I’ve been having a serious case of Boyfriend Redux for the past several years, revisiting past relationships with new people in almost creepy-deja vu ways. I think I’ve been cleaning out my relationship closet, on purpose or not. When I put them all together on paper, there is a certain pattern to it all.
(I’m including Beyonce gifs ’cause she’s pretty awesome and…)
The College What-If
I had a serious crush on this guy freshman year. We will call him Portland. There was flirting here and there but nothing came of it. Fast-forward to a decade later when I run into this same crush out of the blue. Flirting resurfaced as if no time had passed and this time we actually dated and tried to see if there was something more there.
(And yes, I mentally high-fived 19-year-old me on getting the guy, albeit a bit delayed.)
The romance ran its course over four months or so and we mutually shelved our relationship back into the “Distant casual friends that like each other’s pictures sporadically on Facebook” shelf.
It solved the “what-if” vibe that still floated somewhere in the back of my mind, and not just about him. There was one guy in high school who I always had a lingering question mark about, potential not explored, roads not taken, you get the general idea. But somehow, by seeing things through with Portland, that what-if dissipated for high school crushes and other “almost weres” alike.
There isn’t “one that got away”. There aren’t regrets. Everything works out like it should and for the best.
The Alternative Youngster
There was always a sense of incompleteness with my first college boyfriend, Ken. (Real name. I can’t make that up.) We started dating at the end of my freshman year and continued long-distance through the summer. When I arrived at his house on the way back to school in the fall, he informed me that he was taking a year off and not returning with me. We both just sorta shrugged and decided it was over, unwilling to continue long-distance with something that had barely had time to get off the ground.
So imagine my surprise years later when I met PJ, practically a doppelganger for Ken. He had the same sweetness, quiet manner, fashion sense, and the same ridiculously pretty blue eyes. My college buddies commented on how I was “going back to my roots” with dating PJ, his similarities were that uncanny.
Our relationship was just as easy as mine had been with Ken. Except that in the end we made the conscious decision that we were in too different of places to make it happen instead of circumstances calling an end to it. We wrapped up with good feelings and real friendship surviving the end of the romantic relationship.
There wasn’t that sense of abruptness to the relationship like I had with Ken. It wasn’t a chapter ended mid-sentence. This time the story ran its course and had a positive if not Disney ending. I am content with real and positive endings to things.
The Lost Writer
In college I fell in love with a writer, a dreamer, a self-proclaimed sufferer of “delusions of grandeur” we will call C. He was my most serious relationship to this day. I thought he and I were a done deal.
And when he became fundamentally lost in life, I had a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that I couldn’t be the one to find him. He had to find himself and that had to be done without me. We broke up out of love but that didn’t leave me any less broken-hearted.
There was admittedly a little part of me that always subconsciously thought C could have tried more at the end. I didn’t realize I was holding on to this until I met another writer and was once again drawn in to the romanticism of the tortured artistic guy who only opened up to me.
But this time it didn’t take six years to see it wasn’t going to last. It didn’t take me six years to understand that we were in different places in ourselves and that timing is everything. It only took me four months to accept I couldn’t be his white knight and save him without losing myself.
I couldn’t be the sunshine to his dark clouds without losing my shine.
And I’ve grown too comfortable in my shiny world to give up any light to a lost cause. I’ve realized the destructive quality to these good intentions. It doesn’t help anyone to be a martyr for a relationship.
A bit melodramatic, I know, but that’s the mini inner tortured artist in me. The ending of this relationship, like the one with C, left me with a sense of sad acceptance. There wasn’t any lasting friendship or FB likes to come out of this. Accepting that I can’t help, that I can’t fix things, always makes me sad.
But knowing that I did the right thing for both myself and him does make me gratified. The only point of doing this whole dating thing again and again and again is to learn and improve and grow, right?
(If I’m not careful, I’m going to end up being a grounded, reasonable adult.)
A Summery, of Sorts.
I think every relationship exists for a reason. As as this year wraps up and I get all contemplative and reflective as I’m wont to do, I start to think that I’ve been working through these previous disappointments and let downs and question marks over the last several years so that I could be open for something else, something fresh and new to come into my life.
After all, it’s hard to find room for new clothing in a cramped closet. You need to not just pack away the ill-fitting clothes but take them to Goodwill for a new life outside of yours. Everything deserves a second chance.
Maybe by clearing out some of these ghosts, as minor and silly as they may be, there will be some new space in my heart and life for the next thing. Or at least it’ll make it easier for me to appreciate the things that I do have without any of this clutter in the way.