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Sometimes we want someone so badly, we overlook all the warning signs and red flags that should send us running in the opposite direction. Other times, we are already waist-deep in emotions and feelings before we realize that the dude has no intentions toward us, accepts no accountability for his actions and is really just wasting our time.

Let me be an example for you. I’ve discussed my history with the “Lawrence type” before, but I am going to go into a bit more detail today because I think it’s needed. Momo went through that so you wouldn’t have to. Heed my lessons, sisters.

A gentleman approached me earlier this year and suggested that we collaborate on a creative project. I agreed, and in the course of our working on the project, private messages were exchanged. We also exchanged phone numbers, and the messaging branched out to texting.

I was totally consumed by someone else at that point, so I considered our exchanges to be minor flirting at best. The frequency and intensity of the messages grew over the summer, however, and we started talking on the phone.

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The “getting to know each other” phase was sweet. He was charming, funny and smart. I found myself more and more attracted to him, and it appeared that the feeling was mutual.

When I initially brought up taking things further, he brushed it off and said that he had some other things going on. I was confused, but he told me that he didn’t object to the idea, he just wanted to clear out the other stuff first, so I acquiesced. We continued the flirtation. We continued talking every day. It got to the point where, if we didn’t talk for even one day, things seemed weird—to both of us.

More and more, though, I noticed that he bristled whenever I brought up the subject of taking things further again. So one day I asked him flat out, “What are your intentions with me?”

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“I don’t know,” he said. “I never thought about it.”

And there it was. This man whom I had spent hours each day for months talking with admitted that he was basically wasting my time. He didn’t have any intentions with me. He just enjoyed the conversations and the attention.

I was pissed—both at him and at myself for ignoring the signs that were there all along. I was a fool.

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A man who knows what he wants from you is going to make that clear up front. He’s going to tell you. If he’s serious about it, he’s going to tell you repeatedly. He’s not going to beat around the bush or dodge your questions about it. He will have the answers because the thing that he wants is within his grasp. He only needs you to agree with and go along with it.

He’s not going to play games with accountability, and in the earlier example, saying that he had no intentions is the way that man attempted to avoid accountability.

As long as he can pretend that he is “just friends” and not looking for anything more, he thinks that is a way for him not to be responsible for how he makes you feel—good, bad or otherwise.

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Don’t be fooled, ladies. “Friends” is just a word they use to keep their toe in your pool. It’s the way they are able to keep themselves in your orbit. Calling himself a friend makes it easy for him to have access to you without all the responsibility that comes with calling you his woman or girlfriend. It’s the easy button. He can pretty much do what he wants, and whenever you voice an objection, he will throw that “just friends” “Get out of jail free” card up in your face. It’s bullshit.

A real friend wouldn’t treat you like that. If he were really your friend, and you told him that there was a man doing the things to you that he himself is doing, would he think that was OK? Ask him that. Chances are he won’t answer or he will deflect instead, because he knows the truth: He’s full of shit.

So what do we do, and how do we avoid letting this happen over and over again?

For me, I had to recognize that once I allowed it to happen, it became the norm. There was no need for him to change his behavior as long as I provided him an in for his performative brand of friendship. The moment I allowed myself to be a lily pad (we’ll discuss this at length some other time) or a pleasant distraction or whatever it was he saw me as, that was the only thing he was going to see me as, no matter what. He didn’t have to change because I wasn’t changing.

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It’s at this point that you have to realize you are worth more than what you are getting so that things can and do change. First it was my initial irritation with the situation that made me create some space between us. Then it was the moment another man entered my life (HDT, for those who follow me on Twitter. We’ll talk about him soon, too) who had real intentions and took real action to win me over that both I and Performative Friend Boy realized that things had changed. Flush the fuckboy behavior away and let some real light enter your life.

Because there won’t be space for the real light to enter your life as long as you are allowing fuckboy behavior to have a stage on which to perform. It may sound cliché, but it’s true: You are blocking your blessings that way.

No matter how much it hurts—and believe me, I know how much it can hurt when you are invested in someone—in the end, letting go will be much easier than carrying on with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. You deserve more than someone who is only looking out for himself and his selfish needs.

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It took me realizing that Performative Friend Boy lacked emotional intelligence and emotional maturity to truly put the nail in that coffin. I don’t look at him the same, and I never will. He wasted my time. I wasted my time.

This isn’t to say that you or I won’t come across one of these dudes ever again. The growth comes in recognizing the signs and stopping the bleeding before it turns into a hemorrhage.

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We may not always get it right, but the more we realize our own personal value, the more likely we will be not to waste it on the wrong people.