any before them. We tend to care too much or too little, and there is an imbalance that leaves us thinking we either don’t need anyone, or we need the first person we fell for. We have continuously seen marriages and relationships fail, and the idea of loving one person forever isn’t a fairytale anymore, it’s a threat.
This is unhealthy, and this is a terrifying mindset. So I’ve penned some things we all (myself heavily included) need to remember about falling in love:
Having emotional attachments is not a death sentence. Humans are social creatures. Whether we admit it or not we do depend on others for survival and wellness. This includes emotional wellness. Sometimes you’ll crush on someone who doesn’t feel the same way and that doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. It just means it wasn’t right.
Do not put the people you love on pedestals. I made this mistake. I set an impossible standard of what I thought I needed and wanted, and when he didn’t meet that, I freaked out. Love is about accepting people for exactly who they are. This doesn’t mean lowering your standards, but do have realistic ones. As you grow older, what you look for in people will change, and that’s okay. But it is wiser and better (for both of you) to move on rather than try to force your changes onto someone else’s personality.
You are only hurting yourself with the hookup culture. We’re young. It happens. You drink too much, or you want some sort of affection, or you think it’ll get them to like you. But at the end of the night, what? You’ve had meaningless sex. And although you may wake up next to someone, you’re still alone. Stop settling for sex, and start holding out for something else.
If he’s a dick to you/If she’s a bitch to you, it’s not right. I strongly, strongly believe that even the douchiest of douches will be a sweetheart for the right girl, and the wildest of untamed women will settle down and stop playing games for the right boy. If you find yourself constantly trying to tame them and keep them focused on you, it’s not right. Let them go.
You cannot force someone to love you. This is so important. Even if you’ve had history in the past. Even if you’re cute together. Even if you’re friends. Even if you’re there for them 24/7, and you have fun together, and you connect. Even if sometimes it seems like they might love you back. There is no amount of affection and adoration you can give someone to make them love you. Period.
You cannot force yourself to love someone. Sometimes you know someone would be really good for you. You know they’d treat you well, and never hurt you, and they just get you. But if it’s not there, it’s not there. Do not force yourself to date them or spend time with them in hopes that one day you’ll just magically wake up in love. That will only hurt both of you.
Let go of your past, and your parents’ past, too. Staying hung up on an ex only makes you miss out on new and amazing people that could change your life. Fearing love and relationships because your parents had a shitty marriage or you’ve seen love fail only ensures that you will fail too. We’ve learned that if we touch a hot stove, it burns, so we never touch a hot stove again. This is an adequate rule for stoves, but a shitty one for relationships. Refusing to love because you got hurt once or twice only ensures that you end up alone. Take a damn chance.
More than one person can love you. I promise. Stop focusing on who you lost, and focus on who you have. I know friends and family aren’t the same as a significant other, but they love you. They’re there for you. They also get you. So focus on that. Focus on friends and family, because then you’ll be happy. And your happiness will be what causes someone else to notice you and fall for you.
There is no such thing as “the one.” There is no emotional cap on the human heart. There is no law saying that there is only one person out there for you, and if you lose them or never find them it’s hopeless. You are more than capable of loving someone else. Multiple someone else’s. The only one limiting that is you. So stop.
Love yourself. Your body responds to your thoughts. This is scientifically proven. If you think positive, and think you’re the shit, even if you don’t believe it at first, you will eventually start too. The mind is an amazing tool. It can heal itself. If you focus on loving yourself, you will never be discontent. People can come and go, and you will be strong enough in your self-worth to say, “thank your for the experience,” and move on.
This is a bit ranty, and if you actually read all of it, I’m impressed. Moral of the story: don’t trip on the past. What’s meant to be, will be. And life will surprise you. It will give you everything you need. Just make sure you don’t miss it by looking backwards.
I was sitting in the forum at Christian camp surrounded by a couple hundred other people in my age group: high schoolers. We were listening to our speaker, whose name escapes me now, because what happened in the next few moments was more memorable than anything else that happened that week.
He was talking about God as our ideal father. God was a father who would never abandon you, hurt you, leave you, or betray you. And then he paused. Tears welled in his eyes and he looked at us all and, voice hitching with tears, said to us, “and to those who have a father who has not done his job, and who has abandoned you….I am so sorry.”
I do my best not to be a sobbing mess in public. But those words coming from someone who knew my pain without knowing anything about me, or even who I was in a crowd, struck me. And I cried. But that isn’t what was memorable. What floored me was that I was not the only one. Upwards of twenty people simply lost it. Tears, screaming, complete breakdowns, and I realized it wasn’t just me.
My father died when I was twelve. That’s simple information. It’s a matter of public record, and that isn’t what this article is about. This is not a sob story. But I had never noticed, until that moment, how much the absence of a father had affected me, and how much it affected others who experienced that absence as well.
It’s a running pun. You think daddy issues and you think strippers. Girls run around calling guys “daddy” as a joke, or seriously (God forbid), without realizing that to some of us that is such a foreign word because we never got to say it or we stopped saying it at a young age because, well, there was no daddy.
But I never realized how insanely detrimental and life-changing this absence would be. When it happened, I missed one day of school, and never looked back. I had learned from a young age that the world doesn’t stop just because you’re hurting. But I’ve learned daddy issues are some serious sh*t. And here’s why:
A father teaches a woman how to interact with a man. An article by Huffington Post says, and I quote, “the role of a father is to teach his daughter how to be in a nonsexual, intimate relationship with a man.” What happens when this teaching is absent is a settling. Girls become so ready to fill that void left by their father that they’ll fill it with anything they can.
A father teaches a woman that sex is not love. In early adolescence, hormones ablaze, is the worst time to lose a father because this is when you are truly learning the difference between lust and love, and a father acts a guideline for that. He is the ultimate: a man you adore, depend on, and worship but are not sexually attracted to or physically intimate with. Without this, the two get muddled together, and what happens is either a dependent attitude toward sex, or a completely cavalier one. Psychology Professor, Ned Schultz Ph.D, explains “Girls who miss some of this contact are sometimes found to have difficulties with romance and sexual behavior in adolescence and early adulthood. They may enter intimacy a little too quickly.”
A father teaches a woman how to love fearlessly. Because a father is never supposed to hurt you or leave you, when he does, he instills that fear of abandonment in all relationships with men because the one man who wasn’t ever supposed to hurt you, did. Professor Schultz continues, “[The daughters] sometimes show “counter-phobic” behavior: while anxious about relationships, they move into them eagerly, as if that will decrease their anxiety. They may have some difficulty establishing boundaries or taking their time with intimate relationships. Some show ambivalence — a “hot/cold” or roller-coaster approach to intimacy where one feels simultaneous strong positive and negative feelings about a relationship.
This makes love for a daddyless daughter look hopeless. Because who would love someone who doesn’t know how to interact with men, or thinks of sex so cavalierly, or is terrified of love? Aha, but someone has, and someone will.
An interview with Joseph Roias, love-interest of a ‘daddyless daughter’ explains the difficulties of dating such a person (WHO EVER COULD IT BE?):
Me: Was it obvious in your relationship that a father was missing from your girlfriend’s life?
Not at first. For the first little stretch of our relationship, I couldn’t tell, but as you get to know someone over time, it’s the little things that can trigger something in her head…whether it’s a memory or particular surrounding. It led to some tears, but I’d say it was most apparent at prom. Women without fathers don’t break down often, but when they do, it’s a lot all at once.
Me: What behaviors and tendencies, if any, did your girlfriend exhibit that you think were a result of this absence?
The only behavior I noticed early on was this lack of patience for those who depended heavily on others. The fuse was short with this one, and sometimes explosions of brutal truth would surface. She’s an independent woman, yet I found out later that she depends on loved ones just as much as the rest of us…even if she doesn’t show that side to the public.
Me: Was it more difficult to date/be intimate with a girl who had “absent father syndrome” than it was to date/be intimate with girls who did not?
I found it to be just as hard to be intimate with a woman with a father than without. It’s nerve racking for me no matter what, but women without fathers have a lot more walls and defense mechanisms to withdraw themselves from intimacy and passionate emotions. If you put in the work to gain their trust, and trust me it takes time, it’s worth it.
So we aren’t the easiest people to love, okay. But it’s possible. But when the subject of daddy issues comes about, one group always seems to get ignored: the future fathers. Yes, boys can have daddy issues, too. But they handle them differently than women.
With men, it is less about promiscuity and more about anger. However, the absence of trust is still the same. On Oprah’s show Lifeclass, they did a segment on Fatherless Sons. The commentator, Iyanla Vanzant said, “many men get stuck in the anger rather than acknowledge the hurt, because that makes them vulnerable again.” It is not worse for one gender or the other, because while a father might teach a woman to love a man, a father teaches a son how to be a man. This is especially true when the father has died, instead of just being absent such as in a divorce.
In a PsychCentral article outlining her study done Dr. Mary Shenk or the University of Missouri said, “Certain negative effects of a father’s death can’t be compensated for by the mother or other relatives.” Her study also found that a father’s death is most likely to affect a child’s successfulness if it occurs between ages 11-15.
Carmelo Castro-Netsky relates how having an absent father has affected his relationships. His parents divorced when he was young, and his dad returned to Chile while he and his mother, Debra, moved to Miami. Castro-Netsky states, “I’m still not sure how the absence of my father has affected my relationships with others. I like to think that it hasn’t negatively affected me, [but] the “unquestionable” sentiment of ‘respecting one’s elders’ has been tarnished, and I am more inclined to ‘talk back’ and speak my mind when I feel I am being mistreated or held to an unfair expectation. I believe I have become more guarded, and am less inclined to be open with everyone.”
So what does one take away from this?
For the daddyless daughters and sons out there: we are not impossible to love. Although this absence may shape us, it does not have to define us. And while this absence may explain some of our…less than desirable actions, it does not justify or excuse them. You can either choose to let this create you or destroy you, but it does affect you, and accepting that and acknowledging it is key.
For the rest of you: Hug your dad. Be grateful he’s there, because he won’t always be. And while I love a good daddy-issues-stripper joke as much as the next person (my sense of humor is twisted), just be aware that the punchline of your joke (or your sh*t talking, she sub-blogs once again) is someone’s very real life. Just because you haven’t experienced it doesn’t make it any less real to those of us who have.