What I Learned From My First Real Relationship

For most of my tween and teenage years, I thought to have a boyfriend was the most important thing in the world. In my mind, I thought it would provide a sense of validation and security that I believed could only be filled by a guy saying he loved me. It’s quite embarrassing admitting that now as there are far more important things in the world, but it was nonetheless how I felt at the time. As I watched all my friends from high school getting into these complex relationships, I wondered if I was missing out on something amazing. Then in college, I finally got a boyfriend only to happily break up with him.

Courtesy: Thought Catalogue 


The relationship began as many do these days: from a dating app. We met on Bumble and decided to go on a casual dinner date. Then we just kind of kept going on dates for six months, until my fourth “I think we should break up” conversation finally ended what was a relationship going absolutely nowhere. Over the six months, I realized we not only had near nothing in common, but we did not even have an initial connection. Our relationship, engineered from common algorithms, was really based on nothing except each of us wanting someone to do couple-y things with. Not only were we not connecting on any level, but the relationship itself made me feel more distant from my friends. I suddenly felt like I wasn’t really me anymore as long as I had this strong association with someone whose views, values, and interests I don’t share.

I have no hard feelings for my ex-boyfriend as he was a generally good guy and always treated me right, but we were in no way compatible even on a friendly level. The incompatibility was so palpable that all my friends could promptly sense it. The way we never laughed at the same jokes or couldn’t find common ground on the Brett Kavanaugh trial really solidified my feeling of disconnect. That’s when I realized: why have a relationship at all if you aren’t each other’s best friend? Why put all this time and energy into something that isn’t meant to last? Although it was initially hard to break it off as we’d both gotten comfortable, eventually I had to listen to the voice asking me every day “why are you doing this?” I didn’t feel in love even from the start, and I knew letting the relationship drag out wasn’t fair to either of us. By just being comfortable together, we were holding each other back from finding actual happiness. He’d say his ideal future would be starting a family in the suburbs, while I know I wouldn’t live a minute in the burbs and couldn’t care less if I get married. See? We are different!

Courtesy: PEP


When we mutually agreed that it was time to end it, I had never felt so happy or such relief. I feel that now I can give more attention to the friends who mean the world to me as well as the goals I am dying to achieve. This validation and security I sought wasn’t found in another’s alleged love for me, but instead in my love for myself. Once I became more invested in my interests and my future, I felt much more secure with who I am and who I want to become. A guy’s approval suddenly paled in comparison to a legendary camping trip with the girls or scoring the perfect internship in New York City. For the first time, I realized I loved myself more than my idea of a relationship. I do believe real love exists and I welcome it in my life, but love isn’t settling for the first person to say “I love you.”