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On Feeling Unlovable

On Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of The Bachelorette, bachelor-to-be Ben Higgins confesses his feelings of being “unlovable.”

I am a heavy skeptic of The Bachelor franchise, and I watch it mainly as an excuse to drink too much wine with my girlfriends and make unceremonious digs at the absolute chums who get obliterated at the cocktail parties. (You know they’re going to make you look about a hundred times drunker with camera editing, right?) Nonetheless, this sediment from doe-eyed Ben really struck a cord with me, as I’m sure it did with viewers all over the nation. I mean, just look at him: handsome, wholesome, saccharine sweet, employed, and I’m willing to bet he even smells really good. On top of that, he has a strong support system from his family and a good religious base. So where does someone that damn well adjusted get off claiming unlovability?

If this were a few years ago, I’d be rolling my eyes all over the place, believe me, but the past year has been one of the most turbulent and unsavoury of my life, both socially and romantically, and lately I feel my own self-loathing is at such excess that it’s pouring all over me like pig’s blood on Carrie at the prom.

I feel unlovable all the time, like I’m giving off wavy stink lines like Pig Pen from Peanuts. When I go out and meet a nice guy, I feel the need to warn him that I’m probably going to disappoint him at some point soon. And I feel like the friends and family who unwaveringly have my back do so simply because they are good people and to leave me at this point, where my insecurities are at an all-time high, would be cruel and disastrous. To say these words out loud, even to type them, feels pitiful and a little ungrateful because I know logically speaking I have a good support system, just like Ben.

That said, I know for a fact that the unlovable feeling is not one that is inherently logical.

It’s easy to feel unlovable given the state of dating right now. We date rather recklessly, chopping off communication like a limb with gangrene when it no longer suits us, aggressively refusing to commit, meeting people at clubs and bars and making a big production out of getting a phone number and then never doing anything with it. If I had a quarter for every guy who I claimed he liked me “sooo much,” only to bail after two weeks of half-assed texting, I’d probably be able to consistently buy my cat the name brand litter instead of the grocery store variety. Dating right now is chock full of disappointments and you’d have to have feelings made of tungsten not to internalize it.

When you’ve been single for a long time, you can begin to feel unlovable. You question whether you are actually single by choice. I have daily interactions with viable men, men who give me compliments so seemingly sincere that I forgo my skepticism, despite my better judgment that these are just words. But these interactions repeatedly fizzle out and I can’t help but wonder, is it something I’m doing? Or worse: is it something I am?

Self-loathing is a slippery slope. It starts out small, like an itch. You feel crappy one day because one person doesn’t text you back. Then it isn’t just one person, it’s thematic. Suddenly your friends are doing things without you, the boy who seemed so totally smitten with you just a month ago barely has time to give you more than a “k” or a “hey,” and even your cat would rather nap under your bed than be around you.

And it’s not so much those external factors that get you, it’s the day that you start to believe it yourself, then it’s cemented: you’re unlovable. Then you can’t imagine finding someone again because who could get to know you and not despise this sad sack of a person that you’ve morphed into. Who could not see or smell the desperation leaking out of your pours like spicy Indian curry; that raw need to be loved.

In a blog post for People, Ben spoke to his use of the word unlovable:

“It’s an insecurity. We all have them, and no amount of being told I am crazy or that anyone would be lucky to have me is going to make that go away. That won’t happen until I have that love and am in that relationship like the one I see my parents have.”

It seems as if Ben may have found a remedy to his unlovability, because 28 ladies (potentially even an entire nation) fell in love with the adorable teddy bear that is Ben Higgins this season. I can even admit, I found Ben’s stark honesty about the process to be refreshing and LOVABLE. I felt like the tears in his eyes were genuine and I believed his hurt and how badly he wanted to find love, and I am not an easy person to win over.

Unlovablity is something that has roots internally and only internally. It has nothing to do with that dumb dumb who told you he liked you and then stopped replying your texts, or even that ex who cheated on you in grade 12 and went on to lead a happy, well-adjusted life. They’re not the ones who make you unlovable, because they don’t have that power.

Feeling unlovable is the conviction that’s ingrained within yourself. Once you’ve managed to convince yourself that you aren’t entitled to being loved – even when your conviction is false and ill-advised because you are simply too close to have an accurate opinion on the matter – that’s when the stink lines start forming.

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