Why You Need to Take a Hard Look at Your Love Life

I could tell you a lot about my ex-boyfriend. I could tell you about how we met, why we broke it off, and what kind of people we both were. But all those things would not capture the very essence of my feelings towards our long, tumultuous relationship.

It was, undoubtedly, a tumultuous relationship. And what I’ve learned, more than anything else, when it comes to love, is that good relationships (healthy ones) shouldn’t be tumultuous. They shouldn’t be perfect, with no occasional bumps in the road. No, that kind of love is a love between two people who are so infatuated with one another that they’re terrified of making a misstep and upsetting the other person. A perfect, romantic love between two people involves joy, tolerance, communication, and compatibility between your personalities (I think).

Perhaps he and I were compatible, for a brief amount of time.

After we broke up, he sort of stalked me. He would call, text, show up, etc., crying over how sorry he was and telling me how terribly he felt for letting me go. And when that happened, I inevitably questioned whether I had made the right decision in breaking up with him.

But there were a million reasons I left him. I think the most important reason was that he made me miserable. He made me cry on a daily basis. He made me question his faithfulness by flirting with other women right in front of me, and texting other girls. He once kissed another girl while I was out of town. He was unkind to me, and would say mean things about me to his friends, which would usually come back to me, because his friends liked me.

And I know you’re probably questioning why I would waste my time on someone if all this was happening.  In all honesty, it’s because I didn’t see it then. It’s because I couldn’t see all the horrible things about him when I was with him. Even when he did terrible things, I believed that I was going to change him, and make him better, and that our relationship was going to be perfect as soon as he was just a little bit nicer.

But he was never going to be nicer. He was who he was, and no amount of time, energy, and commitment on my part was going to change that.  When we broke up, I was heartbroken. I had left him, but I still spent days, weeks, months crying over him and questioning my choice. What if, now that I had let him go from my life, he had magically transformed because he saw what life was without me? That kind of stuff happens in movies all the time.  The couple gets back together because whoever was the problem has completely transformed, and their relationship is ideal from then on out. I was repeatedly tempted to give him another chance.

Thank God I didn’t.

He will never be worthy of my time. He is still pulling the same bullshit on his current girlfriend that he pulled on me for three years, and I regret that it took me three years to see how bad of a person he was, but when we met I was very young, and completely inexperienced with men and with love.

The other woman that he kissed when he and I were together was an old acquaintance of mine. I wouldn’t call her a friend (because the only way I can describe our relationship was that she was always very unkind to me, and I just tried to ignore her), but it still broke my heart that he would cheat on me with someone that I knew. When I found out about his infidelity, it was because she wrote me a letter and gave it to me, apologizing. He didn’t even have the balls to own up to it, and when I confronted him about it immediately afterwards, he admitted that it had happened and shrugged it off as though it had been no big deal. He was a horrible person. He is a horrible person.

Anyhow, because I knew this other girl, we’re Facebook friends. The other day, she changed her profile picture and it came up on my news feed.  Right underneath it, it shows who has liked the photo, and the first person it listed was my ex-boyfriend. So then, two years after our relationship ended, and about five years since he and I had our first argument about whether he had feelings for her, he is still liking her photos on Facebook while seeing another woman.

I should have known when, immediately after breaking up with him, he went home and talked to her about how “sad” he was about losing me. She was the one who told me that also. I yelled and yelled and yelled, when I should have just accepted that he was a pain in my ass who wasn’t worth my time.

Every fight we had and every time we would break up, my heart would feel broken, unmendable, absolutely torn in half. And now, in all honesty, I am so so so so so so grateful for that pain. That pain was all that came of our relationship. There was no marriage, no children, no horrible proposal that forced me to pair up with this loser for the rest of my life. The heartbreak was a blessing. The heartbreak forced me to get the hell out. If he had not shown his true character to me then, I might still be with him now.

Instead, I get to be with someone who is kind. When he and I first met, I was still dating the jackass. He did not ever flirt with me. He did not ask me to break up with my boyfriend. He and I had probably spoken only one or two times when I dumped the loser. And when he and I broke up, I was devastated. I would lay in bed and cry and not be able to move for hours. He would sit with me, tell me everything was going to be okay, and just listen to me when I talked. He never tried to kiss me, or get too close. He just let me decide what I wanted to do, and I am eternally grateful to him for that.

People were surprised when my ex and I split, because they thought (honestly) that he and I always seemed super happy and perfect together. That is just a tribute to the fact that nothing is ever as it appears. Nothing is perfect. No guy is going to “fix” you. You have to love yourself. You have to love yourself enough to get out if a guy isn’t making you happy. You have to love yourself enough to decide to wait until you’re ready to do what guys will want you to do. You have to make your own choices about things because you just don’t know how long whatever guy you’re seeing will be in your life, and you owe it to yourself to do things your way while you’re young and still have the opportunity to ditch guys who suck, to date guys who may not be the one, and to go single when you feel like taking some time for yourself.

I wouldn’t trade my boyfriend now for anything. It almost broke me to find him, but here I am. He isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Together, we are probably not even perfect. There might be someone out there who, if we took a compatibility test, would score higher than my boyfriend. That’s fine. I’m not looking for him. I hope he finds a nice girl. But calculations and numbers and tests cannot compare to that indescribable chemistry between two people who just love one another, who cherish each other’s company, and each other’s imperfections. I cannot ask for more from a man than what I have (except that I wish he wanted to go to Disney World as often as I do—only ten times a year, okay?). But I believe we can work through the arguments and disagreements to have our happily ever after.

He treats me nice. He rubs my shoulders and plays with my hair. He does not toy with other women with the sole purpose being to make me jealous. He laughs at my lame jokes. We say the same things at the same time on a daily basis. He makes Frozen references with me, because he knows that my obsession with Disney isn’t going anywhere soon. I tolerate his shows, because I love him, and I want to get to know as much as I can about him. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy. It can be different than my happiness. But you know what it is, and I’m challenging you to go out there and grab it.

The 14 Differences Between The Boys You Date And The Men You Marry

This is so perfect.

Thought Catalog

1. The kind of man you marry says “I love you” and “I’m sorry” because he genuinely feels that way, and he never hesitates to be the one to say it first. The kind of boy you date says those things when an apology will get you off his case and an “I love you” will keep you around a little longer.

2. The man you marry asks you out. The boy you date asks you to hang out. The man you marry will be clear about his intentions. The boy you date will keep you questioning.

3. The kind of man you marry knows the art of treating someone to a night out, and he realizes that he should do so not because he’s a man and it’s his masculine responsibility, but because everyone deserves to be treated well and swept off their feet now and again. The kind of boy you…

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Dear Max

Dear Max,

I can’t believe I’m not going to see you again. Honestly it’s completely surreal that you’re gone. I love you so much that I’m okay with you going to heaven, because I know you’re so much better off there than you would be if you were still here, struggling to breathe and make it through each night at home. I’m so sorry for not coming home since Christmas Break. I know that I should have tried to come home, and I promise you baby that I would have if I had known. But it’s probably better that we didn’t know the last time we saw each other was going to be the last time. I was able to hug and kiss you goodbye without tears, and now the next time I see you will be when I’m in heaven with you.

Please don’t get frustrated with me for crying a lot over losing you. I know you’re probably up in heaven, chasing little yappy dogs and bubbles {if there are little girls there to blow you bubbles—maybe that’s just between you, me, and Mom}, and can’t understand why any of your family down here would be upset over knowing how happy you are now that you’re in heaven. But I guess that’s the selfish nature of grief: you cry over your own sadness at losing someone rather than celebrating the fact that they are in a place infinitely more comfortable and joy-filled than we on earth can even begin to comprehend.

There’s so much about you that I love so much. I love the way you would rest your head on my lap once in a while when we’d lay on the couch together. I love the way you would put your paws over my legs to keep me from getting up and leaving when I would lay down next to you. I love the way you chomped for bubbles when I’d blow them for you. I love the way you followed Mom and I if we left the room for a moment. I love the way you would walk right in front of the TV, making the awful clacking sounds on the tile floor. I love the way you would beg for my lunch or dinner, and I love the way you never failed to convince me to save you a French fry with your cute begging face. I love the way you devoured your treats. I love the way you would let me hug you {or force-love you, whatever you want to call it}. I love you so much that right now it feels like I can’t bear this loss.

But I know you were suffering, and I want you to know that I in no way am upset with you for being sick. If I had it my way sweet boy, you would have lived forever and been my companion for the rest of my days. Your body would have stayed young and healthy for years to come, and I would never have wanted you to leave my side for a minute. I don’t know why dog bodies don’t get to last as long as human ones, but I do know that human bodies wear out eventually, too, and that when mine does, I’m going to come back as your girl. I’m going to do everything I can do in my life to be kind and good, so that I can go to heaven, just like I know you have. I know that because you are the best kind of creature.

Please do me a favor up there and check on Citrus. I think you’ll remember him—we had him before we adopted you, but he went on to heaven four years ago. He’s orange like you, and he’s a good kitty. You used to be worried he would scratch you, but he was such a good boy that he never did.

Baby Mac, if you can read this or get this message somehow {I really hope you can}, please visit me in my dreams sometime. Your spirit is always welcome anywhere I am, I promise. I will look for you.

Don’t forget me, Maxwell. I love you so much. I will never ever forget you, no matter where I go or how many other nice dogs I meet. I know you could always be sort of jealous when I would pet other dogs, so just know that you’re my number one.

When Mom said that you were having some heart problems, I prayed so hard that you would recover. I wish I could have done more. I can’t believe the amount of pain and stress you must have felt when you got sick. I’m grateful beyond words that you got sick fast and did not suffer for very long {sweet baby, I hope you did not suffer for long at all}. I hope you know that we all selfishly would have liked to keep you alive out of sheer love for you, but at the same time, we loved you so much that we could not bear to keep you in pain. And now I know that you will spend every day that I am stuck in school or work outside playing and chasing rabbits and other animals {pick on someone your own size!!!!}.

Look after Mom and the rest of our family, and your sisters too. Visit them at home sometimes, and keep them in your heart. They all love you so much. You are so much more loved than I can even express to you, but I know that you understand it because you have an incredible capacity for love, way more than I’ve ever seen in any other doggie.  You were my best friend during my whole childhood and my teenage years, and I am so grateful to have had you for all that time. I wouldn’t have chosen another dog to be mine for anything in the world.

Love,

Your Girl

Why I would pick Jack Johnson

Today one of my friends asked me an interesting (an immensely challenging) question. If you were going to be stuck listening to just one musician’s music for the rest of your life, who would it be? I don’t know why people play these ridiculous games and ask themselves these ridiculous questions, but for some reason, I find myself contemplating these types of questions all the time.

They’re not easy. In what strange parallel universe would we have the freedom to pick one artist’s music, but only that one? I thought and thought. Like anyone else my age, I have a great deal of “favorite artists.” My boyfriend even teases me for how many things I term “my favorite.” We use the phrase “favorite favorite” for something that is even more my favorite than all my other favorites.

So, when the question was phrased, my mind immediately began to race. I think of myself as having more of a “feel” when it comes to music than one single artist. I love mellow music. I’d say I like stoner music, but I’ve never smoked in my life, and it’s just not really my thing. But, if you’re curious about my taste in music, think big outdoor summer music festival: Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Firefly, you get the feeling. 90s music makes me feel so at peace; it’s what I grew up on! Throw on some Matchbox Twenty, Blink-182, Oasis, or Third Eye Blind, and I’ll feel right at home.

But my favorite type of music lies somewhere between Lana del Ray’s smooth voice and John Mayer’s musicality.  I thought about both these artists: I think they’re both quite talented, and I enjoy listening to their music. But Lana doesn’t have enough songs yet to be stuck with just those few songs for the rest of my life. John Mayer was tougher. He has many albums, plus all the live recordings that are different from the recorded versions to provide variety. I love his music, and I love when he does covers of other musicians, too. But I decided too much of John Mayer’s stuff was sad, and if I was going to be stuck with one kind of music for the rest of eternity, it had better be something that made me happy. So then I thought, Matt Nathanson makes me happy (if you haven’t heard of him, I highly recommend that you check him out. His stuff is fabulous, seriously.) But a lot of his stuff, too, feels generally sad.

I realized what mattered to me most was not who was the best, who had the most albums, etc., but simply where each musician/band’s music took me when I listened to it. When I listen to Jack Johnson, I’m on a warm beach somewhere, closing my eyes, with a fancy frozen drink in my hand. Even his sadder stuff has a beachy feel, and you can’t help smiling during the vast majority of his songs.

Who would you pick?

More soon.

Why Hawaii is Better than Reality

What’s your fantasy escape from the real world? On a rough day, where does your mind drift away to, just to forget the stupid stuff going on?

My personal favorite escape, at least lately, is Hawaii. I fantasize about going away to the tropical islands, drowning in hibiscus flowers and the romance of wearing a lei and sitting out on the beach, tanning with a good magazine. I put on some Jack Johnson music {personal favorites on a particularly difficult day include Constellations, You and Your Heart, Breakdown, Banana Pancakes, and Better Together}. Everyone has somewhere they can go in their head and be miles away from wherever they are in real life. Sometimes, when Hawaii doesn’t sound so great, I go to Disney World. That’s when I’m in drowning in adult responsibilities and just want to feel like a kid again, because Disney takes me away from all that.

But Hawaii is where I go when I just feel overwhelmed by life in general, and don’t mind being an adult, but just want to escape work/school/life for a few days/weeks/millennia.  I love my life, in general. I have a great family, a sweet boyfriend, and I’m a college student {many people claim these are the best years of your life}. But even with all that, there are days that get hard. I spend too much time worrying about money. How will I get through the rest of school without accumulating a nice chunk of federal loans? And will I make it through my hardest classes without failing and having to retake them, thus setting me off track for the whole rest of my life?  Will I make it once I get out of school? Will I be able to find a job? I gained a few pounds this semester—am I getting fat?

Hawaii me doesn’t worry about any of these things. She’s only concerned with reapplying sunscreen every two hours, staying hydrated out on the beach, and keeping a refreshing drink in her hand. She worries more about what to do for dinner tonight than anything else. She meets friendly local Hawaiians and stays in a luxurious hotel. Sometimes she goes to the spa, just because laying on the beach every day gets old. Money is no object. Hawaii me can read books, play on her phone, whatever. She’s thin and looks great in her bikini without trying. Every guy wants to date Hawaii me. And all she wants to do is listen to her iPod and relax.

Someday I want to go to Hawaii. I want to spend a week there doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every moment of it. Until then, it’s back to hitting the books, and hoping that I make it through another day.

More soon.

Why Being a Romantic is Hard On the Heart

Life is complicated and messy. There will be conflicts and confusing moments. I feel like real life is filled with people like myself and people like my boyfriend. I’m on one end of the spectrum. I try to make something out of everything. I look for signs. I pretend I’m starring in my own movie. I romanticize the little stuff. And he doesn’t. I think he believes in a much more functional type of love. Not the big romance and the movie moments, but the simple facts that a long-term relationship implies. Brushing your teeth because you had onions on your burger at dinner and you don’t wanna kiss until you feel confident about your breath.  Meeting in the library to study together, instead of jetting off to a bed and breakfast for the weekend. I don’t know. I think I have this unrealistic view of love that books and movies gave me growing up. I won’t apologize for it, because I love the way my mind looks at love. But sometimes I worry that I’m always going to be desiring more and more from a guy, and I know that that isn’t fair to him.

The older I get, the more I think lots of girls {at least, the dreamers like myself} have this same problem. We want the first kiss to be under fireworks after the perfect date, not a drunken kiss in a bar after six mixed drinks and seeing your ex-boyfriend out with another girl. But that’s real life. Real life is meeting a guy on Tinder, fighting over who has to do the laundry this time, complaining to your friends about how annoying your boyfriend’s mom is when he tells you his parents are coming to visit for the weekend. Real life is hearing the guy you’re dating say goodnight before you go to sleep, instead of having a beautifully-scripted paragraph ready to go to send you off to bed each night. And it can be really hard to revise your expectations. Especially if you’re like me, and you spend too much time listening to Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer. Songs will lead you to believe every guy is thinking these amazing things about you. That love is going to be bigger and grander than anything you could ever imagine. And maybe there are some guys out there like that {hit me up}, but I don’t think too many people are like that. I think we’re all too shy and nervous and vulnerable to be like that in a relationship. Because we look at relationships as being a contest. The person who cares more about the other person instantaneously loses by default. So we play the I-care-less-than-you game. I refuse to play. I’ve always been of the belief that competition kills a relationship. Mini-golf and bowling scores don’t count, of course. But comparing how many girls he’s kissed to how many guys you have isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter. You both have a past. But you’re together now. And it can’t be a contest if you ever want it to work out.

Romantics everywhere, I know it’s hard to give up this preconceived notion of love and romance. It’s hard to let go of that and realize that real life isn’t the same as our fantasies. It’s hard because, in theory, the real thing isn’t nearly as exciting or enchanting as what we’ve created in our heads. But when you find someone who makes you truly happy, you’ll forget the fantasies you’ve built up for years and realize that the real, tangible thing you have with another person is a thousand times better than you ever could have imagined.

Why Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Seriously Romantic

I just finished watching it {probably for about the hundredth time in my life} but it’s still one of the most romantic movies of all time. The scene where he tells her people do belong to other people while she’s in the cab, running off to the airport to fly to Brazil? Serious Hollywood magic right there. And then when she runs after him in the rain, and finds her cat, and they kiss? 

No, those aren’t tears in my eyes. Your twenty-something is a romantic, guys.

My only complaint is that the book Breakfast at Tiffany’s  
is not nearly as romantic as the film portrays. Holly is basically a call-girl, the narrator doesn’t have a name at all, and the whole point of the story is that he’s curious what happened to the girl who lived in his building YEARS LATER {point being: they don’t even end up together}. So, sorry Capote, the movie takes the edge in this one {and that never happens}.