After my college heartbreak, I jumped into another relationship way too quickly. I chose to settle. It was a mistake since I didn’t give myself time to grieve and heal from my breakup. To make matters even worse, I started a relationship with the wrong guy. I hardly remember those two years with him. I truly believe that my brain blocked those years out, in order to protect me.
Our feelings and emotions — if not released properly — get trapped in our bodies. And my body was a warzone. Those two years of my life were so emotionally draining and traumatic that I was constantly sick as well as incredibly moody and depressed. It was especially bad since normally, I am a very bubbly happy-go-lucky type of person. My light left me.
Your body will tell you when something is not right. I should have listened instead of pushing away my feelings and living in denial. Even though deep in my soul I knew it was wrong, I let the relationship go on because I was too scared to leave. I was too afraid to be alone.
I wish I could go back and tell myself: never settle. In our society, it’s very easy to feel the pressure of having a boyfriend or getting that ring on our finger, rather make than making sure we are with the RIGHT person.
In the United States, we still have very clearly defined gender roles. Generally, men are raised to build a career, be ambitious, and make lots of money. Women are raised to find a husband, be a wife, and mother. Especially with the pressure of having children (that clock is ticking), many women have to be so invested in dating. The tides may be starting to change, I have a lot of hope for the younger generations, but I think this still holds true for many of us millennials and how we grew up. And that’s exactly why we women can become very emotionally attached early on. And that’s why we tend to stick around and not let go of a “just okay” relationship.
While dating, we have to do a better job of checking in with ourselves. We have to start asking ourselves, “Do I actually like this guy?” or “Do I just like having someone to text?” After I left my most recent relationship and started dating again, I always walked into a date thinking, “Am I going to like this person?” instead of, “Will this person like me?” Seems like a slight difference, but this change in thinking is huge. It truly matters. It takes the pressure off of you — you stop focusing on impressing your date, and instead, you put emphasis on your feelings about them. When we are trying to impress someone, often we can fail to recognize how we actually feel about them. This is a useful view that can apply to other aspects of life as well, like job interviews and making new friends.
Even if the guy you’re seeing is nice, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s time to leave. Don’t settle for a relationship that doesn’t serve you, that doesn’t bring joy and light into your life. Continue to hope and look for the right one. That person will come.
I get very emotional about my story because I am proof that you are destined for the greatest love, and you will find it. Nine months after I left my ex, I met the man of my dreams. I still think about the 24-year-old me who was too scared to leave, who was afraid to be alone. If she only knew what was waiting for her. In today’s day and age, I don’t think we talk enough about the “just okay” relationships that make you settle. We talk about the abusive ones, we talk about the perfect ones. But we don’t talk about a relationship that is dragging you down, even though your partner isn’t bad. It’s just not right for you.
Original version published on Unwritten (edited for clarity above).