I was dumped recently. Dumped sounds like a harsh word for what it was, because it was genuinely the nicest break up with the nicest guy I’ve ever experienced. Didn’t make it feel any less dumpy. I also never called him my boyfriend. We dated exclusively for a little over a year, but we didn’t talk every day. Didn’t make it any easier. He told me from the beginning that he didn’t want a serious relationship, so I kept in mind that this had an ending. Didn’t make it hurt any less.

This might sound confusing.

You weren’t in a relationship, but you were dumped?

You were exclusively dating, but he wasn’t your boyfriend?

Why did you date him if you knew it was going to end?

Isn’t the point of dating to potentially get married in the future?

Maybe….Maybe not. I don’t know. Love & relationships, thoughts & feelings are things I love to write about so strap in, we’re starting at the beginning…

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I was a part of a Baptist church youth group through middle school and most of high school. One thing that sticks out in my mind is women roughly my current age (mid-twenties) speaking to us about how they weren’t dating anymore. They were just going to wait until God sent them “the one.”

There was a song by a band named Barlow Girl with the chorus,

“No more dating, I’m just waiting, like Sleeping Beauty…my prince will come for me.”

When I was 13, I adored that song. I hear that song now & I’m like, “GIRL…”

I consider myself to be a patient person in most circumstances, but I can’t imagine not doing something about a situation that doesn’t make me happy. If you’re lonely & can’t figure out why you haven’t met someone, maybe it’s because you’re not looking, or at the very least, putting yourself out there, you know?

Anyway, the message that I took away was that dating is a not-so-great way to go about finding love, because you spread your heart too thin & you get hurt & then you’re broken & can’t give the best of yourself to your future spouse. I understand this perspective because we tend to guard ourselves & become cold or jaded once we’ve been hurt. Makes sense, but I also feel dating can help us grow into better, stronger people. If we take the necessary time and steps to heal and improve ourselves after we’ve been hurt, does that not make us better, more empathetic and understanding people?

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I would say I’ve had 5 significant breakups and I like to think I’ve learned valuable lessons from them. I also currently need a distraction, so let’s talk about it & rank my pain! That’ll be fun. Scale of 1-5. From bruised heart to crushed soul.

I had my first heartbreak at 15 years old. It was my puppy love heartbreak. I was completely infatuated with this boy & so high on the idea of having my first boyfriend that I was absolutely devastated when he broke up with me. If we were both on AIM at the same time & he didn’t IM me, my heart would physically hurt a little bit. I drove around the back roads of Marion County belting My Chemical Romance & Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” for MONTHS. It felt like it took me forever to get over it, but I did. So that’s what it taught me. It taught me how to move on. I also learned later that you can be friends with an ex & that just because they’re your ex, doesn’t mean they suck. You liked them for a reason, right? Also, high school relationships can be hilarious & adorable in hindsight.

Heartbreak Scale: In 2005, 3.5-4.  In hindsight, probably a 1.5.

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The next heartbreak was weird because I initiated the break up. I dated a super nice guy my senior year of high school & most of my freshman year of college. It was a sweet relationship, but long-distance pretty much the entire time. This guy was so nice, at one point, we were 4-hours apart and he would drive an extra 40 minutes out of his way to buy a giant Godiva chocolate covered strawberry to surprise me with when he came home. WHO DOES THAT? But one day, I realized my feelings had changed. It took me a month or so to work up the courage to say something. I didn’t want him to hate me and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Eventually, I did bring it up & it was awful. Those talks are never not awful, but I felt so relieved after. He knew something wasn’t right for weeks. I learned that ridiculously nice guys exist, that I can’t hide what I’m feeling what-so-ever, and that a person that loves you & wants you around, makes sure you know it. This is a great thing to keep in mind, y’all.

Heartbreak Scale: 1.5-2

A few weeks after that relationship ended, I learned to trust my gut & that it’s a bad idea to let anyone talk you into a relationship if you aren’t ready. There’s no heartbreak here…it’s just a thing that I learned. K.

Then there was the college relationship. I was convinced that this one was it. The way everything fell into place for me to meet this guy…I was sure it was fate. This guy was everything I had ever thought I wanted…until he wasn’t. College is a time for learning, changing, growing, and having fun. Starting a long distance relationship on top of that is probably asking for trouble. It was an on & off 3-4 year heartbreaking, soul crushing mess that neither of us seemed to have the sense to walk away from…It didn’t start out that way, of course. The beginning was fun & exciting & 24/7 butterflies…hence why it was so hard to let go. I was terrified that if I walked away, I would be walking away from the guy I was meant to be with & lose those butterflies forever; But I was no where near ready to make a real commitment. I had things I wanted to do on my own. I didn’t let that relationship go when I needed to, but I have learned to know when & how to walk away because of it. I think I learned the most from this relationship. I learned that there isn’t just one person for everyone. I learned that I was wrong about a lot of things. I learned that I should listen to those around me. I learned that just because someone says something in a manner that you don’t like, doesn’t mean you should ignore what was said. I learned a lot about relationships and what I want and don’t want. I learned how to rebuild my self-esteem. I learned to appreciate that people come into and leave our lives for a reason, and we shouldn’t appreciate them any less than those that stay.

Heartbreak Scale: full blown AIDS. Or 5.

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The next relationship/breakup was interesting. I went from one extreme to the other, long distance relationships to dating a neighbor. For the most part, the relationship was pretty good, but there was one major problem (that is a blog post for another day); And when the relationship ended, it felt like he deliberately rubbed it in my face that it was no longer his problem. That hurt more than the break up itself. Because it wasn’t a problem that I only faced with him, but with all my relationships…so to have that thrown in my face again, crushed me a bit. I felt like I was in a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of no matter what I tried to fix it. He tried to come back and when I didn’t take the bait, he whined that I had “found my balls after we broke up.” He was right. That one taught me how much better it feels when you don’t chase after someone.

Heartbreak Scale: 2.5-3

That one taught me a few other things that I’ve already written about here: https://alexaneal.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/because-big-butts-are-what-make-us-interesting-now-right/

Look at that plug though.

Now, the latest breakup. Hands down, the best relationship I’ve ever had…even though it wasn’t a “relationship.” This guy was upfront & honest with me from the beginning, even when it was something I didn’t want to hear. That was new. It is so much better when people are honest with what they want and don’t want. It doesn’t make you a better or worse person to want something different than the other person; And you can’t be mad with someone for not wanting exactly what you want. What makes you suck, is if you string someone along, promising you’re going to give them something you never intend to give them. As I’m typing that, I’m realizing I’ve been guilty of that in a few scenarios…Awesome.

This guy did not want a girlfriend, but we continued to date. We had a connection. The more I was around him, the more I liked him & the less I cared about “what a relationship should be.” The only thing a relationship needs to be, is about mutual respect. We had that. It ended after a year because he didn’t want a long-term relationship. He had already kind of given me a relationship when he didn’t want one, so even though I didn’t want it to end, I had to let it go. What he wanted or didn’t want wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t trying to change it. I knew from the beginning that it had an end, but I liked him & I wanted to be with him, even if just for a little while. I knew it was going to teach me something.

And it did. I learned more about what I want in a partner. I learned to not take things so seriously. I learned how to wholeheartedly trust someone again and to not overthink or compare to other people’s relationships.

Looking back, I’m realizing that I’m slightly terrified of long term commitment; Because even though I knew the last one had an ending, there was a part of me that could see that relationship lasting because it worked so well. But when someone mentioned that there would be some regret if we didn’t get married…I felt a tinge of panic. Thinking about being with someone forever, even if I think they’re fantastic, is slightly terrifying & I’m not sure why.

Heartbreak Scale: 3.5-4

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This just made me laugh.

It’s been a month since the last break up (& since I started writing this), & I’ve gone through a few different thought processes…as you do.

“It’s not that he didn’t want a relationship…he just didn’t want a relationship with you anymore.”

“You bored him.”

“It’s because you gained weight & dyed your hair…again.”

“Oh, but your thyroid’s been fudgin’ up! You haven’t been yourself!”

“Girl, you’re fine. Quit blaming yourself & just trust what he told you & appreciate what you had. Move. On.”

“Time to get in Top Cat shape, buy a hot dress, dye your hair, & hope you run into him.”

“Time to get on Bumble & go on a date & hope you run into him.”

“That would actually be terrible.”

“Also, are we really ready for Bumble?”

“And who is we? You’re one person.”

Makes Bumble profile

Swipes once

Immediately puts it on BFF mode

“Nope.”

“What is this post even about anymore?”

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Oh right, romantic love…Are we supposed to go looking for it? Are we supposed to just let it happen to us? Are we supposed to look for 24/7 butterflies or a slow growing love & appreciation for another person? Is there an answer? How do you know when you’re ready for a long-term commitment? Is anybody ever ready or do you just jump in & hope/work for the best? Are you supposed to chase after & fight for what or who you want? Or are you supposed to let them go & see if they come back? How do you know you’re in love versus just loving someone as a human being?

Full transparency, I’m not ready to date again just yet…but I’m optimistic. I’m definitely buying a red dress & switching my Bumble from BFF mode in 2017. Do you see this, mom? I’ll “get back out there”, get off my jock.

I really enjoy thinking/talking about love & relationships & would love to hear from other people. Please feel free to share your experiences or thoughts!

I think my current feelings can be summed up in these two gifs:

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