Look for a Partner, Not a Project
By Thao Nguyen
If you read my recent article about unattainable crushes, then you I’ve got a real knack for falling for men whom it would be impossible to be with. I guess you could say it’s a protective measure; by fawning over fictional characters and strangers that I’ll never actually interact with, I make sure that I’ll never be hurt. But of course, me being me, I’ve also gone and developed real feelings for the most unattainable men of all: guys with major emotional issues. Depression, anxiety, borderline alcoholism, self-loathing? You name it, and I’ve definitely liked a guy who’s had it.
The problem with this is that I was looking as these men as projects instead of potential partners.
Instead of accepting them as they were and selflessly helping them to be “better,” I saw them as works in progress. I expected them to accept me as I was, but I couldn’t do the same for them. I’m not saying that it would’ve been okay for me, or anyone else, to be complacent with depression and anxiety or any of the other issues at hand. It’s just that sometimes what people need to get better is someone who will accept and love them as they are in that moment.
As you probably already know, I used to look forward to relationships as a form of validation. And this was especially true with men with emotional damage. I believed with every piece of my being that if I could help and “fix” them, they would completely accept and appreciate me. I thought that if I could help them love themselves and be happy, then they would see that I only wanted what was good for them, and as a result, I would become irreplaceable.
I prided myself in thinking that this was selfless and charitable. But really, I was making it all about me. My intentions weren’t altruistic. Sure I was trying to help them, but it was for selfish reasons. Entering into a relationship with any of these guys would have been unfair and unfulfilling to us both because I was looking at them as projects instead of as partners. Helping these men was just a way for me to feel wanted, needed, and good about myself. Deep down, I knew that had I not received the appreciation I thought I deserved for supporting them in the form of a relationship, I would have accused them of using me. This wasn’t love. Love is about seeing someone else as a person, putting in the work and sacrifice to seek what is good and best for them, and gaining your happiness from that. It’s not about seeing the other person as a means of pleasure or as someone that you will use to feel better about yourself.
People with emotional damage need someone who will love them unconditionally and will always have their best intentions in mind. Someone who only wants to help for self-validation will only do more damage and harm to both parties involved. This is especially true for people looking to get into relationships. Relationships thrive when the people involved are selflessly loving each other. If you’re finding yourself drawn to people with emotional damage, make sure it’s for the right reasons. You will not be validated by a relationship that is built on something that isn’t selfless. The person with damage deserves more than someone who secretly only wants to help for selfish reasons. The person who lives to help others deserves someone who truly appreciates them as they are, not someone who stays around out of guilt or obligation.