I’ve had my fair share of saying goodbye to past chapters. People who seemed to be irreplacable characters have left, slowly being replaced by completely different persons in my life. My storyline has experienced many unexpected voltas, and I have come to terms with the fact that there will be many still to come. While most things become easier the more often you experience them, I've learned that farewells only seem to become harder over time. Those never get easier, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to your relationship. Every break-up I have experienced - good or bad - has always been painful. I have always left a piece of myself with that person. After any break-up I needed time to mourn; not only for the end of the relationship I had with a person I once loved so dearly, but also for the part of myself that would forever be lost. However, I have learned that this lost love and part of me, would be a necessary step to something much more important: growth.
Love as a drug
I have always been a person who loves hard and intense. Whenever I would meet a person who was able to spark something in me, I would go in for 100%. Loyalty, committment and dedication: those things just come naturally to me. I need to fully commit to someone, or not at all. My friends used to joke that there were two types of people in the world: Always-single and always-in-a-relationship type of people: and I was by far the latter. Casual flings just did not exist in my universe. I was only interested in the real love deal.
I would get such a rush from loving and being loved. In some way, this made me very prone to going too fast in relationships. Once I took a chance on a person, I went all in - even if I did not know the person well enough to give him my all. Thinking everything would work out between us, even though I still had many layers of differences to discover - that girl was me. You can have the best intentions in the world, but if the other person is not on the same page, things will never work out. Sometimes this made me wonder why I found it so easy to commit to a person. Maybe I was more focused on the rush that being in love gave me, than on making the actual relationship work. Or maybe my ex-boyfriends were just not meant for me (yes, probably). To this day, I do not have a clear answer to this question. What I can say is that for me, love was a powerful & addicting drug - I was so focused, committed & in love with the other person, I would forget everything else. Including myself.
Since love was such a feeling thing for me, the break-ups were felt extremely well too. Even though I broke off every relationship I had, it never felt that way for me. I always experienced it as if I was the person who the other left behind. Not only that: Every break-up cost a piece of me that I would never be able to get back. And this was very painful for me to realize. I would feel betrayed, hurt, and would always end up wishing I would have never even loved my ex to begin with. This made me jump from one serious relationship to another. I wanted to forget my past relationship, and replace them with something better. Although this is arguably not the healthiest way to get over your ex, for me it worked. I was quite good at letting all my emotions out, and starting with a tabula rasa. I never went back to any of my ex-boyfriends. If you're out of my life, you're out. I do not do second chances. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to have only met pretty trustworthy and loyal guys at this point.
However, when I became older, this changed. I do not know if that is because I changed as a person, or if dating & relationships changed in general - I always say that there is a pre- and post-Tinder era when it comes to guys and relationships (I tend to blame Tinder for making finding love too "easy", and causing pretty much every guy to become a fuck boy). Whatever it is, the guys that I met would only be interested in one thing: getting in bed with me and crossing me of that literal to do list. At first I thought that there was something wrong with me. This is the new normal, and that I needed to adapt. No more 100% commitment and loyalty, but instead casual sex after drinks. No more "good morning baby, I love you" texts, but instead "hey you wanna come over" at 1 AM. So I tried. I tried to be one of those cool girls that were OK with having no strings attached. Guess what? It made me feel miserable and insecure.
Love as a lesson
Do not lose yourself for love - this is the most important lesson love has ever taught me. This lesson is applicable not only if you are single, but also when you are in a relationship. "Be yourself" seems like on of those clichés you can find on any cheap looking decorative pillow, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to stick to you when dealing with love. Love can be addicting, and like every addiction, it changes you - usually not for the better. You want to be "the cool girl", you want to make "the relationship work", but sometimes it's better to let go and focus on yourself instead . If someone makes you feel like the way you are is not good enough, that only means that they are not good enough to be with you - no person worth your love should ever want you to change. When I look back at my past relationships, I see I left a part of me with every ex-boyfriend. It took me years to realize that I left that part with that person in order to make space for a new, stronger me.
When I fell in love for the first time, I was such an insecure girl. I have been a bullied a lot during that time, which made me insecure about literally everything. From my hobbies to the coat I wore everyday - it felt like all my choices were always weird and wrong, and I was under high scrutiny everyday. When I fell in love with a guy from my class, it was your typical high school sweetheart love. I would fill my diary with entries about how cute his smile was, or how much I fell for his big brown eyes. I walked around 3 years crushing on this guy, too insecure to even say anything about it to him. When he finally noticed me, I thought my life was complete. I had everything I've ever wished for, right? Life always goes differently than you think, especially if you're a 15 year old teen, with zero life experience, and very bad eyebrows. We weren't meant to be.
The second time I fell in love was during my last year of high school. I was a bit older, a bit wiser, but still very innocent and naive. He was one of those "don't even try" and "he's way out of your league" type of guys. I remember how people at school looked at me after we became official. "Wait, what, he's with Lilia?", "What does he see in her?", and "How could she ever get him?". As a girl who wasn't considered a cool kid at all, our relationship was a talk of the town for a while. The funny thing was that his personality was totally not like that. He was kind of shy, very focused on his passions & just a kind person. We had a lot of things in common too. I experienced many big steps in our personal life together. Graduating from high school, moving to a different city, living alone for the first time, and starting our new degrees. However, after spending almost 2 years together, I realized that rather than helping me up, he was holding me down. I wasn't the girl from high school anymore - I had outgrown him and our relationship, slowly but surely. We weren't meant to be.
Soon after that, I fell in love again. He was the first law school guy, and also the last one I will ever date in my life. Although he was different than most stuck up guys in law school I usually despise, he wasn't that different. He was charismatic, loved being the center of attention, but was also kind of dorky and nerdy. An interesting combination, I fell for hard. We were really close during our relationship, especially our minds. We would talk so much about life, philosophy, religion, souls... We could just really sit and talk and talk and talk for hours. However, that was when I was still important to him. Soon, his priorities began to shift to his career & "networking" (aka drinking beers with people trying to impress them even though they are honestly not even your type of people, but you do it anyway since you care more about fake connections than actually keeping up with the real ones you have). Even though we went to the same classes, lived 5 minutes away for each other, it took so much effort to even plan a casual coffee date for an hour. When I saw that he was late for our meeting (honestly, at some point hanging out with him seemed more like planning an appointment than chilling with my boyfriend), because I spotted him drinking coffee with some other girls, I was completely done. He couldn't be on my list of priorities if I wasn't on his. I broke up with him that same night. We were not meant to be.
This break-up was hard. I was used to bouncing back quite fast from my ex-boyfriends, but this one was different. Not only because for the first time, I could really envision a future with someone (both as bomb ass lawyers at some big law firm in Amsterdam - oh how far I was from the truth), but also because the "Fuck Boy Tinder Era" had started. All my ex-boyfriends had one thing in common: They generally respected women and appreciated relationships. However, after this break-up I had a severe wake-up call of how much the dating scene had changed. Relationships were considered as too much work rather than something beautiful, sex was easy rather than special, and girls were for single use only rather than a life long commitment. I was single for a year - which, looking back, was possibly not even long enough to really work through my feelings, but then it happened again. I fell in love with a person, that ended up being completely someone else. Literally.
The most difficult break-up I've ever experienced was my most recent one. 2 years ago, I met a guy who I thought I had a real chance with. He was older, more mature & seemed to have his sh*t together. He was creative, loved fashion & we really hit it off. However, what I didn't know was that he lied to me about everything. He was a compulsive liar. I have written a blogpost dedicated to this story almost a year ago, so I don't want to mention it here again. You can find that blogpost here.
Love as growth
From my first high school sweetheart, to being in a relationship with a compulsive liar - I have experienced it all. It took me a long time to truly come to terms with this, but I am thankful for all the love and relationships I experienced. Even when people wronged me, I have learned that I should still forgive them. Forgiving someone, and being grateful for what they taught you does not make you weak. Quite on the contrary, it is very difficult to do. When you are ready to forgive someone, it will give you back your power, your control over your life that person took from you. You are the only one that can forgive them for what they did to you - no one else. Even if they had control over your life during your relationship, gratitude switches back that control back to you. When you forgive them, you gain back the power you once lost. I realized I am not willing to give anyone, and especially not men, any power over my life. These past 2 years I truly started living for myself. Moving to the US, graduating from law school & even meeting a new, amazing guy - life has been great to me. I am thankful for my past chapters about love. Rather than seeing love as a drug, I see love as growth. And I am excited for this new love story I am about to write.
All that is left to say, has already been phrased perfectly by Ariana Grande: Thank you, next.
Would you consider yourself a "single" or a "relationship" type of person?