[Image credit: Alicia Williams]
If I had to count on my fingers the number of times I’ve heard the adage “it’s better to have loved and lost than to have not loved at all,” I’d be outta fingers. Still, I’ve always been fuzzy on what all that means; sure, the euphoric highs of a great love make all the lows that come afterward worth the pain, but it’s come to my attention that this quote only applies to the great loves, and not the filler loves.
What’s a filler love, you ask? Good question. The filler love is the relationship in which you find yourself between, say, two great loves, or when you’re just bored and/or lonely. What makes the filler love different from the great love is that from the beginning, whether it’s two days in or two months in, you kind-of-sort-of know that the guy you’re with is not gonna be the father of your children. You care about him – and maybe, you even love him – but most of the time, you can’t put your finger on why exactly he’s not The One. It’s just a feeling; a vibe.
And yet. I seem to be surrounded by people in filler relationships. Fine, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t know a thing or two about them first-hand. But if you find yourself dating someone you know you’re not gonna marry (or, for the non-marriage believers, someone you’re not gonna be with for the long haul) then, pardon my French, but what’s the god damn point?
On the one hand, dating a filler guy can be a learning experience – as is any endeavor one decides to pursue. But making the commitment to date someone, all the while knowing you’re gonna disappoint him (or worse, break his poor little heart) isn’t the same as, say, committing to chopping all your hair off. The hair has no feelings; it’ll grow back, unfazed and healthier than before. But the guy? The guy does have feelings, and will be left wounded, wondering, and not quite as resilient as the hair. And though he may never know you knew from the start that he wasn’t the peanut butter to your jelly, fact remains you knew – which makes you malicious and, to be completely frank, cowardly.
Cue examples. There’s the friend of mine who’s been with the same broad for over two years, but still questions his loyalty to her on a weekly, if not daily basis. There’s the friend who came up to me and said, “I love my girlfriend, but I’m still so young and want to experiment more” (he continues to string along the girlfriend whom he’s left in the dark).
There’s the girl who dated my friend – the one whose parents, from the get-go, were opposed to her dating anyone outside of her religion – that gave my friend false hope for nearly three years, then left him stranded, a shadow of a person, by the end. Finally, there was me. I led a guy on for almost a year by giving him half of my heart because I knew he wasn’t capable of handling the whole thing. And that half-assed relationship composed of one-and-a-half hearts blew up in flames, and we were both left a little bit older and only an insubstantial amount the wiser.
Despite all that, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe even filler loves, like great loves, cultivate significant enough challenges of the human experience, giving us enough to learn from to make them worth the time.
Or, maybe – maybe – we need to get better at accepting it’s okay to fall flat, ass-first on ice, and not have someone we’re not crazy about by our side to help us back up. Maybe choosing whether or not to have a filler love is more of an internal battle than anything else: a battle of being with someone who makes you only 70 or 80 or 90% happy, versus being alone, 100% happy with yourself. I challenge others to step back and ask themselves: am I that afraid of being on my own?
I want mad love, or I don’t want love at all. See, when the great love comes, you won’t have to question if it’s a filler, because you’ll just know. It’ll hit you like a big yellow school bus.