As I start writing this post, I'm definitely feeling a little Carrie Bradshaw when she has writers block, thinks her editor is going to fire her, and attempts to write an article comparing men to socks. But while she didn't know where she was going with comparing an argyle sock to a certain type of man, I know exactly where I'm going with comparing a man to a piece of vintage furniture.
I'm a natural fixer-upper. I look at an old piece of furniture in the thrift store and I don't see the worn wood, ripped upholstery, missing drawer pull, or knicks and scratches. I see what the piece could be... given a little t.l.c, sanding, spray painting, decoupaging, and stenciling. A devoted diy'er, I see hidden potential all around me. I'm quick to excuse flaws and faults in the name of love. And that's all fine and dandy.
Problem is: I can be the same way with guys. But this philosophy cannot be applied to men. It's something I've seen my friends and myself struggle with. You cannot change a guy. Whatever his issues, flaws, faults, cracks, knicks and scratches... you can't makeover a person like you can a thrift store chair. And yet we just can't get it through our heads.
Myself, and girls I've known, have stayed in relationships waaaay longer than we should in the name of love. Girls stay with those guys. Guys that cheat or flirt with idea of cheating through sending texts and messages back and forth with other girls about cuddling, kissing, or worse. Guys that can't make time in their busy, demanding social life for a girlfriend... unless it's the middle of a weekend night and they need a place to crash after a party. Guys that put the girl down with hurtful words about her friends, her lifestyle, her body.
Why do we stay with them? I've heard it time and time again. I've heard the words come from my own lips. Even in a relationship that resembles nothing close to happiness, that makes us feel miserable with him or without him, and that makes us feel so utterly lonely... we are unhappy "but love him!" Maybe it's the hopeless romantic ideals instilled in us from Disney princess movies and sappy chick flicks, but we believe love is all you need. And love is amazing! Love can be strong and conquer and hold things together through the worst of times. But in these types of relationships, love is not the excuse to stay and put up with the behavior you frankly just don't deserve. And in these types of relationships, what you're feeling is really true, good, always-there-for-you, unwavering love.
It's not love. It's probably fear. Fear of being single and alone, even though you often feel like you don't even have a boyfriend. Fear of not having him in your life, even though he is scarcely around anyway. Fear of not finding someone else that makes you feel like he does, even though you're tired of being made to feel inferior and unworthy. Fear of giving up and failing at something you've poured your heart and soul into, even though you're running out of heart and soul to give. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the Facebook comments asking how you're doing and sad faces on your "in a relationship to single" update. The questions from friends and family members who ask what went wrong when they don't really know the monster you dealt with on a daily basis because you pushed through with a smile and emphasized his good qualities.
Let go of the fear, ladies. I'm hear to tell you that once you get through the initial breakup and heartache, the unknown is not so very bad. A huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders. He'll no longer be your problem, your burden to worry about and wonder if he's cheating on you, lying to you, and keeping secrets from you. You can regain your sense of pride, healthy body image, and confidence without his insults and hurtful remarks. You can pour that beautiful heart and soul into your own life. You can reconnect with the friends and family members with utter brutal honesty about how he didn't treat you right. And they'll be there for you. And you may find that being single is a lot less lonely than being in such a painful relationship that you held together for the sake of "love."
It doesn't mean you didn't love him. It doesn't mean what you had wasn't real. Or that he wasn't a great guy to begin with. But people change. And when they change into someone that doesn't give you what you need or deserve, there comes a time to let go. That's the time we often stick around with love as an excuse. Believing that love will conquer all. And in fairy tales and romance novels, it does. But this is real life. Precious life that is constantly slipping away. Don't waste your time trying to change someone when you can lead a fulfilling life on your own until someone worthy does come along. And he will.
Don't stay in a bad relationship out of love for him. Break free of it out of love for yourself. Choose to leave out of love for yourself, respect for yourself, and hope for yourself that there's someone else out there who will treat you better, love you truly, and build you up rather than tear you down.
And in the meantime, buy and makeover as many pieces of vintage furniture as you want. Because unlike a bad boyfriend, you can change a dingy old chair into a lovely one. And it won't disappoint you, cheat on you, lie to you, walk out on you, or tear down your healthy body image. It'll just sit pretty. And you'll both live happily ever after.
Just to reiterate: You can change the chair, not the guy. ;)