In life, there are things that we regret, things that we're glad we opted out of, and things we wish we could go back and do over completely — especially with regards to the people we date. My own flawed romantic history looks a little something like this: My grandmother Pat tells me that I need to kiss a few frogs before finding my prince, I waste years with people I want to fix but can't, make one of the biggest mistakes of my life by leaving someone I shouldn't have, then finally start realizing that the problem wasn't the frogs, it was me. I wasn't treating myself with respect, as a princess might — I was being a frog myself.
With the kind of insight that can only come from making lots of romantic mistakes, here are eight things I wish I had said to my exes — things that went unspoken at the time but that I have no qualms about sharing now. In short, ByeFelipe is an understatement.
1. Was it really that difficult to give me space?
It's very possible that my worst dating blunder was letting someone go when I really shouldn't have. Everything happens for a reason, blah blah fortune cookie mantras, but this situation was particularly tough because someone that I loved deeply wasn't ready to give me the space that I require as an independent person. In any healthy relationship, time apart is necessary, and in this one there was absolutely none of that. As in, spending one night apart was an issue for him. I eventually freaked out, broke up with him when the better solution would have been to work it out, and you know the drill; these things can't be taken back. But even when I consider it now, I do wish he'd have had a moment of realization that would have made him say "This is the woman I love and she's a person who needs a bit more time to herself than I do. I can respect that, and I will give her that time."
2. The screamo music I endured every time I entered your vehicle did not help our romantic odds.
This particular guy likely meant well, but relationships are about give and take. You want to listen to someone yelling bloody murder at you as though it's a melody, that's your own prerogative (and issue) but don't drag me into it. Did you know, friend, that music sets the mood? Residually, I have an involuntary affinity for Breaking Benjamin. But, you know, in retrospect I'm sure it's helped my cardio.
3. You were, like, always an asshole. Always. How did you pull that off, really? 'Cause it seems completely exhausting from a normal individual's perspective.
This goes out to a person I stayed with when I wasn't ready to be alone. It was my first year in a brand new city, I knew absolutely no one, and I found it was easier to feel grounded when I had a stable relationship, no matter the quality. If you can relate, take my cue. This is "the sign" you've been waiting for. Move on. And when he's chasing you, think of me.
4. Ain't nobody got time for that behavior.
A simple, grammatically compromised yet succinct truth; when your partner has better things to do than to spend time with you; when he fails to show you he loves you; when you spend more nights sad than happy, this is the most important mantra in your playbook.
5. Your sister is insane. I'm sorry. Please tell her to stop messaging me.
When you have to worry about fighting with your mate's family, it's a problem. You deserve to be with someone who is loyal even when times are difficult between you, supporting you with everything they have. In some cases, that support could be defined by the act of putting a physical barrier between you and one incredibly tiny ball of crazy; Yes, I had a boyfriend whose sister actually stalked me. It was not a good experience but I did learn to be more careful with my Facebook account.
6. Can we talk about your protein intake?
As you read this, imagine my expression as the straight-faced emoji and know how seriously I take this matter. Protein intake has been a hot topic for years; how much you need, how much is too much, and how much your body can actually put into muscle production. You may even have a bag of powder and a protein shaker in your cabinet as we speak. But any fitness obsession is unhealthy, and this was one symptom of his. As was a passion for reflective surfaces and grilled chicken. Help the people you love as much as you can, and if you can't, do what's in your best interest. Self-preservation isn't always selfish.
7. Get out, right now, and take your god damn stuffed bear with you.
All of the money, gifts, and vacations in the world mean nothing if the person giving them to you makes you miserable and angry 60 percent of the time. The sexist idea that women are often "gold-diggers" couldn't be further from the truth — we want a partner, not a sugar daddy. I once dated a guy who broke up with me, changed his mind less than a week later, and left three stuffed bears, flowers, and a necklace in and around my car and my property. Can we not.
8. You do realize I'm the best you're ever going to have, right?
I say this now less for myself than I do for anyone else out there who may not have come to this conclusion yet. I already know, to be frank, that I'm a catch. And I think every woman should feel that way; every man should feel that way. I've written so many times on the importance of a confidence that brightens a room. Be that person who demands more for herself.
Images: Getty (1); Giphy (8)