Not His Odette
Updated: Apr 3
Do you know what happens when we are weak for a man? Weak for affection, love, affirmations of a relationship that make us feel better about ourselves. We run up a tab of foolish actions that eventually will cost a great deal. A checklist of every time we have comprised who we are, our wellbeing, our resolve to not give into things that hurt. We think that the flashes of warning set off by specific actions, opinions spent in passing, habits we are unsure if we should be wary of is just us reading into things too much. That we are overthinking and hyper-focusing because of past relationship trauma. We even pat ourselves on the back for not giving into fictional suspicions; we think we have learned from past mistakes and are acting rationally. We are proud of ourselves; we feel like we are beginning to evolve upwards and onwards from previous relationships cumbersome baggage. We have reconciled those niggling senses of a red flag thrown by telling ourselves that we have overreacted and are making things up, being ridiculous.
Congratulations, your instincts, trauma response intuition, what you have learned from past relationships, have just been punched in the face. You are turning your fist on yourself, smashing down valid red flags in a romantic relationship because you are afraid of being wrong, of being called crazy. But don't worry, I am right there with you, closed fist pummeling rational sense out of myself because I fell in love, in love with someone who doesn't love me back but still keeps me in reach.
I said I would let go of him, that I would make my peace with another broken heart and move on, take back what I gave away, hold it close this time, maybe keep it to myself forever. But doubt and overthinking crept in, fear of losing something that perhaps I was wrong to doubt. It's a startling feeling, the fear that drops from your mouth to your stomach in repeated infractions until maybe, just maybe, I'll listen to what it is telling me. My internal alarms kept blaring their sirens, begging me to come running. Instead, I gave it a chaste glance over my shoulder before turning an ignorant eye. Self-sabotage is an addictive thing, immediate rewards taking up space for self-preservation.
I faltered and gave this person I fell in a one-sided love with another chance without him even knowing it, without him asking or feeling like he needed just one more shot to make it right. I gave into my longing to be loved, the moments with him that stood brighter than the rest invading my decision-making. When your soul finds that person you can sink into, the person you can tumble with into a sigh of relief because this person is your Odette, your lobster, your Heathcliff, and Kathrine. The one to end your story with, to live the rest of it with a collective everlasting affection. It's a craving, that sort of connectedness the body yearns for, but your heart screams silently over. Is this why love is blinding? Because we want it that badly? We give, all too easily, love a throne to seat itself upon without it having to do the work to earn its reverence.
I started asking myself why I kept letting love override the red flags pinging my home screen. So, I took to the internet. I found a study on romantic relationships and red flags, that's an extremely limited explanation of the article's purpose, but there was one small part, one quote that outweighed the rest of the article for my intent.
The article discusses social exchange theory, engaging in rewarding behavior while stopping high-risk behaviors. In short, a new romantic relationship comes with a rewarding fulfillment, so behavior that will interfere with that is ceased. The way the author worded their information made it incredibly clear, a near slap of duh in the face. If the beginning interactions set the tone for relationship rewards and costs, then I have been letting the initial rewards of my relationship rule over the costs because I can't let go of the rewards. The thing is, I need to stop and ask myself, how temporary are those rewards? And am I still experiencing said rewards? Or am I clinging to the near past because the elation of hope and love overshadowed the costs? The red flags. If it is a temporary, even fleeting, reward, is it worth the potential, if not eventual, emotional hardship?
We can only give others so many chances before it comes at a cost; its price tag is embedded in the person offering a second chance. Temporary rewards can be just that, rewards. No aftermath, just a fond memory locked in place. Until we don't know how to let go when the time comes when the romantic interest starts to cash in on your wellbeing, but the relationship is clung to for its temporary rewards. Emotional connectivity can be all-consuming. It's the space where we stay when we don't want to accept that the relationship isn't what we had hoped for, we stand our ground while being chipped away at, drained of the will to believe in healthy, long-lasting relationships.
Red flags become lost, glossed over, excuse after excuse for why they seem so distant now, why they aren't messaging you back, and when they say things like, What's going on? You've been acting different lately. So, you must be the issue, right? You must be taking out old issues on them. You can't see, at least not yet, what is happening. The rewards once received from the beginning interactions of the relationship no longer outweigh the costs. They are letting you go; they are letting their red flags fly because they no longer care enough about the connection to maintain the foundation established at the start.
It seems like such a simple thing to realize, keep in mind, and see when it's happening right in front of you. If only love was that simple, if only.
Porter, C. (n.d.). Do red flags point the way? early warnings and later conflcit in singles relationships. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.proquest.com/openview/23143bb02cfb71c033afb547c8f1272d/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750