I often have friends, family, and co-workers offering relationship advice. As if in some way I am not capable of creating or being in a relationship without their guidance and stories. I question what makes the thirty-two-year-old man in the office the relationship “expert.” I mean he had one successful relationship that he is currently in, and didn’t even date until he was in his late twenties! Or how about the girl who doesn’t want a relationship, yet she is an expert in what a relationship should be.
I admit, I have had “failed” relationships, but I am capable of relations. Just because they ended doesn’t mean they were actual failures. Does it?
My first relationship lasted almost four years. We were best friends, high school sweethearts, and in complete denial that the world would tear us apart. College changed us and what we wanted. So slowly we drifted apart. I mean, yes that girl may have helped speed up the process, but we were destined to part ways. Our dreams and hopes weren’t on the same roads. Through that love I learned what romance means, what being betrayed feels like, and how to pick up the pieces when your world leaves with another person. I came out stronger because of the end of that relationship; I grew. Isn’t that what a good relationship does for people? Helps them grow?
Or how about the man that was my rock? After college graduation we explored a whole new coast, tried new things, and discovered our careers together. He held me while I cried about my hatred for my new job, hiked even though he hated it, listened as I talked during the football game, and encouraged me to follow my dreams even if it meant the end for us. That is where I learned the sacrifice of true love. To love someone so much you would let them go because they need to grow. Why? Because he knew in that relationship there was not enough room for the roots to spread. Is that really how people define a “failed” relationship?
Lastly, what about those in between “fillers.” You know, the guy that makes you realize you are worth more. The control freak that makes you discover how much your independence means to you. The guy who refuses to commit and unintentionally helps you to learn that you want a balance between independence and commitment. I may have relationships that no longer exist, but I took so much with me when I left them. To me that makes me capable of finding a positive relationship on my own, and surely they are not failures, but life lessons leading me to love.
So while I sit here taking in all the advice on how to make love last, I will quietly sit here and smile, because half the beauty of lasting love is the actual journey to that happily ever after.