Picture this: you're 18, you just finished moving into your freshman dorm, you said goodbye to your parents, cried a little, and now you're at your very first floor meeting.
You see someone who lives down the hall from you, and they reminds you of someone, or something. For a moment you think, "are they staring at me?", to which your roommate confirms, "I think they're staring at you."
Long stares and casual smiles are exchanged in passing for awhile, until you get the nerve to talk to them. Theres something about them you cant put your finger on, which makes you more interested. "Just don't fall in love with me", how cliche to say to someone you just met. You had no idea that they would turn your world upside-down. When they left their shoes in your room because they wanted a reason to come back. Opening the door to bring them back to them, they was standing there and they placed their hands on your cheeks and kissed you in the doorway- you knew that this person was someone you had been looking for.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and everything in the world seemed to be dull compared to how you felt around this person. They were everything you thought you needed. People would comment on how happy you two were, how you were made for each other. You could be goofy and playful. Looking at them, you couldn't help but smile and be happy. You looked at them and felt everything all at once. There was not a doubt in your mind that you were exactly where you were supposed to be. College seemed to be easier with them. You ate every meal together, did homework together, spent long nights talking, spent the night together once in awhile. Your roommates would complain about how much time they spent in your room, so you would have to alternate which rooms you stayed in. They brought you home for thanksgiving and you we're so excited to meet their family. You spent holidays together, and spoiled the hell out of each other.
Semesters came and went and soon is was the summer after your first year of college, where you would count the days until you could see them again. You cried a lot when you weren't together, but when you were it was perfect. You told each other that you loved one another. Everything was beautiful. You didn't have a care in the world, because you had each other.
Somewhere around your first anniversary, things started to get a little tough. Classes we're getting harder, the stress of trying to find a job and becoming more involved on campus were setting in. You still looked at them the same though. You would bicker about stupid things, but laugh it off and still be crazy about each other. Your relationship had moved passed the beginning stages, and you talked about the future. Getting married and having kids were things that you wanted to share together some day. The two of you created a whole life together in your thoughts; it was blissful, and you looked forward to it. Another holiday season came and went, and you were still happier than ever. You got into your first real fight, which made you realize that its possible to lose them- which scared you.
At some point, the bickering detached itself from play; you could no longer laugh at yourselves and forget about whatever it was you were arguing about. You began to take things a lot more personal, and you found yourself hurt by some of the things they said. Most of the time though, things we're good. Most of the time. Still, you saw a future together. Different involvement started to take up a lot of your free time, and you stopped eating every meal together. There was no time to go out on dates, or at least you stopped making time. You fell into this routine, and it bugged you a bit. It began to feel like at some point, the two of you lost your spark- but that was normal in all relationships. The "honeymoon" phase was over, but you were okay with that. For awhile it all just seemed really normal.
Summer came around, and you both went home. You got a job working late hours, and they got one working early ones. You could never find time to talk to each other, and at some point- you stopped looking for time. You spent the days thinking of everything but them, which made you feel guilty. Breaking the routine was refreshing though, and you took advantage of that. You enjoyed the time spent apart, but you did miss them. You began to start thinking of your future. You researched different careers and things that interested you, but you felt like every time you shared these with them, they didn't support you because they didn't fit into the "plan" you two had made together. You started to place your ambitions on the back burner, because they didn't fit that plan.
It was normal though, relationships are about compromise, right?
At the start of your third year of undergrad, every question was running through your mind. "What am I going to do with my life? Am I on the right path? Where do I see myself in 5, 10 years?" So many things you did not have the answer to, and neither did they. Coming back to school after what seemed like forever apart was hard. You get into your own routine of not being with that person, so coming back together was an adjustment. Fighting got to the worse it had ever been, and they began to say things that made you question a lot. They didn't make you feel special anymore. They didn't make you feel beautiful anymore. You didn't look at them the same, and that killed you. When they would touch you, you would cringe. There was a moment when you were getting ready for an event, and you sat in front of your mirror doing your makeup. A line in a song you were listening to triggered some type of emotion, and you began to cry. You looked at yourself, and in that moment you realized you we're not in love with this person anymore. It broke you. Looking back, you realized that you hadn't loved them the same as you once did for a long time.
When you first tried to explain it to them, they didn't understand. They fought so hard for you, which always brought you back in. Every time you would begin to suggest a break, they would fall apart in your arms. You started to compromise your own happiness for theirs and they picked up on that. Even when they started do things that made you feel awful, you still didn't want to hurt them. Part of you wanted things to just go back to how they were in the beginning, but you knew the they couldn't. Then one fight happened, where they told you something that made you feel like you would never be good enough for anything. That broke you. Little by little, everything they said to you made you want to scream. They annoyed you, and you didn't care anymore. For some reason though, even when they called you out for not caring, you tried to fight for them; it would have been so easy to walk away then.
Holiday season came around again, something that you had enjoyed with them for the past few years. It had never felt better to be alone. You made a decision that will live with you forever, but it made you realize how unhappy you had been for a long while. For months you had been convincing yourself that you needed to be with them to be happy, but really you we're just scared to be without them. Being alone terrified you, you had forgotten who you were before them. You were lost, but we're too afraid to find yourself again. It broke your heart to tell them that you needed a break, but it was one of the most freeing feelings. Falling out of love is one of the most painful things anyone can experience. You don't even realize that its happening until its already happened.
Breaking up was harder on them than you, which made you feel guilty. They always loved you more than you loved them, though. After the break up, you cried for an entire day. You sat on your best friends couch and listened to sad music while she cleaned her apartment around you. The next day, and the days to follow, you had never felt more free to be yourself. You spent the rest of your time at home with people you loved and cared about.
You have the entire world at your finger tips again. Endless opportunities, with nothing bounding you to anything, or anyone. You have a year and a half left of undergraduate, and then you are off to experience life's next adventure. You fell in love, and then out of it. Thats not your fault, and its not theirs either.
Looking back on it now, you realize that the biggest factor was the two of you growing together, and then apart. Both of you were so young an eager to experience things like you were adults who had it all figured out. You had no idea what you were doing, which was the fun of it at first. The hardest part for you through it all was the feeling of losing a life together that you never had. The blissful images of a future that were conjured in your brain crumbled to the ground, and you felt like you lost something you never even had. But thats okay, because now you have room to dream of another future.
You learned not to settle, even if you think is what is written in your cards. As you sit here, reading this not-so love story, and you're thinking about how hard it was to stop loving them, remember that you are not required to love anyone but yourself.
Its always okay to put yourself first.