On a recent evening, I got a text from a man I’d gone out with twice, both times over a year ago. I get occasional texts and updates from him every few weeks, and they’re usually ignored; something about him had made me slightly uneasy, although I could never put my finger on what.
But this particular night, I was feeling particularly lonely and unlovable, and I responded. I knew as we talked on the phone later that night that I was making a massive mistake. I was seeking something he couldn’t offer me. I was using him as a “scratching post,” as the Elizabeth Gilbert quote that struck me a few weeks ago said. But when he told me he’d never stopped thinking about me, that I was the most desirable woman he’d ever known, that I was “so goddamn alluring” …. well, I ate that shit up with a spoon. “Gee, I must really be special and amazing and lovable after all! This dude who barely knows me thinks so!”
Later in the conversation, the uneasiness grew into dawning horror as he told me he loved me and thought I should have his baby. Let me remind you, we had gone on two dates. Both well over a year ago.
I told him I’d made a mistake in calling him, that I’d been wrong to use him to make myself feel better, but that he didn’t love me, he didn’t even know me, and not only was I not in a position to date anyone at the moment, but I particularly didn’t see a future with him.
The next day, he texted. I replied that I’d told him the night before that I needed a break from guys and my relentless search for ego pats. He said, “I respect that, but I want to help you.” That was where I did a headdesk, then blocked his number.
I was embarrassed to tell my friend Anna about the conversation. She is the friend who will unfailingly call me out on bullshit, which was why I knew I needed to. That, and we’re texting co-dependent; very little goes on that we don’t tell the other. She said, “I wish you would realize these men are nothing. They’re no better than you and don’t give you anything. The sooner you realize you don’t owe them shit, the sooner you’ll be able to find a man who doesn’t suck.”
And it hit me that here I was seeking validation from a man I wouldn’t even go out on a third date with, as if his opinion meant a damn thing. I was so desperate for someone to confirm that I was lovable, I was seeking it from a guy who I not only didn’t care about but who made me actively uncomfortable.
I decided I needed some sort of affirmation or mantra for times when I was tempted to seek affirmation or validation from a guy, simply because he was, well, a guy. The one I came up with was: “I am valuable no matter what this man or any other man’s opinion of me may be.”