Have the confidence to be yourself

When I was 18, I met my first real boyfriend, “Eddie.”

We lay around watching VHS tapes, ordering pizzas and talking about how much better we were than everybody else.

It was us against the world - until I met “Rufus.”

Rufus was a punk rock/James Dean/Rick Moranis mash-up that I found captivating. He made me laugh and he talked about music the way the characters in High Fidelity did.

I thought he was the smartest, sweetest and cutest guy I’d ever talked to.

Aside from my boyfriend, of course.

I was wracked by guilt for having this crush. I had been with Eddie for two years at this point and I didn’t understand how I could be so ambivalent.

The thing is, this was symptomatic of a bigger picture problem with Eddie.

We didn’t communicate at all.

We had a lot of fun together, but he was so opinionated I never felt like expressing my thoughts fully.

He was a few years older than me and he seemed to know something about everything. I didn’t feel I had much to contribute. Eventually I was trying so hard to be a “cool girlfriend” that I had deflated my once bubbly personality.

I got my crush on Rufus in a class where I was frequently encouraged to express myself. There were no wrong answers and I wasn’t judged for being somewhat green.

I found I was more than capable of comprehending “grown-up” concepts. I started to re-discover the fire in me that I’d extinguished to let Eddie shine.

While not everyone shares this exact experience, I do notice many of my friends buckling under the pressure to be the “cool girlfriend.”

We’ve seen ourselves depicted in a certain way on sitcoms and in buddy comedies and we find ourselves fulfilling those roles in real life.

I find it tragic and confusing that so many of us are in relationships in which we cannot be ourselves.

The point is supposed to be to find someone compatible with you who accepts everything that makes you repulsive to most other people.

I think so many of us struggle with commitment issues because we feel repressed in our relationships. We are encouraged to get someone’s attention by playing games, then we end up trapped with someone who doesn’t know who we really are.

I’ve been in relationships since Eddie in which I’ve developed crushes on someone else, but all I do is acknowledge them and move on.

Repression leads to rebellion and I’ve found that even if I may come across as a little intense at times, being honest is the only way to create something lasting.

If you’re feeling like “that girl,” maybe it’s OK to be that girl sometimes.

Say what you feel, just try not to be a psycho about it.

Have a question about relationships you’d like Melanie to address in a future column? Email it to melanie_dahling@hotmail.com with “Open Relationship” in the subject line. Visit http://melaniedahling.wordpress.com.

Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)

Related Reads