Date someone terrible for you. It’ll be worth it in the end, I promise. Settle into a subtle anxiousness, an uncomfortable state of contended discontent, and enjoy the ride.

Feel like shit 60% of your week. Anticipate an argument every day. After fighting, feel like it’s possible that you are the one overreacting, maybe you do ask for too much, expect too much. Fight back tears in your cubicle, around family and while you’re out on a Saturday night trying to have a great time with friends.

Feel bad about yourself always. Analyze every inch of your body. Start purchasing clothes not because you feel sexy in them, but because you think your partner will find them attractive. Spend an hour and a half getting ready so that when they answer the door they’ll look at you in stunned admiration. Feel disappointed when they open the door barely glancing at you before they turn and head to the kitchen.

Begin looking at all other women in competition. Think about how much your partner would like it if you looked more like her, spoke more like her, liked the things she liked. You know they would because they’ve told you so. Begin to tone down the parts of you they don’t like. Start trying to be the type of person you think they’d find irresistible, then realize that person doesn’t exist.

Never feel completely at ease with them. Overthink the amount you text them in order not to be too overbearing. Wait for them to ask you to hang out and then cave when it’s Friday and you still haven’t made plans. Never invite yourself over. Whenever you’re with them, get the feeling that they want you to leave.

Awkwardly make excuses for them to the people closest to you. Tell everyone they just don’t know your partner like you know them. They don’t understand there’s a softness and kindness underneath a cold exterior. Explain to your friends that they are just confused by how much they like you, and that they aren’t used to the formalities of being in a relationship. Feel embarrassed every time you have to admit you broke up and got back together.

Feel confused when the affection they did have begins to disappear entirely. Get used to feeling worthless. Have them exhibit such an utter disregard for your feelings that you have a hard time remembering what it felt like to be wanted.

Obsess over your relationship. Think about it constantly. Let it distract you from doing the things you love to do. Over analyze their behaviour and your behaviour. Play out all the possible scenarios that could have gone better. Fantasize about speaking your mind, telling them how awful they are. Fantasize about breaking their heart. Do nothing about any of it.

Give absolutely everything you have thinking that if you’re nice enough, patient enough and love hard enough they’ll open their eyes and realize you’re worth taking care of. Slowly learn that life doesn’t work that way.

Date someone terrible for you so that you learn more about yourself. So that you realize no matter how confident, intelligent and strong you are, you can meet someone who makes you vulnerable and turbulent. Someone who brings you to your knees in repentance for being yourself. And never let it happen again.