Lesson 19: Relationships are a Two-Way Deal

I don’t know about anyone else, but I for sure spent too long in my teens and early twenties chasing after people that didn’t give me the same effort back.

That sounds like a pretty sad thing to say, but my metaphorical demons are coming out of the closet now that I’m on the second-to-last lesson of this series and I’m running out of jokes to make.

This has been on my mind this week because I decided to take some time out of “real-life” to focus on finishing a story that had been particularly consuming me before the year is out.

I think I have, over the past eight years of my twenties (yes, I had my birthday recently, where I became slightly more qualified to talk about “lessons from my twenties” and continued to creep dauntingly close to my thirties), begun to surround myself with better people. People that enrich my life, match my energy and my values, and truly care about me as much as I care about them.

This became apparent to me last week because, whilst on my life-hiatus, I was surprised by the number of people who popped into my apartment to see me. I think it was especially thoughtful and nice for three reasons.

  • They went out of their way to make plans with me in a moment when I was reaching out to nobody; all of these people sought me out, because they wanted to spend time with me, which I think is bloody lovely. People brought cake, coffee, you name it.
  • They came over to my place. This obviously means that they made an extra effort to see me, but I also think it shows an extra respect for my time, knowing that an hour there and back on the metro is an hour I could have spent writing.
  • They didn’t overstay their welcome (or if they did stay, they just kept me company whilst I carried on writing). When I tell you that I was a writing machine, I’m not exaggerating. I couldn’t stop. It was like an itch that was slowly getting scratched. I was bouncing home from dance class (the one thing I always keep up, whether I’m busy, overwhelmed or just taking a break from everything else) excited for all of the hours of writing I was going to squeeze into my day before I fell asleep, exhausted.

For a few months towards the end of this year, I started dating a friend. (And I mean that in the real way, not the way I talked about in Lesson 7!) For the first time in a while, I felt like I was dating someone that really respected my time. They went out of their way to see me, instead of waiting for me to reach out. They invited me out with their friends. Most importantly, they gave me space when I needed to keep writing. 

Most of my other romantic encounters over the last 12 months have not struck this balance very well, so it was a very welcome experience to round out the year. 

If there was one piece I could give my younger self about romantic relationships, it would be this.

Don’t chase after someone. There is no point. Even if you finally manage to get them, they won’t stick around for long. The likelihood is that (you being your wonderful self), were able to entice them back with something new or interesting. But once that thing goes away, they won’t magically start appreciating who you are. Some people just aren’t willing.

Be with someone that chooses you as confidently as you are choosing them, and don’t settle for any less. There will always be people in the world that want to choose you, and you’ll often miss them if you’re too busy chasing after people that don’t really want you.

Yes, this is true of all relationships, friendships, and in some sad circumstances you can apply it to your family, too. You deserve to be chosen and chased after, too. You don’t need to go out of your way for friends that wouldn’t do the same to you.

The unfortunate truth is that there is usually something underlying a person’s desire to chase another person. If you’ve come across this article because you’re finding yourself in this situation a lot (just like was a few years ago), it might be time to start exploring why you feel that way.

Okay, if it happens once, maybe it was just a really cool person. But if it’s a pattern, it’s time to stop chasing.

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