I spent my early twenties believing I had found my soul mate. It was a stereotypical relationship: Boy and girl are best friends. Boy and girl would never fall for each other because their friendship is too important to risk losing. Until one day, they do fall for each other. Hard. Only four years later, girl realizes she fell a bit harder than boy.
As I’ve written previously, I was devastated. The breakup left me grasping at what was gone and desperately attempting to get it back. Because our lives were so intertwined, there was not a clean break. For a while, we lived in the same house, shared a vehicle and a bank account. Since those things take time to untangle, I wasn’t able to physically remove myself from my now ex’s life.
The reality is, though, I didn’t want to. I can look back on that time now and clearly see I was depressed and in many ways in denial. I was experiencing the stages of grief while also halfheartedly believing there must be something I can do to get him back.
I told myself that maybe if I were more attractive or talked less about the future I could make him love me. Maybe if we had more sex. Maybe there’s something I can do to make him love me. I tried everything I could think of to make that boy love me. But he didn’t and there was nothing I could do about it. After several months, I had to face that truth. I could no longer deny it, and I had to embrace the grief, honor what was lost, and move on.
I learned a lot from that incredibly painful experience. Most importantly, I learned this simple truth: Love cannot be coerced or demanded. If it is, it is no longer love. The exchange ceases to be loving when it is given or received out of anything other than pure, absolute honor and care for what’s good for the other person.
This realization allowed me not just to move on from him, but to know that what I have with the man who eventually became my husband is the real deal. Real love is never forced. It is always free.