An Open Letter To The Guy Who Told Me I'm Not 'Girlfriend Material'

by Sheena Sharma

One Saturday night, two cocktails and a dark speakeasy: That’s all it took for me to fall heart-first (I also quickly lost my head).

In the six years I’ve been living in New York City, I've found love twice. And it was a shock both times. I know my numbers are unexceptional, given how impossible it is to meet someone who is worth even a second date. But when it does happen, it hits you like a bullet to the chest.

A man in a bar swept me off my feet. It wasn’t long before I told him I wanted to be his. But he had something else to say. And when he uttered it, I fell apart.

What he said broke my heart, and he will never know the true consequence of his words. But the rest of the world -- or everyone who is reading this -- will.

This is a letter to the guy I fell madly in love with. This is to the guy who told me, "You're not girlfriend material."

Dear Ryan*,

I wonder about you from time to time. I wonder if you even remember our fight: I had told you I loved you. I also said that I intended to love you for as long as we lived.

You told me that you cared about me. But that wasn't all you said. You also said I wasn't "girlfriend material."

I heard you loud and clear. These were just words to you -- ones that slipped out of your mouth and have stayed in my head since. By invalidating what I said, you jeopardized my well-being. My self-worth plummeted.

In the wake of my biggest accomplishments, you had a way of making me feel so small. I was overtaken by waves of shame, and I had to learn to breathe underwater.

Everything else in life no longer mattered. It took a backseat to your remarks. I lay awake all night -- every night -- for months. I wondered what it meant to be "girlfriend material." I wondered if men sought out one "type" of girl.

Did they want a younger version of their mother, or did they find solace in the company of a carefree and independent girl?

This wasn’t about just you and me. It was about everyone who came before me. What did all of your other "girlfriend material" girls have that I didn't?

You made it seem like being someone's girlfriend was a privilege and not a right. I didn’t want to be just anyone’s girlfriend; I wanted to be yours.

Confusion had me wrapped around the ankles and strung upside-down. Instead of believing in myself, I hung on to your every word. Not only did I believe I wasn't worthy of your love -- I believed I wasn't worthy of ANY love.

I stood by your side, but I wasn’t good enough to hold your hand. For whatever reason, you and I were not on the same page.

And I still believed all of the reasons that you gave:

“You’re too insecure.”

“You’re too indecisive.”

“You’re too wrapped up in your own life to be part of mine.”

When I asked you about your past girlfriends, you told me they had caught you at a more convenient time. You used to be a different person and in a different state of mind.

To me, these were empty words. I couldn't see past the evidence -- that these women had beaten me in love and life. They'd made it to the finish line. But you'd thrown stones, and I'd lost my footing in the middle of the race.

It never occurred to me that maybe I was girlfriend material, that maybe our missed chance had more to do with you than me. Your discomfort with my insecurities was a reflection of your own. Your inability to see what I had to offer showed me what you couldn't give me.

I was insecure and unsure of myself. Yes, I still am this way. I probably always will be. And though self-doubt doesn't define me, it is part of who I am.

You pushed me aside and further into myself. But your rejection also taught me to love myself. You taught me I am as capable of being loved at my best as I am at my worst. You taught me that my flaws (which you claimed to hate) should be embraced -- not picked apart.

One day, I’ll find someone who takes the good with the bad. You didn’t accept me, but my future guy will. He'll stick by me, and he'll encourage me to become more fully myself.

Ryan*, this letter is addressed to you. But I wrote it for me, and I wrote it for every girl who’s ever been told she isn’t "good enough" to be someone's girlfriend.

To my other women:

Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't let someone's claim that you're "not girlfriend material" make you feel less worthy as a human being.

Any man who tells you that you aren’t "girlfriend material" isn’t "boyfriend material." I’ll go one step further and say that he isn't a man at all.

*Name has been changed