Women Who Date Men Who Don’t Treat Them Well: No Self-Worth Or Fatally Optimistic?
I used to think women who date men who don’t treat them well don’t have enough self-worth.
I used to think these women don’t believe they deserve better, that they’re settling out of fear of being alone, of not being good enough. But maybe, all these years, I’ve been wrong.
I watch the guy exit through my complex’s metal gate, shuffling across the street in his black hipster jeans and stretched-out white T-shirt, his unzipped backpack hanging off one shoulder, casually lighting up a cigarette as he cooly strolls to his car. I’ve seen him a dozen times over the past six months; I’ve even accidentally heard him and my neighbor having sex, something I awkwardly tried to pretend I didn’t as I tiptoed away from her door. They’ll lounge at the pool on a Sunday, chain smoking, sunbathing, listening to hip hop and electronic music. His body relatively pale for a San-Diegan.
I ran into her this summer at sunset, crying on the sand-covered stairwell leading to the beach; I assume crying over him. He works at a bar she frequents, their lives a bit intermixed, somewhat on her own accord because she chooses to go back there, every weekend.
“He doesn’t believe in monogamy,” she declared while laying by the pool, the September sun hot and vibrant. I listened intently. “I found out he’s been sleeping with other girls.” I could feel her hurt, her disapproval, her why-am-I-not-good-enough moment. I shared a couple stories of men I’ve dated over the years who pulled stuff like that and told her it’s not worth her time. You know, the common, logical advice you give someone. And at the same moment, you don’t value yourself enough crossed my mind.
But watching him leave the complex tonight through my window, I have a realization: Women who date men who don’t treat them well don’t necessarily believe they aren’t worthy if they stick around and entertain unfulfilling relationships with men who prove over and over they don’t want or aren’t capable of what these women want. These women could just be fatally optimistic.
This women is waiting for the guy to come around and change, the guy who says he isn’t interested, who doesn’t want to be exclusive, who is sketchy and often disloyal.
I’ve been there before: Oh, he’ll soon realize how great I am. He’ll come around. He’s going to change. I wholeheartedly believe I deserve the best. But I have found myself in situations being one of those women who date men who don’t treat them well, liking a guy so much that I accepted less than I should’ve. This didn’t mean I didn’t value myself; it was simply that I was giving someone the opportunity to change when he didn’t deserve my heart.
You wait, you adjust, you quiet your needs. And it really is all because you optimistically believe the good in someone. Yes, of course, some women may not believe they deserve better. (Those are wounds worth healing by the way!) But that isn’t always what’s happening.
How often has a friend or family member disappointed you and yet the next time you reach out or interact you’re certain she/he will not act that way again? That happens to me all the time. The friend who flakes on plans and yet you text her the next weekend and the weekend after that. We want to believe the good in people. That people want to connect more and love more deeply.
When they don’t step up and show us they care, it often has nothing to do with us; it’s their own limitations. And we keep believing that they won’t be that way anymore.
Watching this guy walking across the street, I feel a sense of empathy for my neighbor. I wish she would see this guy for who he is, and believe when he says he doesn’t want what she wants. I wish she would stop waiting around, inviting him into her bed, and continuing this cycle of rejection, based solely on the hope that he’ll change. They almost never do.
Yes, he may come around in a couple months, in a year, in five years, but why waste time? Why not just see it for what it is: a different desire and lifestyle. Go be optimistic with someone who deserves it.
I want to add a caveat that there is nothing wrong with polygamy. As long as you’re mutually into it, go for it. The problem arises when one person wants monogamy and the other doesn’t or vice versa. That leaves both people dissatisfied. Hence why my neighbor feels as she does.