This is the second in a series of posts recounting the men that I’ve romantically loved in my life, the differences between them, and what lessons each experience has left with me. (Part One here) In every relationship there are two experiences and each of these posts only intends to capture my personal experience both in and out of each relationship. Please read knowing that each of these men likely also has a story that could very well differ from my own, either in whole or in part, and that their stories are either not known or not expressed on this personal blog.
I started undergrad in the fall of 2005. As a kid from a small town who never truly ran with the very limited in-crowd, campus life was beyond refreshing. Suddenly, there was no single in-crowd that I had to conform to in order to survive. It felt like I had received a permission slip to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of my life.
I determined from the start that I did not want a relationship. It had been over a year since One had told me goodbye and while I did not initially take One’s departure particularly well, I had grown to see that it was probably for the best and had no intention of settling down with anyone during my freshman year of college. Instead I surrounded myself with new group of female friends and set out to experience things I hadn’t had the opportunity to try prior to moving three hours away from home. Still, despite my best intentions, my path crossed with Two.
I honestly cannot recall the first time I even met Two. He lived in my dorm so it is possible that our first encounter was pretty nonchalant. That didn’t last terribly long. Two began to pursue me pretty hard. Somehow we were always at the same events and Two would find a reason to be by my side most of the night. He would offer to get me drinks, take me home, walk me to class, meet me in the cafeteria for lunch. Even when I rebuffed Two’s initial attempts, he persisted. To be frank, I had never truly been pursued by a man before and his brazen attempts were flattering to me in a way I couldn’t even understand at the time. Despite my original intention, I found myself charmed by Two and when Two ultimately asked if we could be exclusive, I agreed without considering what that meant for the experience I had so desperately wanted for myself.
Even just a few months in, it was clear that Two and I had a volatile relationship. When it was good, it was so good. We would be that adorable hand holding, picture taking, always smiling couple. But when it was bad, it was bad. There would be fights and mean comments. There was no such thing as “below the belt” when we argued. Our friends took notice but we ignored their naysays. But then, about a year into our relationship, Two admitted something to me that shattered any trust I had left in him. I was incredibly hurt and wondered why I had spent the vast majority of my freshman year with someone who proclaimed to love me and yet… could hurt me so badly.
The next six months consisted of Two and I going back and forth. We’d come together and have a couple weeks of semi-harmonious coupledom only to split again shortly thereafter following yet another battle of cheapshots and purposely incendiary actions. As our friends became exhausted by our efforts, so did I. I called it off during Winter Break for the final time much to Two’s extreme displeasure. What followed was months of harassing Facebook messages and texts. I was not perfect neither in my relationship with Two, nor in the aftermath of it but I will say that I did truly want the best for Two. I knew he needed to move on and find someone who was a better match for him because I had come to the conclusion that I was not that person. I did everything I could to encourage him to do so.
While I did love Two, I don’t believe I was ever in love with him (If I had been, I don’t think I would have ever called it off with him but that’s a discussion for another day). I honestly do not know if Two was ever in love with me but I do believe he loved me as best he could during that period of his life. Despite our turbulent run, Two did teach me several things about love. Two taught me that love should fight fair and when it doesn’t, it’s doomed. Two taught me that love isn’t jealous or unkind. Two taught me that love, while messy, should be more concerned with making things right than about being right. But most importantly, Two taught me that love carefully considers its actions and words not because it has to but because it cares enough to want to. Far too often Two and I were miles apart in our actions despite insisting that we loved each other and wanted to be together. If you do, then you do. If you don’t, then your actions show your cards long before you do.
I am very happy that Two and I live separate lives today. Unlike with One, I actually regret the vast majority of my time with Two. And that isn’t wholly down to his actions. The problem was ultimately with both of us. Despite everything that transpired between us, I’ll always cut us both slack for ultimately just being just a couple of college kids discovering that oil and water don’t mix. I may not love Two anymore, but in the end Two taught me to trust my gut and for that, I am thankful.
“Bad relationships are like a bad investment. No matter how much you put into it you’ll never get anything out of it. Find someone that’s worth investing in.”
– Sonya Parker