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A Player Tries to Change Her Ways
But settling down with one girl wasn’t so easy
N.V.
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Until recently, I thought of myself as a happy Hefner, heiress to Hugh’s throne. Always having a new girl to talk to was my top goal. Who wanted to be stuck with a mushy emotion-filled female for years or even months? I was the tough girlfriend, interested in getting to know each girl individually until her problems showed up.

They were usually the same problems I was trying to avoid myself—like being broke and having trust issues. Many family members and friends told me that they loved me, but none of them ever really showed it. That dampened my belief in love. The betrayals of trust and lack of love from my many foster families also made me a bit heartless. To cope with disappointment, I tried to forget the things that hurt me and detach from my emotions.

I’m 19, and though I date older girls, I usually take control. Most of the girls I’ve dated were ready to be settling down with one girl, while I just wanted to flirt, test the waters, and have no-strings sex. I didn’t cheat, however; I’d break up with the person I was seeing before I would get with someone else. No one likes a cheater.

I was addicted to the attention and to finding new girls online. I downloaded almost every well-reviewed dating and social networking app. MeetMe and OKCupid were my favorites. Females there always responded to me, and I had a new one in my inbox every day complimenting me and trying to get to know me. I was choosy: A female had to have long hair and Asian-like eyes and be tomboyish, ambitious, and humorous. Dimples were a plus. Loyalty and trust held no interest for me.

Carousing through the options like a drunk in a wine cellar, I would pick one up and drop another. I was the one who decided whether it would stay friendly or move on to phone conversations late at night or dates. The word “love” didn’t mean anything to me, but I’d throw it around when needed. Whenever I felt as though a girl I liked was slipping from my grasp, I’d play the “I love you” card, but not until the second month. I didn’t make it to the second month with most of the girls.

I got out of a fling in October 2012 and was scouring Instagram when I saw Marie. Her hair was curly and past her shoulders, and her smile was radiant. She was one of the prettiest girls I had seen; I started to “like” her pictures right away. I wrote “Gorgeous” and a heart emoji under her photos.

The timing was good for us. Although the Hefner lifestyle had some benefits, I was growing tired of girls coming and going. I wanted someone for myself. I wanted someone who accepted all of me, someone who could shape me into a better partner. I even wanted a commitment. I decided I was ready for my first real relationship.

Long Distance, Status Unclear

We chatted for a couple of hours and then moved to texting. The biggest problem was that she lived in Massachusetts and I am here in New York. Despite the distance, a bond grew; we talked every night and texted throughout each day and also Skyped. She came down to visit me three times in our seven-month relationship. For once, I focused on one girl and it felt different. I stayed up late on school nights just to hear her voice.

We never named our status though. Neither of us claimed the other as a girlfriend, but I understood the value of the relationship, and I thought she did too.

image by YC-Art Dept

Then she told me over the phone that she got wasted one night and had sex with her roommate. Though we hadn’t declared ourselves exclusive, I was still baffled that she would do that. I thought that even though we weren’t calling each other girlfriend that I was her boo thang and she was mine. I quickly pulled back the trust I had given her so I wouldn’t be so vulnerable. It made me think I’d been right to act like Hefner, and that it’s smarter not to trust anyone.

I began talking to a new girl named Lulu, and she confirmed that vulnerability was a bad idea. She was cute and she lived in New York. She drew me in with our funny, deep conversations over the dating site and the phone. But Lulu accused me of cheating on her and was physically abusive to me. She wanted to be the one with all the control and power. And then, to add insult to injury, she broke it off by having her other girlfriend call me to end things.

I realized how badly I could be hurt. I turned off my emotions and moved back into my Hefner ways. Then I met Noelia on Instagram.

Learning From Several Girls

Noelia was a year younger then me and radiated sex appeal. Against my better instincts, I began to trust her, partly because we saw each other almost every day and I got to spend the night at her house most nights. Things with Noelia were secure, which was something I had never known. We didn’t fight or suspect each other of cheating. Our relationship ended last summer when she had to leave for college. We ended on a good note, and though we never fell in love, this two-month relationship was the first one where I got the security I wanted and we didn’t fight.

About a month later, I started talking to Alexis online. After we met, we got together about once a week. After only three months, she was someone I couldn’t see myself without.

It felt a lot like my relationship with Noelia. Alexis seemed as interested in me as I was in her. We spoke every night and yet always had plenty to say to each other. There was a spark every time we kissed. We went to the mall, her best friend’s dorm to visit, her house, my house, my family parties, out to eat and to the movies. I never had someone show love for me the way that she did. She talked to me about her past and her flaws. I told her of my corrupted past in foster care and she accepted me as well. I loved her, even though I consciously tried not to fall in love.

She also took me back or begged for me to come back after we fought. But as good as things were, I wasn’t ready to fully trust someone else. I don’t know for sure if Alexis was talking to other females, but certain things raised suspicion. For one thing, she wouldn’t call me her girlfriend; she said, “We don’t need titles.” She stayed friends with her ex-girlfriends who are now her close friends. She didn’t invite me to any of the outings with her sorority sisters.

I was scared of getting hurt again, so I began to flirt around, always telling the girls that I was already seeing someone, which helped me feel in control of how things would end up. I didn’t have sex with any of the girls I flirted with. But I felt like this way, if Alexis decided to leave, I would have someone else on the side to pick up. My strategy made me feel safe, but it ended up killing our relationship.

Still, loving Alexis has been the best thing that has happened to me. I know now how much love I have to offer to someone and how much pain accompanies that love. And thanks to Noelia, I am aware that I can have a relationship without any drama. Knowing these things will help me make future decisions about whether to get into something as deep again. Each of these women showed me a little more about how to love and be loved without hurting someone else. It’s harder than I thought to drop that Hefner part of me that protects me, but I’m going to keep trying.

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(FCYU-2018-07-18)

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