I Gave Up The Love Of My Life To Stay With My Boyfriend
Eighteen isn’t too young to experience true love. And that’s what I thought my first relationship was. I thought it was true love. Except, it wasn’t.
My college sweetheart was chivalrous, sweet, and complicated. He opened car doors, carried groceries, and pulled chairs. He was an all-around good guy. But, he was complicated. At least, too complicated for a teenager like myself.
I realized early on that I entered the relationship for the wrong reasons. Yes, I cared about this man, but my reasons for being with him were way too practical.
I sought to remedy any discrepancy in his character, as though I was his mother — I crippled myself by becoming both savior and martyr.
I justified the relationship with his age; he was almost ten years older. He came from “good stock” and we shared the same religion; he was conservative enough, he was kind. But I found myself forced to accept him as my future spouse in more ways than one. I didn’t love him the way I should. I couldn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved.
I pitied him and his multitude of issues that someone ten to fifteen years my senior would have been better equipped to tolerate. I sought to remedy any discrepancy in his character, as though I was his mother — I crippled myself by becoming both savior and martyr. I played the part of wife and future mother when I barely even knew myself. And he leaned on me so much that I unknowingly began to buckle under the weight.
It became exceedingly difficult to even flirt with the idea of breaking things off when I saw him break down in tears over lesser things. What sort of monster would I be had I left him when he had never done anything wrong to me? It was only years later I learned that moving on from a relationship doesn’t need to be justified with infidelity or abuse; sometimes, two people are better off apart.
Then I met him.
Jude and I were closer in age. He was emotionally stable and centered. I felt relaxed and at ease around him. He made me laugh. And I, for the first time in a long time, didn’t have to worry about emotional baggage. Instead, Jude seemed more concerned about mine.
And that’s when it happened.
Without realizing it, without trying, I fell in love with someone who wasn’t my significant other.
I cocooned myself in this teenage love affair until I realized how emotionally distant I’d become from my boyfriend. I only recognized it because he noticed it first.
“Something’s wrong? I can feel it. Tell me,” he’d plead.
“Nothing, nothing’s wrong,” I’d lie.
I was emotionally cheating on my man. I had to put on my big girl panties and make a decision.
Would I stay with the man who was fragile but loyal because he needed me. Or, would I explore this newfound carefree happiness bundled up in a stranger?
It wasn’t easy. This “friendship” I’d been fostering had grown an umbilical cord, a heart and lungs. But my boyfriend of two years deserved my loyalty and undivided attention. I needed to be his partner — a grown-up, mature partner. I needed to be his superwoman and save this man from himself.
So, on a chilly fall night, I sat with Jude under a freckled night sky. It had been exactly two months since we met. We held hands while I painstakingly explained that we needed to stop spending time together and cut ties. We were getting too close and my boyfriend was going through some things and required my full attention.
Jude looked into my eyes and cried. Then I cried. Through his sobs, he muttered, “Please.”
My heart shattered into a million pieces.
I apologized so many times that night. We shouldn’t have gotten this close in the first place and I blamed myself for not being more dismissive of him. I blamed myself for falling in love with a stranger. I blamed myself for allowing a stranger to fall in love with me.
Ten years have passed. My boyfriend and I have long since broken up and I’ve been in other relationships since then.
I do not doubt that Jude was my first love. And I do not know if naïve and awkward teenage love affairs count, but for me it does. Jude and I would have never worked. We are currently on entirely different life paths. But every once in awhile, I think back on his smile, his laughter and the way he loved me, as only teenage lovers do.