I’ve been in two serious relationships my whole life. At 22 years old, I don’t have much experience. However, the experience I do have has traumatized me.
My first relationship was toxic and abusive and taught me “normal” things that were not so normal. My second one, the current one I’m in, is healthy, communicative, and blissful. Everything they say about love has fallen into my lap, and I have no idea what to do with it.
I was 14 when I found myself with someone I thought would be my “first love.” I was so wrong. The behaviors I became used to were manipulative, toxic, and draining. We would fight and yell, I would cry, and he would gaslight me, and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, after I left the relationship, I didn’t learn from these behaviors and thought they were normal.
It had been drilled into my brain that men acted this way, and it was something I’d have to put up with for the rest of my life. I had an extremely negative outlook on life and relationships in general. For three years, I had flings, broke hearts, messed around, and did the opposite of what I should have been doing: healing.
That’s what I did; until I met my boyfriend.
To the man who swept me off my feet and made me believe in love again, I can’t thank you enough.
You taught me to be patient and not rush into it. That real love takes time and effort. You met me when I was at rock bottom and still gave me the chance to know you while working on myself. We started off on a rocky base, me pushing you and pushing you and not understanding why you wouldn’t give me a chance right away.
But now I know. I needed time to learn about you and work on myself.
I think a small part of me knew you were the one for me the moment I laid eyes on you. Everything about you drew me in. The fluffy hair, the compelling allure of age, the bright eyes, and the sincere laugh. But your sense of humor and ability to make me laugh made me fall the hardest. The laughter is what drew me out of the dark.
In the last eight months, I have recovered from an alcohol and drug problem, weight issues, mental health issues, no job, and no money, and you had front-row seats. Your lectures and tentative advice helped me navigate through it because I wanted to be good enough for you.
Thank you for making me a better person and letting me make you a better person because growing together is better than growing apart. I needed you, and I didn’t know it, and I think maybe a part of you needed me too.
Since I met you, I have learned to love life again.
I’ve become patient, kind, caring, and knowledgeable. All the words I never thought I’d use to describe myself came from you. Even with the differences in our lives and our opinions, which used to make me run in the opposite direction, you’ve never given up on me, and I haven’t given up on you.
I’ve learned that the love I experienced when I was younger wasn’t real; it was infatuation. Love makes you better. It inspires you, makes you creative, and gives you energy. All of these small things you’ve brought into my life have been things I didn’t realize were missing. You took my pieces on the ground and glued them back together. Thank you for being my favorite person.
I knew I had fallen in love with you at the end of August when we were lying in my bed. I was teasing you. You looked over and said, “do you even like me?”
The only answer that came to my mind was, “I love you.”
I didn’t tell you I was in love with you right away. I wanted to take my time. I was filled with nerves, so nervous I felt physically ill from it. I spent almost two weeks debating if I was going to tell you, how I would tell you, and did you even love me back?
I spoke to my friend about it, spilling my guts about the man of my dreams, and she finally said to me, “life is too short to wait.” So I didn’t. I
sat in front of the campfire you built on a Friday evening in September, and it took 30 minutes for the words to come out. Since then, I have never been more blissful. You complete me.
This relationship did not come easy for me. Love isn’t easy to navigate.
I had to grow, he had to grow, and we had to grow together. Love is about making yourself better for the right person.
The right person will come along. There will be arguments, but you work it out. Don’t go to bed mad; communicate your feelings. Have in-person conversations, don’t leave it for over the phone. Cherish them, get them flowers, give them hugs, and learn their love language. Give them space when they ask for it, and let them know when you need space. Compliment them, even if it’s just on their cologne or perfume. Give them your opinions on life, let them listen to you express your theories and inputs, and watch you get angry and upset.
Love is one of the most beautiful things we have in the world.