"Who are you FERVENTLY texting right now?" my girlfriend asked me, on the rooftop of a swanky Manhattan lounge.
"Colin*. I'm texting COLIN," I said, smiling a devilish smile. Wine at 1 am does that to a girl.
"Sheena," she said, "I swear to God. When are you gonna quit him already? He's a f*ck. You deserve SO much better." She firmly put down her wine glass as though even it had an opinion.
I had just about had it. I love Amelia* with all my heart, but though Amelia accepts me for who I am, she doesn't really understand why I do what I do. See, Amelia and I are thick as thieves, but we're total opposites. She's always liked the guy who's a human teddy bear, and I've always liked the guy who likes to hit it and quit it. And she hates me for it.
Later that night, Colin came over. We had all the sex in the land. And when we woke the next morning, he pecked me on the lips and whispered "Bye, love" in his stupidly irresistible Irish accent before slipping out into the early morning light.
...and I didn't hear from him for another two weeks.
I was 22 when I first realized I had this pattern of choosing emotionally unavailable men because I'm emotionally unavailable myself. While many of my friends were already solidifying serious relationships with guys they'd hand-picked in college, I had just begun to skim the surface of f*ckboy culture.
I was loving it. I couldn't get enough of the delicious, false promises men who didn't really want me fed me. I'm 25 now, and I'm still loving it. It was as if the wild, immature desires I should have felt in high school crept up on me in my mid-20s instead. I was slow to develop.
As you might imagine, I get a lot of flak for my poor taste in men. My therapist dishes it. My mom dishes it. Internet trolls dish it. Amelia and the rest of my friends who want to see yours truly in a happy, healthy relationship -- or, at the very least, single and loving herself, not half-loving some half-wit -- dish it, too.
Well, I have five little words for all of you: Please stop boy-shaming me.
Did it ever occur to you that, like you, I'm not perfect? That maybe I'm a work-in-progress? That that girl's overeating problem is my boy problem? We don't poke her like she's the f*cking Pillsbury dough boy, so why would anyone think it's OK to do the same to someone suffering with an entirely different problem, but one that leaves her just as helpless?
I know you boy-shamers mean well. I can even appreciate that. But I can't digest your well-wishes and keep from making bad decisions. I need to be my own cockblocker.
What people who aren't habitually attracted to the wrong guy don't understand is that craving the bad boy is like craving nicotine: it's an addiction. It's an affliction. I'd like to think it has something to do with my parents' divorce and my dysfunctional relationship with my alcoholic father, but that's just my best guess.
F*ckboys follow me around like dogs do their masters. And I'm trying to break free from the cycle. But until I do break free, making me feel bad about my natural inclinations isn't doing me any good. It makes me feel small and wrong and like an outcast to all that's good in the world.
I'm actually pretty self-aware. I know I'm self-sabotaging. I'm working to fix it, and I'm riding out the rough spots like I would a bad cold. I know the woman I currently am, and I know the woman I want to become. I can see her. She's in the distance, but she's there. Just let me get there on my own.
I'm writing this for the girl who feels more bogged down by the opinions of others than by the choices her own heart makes. People can tell you what's right and what's wrong for you, but only you know when to determine that distinction for yourself. Trust that you'll feel that shift, because you will. One day, you'll wake up and all the pain the men you chose caused you will be a thing of the past, and you'll wonder why you suddenly choose not to text them. Something within you will have changed. It'll feel like a damn miracle.
So, girl, I'm actually encouraging you to f*ck that bad boy. F*ck the f*ck out of him. And once you've learned from your mistakes and grown tired of this bullsh*t because you realize your time can be better spent, you'll move on.
Listen to me: You will. You'll look back on this girl -- the girl who lived with an unadulterated doubt consuming every inch of her spirit -- and you'll thank her for teaching you what it feels like to hurt. You'll save yourself.
Because change doesn't stick when society says it should. Change sticks when you welcome it with open arms. If you try to force change, you'll end up like Scott Disick: a single, commitment-phobic, alcoholic baby daddy that's half-assing life and wondering how the hell he got where he is in the first place.
To Amelia, my therapist and my family: You guys are closer to finding yourselves than I am, and I couldn't be happier for you. But it's time for you to be supportive of me on my journey of becoming my best self. That journey may have five times as many f*ckboys as yours had, but it's my pre-determined path. Let me do my thing.
Besides, how would I find the right guy -- how would I find myself -- if I were never lost to begin with?
*Name has been changed.