I Can’t Make You Love Me

I feel a mixture of jealousy and sadness when I think of her. She gets to be his girlfriend, while I am just the girl with a crush. I want what she has, but I know realistically that it won’t happen. I’m just an interloper in their love story. If this were a romantic comedy, I would be the shrew who wants to steal another woman’s boyfriend. Just another obstacle for them to overcome so they can have their happily ever after.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not rubbing my hands together maniacally and plotting the end of their relationship. I’m not that person, and I refuse to be. Things aren’t as simple as telling him how I feel. Our friendship feels fragile and I am constantly afraid of overstepping and ruining the connection that we share. Saying it out loud would be unfair to both of them and I would be left with nothing.

When I think of him, she comes along too. She’s always in the shadows, waiting for me to remember why it will never happen. I feel guilty for wanting what I know I can’t have, what I’m not allowed. Wanting them to break up makes me feel selfish, and maybe I am. Even when he sings songs that I know he’s written about her, it doesn’t stop me from imagining myself in her place. I have memorized the curve of his face, the smell of his cologne. I think about how the hands that I watch caress piano keys and play guitar chords touch her instead of me. She gets to kiss his full lips and generous mouth while I can only imagine it. I fall asleep with his name on my tongue every night.

It’s easy to compare myself to this phantom of a woman. I don’t know her. I only see her through him — I look at her and see how beautiful she is, and how he loves her with everything that he has. He writes amazing songs about their relationship, and it kills me inside. I want him to write songs and feel that way about me. She represents an idealized version of what it would be like to be with him. She’s probably a lot less fucked up than me, less broken. If I was more like her, maybe he would want me then. I can look at us and think of how good we would be together, and how easy it would be to love him. I imagine the life we would have together; long discussions about music, the way he would tease me about how I say certain words in my accent, and how good it would feel to be in his arms. I am greedy; I want more than the quick conversations we have now. All of our brief hellos and goodbyes aren’t enough. I want what she has: familiarity and intimacy. I want to have him at my fingertips, and have no fear of being a burden. Complete freedom and confidence that he wants me just as badly as I want him.

I know that I can’t keep holding onto the hope that one day he will finally notice how much I care for him. He already has somebody, and she’s not me. I don’t even know if he could love someone who is as complicated and messy as I am. I can only try to be content with the little pieces that I do have of him, even the parts that involve her. I can’t make him love me, but I can’t let go of the possibility that he might one day.

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