This Is Why I'm Afraid To Date Guys Who Treat Me Well

by Sheena Sharma

I was texting with my musician friend the other day. OK, he's slightly more than a friend; we've made out a couple of times before because we've always had chemistry. I decided to reach out to him because I've been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis and our conversation ended up taking a heavy turn.

"You know how I've always felt about you," he texted to me.

I admitted to him I've always had feelings for him, too. But I never gave him a chance even though I probably should have and now, he's with someone else.

I've spent my whole life pushing away guys that were into me and treated me well. Guys who liked me for, well, me. Guys who texted me first. Guys who didn't just want to bang me because I looked like I'd be a good lay just so they could tell all their friends, "I got with Sheena, man!"

How have I spent my energy? I've put it to less-than-good use, investing it in guys who weren't at all emotionally invested in me. And the joke was always on me because guys like that are unavailable from the start -- you know, the alcoholics, the sociopaths, the guys who are so into themselves they didn't have room for anyone else in their lives.

I've always wondered why I couldn't just be in a normal, healthy relationship (was it me or was it the clowns I chose?) Sure, I have daddy issues, but it's more than that. For me, I think it's also always been about timing. Guys like my musician friend swooped into my life at the wrong time, a time when I was immature and unsure of myself and desired nothing more than to sleep with every hot guy I could because I've spent years trying to build any semblance of self-confidence. Yeah, bad timing's a bitch.

Half of me doesn't understand why I push good, funny guys away. I have fun with the good, funny guy who treats me well. But the difference between that guy and the funny guy who treats me like shit is that having fun with the guy who treats me well could very well turn into something more serious, because a guy who treats you well is a guy who may last forever.

When you fall in love with a bad guy who pushes you around, you kind of know deep down it isn't going to last. No, you don't wish for it to end, but you always know better. And I've always been a little comforted by the impermanence of the half-assed love with the self-important asshole, because I know he's never going to be the last man I ever date. And when we're with the last man we date, life is over for us single women, right?

Or is it? I mean, why do we put everlasting love on a pedestal, treat as if it's the ultimate goal of life, the moment we stop growing into the person we've always dreamt of being? I don't think romance necessarily has to be the end of living, but society seems to think it has to be.

We get together, buy a house and live boringly-ever-after. So I don't want the good guy, because I don't want a damn house just yet. I've never been in requited love before -- so I wouldn't know -- but is it true that we stop finding ourselves once we're in love? Because if it is, then I don't want to stop finding myself.

But it's funny. I'm shattered when men cite "bad timing" as the reason for not wanting to be with me. Amongst the slew of reasons I've heard from men who have rejected me are the following:

My year-long bang buddy: "I'm not ready. I'm almost ready, but I'm just not yet."

My narcissistic ex: "I don't know who you are to me in life."

“If I had just met you later in life, we'd be perfect for each other.” (OK, fine, I once used that line on a guy who was otherwise perfect for me).

But those men, as I said before, were unavailable from the start. And I think the only reason I was trying to make them mine wasn't because I so badly want to be in love with them, but because I so badly wanted to turn a non-believer into a believer; a non-relationship guy into a relationship guy. To have succeeded in doing that would have made me feel like an accomplished woman.

The guy who doesn't treat me well doesn't want something serious with me. He usually also has one quality that makes him remarkably different from me; a sexy accent, a foreign culture, a career in something other than writing, but equally as creative as writing (or maybe no career at all). Hell, the very fact that he's bad is what makes him different from me, because I'm a pretty good girl. And we're always attracted to those who are different from us, aren't we? I am, anyway.

I don't want the good guy, because I don't want a damn house just yet.

Men who treat me like shit are so enveloped in themselves, which makes them bad relationship partners, but incredible people to learn from because they only leave time in their lives for themselves. From my Irish bang buddy, I learned how to cook a proper Irish breakfast. From my workaholic Croatian boyfriend, I learned how to maintain a strong work ethic. From my douchebag personal trainer ex, I learned that taking care of yourself is incredibly important.

Friends have told me if you want a guy to treat you well, you have to make the conscious decision to want to be treated well and magic won't intervene and suddenly break your habits for you. And if that's true, I suppose I don't want to break my habit of dating men who don't treat me well yet, if it means curtailing personal growth.

But I'm torn. I hope that I don't wake up one day to see all the good guys in the world already settled down with wives and children. I hope there are still some out there for women like me, who were just late bloomers because they didn't know who they were; the women who had a mile-long list of countries they wanted to visit and feats they wanted to accomplish, all solo. I want to journey into womanhood without a man on my arm.

And I'm not ready for my journey to end. The journey is the best part.