What You Learn From Dating People Who Are Bad For You


Two of my dearest friends and I played a game last night. The game was to come up with a profile for the “type” of guy each of our good friends is attracted to– using exactly five words. The first few were funny. Five words is restrictive. It’s silly. Choosing “southern” as one of them is hysterical. It was a joke.

But it was real.

These were the 10 words chosen for “my type”:

Tortured, intelligent, drug problem, difficult. Fucked up with good intentions.

It was a joke, but it was real.

Those are the people I run to, and eventually the people I run from. Those are the people who have given me some of the highest highs of my life, and consequentially the lowest lows. Those are the people who shine a light so bright that you forget how to see when you become part of the shadow. Those are the people who taught me how to love, and how to hate and how love and hate are almost the same thing.

It hurts to love someone who can’t love you the way you deserve. It hurts more to love someone who can’t love themselves. It hurts even more to realize you lost yourself trying to love someone who can’t love you or themselves, not really.

But you go back for more. You always go back for more. They tell you all the things they think will save you: I don’t deserve you. You can do so much better than me. I’m not capable, not ready, not willing, not able.

They don’t know that the only thing that will save you is them.

So you stay and you hurt and you leave and you hurt and you love them so much that it makes you hate them, and somehow hating them only makes you love them more.

You can’t understand how someone so beautiful can let themselves be so ugly, but you stay and you learn and you feel and eventually you hate yourself, too.

How do you climb out of the shadow? My first answer is, you can’t. Not completely. Not really. My second answer is, remember who you were without them. If you search and you search and you search I bet you will find someone- someone you liked a lot- someone who didn’t know this kind of love and didn’t know this kind of pain.

Try to keep the lessons without the grief. Try to let them go to let yourself back in. Try to love all the little pieces of you, the good and the bad. Love yourself the way you love them, and recognize that you are worth it, even if they aren’t.

You’ll love them forever. You’ll love them for always. You have a new shadow, now, and it will come with you. My best advice, though? Try to keep some of their bright, bright light, too.