Lessons in Falling
I’m going to let you in on a secret. I was actually incredibly terrified to write this blog post, to the point that I actually took a break from blogging because I didn’t think I could write this. Not just because my ex actually reads my blog (hey…this may be..awkward for you…if you are reading this…), but because I hadn’t even processed what this relationship meant to me and how it helped me grow. All I could really process was the pain of my first serious breakup and how hard and how long it took to let go.
But now I feel like I can tell you guys about it, and tell you what I learned. Maybe some of these things you are also learning in your current relationship. Maybe they are things you never even thought about at all. And maybe there are some things you can take with you into your next relationship.
A Bit of Backstory
Some background on my relationship before we get started: we were dating for about 6 or 7 months and my ex is honestly a gem of a human being. He was a great boyfriend and an amazing friend. So, this post is not to drag him to hell and back. These are simply things that I learned from being in my first “adult” relationship that I feel can be helpful to others.
Sharing is caring
The first thing that I learned in being in my first serious relationship was “sharing is caring.” Now I don’t mean this in the since of sharing a toy or your food like a stubborn toddler. I mean this as; you need to share who you are with them, your vales, your needs, etc. If you do not share these things in a relationship, then your partner has no idea how to care for you.
Here’s a really simple example: Let’s say you are allergic to peanuts, like very allergic, and you and your SO go out to eat. They ask you if you have any allergies, and you say no, even though you are allergic to peanuts. Now, what if they ordered a dish with nuts in it and then you weren’t able to eat it? They would be so upset. Not just because you wouldn’t be able to eat the dish, but also because they weren’t able to care for you, by knowing you and what you needed.
This is similar to being emotionally vulnerable in a relationship. I’m not saying that you have to let it all out on the first date, but I learned that I had to share. It was important that I did. This was especially hard for me to do because, I don’t share my problems…with anyone…at least not at the beginning. But I had to learn that if I really liked him and wanted this relationship to go past the first couple of dates, I had to share. And honestly it was the best thing I chose to do.
Long Distance is No Joke
Dude…long distance is literally no joke…like at all. You know how romance movies make it look difficult, and it’s literally just the couple missing each other and being lowkey sad until the next time they see each other again? That’s like the only thing they got right in those movies. And honestly my relationship was built on distance.
When we started dating, we were an hour/hour and a half drive away from each other, so that limited us to seeing each other on the weekends. And then he left for a month of training…about a month after we started dating. But wait there’s more! Then I graduated just as he came back and we were then 4 to 5 hours away from another. And then his job moved him to the Midwest…I can honestly say we spent more dates over the phone and on FaceTime, than we did face to face. And there was no end to it. We had no idea when we would end up being in the same place. He had to stay at his station for at least 3 years and I had no money, no job, and absolutely NO plans on moving to the Midwest.
All of this to say…long distance is not for the faint of heart. If you are going to do it, you need to really be sure that you love that person ESPECIALLY if there’s no clear end date in sight. After all absence does make the heart grow fonder, but it can also cause strain on a relationship if you are not too careful. So make sure that you are absolutely positive that you are ready and able to handle it.
It’s For No One But You
Probably the most important thing I learned from my first relationship is that it is for no one but you. Now this may seem obvious. Of course it’s for you, it’s YOUR relationship. But I think we forget this honestly. When my ex and I were dating, I didn’t tell everyone that I had a boyfriend at first or that I was even dating someone. This wasn’t because I didn’t like him or was ashamed, it was because I liked him so much. I liked him so much that I wanted to keep our relationship between us. I wanted to limit who knew the ins and outs of us because once you tell people about it, once you start posting on social media, and changing your Facebook status, and telling acquaintances…then they feel that they have a right to have an input in how you go about your relationship. And frankly, I didn’t want that. So I definitely held off on telling people about us dating, and never posted an outright picture of us on social media, and I don’t regret it at all.
Because we kept our relationship between us, our love was our love, our highs were or highs, or lows were our lows, and they were no one else’s.
Knowing You Are Wanted
My mom told me that in my relationship with my ex, he not so much taught me how beautiful, valuable, and wanted I was, but just reminded me of that. It’s kind of like, for a while I was forgetting that I was this beautiful person who was wanted and who should be valued. And I think that’s what I am the most grateful for in that relationship. For reminding me of how special I am. How worthy I am of love and support.
And that’s something you should be receiving in your relationship. This isn’t to say that you will constantly feel this. There will be moments where you will really need to feel it. To feel loved and validated. And you won’t get it. Sometimes I felt that. When I really needed to hear him say he missed me or that he wish he was with me or that he really appreciated me…I didn’t hear it. But more often than not I did feel it, and I am forever grateful to know what it should feel like to be truly wanted for all that I was.
When You Know, You Know
They say that when you know, you know. This goes for when you know you’re in love…and when you know it’s time for it to end. I can honestly say that I knew that we should have ended a month before we did. But I couldn’t bite the bullet. I couldn’t do it. I cared for him so much, and it just felt so wrong to end something that you wanted so bad. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter how much you want it to work, especially when you know you have to end it.
You will put it off for days. Tell yourself it’s not the right time. Tell yourself things will change. Tell yourself it’s a rough patch. But when you have that feeling in your gut telling you to let go, hear your intuition screaming at you that it’s time to release it, you have to obey it.
Knowing is never easy, and it often feels one-sided. Like you are keeping this secret that no one knows about. Like it’s a bomb that will explode as soon it leaves your tightly closed fists. But can I let you in on a little secret? You are not the only one who knows. They know too. That’s why when something ends; it’s never really a surprise. Everyone kind of knew. It just depends on whether they wanted to admit to themselves that they knew the end was coming.
Break –ups Are Hard
That’s it. That’s what I learned. Break-ups are hard. You have all these unresolved feelings. You want to make it better for them. You want to make the break-up as accommodating as possible, which is ridiculous since you are about to break a connection in half.
Break-ups are not easy. They aren’t easy because honestly it’s against our nature to break ties that bind us. Be them emotional or physical. So yeah, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you, break-ups are hard, and I’m going to be honest…I’m still getting over it.
Then Comes Growth
I think the most important thing that I learned from my relationship is how to grow as a person. I think honestly for a little while, I was stagnant within my growth as an individual. I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in, or what my next step in becoming myself was going to be.
When I started dating my ex, it was like all of a sudden I hit the warp speed of growing. From being more vulnerable with my insecurities and fears to embracing my awkwardness to just enjoying being happy. I grew so much in whom I was, and he was with me every step of the way, encouraging me.
So when I knew our relationship was coming to an end, I was scared. I was scared of what was going to happen afterwards. Would my growth stop? Who would be there with me during my next steps? Could I do this without him?
It turns out I could, and it’s because of him. He helped me rediscover who I was, and that’s the best thing I could learn in this relationship. Who I was and what I wanted.