I have been fortunate to have had a relationship with a wonderful man. He is handsome, smart, classy, educated, knows about social justice issues and more. He’s the type of guy who sent me a care package during exams, had my favorite champagne waiting on a restaurant table, and made me breakfast in bed. These are the kind of stories I would read about in Seventeen magazine when I was younger, amazed that the stories were real. His name is Anthony and we stayed together for almost a year. While there were perfect moments, it was a long anxiety filled time for me because even though he was great I realized I couldn’t be with him forever and it was the hardest thing to admit.
From the first time I met Anthony I recognized our different approaches to life. He pays attention to detail, strives for stability, and had wanted to be engaged by the time he graduated college. I on the other hand, had traveled abroad, can be interested in almost anything, and will call you a friend after talking with you for just 10 minutes, assuming you’re nice to me. Anthony and I were only able to get to know each other for a week before we had to return to our normal lives in different cities so we never talked about a relationship. Well, sparse texting turned into long phone conversations which turned into skyping almost every night and although he never pushed for it I knew Anthony wanted a commitment. Eventually we talked about it but I was hesitant.
I had been even from that first week. I didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship, I was planning on moving after my upcoming graduation and I wanted to explore my new found right to sexual expression (Catholic guilt had a grip on me for a while). All this I told him. Yet despite the hesitations I gave him the commitment. I mean that’s what you’re supposed to do when you meet someone you think is amazing right? You date, put a label on it and see where it goes. Maybe my hesitation was just jitters and I would get over it later. Unfortunately I didn’t and it drove me crazy.
When we would take trips to be together things were great! All I thought about was him and how blissful it was to be with him. But when we were apart I felt like I had come out of a spell that kept me blind in love and I couldn’t help the feeling of wanting out of the relationship from creeping up again. It seemed that there was no reason for me to want out. Anthony was amazing! I mean did you read the first paragraph?! What made it worse? Everyone loved him. My parents, my teachers, my friends, even random people.
They started to drop hints about marriage and while Anthony took them graciously I wanted to run. You see, Anthony would have gotten married. He had been out of college for two years, had no debt, and his brother and sister in-law recently had their first child. My life was like “Eat, Pray, Love” just college edition. I had an amazing man but I didn’t want the life everyone kept telling me to have. I felt confused, trapped and herded. Everyone was pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go but my life just kept going that way. Should I just consent and marry Anthony because he’s amazing even if I’m not ready for it? Would I be stupid if I let him go? “He’s amazing remember?!” I would yell at myself in my head.
Eventually I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. While breaking up hurt, it hurt worse to stifle my feelings and be in limbo about what to do. I had to continue with the life I had in mind. So if you’re in this situation here are some things I learned and wish someone had told me.
It’s okay if you don’t want to marry him. Yes, he’s a great guy but just because he’s great doesn’t mean that he’s “the one” or that you will automatically be happy.
1. Yes, you deserve to be happy. And yes you deserve to be with someone who makes you happy even when they’re away.
2. If you don’t exactly know why you don’t want to marry him that’s okay too. We can’t explain why we’re attracted to certain people and not others so why are we demanded to explain why we can’t marry someone?
3. Don’t feel guilty that you couldn’t give the rest of your life to him. If you marry him with hesitations then you can’t give your full self to him and he deserves that. You also deserve to feel good about giving your all to someone.
4. Reread the above until they really sink in. Admitting and accepting these are powerful. It is self-affirming and it will save you both heartache. Once you talk to him you won’t feel as bad anymore because you took action and were honest. If he truly is an amazing man he will appreciate that you were honest and didn’t drag out the relationship even if he’s heartbroken.
5. You deserve to follow your dreams. You deserve to live the life you want and you deserve to know that you had the courage to live that life and stand up for yourself as well.
6. Don’t listen to other people who say you’re foolish for letting him go. You are the only who will have to live with the decision so you are the only person who matters in deciding this. Choosing who to marry is a big deal. It shifts the course of your life and if you aren’t happy about the potential direction don’t do it.
7. You will find someone else. I had this terrifying thought that if I broke up with Anthony I would never find someone who would be so thoughtful again. After a while I realized this was a silly thought. It is normal when someone cares about you for them to do nice things for you and vice versa. Before I found Anthony I was worried about the same thing after splitting up with a previous guy but then Anthony turned out to be even better.
8. Have faith that this wonderful man, no matter how much he loves you, will move on.
9. Have faith in yourself that you will move on too. No it’s not going to be easy because of course you have feelings for each other. How could you not? But if you know deep down you don’t want to do this, take a step back and eventually things will get better.
So girl, even if he’s nearly perfect, it’s okay that you don’t want to marry him. You’ll find someone who is amazing again. Just like all those stories in Seventeen magazine there are many sweet guys out there. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and if someone comes along and you’re ready for them then he’s one lucky guy.