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Voices of COHP

Melissa Patton


On two separate occasions, I befriended guys to talk up my girl friends who had crushes on them, and try to set them up, only to discover later that the guys were interested in me.  The first time that happened, I tried to resist in the name of loyal friendship, but ultimately wound up dating the guy for a year.  
Not surprisingly, that friendship was never the same after that, and I was a rather jealous girlfriend.  (Feeling guilty much?)  It was not uncommon for me to become immediately interested in someone once I learned of their attraction to me.  THAT happened way, way more times than I care to admit.
But even when I was in a relationship, I craved and sought the attention or affection of other boys, knowing full well nothing would or could ever come of it.  I was often called a tease because I would flirt with a guy, but then slowly become disinterested when he started to like me.  I certainly never meant any harm.  I didn’t do these things intentionally.  I didn’t even know why I was like that.  I just liked the attention.  It made me feel good.  
I was often interested in more than one guy at a time, and I always had to be actively attracted to someone.  When I was not naturally feeling anything toward anyone for a while, I deliberately sought my next object of affection.  Like a hungry lion, searching for its prey!  Yes, part of that was attributed to my out-of-control adolescent hormones, but what more than that?
I was also guilty of eating up the attention of guys who were interested in me, but who I had zero interest in.  It’s not that I found them repulsive, they just weren’t my type.  I badly broke the hearts of at least three boys in high school, one of whom I actually did try to date for a couple of months.  
I did not WANT to hurt them, and was genuinely sorry that I did; but in my excitement of knowing they liked me, let alone noticed me at all, I innocently gave off the wrong signals, making them think they had a chance.  And by “signals,” I mean smiling while talking to them, accepting a rose on Valentine’s Day, or going for a moonlit stroll to talk about deep, philosophical stuff.  
Again, I had no intention of misleading anyone.  Unfortunately, two of those three incidents created some nasty enemies.  I received anonymous threats online over Instant Messenger, I was tipped off that someone almost slashed my tires while I was at work, and several mutual friends completely stopped talking to me and started gossiping behind my back – all after I had tried to be as gentle and humble as possible when informing them I simply was not interested in being more than friends.
Looking back, I realize I had an issue with boundaries.  I let myself get closer to or was friendlier with the opposite gender than perhaps I should have been.  I was not physically intimate with any of them; then again, that was not what I lacked.  I craved attention.  Affection.  Approval.  Validation.  I had no idea that I was actually hurting people in the process of so desperately seeking what I did not even realize I needed.

To read the rest of my story, including childhood memories, my personal journal entries from our experience on the show "Hoarders," notes from my therapy sessions, my research, and photos of my childhood home, check out my self-published memoir, Validate Me! (How my mom's hoarding kind of messed me up), available in paperback and e-book on
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