I’d been in a relationship for almost three years with the guy I thought was the love of my life when I got the opportunity to move to Europe. It was a tough decision, but the opportunity was too good to pass up, so I broke up with my boyfriend and headed overseas. At first, I worried I’d messed up, but as soon as I arrived in my new home, I knew I’d done the right thing—and that the relationship I’d thought was so great was actually toxic. Here are a few other things I’ve learned in the process of leaving my “soulmate” behind:
I shouldn’t have to suffer to be with someone.
Compromise will always be key in relationships. There will be things my partner does that irritate me, and I’ll always have to do some things I dislike because my partner loves it. That being said, there’s a limit. If I find that we’re fighting regularly about the same issue or I’m feeling continuously down because a certain aspect of the relationship is making me unhappy, I refuse to brush it under the rug like I did before.
I should never have to give more than I get.
I believe in generosity and giving 100 percent in a relationship, but if I notice that I spend a lot more effort (whether it’s time, money, or favors) on my relationship than my partner does, I need to stop what I’m doing and drop to his level. I had to drive half an hour to see my ex-boyfriend, and if I didn’t make the trip, I wouldn’t get to see him because most of the time, he refused to come over himself.
Family dynamics are important.
I couldn’t stand his family for many reasons, but the main one was that they were always with us. Not only did he live with his parents and sister as a grown man, he did everything with them, every day—he even worked for his parents’ companies!—and that dynamic didn’t change when I came into the picture. If I wanted to spend time with him, I had to be with the whole family, and I received ample backlash anytime I tried to challenge that order. Now, I date guys who love and value their families but who know how to have relationships outside of them.
Our future ambitions need to align with each other.
For the first couple years of the relationship, I thought we were on the same page because we both aspired to be financially successful. However, after a while, I realized that we envisioned different paths to achieve our goals and idealized different lifestyles. He wanted to stay in our hometown forever and live the comfortable “American dream” while I wanted nothing more than to move away, work as a freelancer, and travel. Once again, I thought that I needed to surrender my own desires to be with my “soulmate” and I was wrong. I’ll never sacrifice my dreams for a guy.
Having fights on a weekly (or more frequent) basis isn’t normal.
I’m not talking about the trivial fights over who forgot to buy bread or take out the trash, which are perfectly normal for a couple. Still, if there are recurring issues that consistently create fights and can never seem to be resolved, it’s a sure sign that something needs to change—either the person responsible or, if they’re not willing, the relationship. I chose the latter path and I’m much happier for it.
I can’t let the possibility of being “forever alone” hold me back.
I seriously thought that I would never be able to find another person who met as many of my criteria as my ex-boyfriend did. Well, guess what? I met someone who has even more. When I broke up with my ex, I didn’t know that was going to happen but I took the risk anyway because the idea of being forever alone was slightly less depressing than the thought of turning down an opportunity to pursue my dreams.
Values are important in the long run.
This one sounds pretty obvious, but when I met my ex, I thought our differing religious views were just something I would have to overlook. It wasn’t until after we broke up and I met someone with the same beliefs that I realized what a difference it makes to have a partner who you can relate with on a spiritual level.
This doesn’t have to be as good as it gets.
When you fall in love with someone, it can be easy to ignore the fact that they’re missing some of the most important things you were looking for in a partner. I thought my ex was as close as I was going to get to perfect and that he was a one-in-a-million catch I could never replace. It didn’t take long for me to see how false that concept was after I met someone who truly has everything I wanted. If I didn’t take a risk, I would’ve never known.
I can’t stay with someone because I feel bad.
After I decided I had to take the opportunity to move to Europe, I tried to break up with my boyfriend. I say “tried” because after telling him I wanted to leave, his emotional breakdown was so severe that I couldn’t stand seeing him like that and I renounced my plans for the next two months. Still, I knew I would have regrets for the rest of my life if I didn’t pursue my goals, so I made the decision to stay strong no matter how he reacted and I ended things with him for good. Doing otherwise wouldn’t have been fair to either of us.
It feels amazing to take a risk, follow your passion and succeed.
When I broke up with my boyfriend to make the big move, I thought there was a good chance that I would regret leaving him. The only thing I ended up regretting was that I didn’t do it sooner. My new life in Europe turned out to be everything I thought it was going be, and every day I wake up thankful to be in a place where I feel that I belong.
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