Always the bridesmaid…What it’s like to always be the girl before THE girl

What it’s like to always be the girl before THE girl

I haven’t had much luck when it comes to love (shocking, I know). Sure I’ve been in several long term relationships, and was even married for a little while, but I’ve never been able to make anything stick. Whether they left me, I left them, or we mutually agreed to split, the culminating result has always been the same – I always ended up being the last girl before they met THE girl.

I’m not quite sure you can possibly understand how soul-sucking and emotionally debilitating it is to see every man you’ve ever loved find their actual “soul mate” right after your relationship ends unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. You expect your exes to move on and meet other people, sure, but it’s a bit jarring when they all end up meeting “the one” right away, as has been the case for me. You start to wonder if your entire purpose in life is to turn men into the best versions of themselves so that they can go out there and be those amazing people for somebody else.

We all want to believe that we are the best thing that’s ever happened to someone. That no other woman could ever hold a flame to us. And of course that we will be “the one who got away.” Well let’s just say I have been forced into a reality check that I didn’t exactly bargain for and it has definitely been a blow to my ego, to say the least. Truthfully, it’s fucked me up.

I certainly know that I didn’t have any of these men at their best, or at my best for that matter. Most of my relationships were difficult at times. All of my relationships forced me and the men in them to take long, hard looks at ourselves and acknowledge our faults and our baggage. My method of delivery can be considered a mixture of brutal honesty and apathy – which needless to say has resulted in me leaving no confusion in their minds as to what I was unsatisfied with. But since the men in my life have always seemed to trust and value my feedback, these were always the things that they worked on changing after the relationship ended. As for myself, it wouldn’t be a relationship if your man hadn’t told you every single thing you did that got on their nerves. So let’s just say I knew some areas that needed improvement. At the end of the day, I think each of us left our relationships a little better than how we entered them; a little more knowledgeable about our strengths and weaknesses. The major difference, however, is how we’ve all fared afterwards. One after another, each and every man that I have cared for has found his real true love right after we split. Meanwhile I’m still single and rejecting sexual favors from strangers on Tinder. So what does that say about me?

It’s hard not to wonder if something is seriously wrong with you when you’re consistently the girl that they just can’t make it work for, that they are not motivated enough to make changes for, that they don’t feel enough of a longterm spark for. And it’s not that I haven’t been loved by these guys, because I have been. At the time I believed they loved me as much as they were capable of. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that they were actually capable of loving a lot harder and deeper than they were ever able to love me (well emotionally at least…). It’s painful always wondering why you weren’t good enough, and impossible to not question what all of these women have that you don’t. I always liked to think that I had pretty healthy self-esteem and I am quite certain that I’m pretty fabulous in the sack – just saying, but I will admit that nothing has broken me down and made me doubt myself more than finding myself in this situation over and over again. How can it be that every man ends up happier without me and that the next girl always ends up having everything they’ve ever wanted? Am I that much of a fucking disaster?

I often think back to a relationship that I walked away from and I wonder, was I the stupid one? Why did I not see in him what this current woman sees? How can she be made so happy by the same man who had made me feel so disillusioned and frustrated? Perhaps she is just a better and smarter woman than I am. But then I remember all of the reasons I left…and they weren’t small things, or at least they didn’t seem to be. Was I just too picky and too unrealistic? Maybe was looking for perfection and she is more accepting of the flaws and the issues that I thought he had. However, I haven’t ended all of my relationships. Some men have left me and some relationships just fizzled out. I wasn’t being too picky or unreasonable in those situations, but the result was still the same. So what gives?

It’s been almost four years since my marriage ended, and every single man who has come and gone since then seems to have ended up better off without me. The immature one who wanted to just party and have his freedom is now settled down with a family. The nice guy who was happy with things staying the same and who couldn’t move forward is now moving forward with someone else. The commitment-phobe who told me that it wasn’t me, that no woman would ever be enough for him and that there was no such thing as “the one,” for the first time has stars in his eyes and feels emotionally connected to someone. Does being with me make them realize exactly what they don’t want in a woman? Or do they learn from me what women really want in a relationship and begin to be those men once I’m out of the picture?  There is no worse feeling than loving someone with everything that you have and only getting a portion of it in return, only to find out later that they are actually able to give 100%. Just not to you.

The most interesting and confusing part is that I have always managed to stay on good terms with my exes. There has never been a great deal of resentment, and the break-ups, while always filled with tears and regret, have never occurred because of anything so horrible that I could never speak to them again. So I know that they think pretty highly of me. I joke that they would all give me really good references. I’ve even gone as far as to ask one of them point blank – what was it about me? What did I not have, what did I not do? What about me wasn’t enough and what about her makes her a better fit? And the response has always been the same – “I don’t know. It’s just a different feeling, unlike anything I’ve experienced before.” Ouch.

It’s kind of like when you know that you’re sick; you know something is wrong with you, but you just cannot get a diagnosis. No doctor can find anything in your bloodwork or on your scans. And you go from doctor to doctor until you finally reach a point where you are begging for them to find something, anything, even if it’s terrible, just so you know once and for all. Because any answer is better than uncertainty. Anything is better than “I don’t know.” That’s all I want. I want a diagnosis –the ugly truth. What’s wrong with me? What can I work on, so that the next guy I meet and fall for can find ME to be unlike anyone he’s ever met before; so that he doesn’t turn out to be just another guy who uses me as a stepping stone on his path towards true bliss? Is that really too much to fucking ask for?


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11 thoughts on “Always the bridesmaid…What it’s like to always be the girl before THE girl

  1. Not to sound too cliche, but it sounds like you just haven’t met a guy that makes you feel like the girl did that your ex’s met after you. In order to find it, set some stiff standards for the next guy – seriously, write down what he must have and what he cannot have, down to the gritty details. That’s 50% of the battle right there….

    1. Yeah, but then you become that girl with a list of “must-have’s” which leads to everyone telling you to get off of your hight horse and to lower your standards. Can’t win sometimes.

      1. You don’t have to tell anyone about it! I read about it by Corey Wayne (dating coach, a real one) after writing it down you’ll start noticing them during your daily travels and you’ll be more akin to chatting them up when you see “one”. He even says for us guys to put it into your dating profile – I did it, its been a fun experiment – women read it and think “he just described me” – although I have gotten some push back, from chicks I am not interested in, so who cares. I’ll get less dates, but they will be far higher quality than the usual churn and burn bs normally associated with the online stuff. Zero enthusiasm to go on 3 dates a week anymore…

        1. If I put my list on my dating profile I would probably run out of room (which is probably my issue – long list of requirements). Perhaps I’d be better off writing “looking for a unicorn.” But in all seriousness, I hear what you’re saying, but I already know that my issue is that I am too picky and I go for the wrong men. If I wrote down what I really want I would have to acknowledge how shallow I am :/

          1. It’s not shallow! It’s what you require and deserve! Until you face that you’ll just keep landing in pointless “relationships”.

            “Been there”


  2. I felt so sad reading this post 🙁 and I could feel the sadness that must have been coming from you as you wrote it!
    I know it’s far more easier said then done but try not to beat yourself up too badly. It could spiral into something worse!
    I do have to agree though and say I truly believe it’s simply because you haven’t met “the one” for you. The way you gutta look at it, is that everyone is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. When you finally meet the right match you’ll fit together perfectly. I didn’t believe in the “perfect match” and “true love” until I met my other half. I wasn’t even looking for someone when we met! That’s another thing I believe in; once you stop looking for something, you will always find it. Same goes to relationships. We’ve been together almost 6 years now and I can’t imagine being without him!
    Don’t stress about being too picky. It’s your life after all and if you don’t start being picky now then it’s just going to end up with history repeating itself and you realising you want/need more from a guy. For your personal use only write a list (as the guy mentioned above). But have two sections. One for the “must have” and one for the things you can compromise on. For example I’m guessing if he is “the one”, hair colour isn’t going to be a deal breaker? Or a little more serious, then something like his job/income. If he doesn’t have the high end job that you would expect him to have, can you compromise with something like that or is that a deal breaker for you? But then again if he is going to make you the happiest girl on the planet, do you really need him to have that high end job you had hoped he’d have? Money can’t buy happiness. By the way I’m not implying these are on your “list” I’m merely using them as examples.
    Don’t give up hope. Stop looking and start enjoying your life in the moment. You’ll find someone when you’re least expecting it and it’ll feel 10x more special when you’re not expecting xx

    1. You’re so sweet, thank you! I don’t even necessarily believe in “the one” but rather that there can be several “ones” throughout your life. But I am open to any possibility. I probably have a list in my mind, but maybe I will write it on paper after all (for the record, looks are probably more important to me than money – not sure if that makes me more or less shallow, haha). And I would love to stop looking, but unfortunately my regular routine doesn’t have me bumping into new people often, thus forcing me to be on dating sites – which I guess is technically “looking.” Ugh…

  3. I can relate to how you feel so much it hurts just reading it. I asked myself the same questions over and over, feeling defeated and broken because realtionship after relationship would end and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t good enough. It really broke my self-esteem, particularly because as you said, one of the hardest things in life is giving so much of yourself, loving another completely and not getting that in return. I didn’t have any friends as a child, and have struggled with this issue not just in romantic relationships but in friendships as well. Even now, after I have found a man I never thought even existed and have been with him for over 5 years, I still occassionally look back and wonder what was wrong with me. Not that I want any of my exes back, and to be honest most days I thank God I dodged those bullets, but knowing that a person isn’t right for you is not always enough to take away the sting and the pain of rejection. It doesn’t stop you from comparing yourself to the new woman, even when youre not prone to comparisons. It doesn’t stop you from wondering what you did wrong. It’s like getting fired from a job you may not particularly like, it still sucks even if you were paying for a way out every day.

    I truly wish I had some useful advice to give, but I myself haven’t found my way back completely. The only thing that sometimes has helped has been reminding myself that this is life’s way of telling me to stop defining myself and my worth based on external factors. We tend to think those are about how good looking we are, how smart we are, how much money we have, but how much we are liked, how many people love us are also external factors that don’t really have a real relation to who we are and what we are worth as human beings. We tend to think a person receives love in relation to how good they are, that they chose them because they are better at something than we are, but love often has nothing to do with any of that, just think back to some of the people you have loved even though they were less than perfect. We can’t always explain why we love someone, or why we want to be with them, it truly is just a feeling. That feling isn’t meant to indicate that a person is better than the rest, only that perhaps there is a possibility that they are the best one for you. If you think of as a simple matter of fit then it is a bit easier to cope with and doesn’t feel as much like a rejection. Like being an oval peg in a circle hole. You don’t quite fit there but there really is a slot for you, even if it’s far away and it takes you a while to find it. Wether you do or you don’t, it has no bearing on how great you are what you are worth. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It’s bitter sweet that you were able to connect to this, bitter because it’s such a vulnerable place to be emotionally and sweet because it’s nice to know that something I wrote connected with you. You’re right, we need to stop comparing ourselves – unfortunately easier said than done. Forever works in progress we are…

  4. I don’t have any real words of advice to give you (sometimes I think it’s better that way). I just want you to know that you’re not alone. It’s harder at the holidays. You have so much to offer the world, not just a man, and you’re going to end up just where you ought to be. “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

    1. I love that!! And you’re so right! Sometimes it’s just hard to keep a positive attitude and remember that this is just temporary. Thanks so much for your kind words!

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