After my first heartbreak, I swore to myself that I would wait for the right guy to come along before I got into another relationship — but at 19 or 20, every guy who was sweet to me seemed like the right guy. I settled into a yearlong relationship, thinking I was ready. As it turned out, I had only been with him because I was comfortable, not because we had any sort of real connection. We broke up, but just before it ended, I found you.
When I say “found,” I mean I walked into your workplace to put in an application, and there you were — a little young for me, but your green eyes drew me in. I started working there not long after, and we became friends. You were sweet, and when I found out we both loved Dr. Pepper and cheese pizza, I decided to get to know you better. When my relationship ended, you were the one who took over boyfriend duties, texting me late into the night, staying up late watching movies in my tiny studio apartment, helping me plan my future (one that included you). I was infatuated, and one night while driving through country roads, we officially became a couple.
I thought I was in love with you. We laughed at all the same jokes, we hung out with the same group of friends, and after hardly a month of dating, you moved in with me. Everything was going great… until one day it wasn’t.
You didn’t know how to be an adult, but I can’t really blame you for that when you were barely out of high school and still being babied by your mom. Although I grew up in a conservative family, dealing with yours made me feel like I was living in the 1800s. Strict gender roles mixed with a lot of racism and judgment should have made me end things much sooner than I did. I never would have been able to accept them as family, but I convinced myself that you weren’t like them, and stayed with you anyway.
After the first few months, your presence no longer fulfilled me. I didn’t feel “crazy in love” anymore; I felt like I was turning into a psychopath because of the drama that encircled us every day. My depression got worse, my anxiety intensified. Happiness wasn’t a feeling I was familiar with anymore. I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t happy with my ex, but it took me longer to realize that I wasn’t really happy with you either.
My instincts had warned me that you were too young for me, too immature. I should have listened. Hardly two months into our relationship, red flags began to pop up. You were hiding your phone from me, keeping secrets, not giving me full truths. And when I’d confront you about it, you’d twist it around to make it seem like I was the one cheating on you. The jealousy only escalated from there, and I became so possessive that I would miss work on your days off to make sure you weren’t with other girls behind my back. I had never been such a psycho girlfriend, but you managed to bring out the worst in me.
I spent the last six or seven months with you being angry and bitter. My mind was telling me that I was only acting the way I was because I cared, that with love comes jealousy because you are afraid to lose the other person. But my heart was telling me that I didn’t care about you at all, I only kept you around to fill a void.
Once my lease was almost up, I started looking at new apartments. I wanted to start over in a new place without you. I packed your things in separate boxes from mine, and when I got my new keys, I dropped off your things at your parents’. It was time for me to learn how to be alone, and time for you to grow up.
I kept telling myself that I left you because I loved you enough to want what was best for you. With your parents about to move across the country, you needed to go with them to find your own success in life, and that meant we had to break up. I used that excuse for a while, hoping it seemed less selfish than the truth – that I didn’t think you were good enough for me, and I deserved much better than what you had to offer.
Back then I didn’t realize that the real reason I left wasn’t simply because I didn’t love you — I left because I needed to learn how to love myself by conquering my fear of being alone.
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