I Spent 18 Years Chasing After Love That Didn't Serve Me

I told guys I loved them when I didn't.

Her Voice

I was 14 when I told my first boyfriend I loved him. It was moments after losing my virginity and he was already getting pretty bored of me. I wasn't exciting, I wasn't confrontational, nor was I glamourous. I was a quiet bookworm afraid of my own shadow. I had been abused as a kid, and taught that codependent behaviors were normal.

I didn't realize that codependency wasn't a problem or a real thing up until I was 29.


I went to therapy, I journaled, I read books. I even joined a support group to which I quit a month later because I didn't believe codependency was a disease, just a shitty learned behavior. And even though most of my codependent behaviors I have unlearned, there is one I hadn't wanted to reveal to my therapist because it felt too embarrassing.

I told guys I loved them when I didn't. Growing up in an abusive household, I gravitated towards boys and men who mistreated me. I did it without giving it a second thought. I would bend over backwards, smile when I wanted to cry, laughed when they would put me down, and stayed in those relationships far longer than I should have because I felt fortunate to be seen even if it wasn't in a healthy way. I'd tell these guys I loved them because I had never gotten any love from home and I wanted to make my own family. I told them this because I thought if I did so, they would want to stay with me forever.


I take responsibility for my own pain. I take responsibility for the fact that in the back of my mind, I knew I did not love them. And I take responsibility for the can of worms I had opened once I told them this and the abuse I allowed to happen because those three words meant I was malleable.

They'd get money, clothes, food, a babysitter, and, one time, an unpaid personal care assistant for their elderly mother. "You said you loved me, right?" I heard that question all too often when I would reluctantly agree to do something for them that often came to my detriment.


It has been 18 years of me doing this.

A pattern that was just made clear after scratching my head from my pursuit of the latest jerk. "Why did he not answer my phone calls, texts, and emails?" "Why would he tell me he was interested in me and act the opposite of it?"

I realized then that I dated the same type of men; got hurt nearly the same way; and even though I felt myself be more confident than I have ever been and more self-aware due to three years of therapy, I still found myself saying "I love you" when things felt uncertain between me and whatever jerk I was with at the time. This is the familiar. Date a guy, like the guy, the guy's true awful colors show, I tell him I love him, and am with him far longer than I should be.


Lather, rinse, repeat.

I knew their lines for their neglect or disinterest like the back of my hand. I knew when they moved onto someone else. I'd blame their mistreatment of me on the belief that I wasn't pretty enough and felt they were dragging the relationship on to see what else they could get out of me. Even though it has been years since a man has gotten a gift, a babysitter, a personal care assistant, whatever the hell else they wanted, know that ended with me in tears, with me feeling worthless, and me giving up on love to find myself with the same type of jerk in different men years later.

I know this now to be an unhealthy ass pattern that I feel it's time for me to unlearn.


I started thinking about what I know is familiar and what I know isn't. I never heard a man tell me they loved me and meant it. I never had a boyfriend who doted over me or gushed about me to his family and friends. I never had a man treat me as if I was a true treat to his eyes, I never had a man who encouraged me to pursue my goals for myself and not for him. I never had a man who didn't shame me for being more intelligent than him. I never had a man who didn't shame me for accomplishing more. I've never had a man who just accepted me the way that I was.

Maybe I overlooked the men who liked me in the healthy way because I was so focused on having the unhealthy. Maybe Mr. Right was there in front of me and I had missed my chance and maybe I had not.

I know that I have never felt more empty and alone than when I with these guys. I know I never cried more than I did when I was with these guys. And even though I had learned long ago that it was better to be alone than to be unhappy, I still found myself retreating to the familiar.

And now that I am aware, I am ready to embrace the unfamiliar with open arms, slight hesitation, and lots of therapy.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Simone Biles is a decorated U.S. gymnast who captured the hearts of many with her ambitious, yet graceful moves. However, over the past year, fans got to witness another side of Simone after the gymnast began expressing the issues she's faced regarding her mental health. The Olympic gold medalist shocked everyone when she pulled out of some of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, citing "twisties" as the reason. The twisties is a gymnastics term that is described as losing control of your body while spinning in the air.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

The relationship we have and nurture with self lays the foundation for how we relate to and connect with others in our lives. Assessing the issues that discourage self-love from prospering are key in order to repair and reignite the freedom that comes when we finally believe the words "you are enough." I chatted with self-love advocate and lifestyle entrepreneur Shelah Marie – who you may remember from when her 2017 photo of doing yoga with boyfriend, rapper Ace Hood, went viral. Shelah's mission is to create a movement of total self-love and liberation for women of color through her platform Curvy, Curly, Conscious – a place where "self-help" meets "real talk" through virtual and offline events and retreats.

Keep reading... Show less

The first time I really learned about the five love languages was a year after a big heartbreak in my early twenties, and since then I've found myself exploring the love languages of each of my subsequent partners in an effort to be a better lover to them. At the click of a simple quiz, you'll know whether words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, or physical touch is the primary way you prefer to experience love.

Keep reading... Show less

At the start of each season, I browse the net to get an idea of the latest styles and trends to look out for when adding to my closet. When shopping, not only do I love items that are hot for the moment but mainly those that I can keep in rotation year after year. I especially look for styles that are both modern and classic, giving off an effortlessly timeless vibe.

Keep reading... Show less

Kissing is such a fascinating thing — to me. The reason why I say that is because, if the person you are exchanging a kiss with is someone who is good at it, it can be the sexiest, most special and most exhilarating thing ever. On the other hand, if they aren't so good — it's just gross. I don't know about y'all, but kissing is such a big deal in my world that I once broke up with someone, in part, because they totally sucked at doing it. It was like, no matter how hard I tried to explain to them what I needed in order to feel like we were in "kissing sync", they would continue to go off and do their own thing. All over my face (yuck).

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Adrienne Bailon Wants Women Of Color To Take Self-Inventory In Order To Redefine Success

"You can't expect anyone else to care about yourself like you do."

Latest Posts