My first real relationship didn’t exactly start out real. In fact, it started off pretty casual. Neither of us was particularly interested in settling down in a relationship, nor were we ready. Eventually that did end up happening, and naturally, I was thrilled. Little did I know, this relationship would have far-reaching consequences on multiple aspects of my life.
When I met my first real boyfriend (now ex), we talked here and there, and most of our encounters happened by chance and were random. I never took anything he said seriously because he was a huge jokester. Our relationship went something like this: he would text me out of the blue and we’d have a brief conversation, and then I wouldn’t hear from him for a few days (or weeks). We went to school together, so if we saw each other in the hallways we would quickly talk before class started. It stayed that way for a few months, and then we started hanging out outside of school.
As I look back on this relationship now (almost three years later), the transition from being just friends to being partners is really blurry. Like a lot of relationships nowadays, there was no distinction between us being “single” and us being “in a relationship”. This conflict of interests caused some problems in our relationship because I wanted to define “what we were,” and he was comfortable not labeling our relationship. Despite being in this state of uncertainty, our dependence and reliance on each other was far from uncertain. We talked non-stop – if we weren’t together in person, we were constantly texting. It became hard to do anything alone, which leads me to the next problem in our relationship – he became very controlling. I had always been independent before entering into this relationship, but I started to notice myself drifting from my best friends because he wanted me to spend time with only him. I didn’t like that, but I let it happen, and it took a lot of time and strength to walk away from this relationship.
Even though I had never been the type of person to rely on someone else, it’s easy to be blind to the negative impact a certain relationship is having on your life when you’re completely engulfed in it. When you put your partner on a pedestal and rely on them to feel good about yourself, it’s easy to overlook the bad things they’re doing. You want to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and only focus on their good qualities, but you have to be real with yourself at some point. I came close to losing some of my best friends as a result of this relationship because I placed him before them and didn’t realize that I was pushing them away in the process. Thankfully, they stuck with me through it all and were able to forgive.
The biggest loss that I experienced through this relationship, however, was my sense of independence. I spent two years putting somebody else’s needs and happiness before mine, and that caused a lot of damage. I felt lost, but I decided that I’d rather be lost and single than lost and in a toxic relationship. So, I ended the relationship.
I expected things to return back to normal fairly quickly after the break-up, but that wasn’t the case. It was the first time in a long time that I had to just be by myself, and with myself. The healing process was far more than just a broken heart. I had to deal with regaining my confidence, but I also had to deal with overcoming the feelings of resentment that I held towards him. With the help of friends, family, and starting school in a new city, I slowly but surely felt like myself again. It was a slow process, but I learned to love that time because every day I felt stronger than I had the day before.
It was almost six months before I spoke to my ex-boyfriend and saw him again. The first time we saw each other was brief, and we ended up getting into an argument. Fast forward another year (which happens to be just last week): he texted me out of nowhere and asked me to get dinner. I finally felt ready to see him just as friends and have a normal conversation. Let’s not forget that this was over a year and a half after we initially broke up. We went out to dinner, and spent some time talking and catching up. It was really nice to see him, and I’m glad that I don’t resent him anymore or blame him. We’re different now than when we were in a relationship, but I’m happy that we’re on good terms. I learned a lot from this relationship. More than anything– you should never depend on someone else for your own happiness. After that dinner last week, I think I’m finally ready to close the door on that relationship and put it behind me for good.
My blog post next week “Me Before You” will delve into a more mature relationship. I hope you check it out!