Here's the problem with pretending to be a Chill Girl Who's Fine With An Open Relationship And Are You Gonna Finish That Beer: It is really, really hard to pretend not to care that the person you really like is banging other people, unless you're Meryl Streep—And why would she bother? She wouldn't! Neither should you.
My personal chillness journey began, as personal journeys so often do, shortly after college. I started really liking a guy a lot for the first time basically ever, which I was not good at. (Have you ever seen those Bonsai cats on the Internet? It felt like that.) He didn't like me that much, or liked me enough to hook up with me occasionally and articulate that he wasn't looking for anything serious. But when you're a cat in a jar, you hear people incorrectly sometimes, and what I heard was, "Be the opposite of yourself and maybe we will get married." And so I did! Huzzah! Just kidding, it was awful.
The crux of my plan was to act chill, because guys like chill girls who don't care and take a while to answer texts and don't ask questions like, "What are we doing?" Since I couldn't help but have feelings—they haven't invented a removal surgery for that yet—I just jammed them into some weird emotional hole and tried to make my shell as ~*~supes chill~*~ as possible. I drank with The Guys. I bantered. I pretended I didn't see him at parties, I pretended I hadn't seen his Facebook lately and memorized every post in the last six months. I pretended not to notice that he was kissing some other girl on the dance floor and I was actually pretending so hard that I walked 50 blocks back to my house without noticing that there was a pool of blood in my shoe. (I hadn't broken in my flats.) I pretended I had no needs or wants or personal thresholds of respect, because that would make me too "high maintenance" to deal with.
Now, I'm not saying that no women like drinking beer and DGAF about some dude they're casually dating. Some women do! Women are diverse and complicated beings. But I was not one of them—I was pretending to be. And therein lies the difference between the Natural Chill Girl and the Masquerading Chill Girl. And, much like putting an incorrect shade of concealer on a giant zit, my façade of chillness only amplified my clear and intense investment in the guy. I doubt I came off chill to anyone else, is the funny thing. I was like the human equivalent of one of those crazy Gchat laughs you use when you're actually sort of upset: "my boyfriend from high school just had his first baby aahahahaha so weird." Just picture that laugh, in a dress, drunk.
After trying to become a free-range organic grass-fed Chill Girl, made from a blueprint of what I thought some guy wanted, it took me a really long time to realize that "having needs" was not the same as "needy." I was so used to the idea that once you display the fact that you care or want something serious or need commitment, the guy's turned off. There was no one moment of clarity in which I decided to shed my fake chillness. It was more of a process, one that involved cutting off all contact with the guy, having supportive friends and a therapist, and time! Time heals all wounds. That is not a saying for no reason!
My life has monumentally improved since I stopped trying to be a Chill Girl. First of all, it doesn't constantly feel like a blood vessel is about to explode in my eye. Second of all, I'm with someone who knows—and likes—that I'm an emotionally available person who has needs and wants, because that's what a real adult relationship is, rather than some immature "Whoever Cares Less Wins" World War III bullshit. I have not looked back since. When you have a high-pressure job and busy life, you don't want a massive part of your energy devoted to pretending to be Jennifer Lawrence's taint just so you don't scare off a dude. Plus, I just like white wine, OK?
Anyway, quoth the raven, "If you don't feel chill, don't pretend to be." Because you deserve better, and if you pretend to be chill for too long, you're going to lose your shit or have a stroke or something. Le fin.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been implemented by the Cosmo.ph editors.