LESSONS LEARNED FROM PAST RELATIONSHIPS
Although I'm not an expert on relationships, I'm no stranger to them either. Both romantic and platonic. Luckily, I've learned a lot from them and have taken the time to look back with a less biased point of view to actually learn something from them. I have a feeling like this post is going to be a little longer than usual so I'll separate all that I've learned into little segments so you're not all reading a massive paragraph of my ramblings.
Here's what I've learned from past relationships in no particular order:
Recognize what emotional and mental abuse looks like
We're starting off with a doozy. I've always known what emotional and mental abuse was but I had never seen before in person so it was obvious that I would have not recognized if I were in the middle of it. It starts out slowly as to not scare you away. It slowly manifests into your life and he starts criticizing your friends and the guys I spoke with both friends and strangers. I know it's probably because he is jealous and doesn't know how to deal with his own insecurities and that was when I started making excuses for him. He turned me against my parents and friends but when something doesn't go the way that he pictured it going, he'll tell me to go back to my beloved family and friends but the damage is already done and he knows that I'm too stubborn to go back to them to apologize and that he's the only one that I'm left to turn to. When I finally did muster up the courage to leave him, he threatens to take his life. He self-harmed and blamed it on me. Not to mention the constant invalidation of my own depression and anxiety but when it comes to him, only the Heavens know that I better not utter a word about that. That is not love. That is manipulation. It was hard to see that when you're in the middle of it.
To not let myself become too invested in a relationship
I know myself very well. That goes beyond knowing what my favorite color is or how tall I am. I recognize my tendencies both negative and positives which does me some good. I'm someone who tends to invest my whole self into someone, something, a relationship, or a friendship. A lot of the times I'm the one who puts in more effort than the other person, or so it seems. It engulfs me. I become one with the relationship and I try to do my best to please the other person and preserve the relationship by giving parts of myself up in order to make the other person happy, leaving myself less than whole. I now know that I shouldn't do that. I must keep myself whole in order to be the best version of myself. If I keep giving myself away, the relationship will be built on lies and a lesser version of myself.
What it feels like to be cheated on
I felt so stupid. I felt like I should've known that someone I was always so close to was cheating on me. "How could I be so blind?" is something that I asked myself for months. It took me a really long time to realize that it wasn't my fault. Someone else's actions are not a reflection of my own. I felt so broken and didn't have the slightest idea of where to start rebuilding my confidence. Admittedly, I was upset with the girls. I was upset because they knew that he had a girlfriend and yet they still went along with it anyway, but then I realized the common denominator. It was him. He was always at the root of the cheating and would gaslight me any time I tried to speak on the subject. I was crazy and delusional and when we broke up, he (of course) told everyone that I was the crazy ex girlfriend. That also bothered me but I figured that if people really wanted to find out if that was really who I am then they can take five minutes out of their days to actually speak with me and then come to their own conclusions rather than just listening to one side of the story.
Recognize what real love is
I've become familiar with puppy love. I think it's just infatuation and the lack of knowledge of what love actually feels like is what can make real love difficult to spot. Real love is sometimes messy. It takes work from both parties. It's not perfect but that's how life is but at the end of the day they're always there for you and you for them. It's not forced, it comes naturally and you may not even realize it because it seems like second nature to you.
It doesn't take 5 years to figure out if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone
I don't believe that it takes 5 years to figure out if you'd want to spend your life with someone. Of course, it's different for everyone. But personally, I don't think it takes that long but it very well could but then again, I am a Cancer so that may mean that I'm biased on this topic. Sometimes you just know. It could take one night. The familiarity of someone's presence is one of my major indicators for this. I don't know what else I could really say on this because it's iffy. When you know, you know.
If you actually know me, like have hung out with me on more than one occasion, especially when I was 15-18, you definitely have heard me say "Ugh, I want a BOYFRIEND" more than once. But I've grown to not rush it. I mean, I definitely have said this recently but I know deep down that I don't need one to complete myself. I'm not going to rush it, patience is key. Not just with love but with everything else in life.
How naive I was in high school
Like most teenagers, I thought I knew everything about everything. I thought I knew what was best for me and completely disregarded my parents and anyone who didn't agree with me. I let those manipulate and use me. I was a pushover and when my parents would say something, I'd make excuses for those people. I compromised myself often. I became someone I didn't recognize. I didn't know any better but that's a part of growing up and it's okay. It's important to forgive yourself and accept that it really is a phase despite how many times you tell your parents that it isn't.
What the honeymoon phase is
I had no idea what the honeymoon phase what but once I found out, it made a lot of sense. I don't know what it was but I was stuck in the delusion that I couldn't experience the honeymoon phase because we were actually this happy and this is how it's always going to be but I was sadly mistaken. I no longer have this delusion.
My tendency to over romanticize small details by reading too much into things
It's important to recognize your unhealthy traits. This is one of mine. I tend to over romanticize everything. I'm an overthinker and sometimes this ends in me making more out of something that really meant nothing. This leads me down a long and complicated path. Sometimes I'll end up thinking that someone is more interested than they actually are and I get way more heart broken at the end of it all than I should have been. Getting real with myself and recognizing this has saved me more heartache.
If someone wants you in their life, they'll make time and put in the effort
Obviously, everyone has a lot of different things going on in their lives at once. I can understand that and respect it but I also know that despite my busy schedule, I'll make the time to see or talk to someone that I care about and if I really don't have the time, I'll say that. I don't think that it's necessary to speak every single day (although that'd be really nice) but it's not completely out of pocket to keep in touch every couple of days. I've heard all kinds of excuses and really, if you're willing to make the time, then it's not impossible.
To be clear about my intentions and what I want out of a relationship
Again, this will be different for everyone. Some people just want to have fun and explore their options. I feel like I've done plenty of that or I'm okay with less of that. I'm not really looking to date around, I'd much prefer to focus on one person and get to know them and see what that can turn into. I'm not really a "hehehe let's just have fun xD" type of person. I'd rather not waste any more time on people that don't value my time.
What I want from a partner
Since I've met and have been with such different people, I now know what kind of partner I want. Someone who shares my values, life goals, and interests. I used to force these or kind of compromise what I wanted in a partner. I don't know what possessed me to do this but I'm glad I stopped.
It's so important to be able to look back on past relationships and learn from them. There's a lot to be able to learn about yourself and different kinds of people. Although looking back sometimes stings, I'm grateful for learning so much about myself and being able to grow from my mistakes and persevere through the pain and how to turn it into something positive and productive.