My single friend proclaimed this through her tears the other day. She was reeling from the frustration and grief of waiting, broken-hearted, for days, when her on-again-off-again lover didn’t respond to her text message.
She laughed self-consciously, apologetic that she would have to remind herself of such a simple requirement for a partner.
This wasn’t the first time he had stalled out in their relationship. She had heard the same excuses before: he was busy, swamped at work, things came up.
But today, she realized that she was worth more than an afterthought. She wasn’t going to be an obligation that gets pushed to the side while more important items are checked off his to-do list.
No longer was she willing to compromise herself. So she wrote in red lipstick on her bathroom mirror:
I deserve a man who wants to text me back.
Some of you might read this seemingly ‘basic’ affirmation and think, Duh! of course she should expect that!
Sure, it’s easy to sit in a place of confidence, either in a healthy relationship or in a strong sense of independent self, and pass judgement on this baseline requirement for love. But I bet many of us have, at one time or another, found ourselves being strung along by a love interest who kept us at arm’s length and made us believe that we didn’t deserve anything different.
I know I have.
I met Chris at work – he was the track coach at the high school where I taught science. I had volunteered to chaperone an out-of-state track meet and we found myself sitting across the aisle from this charismatic guy on the athletic bus. He was attractive and funny, and blatantly flirting with me as soon as the bus left the school parking lot. I was quite flattered, immediately smitten, but trying my best to be coy.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to agree to meet him for a drink the next night.
Our relationship started out hot and heavy, but it always involved a lot of drinks on my part and a lot of weed on his part. We would meet for happy hour after work, or I would go over to his place after I closed down the bars late at night. I don’t recall him ever taking me out on an actual ‘date.’
What I do remember is all the agonizing time I spent checking my Motorola flip phone hoping for a text.
Sometimes multiple days would go by before I would get a response from him. I would feel the worry, the need, the rising panic, as it moved up from my bowels and clenching my heart. My brain would start spinning: Why didn’t he text me back? What was he doing? Who was he with?
He always had an excuse, and it was always flimsy. He would make me feel like I was being clingy or needy if I reached out to him too frequently or questioned his reticence.
He kept our relationship on his terms. I was always teetering, watching my steps, counting phone calls, tempering my words. I tried to pretend like I didn’t care if he didn’t call me back.
I knew that if I pushed too hard, he would leave for good. And I needed him to stick around (or so I believed). I told myself that I would do/be/act however he wanted me to in order to keep him around, even though it was making me miserable.
Whenever his name popped up on my phone notifications, I always jumped to attention, cancelling any other plans, all too eager to be in his presence again. Who knows what he was doing during those long periods of absence… I was always available and so I was always his backup option.
I allowed Chris to drag my emotions along this rollercoaster for over a year. When he would be too distant for too long, I filled my emptiness with other guys I would meet at bars. I didn’t respect myself enough to demand respect from someone else.
By staying in that relationship I let myself get constantly pulled into this cycle of self-deprecation: I didn’t believe I was worthy of being loved by someone, and Chris would prove me right by showing me how little I mattered.
It took years of mistakes and pain and tears for me to finally realize my true self-worth. I am very proud of my friend for honoring herself, coming to this truth, and scrawling it on her mirror in Hot Mama Red so she could read it every day.
💄When we tell a man that it’s ok for him to put everything else ahead of us, then we are telling ourselves that we are not important enough to be a number one priority.
💄When we tell a man that he doesn’t need to romance us and woo us, then we are telling ourselves that our love and attention are not a worthy investment.
💄When we tell a man that we are always available, then we are telling ourselves that our time and personal space are not precious.
You deserve to be loved by someone who finds you irresistible and leaps with excitement whenever your number comes across their phone.
You deserve a man who wants to text you back.