My mother was out for an all too short two week visit, and, as usual, I cried when we dropped her off at the airport last week to fly home. I'm never ready for her to leave. When she got home she told me all about the young woman she sat next to on the plane, and her story sounded so familiar and universal that my heart just went out to her. I was her not so long ago, and from so many of the letters I receive I know that so many of you out there are going through the same thing. If I knew who she was, this is what I would tell her.
To the young woman on the plane:
I don’t know your name or really anything about you, but my mom told me she sat next to you on her plane trip home last week. She said that you had a conversation about dating, love and relationships, and you told her you were taking a break from men. You’ve had enough of giving your heart away and getting nothing but heartbreak in return. And you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong, what you should be doing differently, and how to tell if a guy is really interested in you or if he's just in it for one thing. You just want to be in a committed relationship with a guy who wants to commit to you, too, but somehow, you’re finding this next to impossible to find.
So I have something to say to you, my young, beautiful friend with so many dreams for the future:
Don’t commit to him any more than he’s committing to you.
Don’t put him on a pedestal, ever.
Don’t go looking for someone to choose you; you do the choosing!
Don’t get taken in by his good looks and charm; you need to get to know him, the real him, before you know if he’s even someone you want to be with in the first place.
Don’t ever settle for someone who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated; you know what you deserve, even if you don’t always remember this in the heat of the moment.
I know it’s not always easy to remember these, much less stick to them when you’re so sure this guy is different from all the rest and he’s saying and doing all the right things and he's oh so charming. I had to learn these things the hard way, and so I know firsthand just how hard it is to actually stay strong enough to follow these.
But if you’re going to have a different type of relationship next time, with a different type of guy, this is what you need to do. Especially do not give him your body and soul before enough time has passed for him to prove to you that he truly is worth any part of you.
You see, my beautiful friend, it’s by your actions and by your behavior that you teach him how to treat you; you let him know what your boundaries are; you tell him what you will and will not put up with. If he doesn’t like it, if he wants more, if he pressures you or makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you, those are all sure signs that he’s not what you want. He’s no loss. This is one of those times to be glad you found out early, rather than later. Because that’s the whole reason for following these guidelines.
It will separate the men from the boys.
The players from the real guys. The ones you want to get to know better versus the ones who don’t deserve another second of your time and energy, much less your heart and soul.
Let him go, and know that if he doesn't come back he wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t the right one for you. It’s only his loss, not yours. And the best part is you’ll find this out sooner rather than later. Before that kind, tender, loving, giving heart of yours gets broken again.