This post is one of many from my Sucker4Love Mixtape Series: Things I have learned from the women who dumped me. Sign up here for the newsletter.
When I started this essay series, I hoped to use my failed relationships and poor decisions as a filter to discuss important issues. Things like consent, rape culture, and entitlement. I was hoping to do it in a way that would encourage men to assess the way they view and engage with women, while also doing a deeper reflection on themselves. I’m not sure how many people I have been able to help/enlighten, but in the time writing these essays I have learned a lot about myself. This is why I want to close out this chapter of my essay series with a story that I never intended to share. Don’t worry, it wasn’t because of anything egregious, but as I was putting an outline together and thinking of topics to cover this one didn’t even crack the top ten. After some deep reflection, I think it’s important I share this experience, as well as the lesson.
There are three women who define my adolescent and young adult years. There was my first ever girlfriend, Jeana, my long-term but never revealed crush on my next-door neighbor, Desire, and my Jr. high and high school crush, Samantha Mendez. Samantha was a short Puerto Rican girl who lived on the edge of East New York. Our relationship started out contentious because as a musty 12-year old youth, I was committed to making fun of her and her friends for their obsession with boy bands. I did this while secretly loving all of the same bands, but being too afraid to admit it because people might call me gay.
By the end of eighth grade, I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, people would make fun of me regardless, so if I was gonna be bullied, I might as well get bullied for things I enjoyed. No longer shackled to the opinion of others, I started discussing my love of boy bands like Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, O-Town, and 98 degrees openly. Sam took a liking to this and before you knew it, we were friends. Initially, I wasn’t interested In her romantically. I was just happy to have a friend of the opposite sex who liked me for me, not because I got high scores in our Global Studies…