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Sex + Relationships

When I Knew It Was Time to Let Go (And When You Should Too)


When I was seventeen, I was convinced I’d found the one. Of course, you always feel like that at the start, especially in the honeymoon phase. For the sake of this article, I’ll give him a different name. We’ll go with Josh.

Josh and I had been best friends for about six months before we started dating, and our friend group had been meshed for about two years since then. I had always looked at him and observed him as out of my league, so I had never really focused too much on him in any way other than a friend. However, when spring break rolled around, I found myself thrust into flirt Snapchat conversations and subtle compliments the entire week I was on vacation. On my way home, we determined that we wanted the same thing–a relationship.

Our relationship during the run time began simple and easy. We never argued and were together constantly, whether that was chilling in his bedroom watching Netflix or out with our friend group exploring Dallas together like we always did. I found myself secure in the easy groove that we had fallen into, and I let myself relax. However, the complications we had ignored since the start were about to bubble up to the surface.

I was a senior about to be off to the University of Oklahoma, while Josh had very solid plans of joining the Marines. With this in mind, when our relationship initiated, we both knew it had to end when he was shipped off to the Marines over the summer. However, this plan became complicated when Josh was denied entry to the Marines because of COVID forcing an end to recruitment activities in the spring, when he had planned to enlist so he could be shipped off over the summer. Instead, he was now staying in our hometown and doing two years of community college before leaving for the Marines for four years.

This threw both of us for a loop. We both felt like we had to break up with one another because he was going to the Marines, but with him no longer leaving, we didn’t really have to. I had always been told not to go to college with a boyfriend; my sister had made that mistake and it ended in flames. I had always vowed to not be like her, but when I was faced with the same situation as my sister, I changed my tune and decided to give it a shot.


How it all broke down…

The day before I left, Josh and I went to dinner together and came back to my house to hang out a little before I left the next morning. Cuddling on the couch, I look up at him. “Do you think things will change?” I question, shifting. I hated to disturb the peace in that moment, but we hadn’t really voiced that question out loud until this moment. 

He looks down at me and presses his lips together. “We won’t let them.” He states after a beat, with a term of finality in his tone.

I nod and press my head back into his chest, but the worry only alleviated slightly. You never knew what things would be like until you were living in that moment.

We started out okay. We tried to talk as much as possible to one another at the start, but soon enough I found myself consumed by life. College took me to a whole new world–a world without strict parents and strict rules. I wasn’t accustomed to that–I was used to the “10 PM curfew vibes” versus the “if you want Taco Bell at 2 AM then go get Taco Bell at 2 AM type of vibe. The newfound freedom ignited a fire under my butt, and I wanted to do everything crazy that a dumb college kid would do. I wanted to ride scooters around the empty campus past midnight, and to go to a frat party in a tube top (even though it’s forty degrees out), and to have a water taste test to find out which is the best water (yes, I did that). This craving for the free-spirited lifestyle spurred me to do anything and everything I could, and because of that my schedule filled up like crazy. His stayed the same as it was at home–somewhat mundane, schoolwork and work-oriented, and he found himself bored and lonely as I blazed through my multitudes of daily activities and became less free for 24/7 responses and nightly phone calls. I tried my best, but I couldn’t be what he needed, and he wasn’t a part of my life like he used to be because he wasn’t a daily presence.

We ended it one night during a nightly phone call. I told him my schedule for the next day, chock-full of friends and activities. He iterated his nine to five and nightly schoolwork. We both fell silent for a long moment. “Do you think this is working?” He asks finally, somber. 

My heart aches, but I know the answer. I wait a beat, not wanting to say it. “I don’t think so.” I admit. 

“So this is how it ends?” He asks, even more sombered. 

“I guess so.” My voice cracks, and I know I’m breaking. “Josh, you know I love you right?” I find myself adding. It’s true that I did in that moment, and it hurt me that I had to break away from someone I care about so much. 

He nods. Once, then twice. “I know.” He says in a small voice. “Right person, wrong time.”


What it taught me…

I just started my second semester at University of Oklahoma, and I’m doing anything and everything I have even the littlest of curiosity or interest in. That’s the way I like it, and I don’t regret packing my semester the way I am. I’m planning a retreat for the Class of 2025 to get accustomed to churches in Norman over the summer, competing in a musical theater competition and serving as continuous open bidding director for my sorority, serving on staff at the OU Food Pantry, and writing for HerCampus. I may be busy, but I’m doing what I love and please with my time, and that’s freedom to me.

I met my current boyfriend Grayson the first semester of college, and ended up falling hard for him. We hit our four month mark the first day of February, and I’m constantly praying that we have a crazy amount of more time ahead of us in the future. He supports my endeavors and always believes in me, and will do straight up stupid things with me and our friends like throwing a gallon of water off the roof of the parking garage at three in the morning for no reason or buy a tree frog for our dorm room (yes, we are going to be tree frog parents!) He was what I needed in this phase in my life, and luck placed him in it at the perfect time for me. 

Josh and I took a step back from a friendship after our relationship ended, but I’ve got to watch him flourish from afar. He’s stepped up his Marines training, and moved his send off date to this upcoming summer, eager to get training and serving. It has always been his dream to serve, and I admire him for that, and am always cheering him on from afar no matter how things ended for us. 

It’s true that sometimes within our life we might meet someone and that timing just isn’t right. I think it’s also true that sometimes we might meet someone and the timing is perfect. I’m forever thankful for Josh and I crossing paths- we were good together, just not good apart. Grayson was a huge blessing that I would’ve overlooked if I kept pushing something that wasn’t meant to last, no matter how much I longed for it to. Relationships can last forever, but sometimes they don’t, and that’s okay. Learning to let go of what drags you down helps you be happier, and in the end that matters more than hanging on to something that isn’t letting you be the best person you can be.

Addie Whightsil is a journalism student at the University of Oklahoma- she may not know what she's doing half of the time, but she knows enough to write for HerCampus. She's a nonprofit minor who is addicted to dark chocolate caffeine bars, and she is known to be entertainment for whoever she happens to be associated with. When she's not writing for HerCampus, she's probably at a 24 hour breakfast diner at two AM, playing MarioKart with her friends, or organizing her planner with color coded pens. She hopes you enjoy her zany articles.
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