I went on a date recently. He wore black clothes, more jewelry than me, and a stunning half corset that I would have killed for. This unconventional date happened because I’ve decided that while my relationships never seem to last longer than a few weeks, I might as well make them the most interesting weeks I can with people I truly like.
I tend to consider myself a hopeless hopeful when it comes to dating. I begin a relationship knowing it won’t work out, yet I always find myself hoping that it just might. This one partnership might just slip through the cracks in my heart’s shell-like façade and show me what real, unconditional romantic love is.
People like to say things like “you can’t be loved by someone unconditionally until you love yourself unconditionally.” I call bullshit. I have loved people so broken they might never love themselves. I have cared and cried over people who believe they are so far gone from ‘pure’ they might as well be ‘toxic’. I can love those who hate themselves unconditionally. But, accepting unconditional love with its unconditional condition can be nearly impossible for those who don’t love themselves. I have always been able to give that unconditional love, but to receive it, and not fear that I might screw it up, that is almost impossible. There is always a way to lose an unconditional love in my mind.
So, I block the idea. I work hard to be the perfect idea of a girlfriend for the person I’m dating so I don’t have to deal with the idea that they might grow to love me unconditionally. With my scars and pain and ugly quirks. Because who doesn’t love a cute quirk? Who doesn’t adore a girl with a fun, laughing and odd enough personality that she seems one of a kind? Sure, I am all of those things, but I paint it all in the best light possible. I make my scars into funny anecdotes, my fears into goofy phrases my desires into inside jokes, just to make them feel special. They see me, but through my own rose-coloured glasses. I tell myself when I break up with them that they didn’t really love me for me, they loved a fake version of me. They loved the version I gave them. And it’s their fault that they couldn’t see through my professional disguise. A trick of the light, a swift movement under a table and I was real enough to not be seen. And I act like it’s their fault. And mine.
But sometimes, sometimes I let go. I go through phases of life believing I don’t need anyone. I throw myself into friendships and they seem to blossom. When I say I don’t need anyone, I mean I need everyone. I just don’t need that specific someone, but I do need, well, someone. Just with different clauses and conditions. Friendships are unique. They’re like the moon. Always there but sometimes hard to see. And as I end a relationship I find my friendships become a full moon. Aglow for me. There for me. A way for me to connect more comfortably. And while I see myself continuing this cycle longer than necessary, I know the people I have surrounded myself with will always be there when I need my full moon. Until maybe I admit to myself that a relationship wouldn’t be so terrible. Just maybe, one day, my heart of fireflies could be ready to embrace someone fully. And my full moon will fall into alignment with my summer night and all will be well. But until then, I will hope against hopelessness in all aspects of my life that one day, my body might allow for a partner to share in its beauty.