Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice!
I’ve been thinking about some guys who I cried over but never really wanted to date, and I’m wondering, did I only like the idea of them? Is that a thing?
Not only is it a thing, it’s a thing people write poetry about. (Some of those people may or may not be staff members here at Unwritten.) There are plenty of great poems to choose from, but I’ll go with this gem by Marilyn Hacker:
“Girls love a sick child or a healthy animal.
A man who’s both itches them like an incubus.”
Not a fan of poetry? Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” is basically a guy whining about feeling disrespected because his girlfriend berated him about choosing ghosts over her. Lorde released a whole album about a boy who just didn’t live up to her expectations. Heck, if you’re in a movie mood, go watch “Twilight” again. I guarantee you that Bella does not want Edward as much as she wants to be the most threatening being alive.
Womxn love potential, Wondering. In fact, womxn love potential a little too much.
The pressure to couple up has always existed, but the media’s obsession with heteronormativity and romance amplifies it. And because womxn are raised to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously as men, the brunt of the romantic work tends to fall on us. We sculpt our bodies and simultaneously sand down our wits. We put ourselves out into the dating world, then go to therapy because the experience is so traumatic. Cis guys barely have to make an effort anymore, and when basic human decency isn’t enough, they leave us to fill in the blanks, like they f*cking know we will.
Oh, he’s not calling. He must be really busy.
Oh, he doesn’t want a relationship. The last one must have been pretty bad.
Oh, he doesn’t mean to be a jerk. He’s just not in touch with his emotions enough.
The less guys give you, the easier it is for you to project your values onto them. They may be as bland as unseasoned porridge, but if you add some magical thinking… voila! Instant Prince Charmings.
In fact, you don’t even need to be in a relationship in order to gaslight yourself.
Think about how often we excuse our relatives’ horrible behaviour because they’re “from another time.” Or consider all the times we put up with asshole coworkers because they “just mean well.” Oh, and let’s not forget all the scary behaviour we ignore because he’ll “never go through with it,” and “boys just like to talk.”
My recommendation, Wondering? The next time you see a boy who you don’t think you can date, trust your gut. Find a guy who dreams with you. Find someone who tells you exactly what’s on his mind and who finds you as interesting as you find him.
These types of guys exist, trust me.
And men can do a lot better than they have done for you so far.
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