In the years prior to meeting my husband, I had the chance to have a very casual dating life. Some dates went well, leading to another date, some, not so much! What I found throughout these experiences in my life was that each person is looking for something different and until I found my husband I felt like it would be an endless search! But while searching, I found I was often consumed by relationships—always with boyfriend or on the phone with him, always doing what he wanted. I didn’t often reflect on what I wanted and on what I was looking for in a spouse.
When I was in my early twenties I had come out of a relationship that was most definitely an unhealthy relationship. However I was so in love with this man I had been dating for about two years that I had let him come between my family and myself. I was not making the best decisions in my life. I was consumed by the relationship. And when it ended, I was so young and heartbroken that I felt like I would never get over our split and I would never find someone to love like I did him.
When we finally did call it quits I decided to go to college, get my self together and try to show my family I really was done with all of the madness of my former relationship. About six month later my self esteem was back and I was very proud of where I was in life and felt I could start dating again. This time I decided to go for a guy that was the exact opposite of the man I had broken up with six months before—“trying to learn from my mistakes,” I told myself.
My new boyfriend, let’s call him Joe, was a nice young man, in college like me working in the same industry as me at the time and we had several mutual friends. We hit it off right away!
He was a sports nut, he came from a very wealthy family and had been catered to his entire life, all of which was the exact opposite of me. He grew up an hour north of my hometown, attended private school and was basically a city boy, yet again the exact opposite of me. So all in all I had found what I was searching for, someone entirely different from my last relationship.
Joe and I dated for a while and got to know one another, we did not see eye to eye on a lot of things but I always chalked that up to our different upbringings. We honestly did not fight a lot, so I thought I was happy! We eventually moved in together and started making a life together, which I really thought would lead to marriage. In the beginning, I was all about doing things that he liked to do and spending a lot of our time with his friends. What I did not realize was that little by little we were doing fewer and fewer things that I enjoyed and spending very little time with my friends and family. In a very short amount of time and really unknown to me, I had been molded into what he wanted. We continued on like this for about 2 1/2 years and I honestly did not see it!! Because we lived together, and had little separation, it was easy for my self-identity to become consumed by this relationship. I had convinced myself that I was happy and this was the life I was “supposed” to be living. I did not even know who I was anymore.
But this all unraveled rather rapidly. I was asked by a life long friend to house sit while they were on vacation for about a week. I happily accepted and took the week off work to travel back to my hometown area. I hadn’t lived or really visited in several years so I was excited to see everyone and enjoy the time off! The time I spent back home that week was like a curtain being lifted from my eyes. In that week, I felt happiness I hadn’t felt in years! I spent time with people I loved, did things I grew up doing but hadn’t done in so long. I felt freedom and inspiration inside that I had somehow lost.
When I returned north to my house with Joe I knew in my heart this wasn’t who I was and it wasn’t where I needed to be to find true happiness. It wasn’t me and it wasn’t home. If only we had had this type of separation prior to moving in together, it might not have taken so long to figure out!
I packed my things and left the same week I had returned from house sitting. I know there was bitterness and hurt toward me from Joe but I didn’t ever really think he was a bad man, we didn’t have a terrible relationship, we just were two different people trying to make our lives what we thought it should be. I was grateful we hadn’t gotten married, but wish it hadn’t taken so long to see the relationship clearly.
Not a year after, I met my husband. He was funny and loved the same things I did! Our families were similar, we had the same wants and goals in life, things just seemed to fall into place. It was natural, not something we were “creating”. We have been married for five years and have one son, I have never been happier with my life and I love my family more than anything in the world!
My advice from all of this is to follow your heart and never lose who you are! It’s very easy to be cautious after being hurt or to end up in a relationship built of falsehoods in order to feel secure, safe and protected, but when you boil it all down it will never be a relationship based on true love, and I think that is what we all desire is real, honest true love!
What are some things you’re looking for in true love? Share in the comments!