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Cancel Your Therapy Appointment: It's the Best Love Advice Column Ever

Illustration for article titled Cancel Your Therapy Appointment: Its the Best Love Advice Column Ever

Ask Polly, formerly of The Awl, has found a new home at New York Magazine's The Cut, and earlier this week posted the best, most cathartic, kind, lovely, and incredible advice column I've ever read.

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I'm a bit of a connoisseur of advice columns. In my free time, when I'm not tearing bar coasters into tiny pieces, rolling them up, and making a little pile next to my beer which I'm sure the bartender hates to clean up, I'm reading advice columns. Dear Prudence, old Dear Sugar, Dear Coquette, Friend Zone, Pot Psychology (RIP), the prior iteration of Ask Polly, Dear Abby, Ask a Married Guy, Village Voice's wonderfulAsk Andrew WK, etc etc etc etc etc. Other people's problems are fascinating, and advice columnists' responses to those problems can sometimes be beautiful and terrible. It's like sitting in on a therapy session.

In this week's installment of Ask Polly, Heather Havrilesky answers a question from a woman who recently amicably ended an 18 month relationship with a man who, for one reason or another, simply didn't love her. This isn't the first time this has happened to the advice-seeker; she's spent much of her adult life in relationships with men who don't love her, despite the fact that she's always been balanced, kind, understanding, and a generally "good" girlfriend.

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Havrilesky's response to the woman explores self-worth, the way women are conditioned to hide who we really are to please a man, why it's okay to be "difficult," and so many other issues that women I've known (or been) have dealt with that after I read it the first time, I had to sit back and stare at my hands for a few minutes to let the whole thing sink in. It is one of the smartest pieces of writing on women relationships I've read in many moons. This week's Ask Polly is so good that I don't even want to excerpt it here. Please, do yourself a favor and read it for yourself.

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I am almost weeping reading this. Sometimes I am up to here with the "love yourself" rhetoric because Western culture is severely lacking in a dedication to community, but the advice in Polly's column is solid gold.

I fell for too many men who didn't move their piles of dirty dishes or clothes or lyric books out of the way for me. I played by all the little rules and said what they wanted to hear instead of what I was feeling, scared of scaring "a good one" away. I always responded, never initiated. I even told a man once, in tears, after he did something foul during a moment that meant a lot to me, "I just want to be cherished," and it sounded so stupid, but I meant it. I've never once bought the Disney fairytale, actively never included finding "the one" on my to-do list, but deep, deep, deep down in my soul, I craved reciprocity, to feel my own level of passion reflected back upon me instead of feeling like I was throwing it all into a fucking black hole.

I gave up on being someone's everything. It wasn't realistic. I became my own everything, and I don't care how that sounds. I lived alone. I acted without an audience. I took a lot of baths and took as long to get ready as I damn well pleased. Even if I was just going to the store. I went out with friends. I called my parents more often. I did my shit, made my own dreams happen. When I dated, I said what I felt when I felt it, without even pausing to wonder if it was "too soon" or "too much", and walked away from anyone who couldn't form a response. And then I fell for someone who fell for me, and became his everything, and now my heart may as well be at the bottom of a well in North Korea because I'm never getting it back. I know how he feels. There is zero bullshit, and infinite two-way cherishing.

I'm not saying that could happen for anyone, or that someone should cherish oneself purely as a loophole to find true love. But it's a damn good start if that's what you're after, and worth doing regardless of the outcome.