I recently — like, very recently — told a girl I had feelings for her. I don’t know her in person, so I sent her a message. A message I rewrote and edited and obsessed over like it was another one of my articles. My hands were shaking, my leg was bouncing (but then again, my leg is always bouncing), and before I could chicken out, I sent it.
Here’s the thing — I was already expecting rejection because she’s straight. I know what you’re thinking. “What the hell were you doing crushing on a straight girl? ”
One, she’s great. Two, humans can’t control their emotions. It’s not like I chose to have these feelings. I just woke up one day and realized she was the first thing on my mind every friggin’ morning.
I told her how I felt, and she, of course, told me she didn’t feel the same way. (Kindly, might I add. Didn’t I say she was great?)
I wasn’t expecting my heart to break the way it did. A friend of mine recently told me that I have a tendency to belittle and invalidate my feelings, so I’ll be honest: it hurt. Even though I expected it, there was that tiny bit of hope, and so when that hope dimmed, all I could do was lay in bed and do nothing. (It was all very dramatic… and there I go belittling my feelings again.)
What Does Rejection Mean For You?
No one’s ever rejected me before. And before you think that statement sounds conceited, I mean that I’ve never been rejected because I’ve never opened up to someone in that way. I don’t know what typically happens when someone doesn’t return your feelings, but I started thinking I wasn’t good enough.
Like, maybe if I was funnier or prettier or different, she would’ve felt the same way. It weighed on me for a few hours and it made me hurt even more.
None of that is true, of course. I could be the hottest, funniest woman alive and she still wouldn’t return my feelings because she’s straight. Yes, sexuality is a spectrum, but just as I have no interest in dating a man, she won’t date a woman. (And if in twenty years she realizes she’s actually in love with another woman, it still won’t mean that I wasn’t good enough.)
This article has been a journey, but I haven’t even gotten to the point I want to make yet: I thought because she didn’t share romantic feelings for me that I wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t matter to her as much as, say, a boy she likes.
But the thing about this girl is she taught me about the underrated significance of friendship and family, and I’ve learned that a romantic partner doesn’t take number one on the podium. Everyone you love is squished on top.
There’s More to Life Than One Romantic Partner
Society has put a huge emphasis on romantic relationships. Some people still believe they can’t live happily ever after unless they find The One — something we see in a lot of romance films.
We’ve become blind to the relationships that already exist. Our other soulmates. Romantic relationships are obviously important, but there are people in between who matter just as much.
This girl, for example, still cares about me. A lot. And I’m not just assuming — she told me.
It sounds obvious talking about it now. I would never say that my romantic partner mattered more than my friends — my five best friends that I’ve known since we were teenagers — because it’s just not true. It’s a love story. We’re a love story.
We met, we connected, we stuck around, we’ll continue to stick around through the ups and downs, and even if, in the end, we’re not together, we’ll still be together. Because I’ve fallen in love with their bad imitations of southern accents, and the way they dance in grocery store aisles, and loud (really loud) talking, and dirty jokes, even their insults. I’ve fallen in love with their open minds and willingness to grow and their kindness and bluntness and selflessness. It’s a never-ending Falling In Love Montage.
To say they’re anything less than my soulmates would be like calling the person you married nothing more than a friend.
This girl is still my soulmate. Maybe not in the way that I’d initially wanted, but really, our love story has just begun. We’ll be friends until we’re old and wrinkly even if we never end up meeting in real life.
What Makes a Good Love Story?
When you develop feelings for a friend, and they reject you, they’re not telling you you don’t matter. You’ll still mean the world to them (if they’re a good friend, that is). You won’t take second place in the relationship-contest. That’s just not how humans function. We need all of these relationships — familial, romantic, and friendships — to thrive and be happy.
Just as I know you can’t pick your favorite food or dessert, you can’t pick your ultimate favorite human. Because there’s not just one. An order of importance doesn’t exist.
What makes a good love story? We all want the one we see in the movies. The one where our hearts flutter when we make eye contact with“ The One.” When we hold their hand and share a kiss for the first time.
But if you’ve never paid attention to the warmth in your chest, to the smile on your face, to the feeling of content and fulfillment when you’re having dinner with your friends or singing karaoke with your siblings, then you’re missing out. There’s so much love you’re letting bounce off of you as if it were rain and you were leather jacket. All because you’re waiting for that one special person.
I’ve no doubt that the day you meet that person will be one you never forget, but that shouldn’t mean you have to wait for them. What about all the people in-between? Do they not matter as much?
A love story is so much bigger than just one person.