By no means do I consider myself an expert on love or relationships. I’m just as clueless as the next person.
In only a few years I went from devoted wife, to divorcée, to let me crush on everything that moves, to friends with benefits, to fling, to one night stand — and it’s complicated.
How was I capable of holding all these titles? I sought the thrill of feeling wanted, and the rush of foreign emotions accelerated my heart. I find it impressive how many emotions a person can withstand in such a short period of time.
After taking a step back from the emotional rollercoaster, I realized important love lessons were learned when I was fourteen. Ten years later, at a different stage in my life, the same situations presented themselves again.
Lesson one: Never leave the person who really likes you for the guy who finally looked at you.
In the eighth grade I broke up with my boyfriend after we had been dating for a whole two days for my best friend, Manuel, who had finally decided he liked me only because he couldn’t have me.
After the breakup, it took Manuel two weeks to ask me to be his girlfriend, and a week later he dumped me.
Ten years later, I found myself in the same situation. I became infatuated with the “unattainable guy,” who only wanted to win the pride competition and prove he was the alpha male.
Meanwhile, the “nice guy” had good intentions. Later I found out “unattainable guy” was seeing another girl. When I realized my mistake it was too late. “Nice guy” had changed the way he looked at me, as some perfect woman, and our possible future had been shattered.
Lesson two: Never waste your time on a guy who is not into you as much as you’re into him.
I’ll go back to the same friend. Manuel and I were inseparable, best friends. He would be at my house every single day. We were dance partners, did our homework together, and I always managed to take the extra step.
He knew I liked him for a long time, and he dared to confess that he had feelings for my best friend. I even watched as one day he brought her flowers and gave them to her in front of me. I cried myself to sleep that night, and many more.
And one of those nights I finally stopped crying, and I made a promise to never put so much effort into someone who didn’t reciprocate my feelings. I kept the promise for ten years.
Ten years later, Bill and I began an it’s complicated relationship. He was my best friend, my confidant, the first person I would talk to in the morning, and the last person at night.
We would talk about everything — family, money, life goals. He would tell me everything, deep and dark, and I never judged him.
I realized he only needed me when it was convenient for him or when none of his other love interests were around. I allowed it to happen time and time again. After all, he was the closest thing I had to love.
My heart would beat for him, fast and steady. I said, “I love you,” and I haven’t said that to anyone since. Our complicated friendship got to the point where it became the only reason for my sorrow.
I hated how he always made me feel, like I wasn’t good enough, like I was too complicated, high maintenance, high-class. Breaking free from those toxic relationships takes a lot of effort, but it’s certainly possible.
Lesson three: don’t ever try to play the cool friend.
Let me rewind back to the same best friend from the eighth grade. I took a car ride with him and his new girlfriend because I wanted to show there were no hard feelings.
I got to see how he held her hand in a way he never held mine, how he would kiss her forehead, and how he would call her “babe.” He never did those things for me.
Don’t ever forget that lesson, especially if you’re brave enough to remain best friends with someone who once held your heart. As much as curiosity might spark, don’t ask for details.
I played the cool friend with Bill. Walked with him into Victoria’s Secret and helped him shop while my chest took shallow breaths. I nursed his broken heart back to health when his heart got broken, I kept him company and made sure he ate.
Then the whole thing would begin all over again. I knew someone new had Bill’s heart once the expensive gifts, cameras, wallets, hats, and even Nordstrom dresses poured. Then he would watch their television shows and perform activities out of his comfort zone.
I watched the pattern happen a few times. And I remembered the Chanel No. 5 he gave me for Christmas, the time we watched Midnight in Paris, and when we took a walk in Millennium Park in the middle of a snow storm.
The best part about being in those situations is finally getting out. I didn’t think I was learning valuable lessons while I was living them. I just knew I was hurting and I didn’t know how to get out. It took some time after the pain was gone to really look back and see it as a lesson learned.
That’s the thing about those situations, you learn more from the bad than the good. Although I felt shame for allowing myself to be tangled in that mess, I was able to move on and grow.
As for Manuel and Bill, Manuel and I have been friends for sixteen years and he’s happily married, and Bill is out in the world learning lessons of his own I’m sure.