Does anyone ever look back on past relationships and cringe? 'Cause I know I sure do!
Look, I’m not even going to pretend that I was a rockstar dater. I was 16 when I had my first kiss (if you don’t count the quick peck I had with a gay friend, which you shouldn't), and my first “boyfriend” consisted of a really nice guy who I "dated" for approximately 4 days until I realized that relationships totally freaked me out (I was 14 at the time, can you blame me? Hence the “no kiss” thing until 2 years later!)
My first real teenage relationship began just after Christmas when I was 16. It was with someone who was already a good friend of mine, and whom I had KNOWN for months had a crush on me. For the longest time I never thought of him in "that way", but suddenly my feelings started to change. Really suddenly! I still knew that I wasn’t as into him as he was into me (at that point at least), but I still thought it was worth giving a shot. And it was. We dated for over a year, and I can’t help but laugh when I think of some of those times. We took our relationship SO seriously - and I'm not sure that's healthy at such a young age. But it was great while it lasted! We had a lot of fun, and I grew to really love his family as well. And I was heartbroken when we broke up (being in the midst of a mental breakdown didn't help matters, and caused me to be in a state of constant anxiety for months after...unfortunately this just made me seem pathetic I'm sure!) but I knew that I'd learned a lot from that relationship. We've both grown up, and I still run into him here and there. I know he's happy, and I like that. I wish him nothing but the best (cliché #2?).
Naturally, after this heartbreak, I promised myself that I'd never again put myself out there, never risk my heart again, blah blah blah. That lasted less than a year. Similarly, it was with someone who I'd been great friends with previously. This time, I KNEW it was a bad idea for us to date - we were SUCH good friends, but somehow I knew that we just weren't compatible enough to work as a couple . But, of course, I was dumb, and he was very convincing, so we gave it a go. We only lasted six months (things went south right after breakdown #2 started to happen...hmm, I see a pattern here...) Unlike the first time, though, we were pretty much immediately able to go back to being friends. We even still went to prom together, which I am so thankful for. Much better to have prom memories with one of your best friends, rather than with some guy whose name you forget!
After graduating high school, I apparently decided that hindsight was for suckers, and continued my pattern of dating people I knew I shouldn't. I met my next boyfriend while working at my summer job. Let me sum this up for you: I was put into a position where I worked alongside two males approximately the same age as me, both of whom admitted to having crushes on me. And I picked the wrong one.
Okay, that is not entirely fair. He was really a sweet, sweet guy. And he tried so hard to treat me well. And aside from jealousy-related insecurities, I think he did. But I just wasn't that into him. And I knew it from the start, but I so badly didn't want to hurt his feelings be rejecting him that I went along with it. For about a year and a half. Stupid, stupid, stupid...and unfair.
I'd say our biggest problem was that we were almost TOO similar - at least emotionally. I think that as much as we might have enjoyed each others company, and had some common interests, we weren't what the other needed. We both needed someone emotionally stronger, someone with more direction. And he needed someone who loved him back as much as he loved them (Biggest mistake? Accidentally saying "I love you" because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Huge regret. Hard to take that back, so i didn't try). And I needed someone tougher, and who wasn't so obsessed with their video game system! In the end, I realized that enough was enough and ended things. It was amicable at first, but unfortunately his bitterness and insecurities prevailed, and we weren't able to remain friends. Which is a shame.
Then, I finally learned from my mistakes and didn't wish to repeat them, so I tried something new: casually dating. Turns out I suck at that, too. I hung out with a few guys to "get to know them better" before "casually dating" one for 8 months. I learned then that I am NOT a "keep it superficial" person. I like deeper relationships. He was always kind to me, don't get me wrong...we just wanted different things.
Writing this all out makes my dating history seem like a big failure! But I can honestly say that I wouldn't know how to navigate my marriage if it wasn't for what I learned in the past. It taught me a lot about what to do - and more importantly, what NOT to do - in a relationship. That's why I'm writing this post: so that people know that even if they feel like they've royally screwed up in the past (or BEEN royally screwed over), that doesn't need to dictate your future.
Which brings me to my next (and hopefully final!) relationship: the one with my husband. That is an interesting story, but I'll save that for another time!