Ok this is going to be a hard one to write. I have never been open or public about my relationships in the past. I am normally a very private person because relationships are hard enough without other people’s judgement and opinions but now that I am single I feel at peace with sharing things. If this helps even one person get their mind straight or provides someone with the insight they need then it's worth it.
My parents split when I was 6 years old and I never got to see a (good or bad) functioning relationship. Neither of my parents remarried so I watched them both go about their business independently growing up. Deep down this made me want to prove to everyone, including myself, that just because I had grown up in this situation didn’t mean I couldn’t have a successful relationship and maybe one day marriage. In hindsight it was a blessing and a curse. It would have been an absolute blessing if I had invested the time and energy into the right people. I wanted something real, something permanent and stable and it meant I worked very hard at relationships, I treated each one like it was going to be the last. But I wanted it so badly that I often kept trying at something when it wasn’t right.
And on top of that, 6 of my best friends are in relationships that range from 2 to 8 years old so I often felt a sort of social pressure too, being a 7th wheel is not something you want to be doing forever haha.
My Relationship History
I was 16 years old when I started dating my first boyfriend and we were together 2 years. I am very grateful for this relationship because although we were too young and things didn’t work out he was my best friend and in later relationships, a good reminder that there are great people out there.
This one is the hardest to talk about. We were together 3 years and they were some of the hardest years of my life. I think it was a mixture of loving this person a lot, only wanting to put energy into something that was a forever thing, to build a future and not just waste it on something that was short lived and after having such a lovely first boyfriend, thinking that everyone I dated had pure, genuine intentions.
It was one of those things where we had met randomly, laid eyes on each other and both knew what we wanted. It felt like a fate had bought us together and at 20 years old I didn’t know any better. This stupid idea of love at first sight and fate bringing two souls together creates some pretty false expectations. Every movie I had seen, every book I had read (as this is really all I had to go off in terms of relationships) told me that things would just work out, just keep trying.
There were signs I should have walked away in the first month but I didn’t want walk away from something without truly trying first. What if this was the one and we were young and we just needed to work through it?
I am not going to get into details but it was very rough. He cheated, he bragged about it to friends in front of me thinking I didn’t know these stories were while we were together. He lied, a lot. And he was constantly nasty and degrading. It’s hard writing about this because to any outsider it was clear I should have just left. But history counts for something, you become invested and attached. At the time I was working on finish my degree and just because that got hard didn’t mean I got up and walked away and I didn’t see my relationship any differently. But it was different. Not being valued, not being happy, not being respected or appreciated are all perfectly good reasons to walk away. Then one night things took a horrible turn and that was when I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t take it any longer, I was mentally drained from the end of my degree, I was emotionally drained and I was tired of accepting that I had to feel sad to be with someone.
And so I ended it. I lay on my bed for an hour and cried and then I never shed another tear over it again. The sense of relief I felt, of just letting go and the world still being ok around me was overwhelming. I was free of something so toxic and nasty and I thought things would be great from there onwards. But the internal damage it did to me and my self worth was huge. It wasn’t just the three years of the relationship that negatively impacted my life, it was everything that came after that too. After three years of constantly being treated like I wasn’t worth someone’s time, kindness and loyalty, I didn’t have the confidence to date and feel worthy of another’s. I briefly dated some lovely people but I lacked the ability to back myself and to know what I was worth. The people that were worth it could see that and it never worked out.
It had been three years since the break up and I had, had time to heal and reflect. I had an amazing network of loved ones around me and when I was able to finally start talking about it I came to realise I wasn’t the problem, the problem had been with him. When you get treated with little respect and love, the experience has this weird ability to make you feel like you don’t deserve anything better, that you are lacking in one way or another. I mean if you were a good person and partner why would anyone not value you? But the sad reality of it is that everyone has their own crap going on, everyone has been raised differently,had different experiences and not everyone knows how to love and be loved. The day I really realised it wasn’t my fault was the day I started to heal.
I met my third boyfriend on a night out and we clicked and just like that we were best friends. Best friends grew into something more and before we knew it we were living together. Like any relationship it wasn’t easy but I was happy. I liked sharing life with someone and we lived together pretty easily.
Our Bali trip was our birthday present to each other. His birthday was in June, mine in July, but they were slightly too far apart in dates to be able to holiday across both of them. I was just excited to be going away so I booked the trip so we were there for his birthday and we had a great time! We got back a week before my birthday and everything was great. Until the two days before my birthday. He went out on a week night with some friends and didn’t come home until very late in the morning. I didn’t have a chance to see him because I was right in the middle of writing my thesis, tutoring a third level class and working at an architecture firm so I was gone all day and when I got home at 9pm he was already in bed. When I woke up the next day, which was my birthday, and asked him about it he got up, picked up my presents, threw them at me and said we were done and walked out. And that was that.
It had taken a year to create what we had and in a few minutes it was all gone. I was in a different city to my family so I couldn’t turn to them and I didn’t want the rest of my day to be ruined plus I was humiliated so I didn’t tell my friends. I got home that night hoping he would still take me to dinner like he had promised but he came home only to get his ID and go out drinking with his friends. It was a very lonely time. But (luckily or unluckily depending on what way you look at it) I was prepared for this. I had been through something similar before and I knew that the world wasn’t going to end. And so I sucked it up and got on with my life. I didn’t think twice when he begged me to let him come back. It was hard but I wasn’t going to accept anything less than what I deserved. I had done everything on my end, I had been honest, faithful and supportive and that was all I could do.
A year later, just as I finished University I met one of the most genuine, kind, caring people I have ever met in my life. Finally I had found someone who went about relationships the same way I did and our relationship was a dream. I had been warned that a good relationship might seem “boring” after a string of unhealthy ones which are generally addictive due to a person making you feel very high and very low, creating an adrenaline type affect, where as a healthy one should be stable and therefore not quite as exciting. But regardless it was bliss.
This relationship was what I had been looking for, for 6 years. But the timing was just so wrong. All I wanted to do was travel. I had just come out of 5 years of university and I was itching to explore the world and focus on starting my own company. I had created a career for myself that allowed me to leave whenever I wanted but his career didn’t allow him to. We tried making it work during one of my trips but it was too hard for both of us. And at that point I had to make a choice. Which leads me to my opinion on relationships in your 20s.
My Current Opinion on Relationships in you 20s
If you find someone who respects, supports and loves you to pieces, and you are able to continue on the same journey together, you are very lucky. But most of us haven’t and it’s ok! Your 20’s are where you discover and establish yourself in the world. If you want a partner or a family it’s the last chance you get at being selfish and doing things just because you want to, the rest of your life is dedicated to supporting others. Putting energy into others means you lose energy that could be spent making yourself better, making your life better, so make sure if you are willing to sacrifice that it is for someone who is worthy.
I have decided that I am ok with being alone. I don’t need to prove that I can hold down a relationship because for me having a partner is no longer a measure of success. What I make of myself is going to be that measure.
So here I am, enjoying this time alone. I am going to explore this world, continue to build a business I am proud of, keep meeting beautiful and inspiring people and work to make myself the best and happiest person possible so when that person does come along
I am ready.