I know how to pick them

Women have been saying this for years, and we say it like it’s some kind of badge of honor. A verbal smear of war paint emblazoned across our bodies. It lets everyone know that we’ve been through a bad relationship, and we repeatedly pick men who aren’t suitable.

We’re fully aware of how wrong these men are for us, believe me, WE KNOW, but despite the fuck ups, the fights, the drama and the downright trauma, we’ve pursued them, or let them into our lives anyway. Therefore, our only saving grace is to emerge like some kind of broken, warrior queen who accidentally always falls for the wrong guys. Like damn, we just know how to pick them!

That statement is also the only acknowledgment of responsibility that we lay on ourselves. As if recognising  that you’ve picked someone bad, absolves you of all blame in the situation, and the rest is in the hands of fate.

But fate is nothing but a collection of our decisions, and it’s long past time we started taking responsibility for the men we let in our lives. I’m tired of dismissing it as some quirk of nature, or my lot in life, or whatever else it is that we need to tell ourselves to sleep easily at night.

The real question is; what’s in me, or what’s lacking in me, that I allow these men in? And we’ve all done it. There are hundreds of women out there emotionally tied to men that are unavailable. Whether they’re married, unable to commit, a fuckboy, living in a different country, in prison, or just emotionally shut off, we like to pick what we can’t have.

As you assemble female pow-wows and collectively try to understand the latest act of stupidity carried out by your man, someone will always chip in with the, ‘you just want what you can’t have’ line. It’s the second phenomenally stupid thing we tell ourselves. It’s permission to continue pursuing the man that you already know you can’t have in some kind of weird competition with yourself. You promise that as soon as you ‘have him’, you'll walk away.

What actually happens, is that you’ve spent months pursuing someone, you end up in bed, on a date, or whatever else you define the ‘getting’ as, and then you realise nothing has changed and he’s still as unavailable as he was at the very start, but now you can’t let go. You’ve just spent six months competing in the man chasing Olympic games that are apparently going on in your head, and once you’ve started that race, there’s no stopping. The finish line is fluid and it’s constantly changing. First it was getting him to reply to your texts, then it was calls, then it was dinner, then it was sex (often that came before the dinner), and then it’s emotionally connecting, and then it’s meeting his friends and you can see where I’m going with this. It goes on and on and on, the competition never ending.

The cold hard truth is we do it because we don’t love ourselves enough. Often that isn't your fault. We live in a world which makes it incredibly difficult to love yourself. You pop out of the womb a happy, innocent thing, and then people start bringing over pink baby grows and tutus, and it all begins. The world starts to place you into a very specific job role, and nowhere in the description is loving yourself a criteria. So it’s easy to keep going after the man we can’t have because it keeps you asking questions like, ‘what’s wrong with me’ and, ‘am I not good enough’. And as long as you’re asking those questions, you’re playing the role you were born for. It’s also a way of validating yourself. If you’re competing in these games, and if you somehow win the prize (the man), then you’re finally worthy.

God forbid there’s no chase and no self-doubt, and instead just a wholehearted, beautiful love in which you bloom and feel fucking fantastic about yourself. And by the way, it does exist. There’s hundreds of women in relationships with wonderful men who are completely available.

So when the drama starts to gets too much, and he’s not there, physically or emotionally, walk the fuck away. You already know you deserve better, because you say it to your girlfriends’ every time you’re sobbing on the bathroom floor.

Let’s stop spitting out these enabling behaviors in the form of comforting sentences and we’ll all be doing each other an incredible service. And let me clarify, these behaviors aren't just because you love the hunt, or you get a kick out of the chase, or you’re strong enough to handle all the drama because you’re a Spartan queen, or whatever else it is that you tell yourself. Because you hate the hunt, the chase is stupid, the drama exhausting and these are not battles you should be fighting anyway.


Salma El-Wardany