There are going to be plenty of relationships in your life, no matter the seriousness of them. Recently, I spotted an article about divorced men, which in turn made me look at my boyfriend—who is also divorced. He is one of the sweetest, funniest, most selfless men I’ve ever dated.
But, it sparked my thought circuit as to how I arrived at the point in my life that I’m at. I began thinking about all the relationships before him, and I realized that there were only a few names that crossed my mind that were still dear to me.
Here, I look at four different relationships that I feel changed my perspective of myself, my approach to love and love as a whole—relationships that I feel we commonly encounter throughout our lives.
There’s always that one person who you remember to be your first love. While I realize that what I’m about to say doesn’t entirely fit what I want to explain, it’s the closest thing to describe it.
In first grade—hold your skepticism, please—I had a huge crush on this kid named Mike. He was this super funny and sweet kid. I liked to chase him during recess, but he was what I consider to be my “first love.” It sounds ridiculous since I was in first grade, but there was something that drew me to him.
Right before second grade, a new elementary school was built, and Mike transferred to the other elementary school. I didn’t see him again until middle school. Five years since the last time I saw him in first grade, I spotted him at one of the middle school dances. I approached him very awkwardly and said, “You probably don’t remember me—“ for which he cut me off and said, “Of course I remember you.” Again, might seem ridiculous, but he was still so handsome. It wasn’t a love I pursued, although I still had a “soft spot” for him all through high school. Mike was a jock/cool kid, and I, well… wasn’t.
In any case, my point is that people tell you that, “Your first love never dies.” I firmly believe that. I still wonder what Mike is doing today–if he’s happy, what our lives would be like if we were still friends.
The One That Got Away
Before I moved to Arizona, I was madly in love with a guy named Chris. He was this sarcastic, hilariously intelligent guy who I met at the local Family Video store near my apartment in Michigan. We talked about anything and everything—film, writing, college, friends, roommates, relationships, etc. He was someone that I trusted with anything. I leaned on him for support when my friend committed suicide. I went to him for story ideas—or in some cases, used him in a fictional story I wrote [and eventually got published]—for my creative writing workshops. He was simply someone I truly cared about and enjoyed talking to.
About a year after we became friends, I was graduating college and had tossed around the idea of moving to downtown Grand Rapids—where I knew he resided. However, I received a job offer in Arizona—for which we both knew I couldn’t turn down. I wanted out of Michigan, to let go of the past and explore life outside the Midwest bubble I lived in for the past 21 years.
We kept in touch for the first couple of months while I was away. But eventually, it became too emotionally difficult for me to have to say goodbye to him over and over again. And eventually, I think he stopped trying—not that I blame him by any means. Our lives were going in different directions, and long distance friendships are hard to maintain, let alone relationships [not that we were in or near one].
I haven’t seen him since November 2013. I tried connecting with him a few times over the past two years when I was home in the mitten for short periods of time, but nothing ever aligned. I miss him. We’re Facebook friends—yeah, yeah, God forbid we communicate in any other way these days—but we don’t talk anymore. I’ve seen he has dated a few girls since, and I’m truly happy for him. I only wish him well. I prayed every night for him to find happiness and to find someone to share that happiness with.
Chuck Klosterman wrote in his novel, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, “We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It’s easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven’t even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like.
These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable.
The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.”
That person was Chris. I would give anything just to have one last conversation with him. And a hug, of course.
Right Guy at the Wrong Time
When I first moved to Arizona, I met a guy named Morgan. I experienced a lot of firsts with him. He was the first guy who spontaneously and successfully asked me out in a public setting. He was the first guy I dated who was a veteran. He was the first guy I dated who had children. He was the first guy I dated who owned a gun (ex-military man). He was the first guy I dated that had lost a parent. It was very, very different for me. It was difficult for me to fathom merely half of the things he had experienced in his lifetime. Morgan is a strong man—physically, mentally and emotionally.
Right from the start the passion was deep and abundant. I adored him—for the way he treated me and the little things he did to make me smile. Many people argue that what I had with Morgan was a “fling” rather than a relationship. But Morgan and I discussed a future together. We enjoyed what the future held for us and all the things we wanted to do together.
One might also argue that “being busy,” is just an excuse—to which I truly agree. However, Morgan was just that. He had so many conflicts come up that essentially replaced the time we spent together. Over a short period of time, I could see the toll these conflicts were taking on him and essentially could see the break in the future we envisioned together. Though we split amicably and I still have the utmost respect for him, there were two things I took away from Morgan being the right guy at the wrong time:
One, I had written that “he handed me a future, and for a moment, I truly believed I had a chance.” And two, he told me the day we broke up that I “am an amazing and beautiful woman who will find a man that treats me right, and will give me all that I deserve.” He was right. And that brings me to…
Some people say, “You just know when you’ve found the one.” Others make checklists. And then people like me know through open communication.
When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I remember him blatantly stating something along the lines of, “If I’m not sure I want to marry you in about a year, chances are we’re probably not going to”—and essentially, break up. I have made it clear that I want to marry my current boyfriend, and we openly discuss our future together.
I can’t speak for where we’ll be in a year, but I showed my boyfriend a quote that read, “If I date you, the goal is to marry you. Build with you. Grow with you. I’m not dating you to just pass time. I see potential in you,” and he agreed with me 100%. So I’d say the “odds are ever in our favor.”
Photo: Flickr/ Ricardo Motti