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*This article contains material about physical, sexual, and mental abuse*


In all of my past relationships I never fully accepted the reality of the abilities of time. So much changes in the matter of days, months, and of course, a year. Reflecting back on my prior relationships, I realize that I would always continue to see the good in my past partners, even if there was nothing good to see and they were what was toxic in my life. I have always been the hopeless romantic type of woman, seeking a cloud 9 relationship, with highs and lows of course. Nevertheless, I have found a trend in the men I have previously chosen as my partners. There was of course my first love, my rebound, my short-term relationship, my “I thought you would be the one”, and then there is the one who is a breath of fresh air. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety, these mental battles can diminish the value you see in oneself, hence giving more importance in their views of me versus my own happiness of myself. I am going to go through each of these relationships and tell you the lessons I learned despite the heartbreak that it came with.

My first love/the love of my life...

I am not going to lie, whomever your first love is or the first person you plan the rest of your life with, you are not going to forget them for some time, in fact some never forget. This does not mean that you are seeking to be in a relationship with them, this means that there was true love among the two of you. I believe true love for someone never fades, and if it fades it was never love. When I met my first love, let’s call him B, I was in awe at the first intense feelings I had ever felt in my heart thus far in my life. It was in the summer of eight grade, prior to entering my freshman year in high school, when I had first met him at a summer graduation party. I am not going to lie, this was one of the most memorable days I ever had in my life, with every detail of the day etched in my memory. He was my true “love at first sight” guy where we instantly clicked from the moment we met. We first attempted to date our freshman year, although it did not last long as there were some “first relationship kinks.” From then on, we would talk on and off for some period of time, and then finally we dated for almost a year starting our senior year. I hold some of the most dear and memorable times of my life thus far with B in my heart, although there were storms in between the rainbows that eventually lead to a hurricane. As we entered college, we became different people, something that is expected in college, although I thought we could take on anything together. After some on and off time of trying again, we finally broke it off June, after the end of our freshman year in college. All that time, I was holding on to the good times only, our history, and ultimately ignored how time had changed us, where we eventually outgrow each other. Our relationship truly taught me the most lessons, and I am truly grateful for both the lessons it taught me and the time I spent with him. I realize the content is irrelevant, it is the pattern in someone. No matter what our disagreements were about, the pattern was the same, leading to a toxic cycle that I could not escape. I was truly in love with him, although after some time, I was in love with the idea of who he used to be, not who he was in the moment. With this in mind, there is more pain in holding on than letting go. After he would drop me several times, leaving me broken hearted each time, and guilt-ridden for every which thing I would do, I was ready to let go of the toxic energy that it brought me after we finally ended things. I was upset that all our time spent together came to an end although I was never more than ready to finally end things. Know your worth and never let someone’s perception of you have a greater perception that you have of yourself. Always remember that if you did everything you possibly could to make it work and get to the point where you become exhausted or mentally distraught, such as I myself, then you can walk away from that relationship and begin to move on and heal, clearing your mind and self for the serenity of what is to come.

My Rebound...

This may have truly been the most toxic yet eye-opening relationships I have been in. At that in point in time, I was vulnerable and looking to fill the void of what was gone. I was fixated on the good in this guy I had just met, ignoring all of the red flags that would arise amidst the relationship. Our relationship began too soon for such a high intensity. After spending time with him and his friends, I felt welcome and comfortable where that was my go-to place. As time went on, I saw the toxicity and abuse that he had. After yelling at me several times, calling me despicable things, and throwing objects around me, we broke up.  It was then he decided to sexually assault me.  Despite me being completely blinded by the fast opportunity to fill the empty void I had, I never accepted the fact that I was being mentally and physically abused. This was also one of the darkest point in my life, although I grew such strength from the lows. Reporting him was truly the beginning of me overcoming my strength to exceed my mental boundaries I had instilled in my head. Nevertheless, always trust your gut with someone. After he had shown interest in beginning a relationship, my gut told me this was too soon, which would also later prove to also be true in the sense of the hardships and pain it brought. Always entrust your inner concerns and the concerns of those around you, odds are they are never wrong.

My Short-Term Relationship

For the sake of importance of the entirety of this piece, simply do not waste your time on someone who is not interested in the same relationship goals as you...it will not go anywhere significant in the future. I was being fooled by the pure fact that I had a partner in my life, let’s call him D, regardless of the odds of success being truly against us. In my heart of hearts, I knew that I was not going to be with him in the future and I ignored the signs of past toxicity within him as well. As you can see, I have a track history of sweeping aside negative traits within my partners. He went through my phone while I was asleep because of his insecure doubts and then proceeded to take pictures of conversations I had with male friends, yet I STILL continued to see the good. It is truly okay to be insecure, yet it is not okay to allow your feelings to turn into actions against you, that invade your privacy or comfort. After some time, I also noticed patterns in D that he had with B and others; he scrutinized every little thing I would do and make me feel guilty for the things I would say or do, hence diminishing the true me. I finally got to the point where I realized that this was draining me mentally and would only end similarly to my past ex’s. In the end, remind yourself of your worth and do not settle for someone who does not meet up to your standards.

My “I thought you would be the one”

If you have been keeping up to date with my articles, I recently posted one regarding my long-distance relationship. My long-distance relationship with my partner, C, was where I really started thinking about everything we could be. He truly embraced who I was as a person, which was something that I had finally received. Receiving effort from my partners was something I always struggled with. I am the type of person that would cross oceans for my partners, where they couldn’t even step over a puddle for me. After we had spent time together in person, there was always that instant connection where we would always pick up right where we left off. I felt comfortable with him, although I managed to ignore the lack of effort and temper he held. After returning back to Maine from my home state of New Jersey, I was enthused that there was as much effort as possible from him, being several states away. I found the same pattern of time changing someone, although I realized that time had gotten the best of him quickly. I continued to accept what was, once again settling for a bit until I came to a realization. I was putting in more effort in our relationship as well as individual aspirations, which was not something I was comfortable with in a partner. I ultimately learned to not be blinded by the initial feelings you have for someone while they have revealed their colors to you.

My Breath of Fresh Air...

In no way am I saying that this person is the one, although I will say that this person will show you what you didn’t know you wanted and needed in a partner. Despite me being a hopeless romantic, in this current relationship I am learning to enjoy the time we have together now and be optimistic about the future, without focusing so much on that aspect. After things had ended with my last relationship, I vowed to be done with men and not date for a long time until I would accept someone that met up to my standards, and then came this wonderful guy. From our favorite foods, political views, activities, values, personalities, and relationship goals, I was in awe that we literally had the exact same views. I was blindsided by meeting such an extraordinary man. Prior to meeting him for the first time, I had minimal to no expectations for him being a potential partner. After attempting to watch shows and movies, we realized we had been talking through the entirety of that time. I had not felt time go by that quick in quite some time, nor that instant connection I had first felt when I had met my first love. Something was different this time; this feeling was more intense than my first experience and this felt right in my gut and entire being. After getting to know each other more and more, I kept wondering if this was too good to be true, as was he wondering the same thing. He truly possesses everything I have never had within a guy, and I am truly grateful to say that I deserve a relationship with a guy who treats me this amazing. Being with him has been like a wave of clarity and happiness. I cannot stress enough the significance of being on the exact same page as your partner, uplifting each other, having great communication, and of course having equal devotion towards one another. This person is your sunshine, making you happy when skies are grey, and always being a source of happiness for you.

So what did I never share with anyone?...

I was lying to myself and others in all of my past relationships, with the exception of my current one. Sugar coating your happiness and health in a relationship to others and yourself will only hurt you in the end. You end up hurting your own heart by giving it away to someone who doesn’t treat it as the most precious being. Shying from the truth only prevents you from growing and experiencing all the great things in life. Stay true to you and never settle for less than you deserve; you deserve the love you give so willingly to others.

Stephanie Krakowski attends the University of Maine and is currently a sophomore. She studies Kinesiology (concentration in exercise science) with a minor in nutrition. Her passion consists of working out and spending her time at the gym or being with friends. She loves to run, travel, road trip, try new things and meet new people.
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