It Felt So Right

He sat alone on the other side of the room. The new guy in my senior class. Mysterious but definitely worth another glance. Our eyes made contact and the emotions I immediately felt astonished me. I blinked and looked away. He did, too. I know because I glanced at him again. And he caught me doing it. So I gathered the girls sitting next to me and told them we ought to be nice and go say hi. Safety in numbers.

He began to hang out with my crowd and was accepted. But soon, it would be just the two of us walking along or in conversation in the corner of the room. We became more physical in expressing our feelings. I felt truly pretty for the first time in my life. Sunshine covered my world.

At first he treated me really well. All my friends commented on how amazing we were together. He was really into me and wanted to do the things I liked. He bought me small gifts and his well-timed kisses melted my heart. Sure, he talked me into doing things I normally wouldn’t do, but I wanted to please him. Being with him made me feel great. Everyone knew we were an item. We were rarely not with the other, as if glued at the hip.

Then came the dreaded request — "I need space.”

Then things changed. At first I didn’t really notice. Or I should say I chose to ignore the signs. The times he showed up an hour late and then spent the rest of the evening apologizing. The red rims under his eyelids he said were because work and school were getting to him. The times he seemed to be elsewhere and I’d have to draw his attention back to me. Then came the dreaded request — “I need space.”

I gave it to him. I figured it was temporary. We all go through stress, and though I wanted to be there for him, he said he wanted to be alone. I tried to not let that get to me. It did. Midnights would find me hugging my pillow in tears, not knowing how to talk with him about this change in his feelings for me.

He wasn’t around as much. I watched as he slipped out of my life, gradually at first. Then like a skateboard picking up momentum on the downhill, he zipped away, leaving me devastated. Confused. Rejected. In anguish. What had I done?

Friends began to tell me they had seen him with another girl. I know they meant well in telling me, but I really didn’t want to know. Two months later he appeared outside of one of my favorite hangouts and asked if we could talk. I almost didn’t recognize him. His skin was greyish and his eyes hollow. He told me we got too close and it scared him, but he realized being without me was worse. I took him back, and things were the way they had been when we first met. For a while. Then the old pattern began to surface. This time, I was the one who walked. A famous statesman once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Three months later he appeared at my door. He finally confessed. He was into drugs and all along I had been the other girl. He thought because I was wholesome and good I could save him. But her pull and the drugs were too strong. Now she was pregnant. Even though he didn’t love her, they were going to try to make a go of it and enter rehab together, for the sake of the baby. Part of me admired him for his honesty and courage, but most of me wanted to claw out his eyes.

The wrong guy taught me a lot of the right things. Emotions cannot be the foundation for a relationship. Neither can sex. You have to take it slow and learn about each other before you make any commitment to become exclusive. See how they interact with their family and yours. And ask your true and close friends for their honest instincts about him.

You can’t change anyone. They can’t change you.

Don’t hide your true self thinking the person you want to attract would be turned off by it, and try not to always do things or say things just to please the other one. That is being fake. If they don’t like you for who you are, it won’t work. If they can’t see around your hangups and quirks, then they don’t truly care.

You can’t change anyone. They can’t change you. You can’t try to be a different person than who you are just because your heart is drawn to someone. If there is something you want to change about yourself, you have to do it for you. It’s unfair to put that pressure on someone else. Besides, it rarely turns out the way you expect.

If you don’t feel good about yourself, you need to deal with it — not depend on someone to make you feel better. It’s not fair to him or you, and most likely he is not going to like you for the real you when it surfaces, and it will. He may just see you as an easy target or a game to boost his ego. The result? Someone, probably both of you, will end up hurt.

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