I’m always weary about writing anything too personal, I feel like that’s what my journal is for, but I’ve been sitting on this piece for some time now and It’s gone through a lot of editing thanks to one of my best friends (you can follow her here). I submitted it to Thought Catalog and it’s one of the first pieces they didn’t publish and honestly, I’m glad they didn’t. I think I needed to talk to the person this is about before just blindly posting my relationship woes on the internet.
The truth is, he was the first guy I seriously (but not so seriously) dated, the first person I felt comfortable around and had a connection with. I saw a future with him and I thought finally my life had begun (or was about to). Then, I read this awesome article about being a single twenty something and it was so eye opening (seriously click the link and read it).
As a Christian I definitely feel the pressure of finding my modern day Boaz and getting married. It’s all anyone seems to focus on (let’s just the ignore the fact that I am a graduating senior, interning for Dell and at the the capitol in Jefferson City next semester). But you know what, marriage is important to me and it is something I dream about often and I realized that every failed relationship isn’t necessarily a failure, but an learning opportunity. So, I decided that sharing my story on this blog might actually do some good. ______________________________________________________________________________________________
I wasted more than a year of my life. What’s worse is that, I spent too much time trying to be special to someone who didn’t value me. I know what you’re thinking: this is another one of those articles that will bash men. I’m not here to do that. I’m here to tell my story, and to possibly help someone else in the process.
I met him and he changed everything. Looking back at it, I feel like he fell out of the sky and decided he was going to “date” me. Our relationship was so random. The conversation was easy, there was no pressure, no awkward silences, it just felt right, but I was too stubborn to admit I might actually have feelings for him, so I just went along with it, making sure not to care too much.
After four months of talking, he asked me on a date and I was ecstatic, I thought about it the entire week, and when the day finally came I was shaking and couldn’t focus on anything else.
After all my anxiety, he stood me up.
Being stood up reminded me very quickly why I never wanted to believe in love in the first place. I immediately deleted his number and moved on. Or so I thought.
What seemed like it would be happily ever after, turned into nothing. I haven’t dated a ton of guys, but I was still sure that this one was so different. When you really care about someone, you begin to let your standards fall.
He didn’t lie to you, (except for that one time, but that was totally necessary, right?)
Plus, he might be the one.
I kept lying to myself. Three weeks later, I get a simple text “Hey lady, wassup?” I thought this was some kind of joke, though I didn’t show it, I really did like this guy and so even though I was relieved he finally text me, I was also confused as to why he was so nonchalant, as if he hadn’t stood me up, or ignored me for three weeks. I responded with something bitchy to let him know I was pissed and the apology texts rolled in.
But I let him back in. I looked past it and let him make it up to me. It would take him standing me up about three more times (and then apologizing profusely) for me to realize I deserved better. I’d never dealt with this before. Even though I knew I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was treating me, I kept forgiving him, as if a bottle of wine and free dinner with a movie solved all our problems (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I never said it to him, but I thought he was my first love.
I turned to my best friends for support, and even my mom, but most of the time their advice included some bullshit about our relationship being “real love” (because lying and being deceitful are fantastic qualities of real love).
I allowed his carefree attitude and the lust of a summer romance fool me. Everything felt perfect that summer. I had found the one. But school resumed and things began to change. The effort to communicate, spend time together and be a couple was gone. I let this go on for a little more than a year before finally saying something because I knew once I did, there would be no turning back.
Looking back at it, a text message saying “I’m done with you, you’re a piece a crap and I deserve better,” wasn’t the best way to try and end things, but that’s what I did. Such is life. He didn’t take it well. He called me a brat, said I didn’t know what I was letting go of blah, blah, blah. I didn’t respond, deleted his number, and we stopped talking.
Almost a month later, in the midst of my best friend getting engaged and a family member passing away, he called me and even though I didn’t have his number memorized, I knew it was him. I ignored it. He texted me, I ignored it. He texted me again, I gave in.
Turns out he was pledging into a historically black fraternity and really wanted me to be at his probate. So, despite all the bullshit of the past year, I went and I bought him a gift because I was proud of him, and in a giving mood. The possibility of what could happen next excited me.
I went to his probate with my two of my best girlfriends and at the end of it, all I got was a hug. To make matters worse, he didn’t even take my gift. He said he’d come visit me soon and get it, which never happened.
For weeks and weeks that stupid black box sat on my kitchen table and mocked me. It sounds dramatic, but every time I walked out of my room and saw it, I got sick. I just wanted to be done with him and I feel like I had done everything in my power to try to be. He told me he felt like I was the one, but ignoring me for weeks, and rolling over to his side of the bed when I wanted to talk about our relationship didn’t feel like love. I held on to the idea of there being an us, but most nights I was alone, with brownies he never came to eat (but always seemed to beg for).
I forgave him, multiple times. I prayed, read the Bible, and prayed some more. I read the story of Ruth and Boaz repeatedly, hoping to find the part where Boaz was a jerk to Ruth, but then turned it around, but it wasn’t there. I bothered anyone who would listen to get their advice, but the truth was, I just wasn’t over him. He wasn’t my Boaz. I had to realize that.
After spending time at my parents house, I returned to my apartment and decided I was getting rid of the gift. I realized I was holding onto it because it gave me hope that I would see him again or hear from him, but the reality was it had been a month, it was over, for real this time. I realize I could have just thrown the gift away, but I wanted real closure.
I drove 30 minutes down the highway in rural mid-Missouri, rain pouring and the sky pitch black. I put the gift in front of the doorway, knocked and walked away.
Now I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking wow, you left a gift at his door, big whoop. But it isn’t about the gift, or even that I got rid of it, it’s what it symbolizes. The gift was the last part of me he would ever have. It meant I was finished.
Every person that walks into your life teaches you something about yourself. My not-boyfriend (what I called him behind his back) taught me that love is real and finding the one is possible, he just wasn’t it. He taught me what I wanted from a man and more importantly not to settle for a boy. He helped me see my beauty without the makeup or the nice outfits and perfect top knot bun and he taught me the importance of spending time with the people you love without letting social media or electronics get in the way. He taught me to trust my gut and to stand up for myself the first time, not the fifth. He also showed me what love isn’t.
Not every relationship is going to have a happily ever after, nor is it going to end with a civilized talk, resulting in a mutual decision to go your separate ways. You shouldn’t have to beg someone to pay attention to you to know your worth. It should be natural. Being wanted and loved is an amazing feeling, but sometimes you’ve got to forget how you feel and remember what you deserve. And once you do, you won’t settle for anything less.