When He Doesn't Call

You don’t need to find love to stop hurting; you just have to let the world kiss your bruises.

It always seems beautiful at first, doesn’t it? Every time you fall into a new pair of eyes you forget you might have to crawl back out if things don’t work. When your pink flip-flops catch a patch of spilled water from the drinking fountain, he asks if you’re okay and offers his hand. And in that moment, it seems like this might be The One. Laugh all you want, skeptics—I know you’re big softies underneath.

In his dudely wisdom, Jeff Bridges once said that most cynics are really crushed romantics. “Their cynicism,” he says, “is a shell that’s protecting this tiny, dear part of them that’s still alive.” And no matter what you’ve been through—whether it’s a crappy first date or an abusive relationship—you know how right he is. It doesn’t just affect relationships; it affects your whole life. Sometimes harsh words scorch your lips because you are afraid to sing. You want to help beggars on the street but you don’t because you are afraid of exposing that soft thing inside of you. It floats up when you walk by stuffed animals in department stores, and you wonder when you had to grow up. When did the world—and dating—become a war zone?

Maybe it all started when he didn’t call. On Sex and the City, Carrie was dumped via Post-It note. In my case, he seemed so perfect: an innocent college boy. We had three dates, he thanked me for making the first move, and I cracked myself open. I trusted him with stories and he listened until one day, I asked him to go on a walk with me. He agreed and I could barely focus on my psychology class. Then, something happened that made me envy Carrie’s situation:

He changed his mind and texted me a rejection. I’m sorry, he said, because I know how impersonal this feels. But he did it anyway. And I tried to be friends with him, but in the end he blew me off. His choice line? “I am okay without the stories. Thanks.”

Now, I could go on a rant forever about this (What has become of men? Oh, woe is me!) but do you remember how I said he was an innocent college boy? That’s exactly what he was: a boy. Yet I wondered for an acidic second what I had done wrong. Was I too bold? Too open? Not pretty enough?

I doubt I’m the first to have these thoughts. In fact, I know you’ve had them too, and we’ve never even met. Even girls with Beyoncé confidence (Beyonfidence?) have moments of self-doubt. And that’s why I will remind you of a universal truth: You live in a world that tries to make you feel like you are too much. Too much voice, fire, and fight, claiming too much space on the subway. Daring to eat what you choose, to wear what you want. In that moment, I felt like too much. But then I wondered: how can you be too true to yourself?

And the second barrage of questions struck me soon after: Why am I to blame? Why should I assume responsibility for someone else’s inability to see my worth?

In these situations, you must see your own value. Maybe it’s a blessing that he won’t call. He has set you free. Rejection hurts, of course; your brain chemically responds as if experiencing physical pain. But in this modern world, one stupid boy does not matter. He is not worth another second of your valuable time.

When he doesn’t call, you learn that the soft thing inside of you is still alive. You know because it aches and it feels like it will never stop. But it will, and you will rediscover pumpkin muffins and old friends and good books: a universe of healing. You don’t need to find love to stop hurting; you just have to let the world kiss your bruises.

Feature photo by Jonathan Velasquez/ VIA Unsplash