What was the best relationship that you have had in your life? What was it like? Do you have any emotions or memories associated with that relationship?
“I would say the best relationship that I have had was the shortest in duration. We met by chance. I met him not four days after my two year relationship fell apart. It was the first time I had dated someone where we had no mutual friends–we were total strangers. Because of that it really felt like it was just us. We could spend entire days together, just talking and walking and sharing our philosophies. I have always dated someone from long distance, and this is was the first time I had connected with anyone on campus; though I would say it was harder for me to retain my personal relationships while balancing getting to know him. We had decided to remove physicality from the relationship, which was something completely different for me. Coupled with the fact that we really were starting from scratch, not knowing anything about each other, that we decided to connect intellectually and emotionally rather than physically truly made all the difference. He allowed me to question my convictions and challenge my philosophies in a positive way that has still affected me today. He once told me something that has really stuck with me: ‘Forgiveness is letting go of the notion that you could have changed something.’ It was easily the most happy I had ever been. Though things fizzled out into the summer, I would say it was the most amicable parting I have had, most likely because we had not been bogged down by confusing physical endeavors. I left for the first time retaining the feeling that I had not been destroyed, that I did not need to ‘start over.’ And guess what? My life continued.”
What have you learned from your current relationship with your boyfriend? Any good advice?
“Completely different from my last relationship, my current one was originally based solely on physicality. It was the first time I had delved into that realm. I enjoy being in relationships, and I had tried my best to do something different and let my emotions settle for once, to not fall. But, what can I say? I did the opposite.
I met him only been a few months after the end of my first long term relationship, and truly, I was still so angry. I still felt lonely and unfulfilled and silenced. But the world has a funny way of putting people in your life exactly when you need them. Now into the fourth month of getting to know one another, I feel like myself again, and I can truly say that I love him for that.”
If you could give any advice about relationships what would you recommend?
“I spent two and a half years with someone who was more than my boyfriend; he was my best friend. We had known each other for years. He had been with me through my freshman year before I transferred here. I noticed as soon as I came to William & Mary, he not only pulled back, but seemed to resent that fact that I did not need him as much. One day in the spring he called me as I was walking to class and told me he did not love me anymore, despite having visited him the night before and hearing just the opposite. He hung up before I could grasp what was going on. A few weeks later, he left the country for months, leaving me to deal with everything while he got to play around. I never got the chance to speak my mind, to defend myself. I still hold so much anger, and I still wonder for how long he lied to me. I was never sad–I hated the way he had treated me. But I was furious. I am not someone to sit and take it, and to be denied the opportunity to stand up for myself, is something I cannot ever forgive.
I know now I should have stepped in months before that explosive end. I had noticed he had been getting more violent with me, both physically and emotionally, but I forgave him every time because I had always known he was unstable–I just never could comprehend why it would be me making him that way when all I ever did was try to give him the confidence to work his way through life. He had manipulated me, consciously or not, into thinking I was the one who was unstable and that I needed therapy. I only realized this when my therapist told me “there is no reason you need to be here.” But I had trusted my ex when he said these things to me because I thought he genuinely cared about me; but I see now it was to cover up and turn the tables on how he had treated me.
From that experience, it would be easy to say ‘speak your mind when you see warning signs,’ but who really can see those things. In the moment, they seem like isolated incidents, only compiling when things come to a halt. However, I think the more valuable advice would be to not let anyone determine your mental state. Only you know what is going on in your head, and just because your significant other is unstable or unhappy, does not give him the right to push you around without consequence. You owe it to yourself and to the one you love to always walk with honesty.”