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Call it Anything but Love

By: Jayde Lazier

Photo Credits: "Grayscale Photo of Man Kissing Woman's Nose While Standing Inside a Train, Jonathan Borba, Oct. 21st, 2019"

 
 

“….. I love your body, You turn me on, I want you so bad right now…. I love your mind, I want to take things slow, I think you’re beautiful…. I think so highly of you, I just wanna take care of you, sex is not the most important thing to me…..” ~ Men who have wasted my time.

 

Most of you probably found a handful of these statements to be pretty funny because, to hear this as a woman in our day and age, is a rarity. Men in our generation don’t come to pick you up at your front door, they say, “Hey, meet me at this place” and then proceed to be 30 minutes late. They don’t tell you, “You look beautiful.” Instead, they gawk at you like a fresh piece of meat, all the while whispering disgusting remarks in your ear. Most importantly, men in our generation don’t bring you flowers, they bring you trauma. Now, before I continue with this article, I suppose I have to preface that this is not all men. I know somewhere, some man right now is reading this under the assumption that I am a man-hating woman. This is not the case. I love men, and I think having a strong and respectful man in your life is a beautiful gift, but the reality is that, in my generation, these men are far and few in between.


I recently read a book entitled “Call It What You Want,” by Alissa Derogatis that illustrates this concept of searching for an old love in a modern generation beautifully. In it, she details a relationship that the two main characters, Ethan and Sloane, have that isn’t a relationship at all. It’s an “almost love” where Sloane develops concrete feelings for Ethan, but he can’t give her the commitment that she needs despite leading her on to believe that he can. It’s beautifully described by its author as “a love letter to anyone who has a hard time getting over someone they never dated” (Call it What You Want: Goodreads). This book is also very reflective of my own experiences with love and existing as a hopeless romantic in a generation where hookup culture is our new normal, and situationships are the blueprint for relationships. “It took me years to realize that life is just a succession of these so-called passing moments. If it’s a painful moment, it will pass. If it’s a perfect moment, it will also pass” (1).


These “passing moments” have led me to always dream of a love where I meet a man who values and respects everything that I am, who takes every opportunity to let me know how much I mean to him. A man who communicates and is emotionally available, unafraid to showcase his love for me and let me into his world. Unfortunately, I live in a world full of unfulfilled promises and men who think it’s easier to lie about their ideals and intentions. Rather than being direct with women and allowing us to make well-informed decisions about who we want to handle our hearts, a man “would rather leave than try… [which speaks] volumes” (60). Instead, I find myself constantly forced to read further into actions and words than necessary just to make sure that I’m not missing some underlying deviation of intent.


Desperately trying to protect what’s left of my battered and bruised heart, a heart that I naively gave to too many men throughout my life, a heart that I spent endless hours sewing the pieces back together. A heart that had been through so much but still maintained its power of intense love. As hard as it was to hold out hope for a great love, my heart still showed up to every relationship, every date, every text with the same purity of love that it began with. So please I beg of you, be gentle with what’s left of my heart, if you don’t want me, tell me. If you only see this going as far as the bedroom, let me know. If you’re unsure, don’t lead me on and give me false promises—just let me go.


“In the beginning, I was convinced that he was my right person, wrong time. Now, I’m starting to think that may just be a phrase people use when they love someone so deeply and know that person doesn’t, and never can love them back in the same way. So, instead, they’ll make up excuses about timing and places to avoid the inevitable ending” (206). But as I sit here, I understand that I will still go on dates that are actually “hangouts”, I will still have men share their intentions with me that are untrue just to appease me. I will still love too hard, I will still be led on and end up in a situationship, I will still have a man look at me only to see me as an object of desire. I will have so many almost loves before I find one that lasts.


These feelings are recurring themes in “Call It What You Want.” Sloane develops feelings for someone that she knows she could never truly have. She loves someone who was never truly hers, and despite all of her intense love, she is forced to mourn the loss of a ghost. She believed the fake promises, she painted the red flags green, and even though she knows he’ll never truly be hers, her love for him is so pure that she would hold him in her arms in the same moment that he was lying through his teeth. Until Sloane decided that she was more important—and that’s what I’m slowly starting to recognize too, that I’m more important.


I often intellectualize my feelings and let them fade out until I convince myself that I’ve overthought the situation or I’m being too dramatic. But what if I let go of him and started to hold on to my family, my friends, my accomplishments, myself? Well, I would make space for a man who appreciates and loves every part of me inside and out. I would make space for myself, not to grow but to go back to the girl who loves so deeply and with every part of her soul. A girl who sees the best in everyone unless she’s given a reason not to, a girl who oozes sunshine because she’s so completely in love with herself. A girl who wouldn’t spend hours wondering why he didn’t text or call her back or wondering why she’s not good enough, what should she have done differently. Because “Some people just aren’t ready, no matter how much time you give them. Nothing will change until they decide they’re ready. But here’s the thing, that you can’t wait for them. You can’t keep choosing someone who doesn’t choose you” (102).


This is why we need to cultivate a world where love translates to what it was 50-80 years ago. The meaning of love has never changed, but the values and mindsets of the people in this day and age have. People in my generation don’t typically want commitment, they want something that gives them instant gratification. A person who can make them feel safe and cared for without any emotional commitment, so that when something gets hard, they can drop the person like last week’s trash and move on instead of working to maintain it. Whereas growing up, my view of true love came from my grandparents and their generation, because of their view of love as something sacred, something that you have to put work into and something that may require a bit of fight and challenge to maintain. But it never mattered because they were just so inexplicably in love with this one person and would do anything to keep them. Love went from being an indescribable feeling that one person possesses for another that is beyond all reason and sanity. Then later developed into something so bizarre and detached that it is actually quite sad, and it always makes me wonder if people “don’t know what it’s like to have someone who wants to love them” (198).


But once you find the purest of all loves within yourself, all the inadequacies of others become small by comparison, because to walk away from a situation that no longer serves you is like sweet ecstasy. Now, none of this is intended to deter you from finding your other half, it’s just to bring to light that the journey to find it is a lot more challenging than it used to be. But the truth is that even as I write this, I know in my heart that I am still a hopeless romantic. Regardless of how many times my heart might not be embraced by the type of love that I need, I will always love myself and that’s how many of us need to view this war zone that we call dating. So, if you find yourself feeling lonely and having rough luck with your heart, always come to this: “Love isn’t always easy. Love is a compromise. Love is understanding. Love is accepting. Someone is going to give you all of that and more one day” (227).


Works Cited

Call it What You Want: Goodreads. n.d. February 2024. <https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/144707422>.

Derogatis, Alisa. Call It What You Want. Amazon Digital Services LLC., 2023.

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