Over the last year, I have learned the hard way that I’m not very good at being single. And I don’t mean that I can’t be alone, or that I don’t enjoy being single – I’m just not very good at it. The main reasons why are not a mystery to me, either. I trust and get attached easily, I can see the one iota of goodness in an otherwise awful person, I fall in love – both platonically and romantically – quickly and fiercely, and I pour time and adoration into people I’ve just met, usually only to have my heart broken in return. In the simplest of descriptions – using the finest words in the English language, might I add – I can be a chump, and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.
Don’t get me wrong – I can be tough, but it is in no way my default setting. My default setting is wearing my big heart on my sleeve. On the one hand, being this way has led me to form profound friendships with people I would do anything for, and who accept my love and share that same feeling for me, and in the case of my six-year relationship, my heart allowed me to be truly passionate and learn a lot about myself and what I want along the way. It didn’t work out in the end, but I have no regrets – I was true to who I am and that’s all that matters.
But wearing my heart on my sleeve has mostly gotten me into trouble, from short flings in which I fall deep into “like” – most of which fizzle out as fast as they started – to the relationships with a select few who were actually trouble. I am often blinded by people’s goodness and am fast to hold their good qualities in high regard while making exceptions for the qualities in them that aren’t so wonderful. One of my strongest talents is making excuses for men who aren’t as interested in me as I am in them. It’s not going to win me any prizes at the talent show, but it’s a pretty impressive and persistent talent, nonetheless.
The thing that probably hurts the most is that I can always tell when I’m doing it again – being too nice, trying too hard, letting myself get taken advantage of, setting myself up to be hurt. But there’s always that little tinge of denial in me, even when I know my intuition is 100 percent correct, because again, I just want to see the good parts of people, and swing those qualities in my favor. I’m the type of person that constantly thinks, “Oh, he’ll come around,” when in all reality, I know he won’t – and he doesn’t.
Wearing my heart on my sleeve has proved to be a dangerous tendency. To some, the answer would be to “toughen up,” to learn from the words that I’m writing about myself and change who I am, to listen to myself when I know that someone isn’t right for me, to be aware of the telltale signs that something is going south, and to be the one to break it off and leave before getting left. If only it were that easy.
The truth is, that when wearing your heart on your sleeve is your default setting, you always have a bloody sleeve. It’s a messy practice, but I can’t change who I am, nor would I want to. At the end of the day, I think my ability to love so unconditionally will lead me to someone who will truly appreciate me, who will wash all of my bloody sleeves for me. I sincerely believe that.
I just need to keep going – and if you’re anything like me, I think you should too.