What I Know Now: I was Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

At twenty years old, you wouldn’t think I’d have too much to say about relationships—that I must be fresh out of the gate, with not very much experience. At least, people assume that because I’m young, I’m naive. Usually, I just look at the person and idly wonder if it’s really worth the time to correct them.

Because the reality is, at twenty years old, I know more than most. More than I wish I knew.

When I was fifteen, I got into a relationship with a guy. It was great initially. But I soon discovered that he was into some weird stuff when it came to sex, and I wasn’t comfortable with any of it. At first he listened, but he got more insistent. And the more I kept denying what he wanted, the angrier he got.

Even after that relationship ended, I didn’t really learn from it. I ended up getting into a new relationship that was the same—only this time it got to the point of rape.

From these experiences, I’ve learned two important lessons.

First, if you feel like you might love someone, stop and think. “Do I love him for the right reasons, or do I even love him at all?” Loneliness, needing attention from a man, or wanting a boyfriend just to have a boyfriend are not good reasons in themselves to be in a relationship. Especially if he doesn’t treat you well. Be honest with yourself about your relationship. If there’s something wrong, don’t drag it out. Be willing to let go. It’s so much better to say goodbye than to keep hurting.

Second, if you are uncomfortable with things he asks you to do, tell someone! Because the more you let it keep happening, the better the chance that they could end up really hurting you. That’s not to say it’s your fault. But being open about what’s going on might help you recognize abusive behavior before it’s too late.

These lessons might seem obvious, but it can be hard to know if you are in a bad situation when you are in it. Especially if you’re only experiences with men are bad ones. It wasn’t until just recently that I regained any kind of hope that I could be treated better by a man. I had to wait for the right guy.

With him, I’m learning how to fully let someone into my life without scaring him away with my insecurities. We both have so much history that we find ourselves wanting to make it better for each other. But sometimes we don’t know how.

We hold on to the hope that if in the end we can learn from it, we can grow from it. That what we have is real love, the love I’d been looking for from a man all along.

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