What I've Learned About Love... Sort Of

I’m a young woman in university. I’m making friends and losing friends, studying hard and then falling behind, and of course falling for guys then picking myself up. University is a busy and stressful time, but it’s also memorable and fun. I’ve learned countless valuable lessons, but the ones I’m about to share can’t be taught in a book (no matter how many times people try to do it).

These are the lessons I’ve learned about love. Well, sort of.

You see, the truth is: I’ve never been in love. But I think it’s naive for people to assume I don’t “understand” something about relationships or feelings because I’ve never been in love. Love isn’t the be all and end all. You can feel pain and happiness in a relationship just as much as someone else could who is in love.

That’s the case with me. The lessons I learned were from a guy I wasn’t in love with, but my feelings for him were real and genuine enough that I know I have gained some kind of understanding. And here I will share these lessons with you.

Lesson #1 isn’t necessarily something that only pertains to relationships. In fact, it can be applied to shoes, food, clothes, you name it. Lesson #1 is this: sometimes what you want and what you need are two different things. This is one of the hardest lessons to come to terms with. I walked away from a boy I wanted because he wasn’t what I needed. And it was so hard to do. I wanted this boy, and I don’t mean in a strictly sexual way, but also in the sense that I wanted to be around him again. He hurt me and we couldn’t set aside our differences to resolve the issues. But I wanted to spend time with him - I wanted to be the first person he told good news to again; I wanted to drive around with him again; I wanted to fall asleep next to him.

But I couldn’t have it anymore because he wasn’t what I needed at the time. So I walked away from a boy I still had feelings for.

Maybe one day in the future things will change, but at that time he wasn’t what was best for me. Walking away from someone like that is the toughest thing to do because what you want is coming from your heart, and what you need is coming from your brain. Pinning your heart against your mind is the ultimate struggle. I needed more and he wasn’t willing to offer that. So I had to convince my heart to move on. This lesson is so important because sometimes we deserve more and our heart will keep us blind to that. But sometimes you have to listen to that brain of yours to see the truth.

Lesson #2 has to do with happiness. Now that I’m no longer with this boy, I see how much of my happiness actually depended on him. If he didn’t text me, I was sad and doubting myself. But when he told me he was coming over, I was in the best mood and happier than ever. So lesson #2 taught me that in any relationship (including friendships), my happiness shouldn’t depend on the other person; that other person being in my life should add to my existing happiness.

Not learning this lesson will keep you from finding joy. Whoever said life is too short to spend a day unhappy was right. You see, when I was with this boy, I gave him a part of my happiness to hold. And he kept it safe for a while, until I had to walk away. Except the problem with depending on others like that means when I left, I forgot to take back that happiness I had once given him. For a period of time, he walked around with that piece of me so I still hurt.

I could be having the best day until something happened that triggered a memory of him. And suddenly I was sad and I missed him. Then I would be angry at myself for still being sad because he hurt me, he wasn’t right for me, and he probably moved on. Why are you sad about someone who isn’t even thinking about you anymore? The answer: because I didn’t learn lesson #2.

Now I see there are so many other things to invest my happiness in. My family, my friends, my classes or maybe even a hobby like reading a book or playing an instrument. A boy who treated me well but not the best is a trivial matter compared to the grand scheme of things. My happiness is mine and lesson #2 has taught me how to take ownership of it again.

The final lesson is one of the hardest of all three to learn. Lesson #3 is this: self-love is the most important love of all. For some, self-love comes easily, but for others it’s not the same case. Personally, I know I love myself: I like me for who I am. But self-love isn’t as simple as looking in the mirror and saying, “you deserve better.” It’s hard to listen to your own advice.

In this case, the road to self-love involves taking time for yourself. I learned that I can’t just fall for the first guy who is nice to me or who doesn’t treat me as just another “kill” to add to his list. It’s about recognizing the person you are and the person you want to be, as well as finding someone who recognizes those things too.

Pain teaches lessons. It’s hard to overcome it in the moment but once you get over that hill, you’ll be able to look back and be proud of what you learned. I truly believe that things happen for a reason. Whether it’s your religious belief or your faith in fate, there’s a plan. The lessons I learned from this boy who hurt my heart are lessons I was destined to learn.

And so, to that boy I say thank you.

And may we meet again.


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