Years after my biggest long-term relationship had ended, it hit me. We all have that one learning experience relationship. The one we always talk about to new prospects, the one that just feels the most significant one yet, even if now the feelings are 100% gone. This relationship that I had always referred to as my “big heartbreak of the century” was always something I referred to as, in my book, true love as I had experienced it.
Since this relationship, I have fallen for a couple of new people and have moved on as if it were another life ago. This relationship isn’t something I hold onto emotionally, but more so is a representation of my experience playing house. Those last words perfectly define what that relationship was. Two people, physically attracted to each other enough, around the same age, both wanting a serious relationship = a serious relationship. Of course, living together and actually doing it split us up, because we never had the love connection to sustain the fact that we didn’t get along.
We were never brought together by a love connection. We were brought together by circumstance. And it took me years of a miserable relationship and painful heartbreak afterwards to realize that simple fact, now looking back after years have passed. Sure, we loved each other. But I think over time you learn can grow to love anyone and bond with them, building attachment. I spent a lot of time in this relationship idealizing that things would “go back to how they were in the beginning” and staying based on the hope that he would change.
The danger of staying in a situation based on that dangerous hope is that you stay too long. This is the form of settling where we don’t even realize we are settling. We stay there longer than we should. Long enough to doubt that better even exists, and long enough not to recognize it. We create an entire world based on what we hope and believe will be, not based on what is. I spent a lot of time in that relationship convincing myself of things. And the person I missed, it was never actually him. It was the person wanted to see, who never truly existed as I saw him. Now, that’s definitely not “true” even if it was “love.”
Dare I say it, but I don’t think any of us really know what true love is until we are hit with it. There are many people out there who could fit a description of what we want or think we need. Much of this superficial as well as character traits. We’ve all met that person who hits almost every checkbox in our criteria. He may be missing just a couple of minor things, but we can’t overlook it, because if they aren’t perfect, we can’t want them fully. Reason being, we are drawn to what we think they represent, not who they are. So we convince ourselves we like them, we really really want to like them. The timing is right, everything is right. Except that’s it.
I think I truly came to realize this concept of circumstance when I found someone I absolutely did not want to have feelings for. I would even go as far to say that we didn’t particularly get along or agree on much of anything. In face, I spent most of my time ignoring the strong feelings I had for him which could not be explained, and more annoyingly, just would not go away. It was clear that this combination of being annoyed by these strong feelings was happening with us both. I spent much of my time actually convincing myself that he was not for me and that the feelings weren’t real. If only that were true.
The reasons? The timing was never right. The circumstances, well they couldn’t have been more challenging. It just seemed like I was asking myself “why did I even meet this person?” And yet, he just kept popping up like a whack-a-mole. Everything about this relationship is what people would describe as “toxic”, even me. He was never the person I envisioned myself with, and yet, somehow nobody else would do. I’ve been judged for talking to him, I have even judged myself. But in writing this, I hope someone out there who has experienced this understands. Because it is one of those things you wouldn’t unless you have known it.
I won’t tell you the outcome of this story, because it seems to be an unwritten ending to this day. but what I can tell you is that I am coming to find this: I find the things I work hard to convince myself of don’t end up being my heart’s desire in the end. On the contrary, the things I always shove to the back of my mind and talk myself out of, those are the things that have always been just what I needed to help me grow. I think of one time I really kept wanting to move to another city. I shoved it out of my mind because it just seemed ridiculous. But really, it was true. And the truth was scary. I eventually did make the leap. As a result of it, my life is so much bigger now. Maybe, the same is true with love.