The Evolution of a Healthy Relationship

Photo by Pablo Merch├ín Montes on Unsplash

Most timelines, when it comes to relationships, don't look that pretty. For me, this is definitely true. My past relationships were filled with arguments, heartache, and toxic people. It wasn't necessarily their fault, after all, I did choose to be with them. With time and growth, I had learned to love myself and in turn be selfish when it came to who I let be in my life. I've been in a six (almost seven) year relationship that has been the ugliest of affairs and the greatest of moments; both from the same man. I have learned that love is not a fairytale, but work and communication (with a few fairytale moments).

I first met my boyfriend at a low point in my life. I was still going through the phase of hating myself and was newly out of high school. Working to find myself and my career made it incredibly hard to find love with another. That does not mean I didn't attempt to but, instead, gave up myself for a man. This had nothing to do with him. I merely found it easier to fall in love with someone else than find love within myself. He was right out of a relationship that had crushed him, and this is where the trouble had started.

At that time, I could fall in love within a week. I had been exposed to such evils with my past boyfriends that it was easy to seduce me. I thought he was this perfect man compared to the others. He was just a boy who wanted to have some fun and hated any form of commitment. We broke up within a few weeks (if you could even say we were dating). Having rejection issues, I didn't let him slip away that easily. While I might have scared him with how fast I was moving, I was determined to show him I could slow down to his pace.

During this time I acted and pretended to be someone I wasn't. Since my boyfriend didn't want to be in a committed relationship, I happily accepted the friends with benefits tag he put on me. Thinking sex could turn into love (idiotic of me), I would watch as he would date other women, hoping that one day he would see the beauty in me. What I never realized was that he couldn't see it because I didn't know it existed. Our breakups became a routine.

“I've broken up mom,” I would say with tears in my eyes. “You always say that.” This was the typical reply I would get from friends and loved ones. I didn't blame them, we were breaking up more than my outfit changes. While each time felt devastating to me, it didn't really phase him. After all, we weren't actually dating. Realistically, if I had more confidence in myself back in those days, I would have never continued our relationship.

This isn't to paint this man in a negative light, this is just how it was. I had my own issues along with him that made it hard for us to stay together. Due to all these breaks, my best friend started hating him (and still does to this day). She hated every time I got back together with him because she would have to be there to pick up the pieces afterward. It was definitely an unhealthy relationship.

Through all of this, I started my journey on self-love. With this, I started speaking my mind more and communicating with a man who didn't talk about anything ever. We were growing and developing together. After the three year mark, we were finally in a space that was turning into an actual relationship. We had one big break up that left us both to look at ourselves. While parted, we both realized how much we cared for the other. This was the beginning of what we have to this day (but it still wasn't perfect).

Photo by Octavio Fossatti on Unsplash

After a year of what seemed to be a 'perfect' relationship, I started to doubt my love for him. I felt unhappy in life and just assumed it was because of him. I had never lived on my own, I was working horrible hours, and I felt like I was too young to be in a serious relationship. At 21, I felt like I needed to break up to figure out my own life away from him. We were living together and, for several months, I contemplated giving him 'the talk' every single day. Finally, a week before my birthday, I did just that.

I explained that, while I loved him, I was no longer happy. I had never lived on my own or really dated and wanted to experience those things while I was still young. It was the hardest conversation I had ever had. Seeing his broken expression made me feel like dying. That day I packed a few bags of clothes and moved in with my mother. I stopped eating, I couldn't sleep. After only two days I realized I had made a grave mistake. While breakups hurt, I should have felt some form of relief. All I felt was regret.

Driving to his house early in the morning (without an ounce of sleep), I woke him up to beg for forgiveness. We talked for what seemed like hours about everything and nothing. I still felt the need to move out, but I didn't want to end things with him. Now it was his time to think things over. He went for a walk to clear his head while I finally passed out. When I woke up, I found him lying in the other room and felt this sharp pain. He had chosen to end things.

He awoke and assured me this was not the reason. He just didn't want me to feel uncomfortable in case I had changed my mind (since I was apparently a tad delirious off of no sleep). He also knew that things had to change for us to stay together, which I ultimately agreed with. Within a month I had moved into my own apartment, and we were mending our relationship.

There were still some rocky moments, but we were finally starting to work through them instead of ignoring the situation. I have always been extremely introverted while he was the polar opposite. Instead of finding this as a flaw, we had to communicate and learn from each other. This was a foreign concept to both of us, but a journey I will never regret. Through our differences, we bonded in ways I have never done with another human being.

After a year of living on my own (and, honestly, kind of hating it), we decided it was time for me to move back in. My job had shut its doors, and I had to make a big decision. The company was willing to relocate me to an out of state restaurant that was still running. Again, we had a decision to make. He couldn't leave his job but, at the time, it felt like I had to take this career opportunity. It would promote me to a salary and a career that could set me up for the rest of my life. Being kind and understanding, he encouraged me to take the position. We had planned on him visiting at least twice a month and moving down two years after.

I had my bags packed and my large items stored at my mother's house. This was actually going to happen. Not only was I leaving him, but I was also abandoning all of my friends and family. The day before I was scheduled to go it all started to sink in. What was I thinking? I was in a relationship that was growing and never really enjoyed the job, to begin with. In fact, it was the cause of so much of my unhappiness. That night I emailed my boss (because at that time I was too scared to tell him over the phone) and said to him that I could not accept the position. It was the most significant decision I had ever made.

Fasterward to today, I am currently living my best life. My confidence has grown into a genuine love for myself, I have a career that I am genuinely passionate about, and I live with a man I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with. So many people who have seen this journey still think I am making a colossal mistake. It is not because our relationship is terrible, but that they never gave him a chance. If you ask my mother, she will say we are #relationshipgoals (except she has no idea what a hashtag means).

Through communication and growth, we now help each other become the best versions of ourselves. He has supported me in my dreams, and I do the same for him. If we do fight, it lasts mere seconds or is a simple pretend argument that neither of us actually care about. I am my own person, and he is his own, but we know how to balance the two. Every time I see couples who are fighting or in a miserable situation I feel grateful. My story is no fairytale and won't match everyone, but it is an accumulation of hard work and pure compassion that has to lead to a storybook romance.

When I see marriages fall apart is saddens me. If you are in a terrible marriage than I always encourage you to get out. Most of the time, however, it is pure laziness that ends things. I see it with my friends and acquaintances all the time. They have no communication and feel unhappy in life. Instead of trying to work through it, they decide to ignore the pain and end things altogether. What my relationship has taught me is that it will never be perfect. 

We are going to have hardships in our lives. With unconditional love, conversations, and understanding, we can build anything back up. If relationships were simple, we would all be in one for the rest of our lives.


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