In my early 20s, I wasn’t ready for marriage and didn’t want to get serious with anybody, but I still dated. And I dated guys who weren’t interested in anything more either. I dated ‘just for fun.’ Looking back, I’m not sure this was the best.
In college I dated a guy who clearly was not ready for a serious relationship. He wasn’t a player or anything; he just needed to heal more from his previous unhealthy long-term relationship. He was up front about the fact that he just wasn’t ready to get serious. This was fine with me as I wasn’t looking for commitment either.
At first, things were a lot of fun. My best friend and I enjoyed hanging out with my new guy and his friends. Every weekend was another party and lots of laughs. My boyfriend and I hadn’t been dating long before he told me he loved me. Not long after that my heart became more invested in him too, despite what my initial plans had been.
Things became physical soon afterwards. In hindsight, sex made it that much harder to leave a bad relationship. Whether we want it to be or not, sex isn’t casual. Learning and experiencing so much about a person is intimate. It just is. I hadn’t intended it, but I now felt bonded to a person I didn’t know well enough to be bonded to.
Then he began to pull away. He would say disrespectful things to me to prove to his friends that their friendship was more important than his relationship with me. It should have been easy to leave the second something irreverent escaped his lips, but I felt bonded to him. Even though I was angry with him, I stuck around.
Our relationship began to burn out. We went to the same parties with the same people making the same jokes. The parties always ended with us fighting and my boyfriend getting drunk enough to pass out. That became our relationship. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t even fun, but I had fallen for him.
I wish I had had the strength to break it off earlier, but instead it ended when he broke up with me.
My 20-year-old self was heartbroken for some time. I felt like trash. I felt used and then thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. Even though my head knew that it was for the best and that the relationship caused me more misery than joy, my heart was attached and didn’t want to be without him. Eventually I did get over him, though not before I made embarrassing drunken calls to him one night. I know. Ugh.
What I thought could be casual developed into something very personal. I think it is a sign of self respect to not allow someone to play with your heart who has no intention of ever giving it to you in the first place. Now I think that you shouldn’t date someone unless you think they could be marriage material. If they aren’t looking for a serious commitment, that’s what friendship is for. Why get so deeply involved with someone who views you as their temporary entertainment? That’s setting you up for heartbreak.
My biggest regret about the whole thing is sticking around for so long. If you know he’s not marriage material, don’t waste your time. Free yourself up to meet the person who is.
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