By: Rebecca Smith
I broke up with a boy who I thought I was going to be with forever. At fifteen he and I decided that we had too much chemistry to not be in a relationship, so we started officially dating. It was weird for me at first because I considered myself unattractive due to my moderate acne and mouth full of braces. I was shocked that a boy as attractive as him could find any interest in me, physically. We dated all of high school and naturally fell in love at some point. It was, initially, everything I could have wanted in a high school relationship, sweet gestures and good night love quotes.
Everyone knew we dated, we were very familiar with one another’s family, and were even planning a life outside of high school. Did I mention we were nominated cutest couple senior year? At that moment in time I never felt as if there was a possibility we would not end up together in the long run.
To my surprise life had other plans for us. You see, he and I were planning a life together but a crucial element to that plan involved us being in the same city for college. When we did not get accepted into the Universities we planned, things started to look uncertain.
We decided to go to schools hours away from one another and clung on to the hope that we could still make it work. He and I were not prepared for the freedom of college life and young adulthood. Our relationship began to strain severely towards the end of fall semester. Often I found myself “in my feelings” about the whole matter. He was everything I wanted back in high school but for some reason my feelings weren’t strong enough to encourage me to pursue the relationship any further.
We ultimately broke up right before finals. It was sad but at the same time; I felt good, maybe even relieved. You see our relationship was far from a walk in the park. There were an unreasonable amount trust and communication issues that accrued over the years. It did not make sense to me to try and fix a relationship that was, in my opinion, beyond repair. I continued on with my life but he always lingered around in the back of my mind.
A year later we tried again and we kept trying for two more years, on and off (this is emotionally draining by the way). I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a relationship that seemed to require more work than you had the energy to offer, but it is not the ideal relationship nor is it healthy. I googled all the problems and issues I was having in hopes of finding an answer that would help make our situation better but everything just ended up on the doormat for dysfunctional.
The love and memories he and I cherished were a major factor as to why we would continuously pursue our, once magical, relationship. One day I had enough and decided that we had to officially call it quits because it just kept getting worse. It was not an easy decision to, what felt like, give up on our relationship but what else was I supposed to do? I was not the young, wide-eyed girl I was back in high school; I had matured into a fairly wise young woman. I knew staying was not the solution to our problem.
It has been months since I have heard from him but his smile still dances around in my head. Sometimes I am reminded of irreplaceable memories when I hear a certain song or drive pass somewhere we used to hang out. I planned my whole life at fifteen to be with someone who is not here now. I find myself playing Bittersweet by Fantasia as a coping therapy because it captures how I feel about our love story to a tee. Our love was beautiful but our relationship had its issues and I regularly acknowledge what I took away from it. The three main things that my failed relationship taught me were;
1. People Don’t Always Mean What They Say
Actions definitely do speak louder than words. Talking about changing for the better is not the same thing as actually putting in the effort to change. My ex had a listening problem. Whenever we would be in disagreement he could not comprehend why I would get upset or agitated about certain things because he never took the time to genuinely listen I know this because we found ourselves in the same situations many of times. I would bring up the listening problem many times to which he would say “I’ll do better” or “I’ll work on it”. I can’t honestly say I ever saw an improvement.
2. Space is Important
Often I felt sort of suffocated. As a human being, regardless of being in a relationship or not, you need space. It is important to set aside time for your mental and emotional health by indulging in activities that do not involve your significant other. My ex and I spent the majority of our time together for a consistent four years. We would be together during school, after school, and on weekends.
3. You can lose yourself.
Dating so young and for so long resulted in me making my relationship the center of my universe. It was in college that I had to readjust to operating as an individual again. I was so absorbed in my relationship that I did not know how to be an individual because I was accustomed to being someone’s girlfriend.
Often, I think that people feel like they have to stay in a relationship because of the emotional, physical, mental, and, sometimes, financial investment that they put in to it. I am here to say that it is okay to leave your first love or the love of your life if you feel it in your bones that that is not where you want or should be anymore. Years, months, and days before the official cut off I was detaching slowly but surely.
At least I did try to better our relationship and I comforted by that fact. I did not give up. Nonetheless, staying can make matters worse, like it did for me. You have to find the strength and realize the beauty in separating yourself from a situation or person that is not benefiting you in the way that it/they once did. Do not get caught up on thinking about how hard it is to start over because at the moment in time you need to do what is best for you. Although things did not turn out how I wanted; it ended how it was destined to be.
I would be lying if I said that moving on has been easy. My mind torments me every day with nostalgic memories. Any time something good or bad happens in my life he is still the first person I want to go run and tell. It does not make it any better when my mom asks, “how is he doing?” or “have you talked to him lately?” I imagine that I am going to always feel this way but the intensity of the emotions will die down as time progress and I am okay with that.
There is so much beauty in moving on that I feel more empowered than heartbroken. My ex will most likely label what I did as “giving up” but in time, hopefully, he will understand that I did what was best for me and, ultimately, us. We both deserve to be happy even if it is not with each other. That relationship taught me more than any textbook, lecture, or PowerPoint presentation and I will forever be grateful because I can implement that knowledge in future relationships, romantic or not.
I now know to be more cautious and wary of whom I invest myself in, and now recognize the importance of effectively communicating feelings of what angers or bothers me. Breaking up is just as much as the end as it the beginning. One of my main concerns afterwards was if I would be able to love someone else. I learned in church early one Sunday morning that our hearts are capable of loving more than one person and that message was right on time because I honestly did not think I could love again because I loved my ex so hard and strong for years but, eventually, I did find love again.