4 Things I Learned When I Dated Again After Loving Someone Else for So Long


I was in a relationship for almost 5 years from high school until junior year of college. Being 21, that was a big chunk of my life. There were many reasons I broke up with him, but the main one was that he changed. He didn’t seem to care about the relationship. Our communication was failing even though I felt I was working so hard to tell him how I felt and to fix the good thing we once had. I hung on for a year partly because I truly wanted to see things get better, and partly because I thought this was the best it was going to get.

Being single felt so damn good. It was so easy to let go. I was already mentally preparing for the breakup, and the actual act of doing it was just the final release. I spent a summer as a single woman. I had no obligations to call someone or drive four hours and constantly plan ahead like in my previous long distance relationship. Life was spontaneous and free. I was enjoying every second of it. I was starting my senior year of college and no one was going to hold me back from being myself and living out my dreams.

So, of course, a guy came along. We spent the summer working for the same company. We found ourselves hanging out on weekends because we shared a friend group. He expressed feelings for me at the high point of my lovely single life. I denied him. But little did I know, feelings were growing on my side too. I spent a summer trying to fight them until finally I realized that there was no use in fighting feelings, and I wanted to try to date again.

I was having fun. Things were chill. I always looked forward to the next time I saw him (and I still do). As my feelings grew stronger and I realized how much I wanted things to work out, waves of emotion hit.

Was I being too clingy? Maybe I shouldn’t text him. He hasn’t texted me in awhile. But maybe he doesn’t want to bother me? Or maybe this is a bad sign. My ex did the same thing. Sometimes he didn’t text me back for a long time. But this is different. No, I shouldn’t make excuses. It’s a sign. Things aren’t going to go well.

I couldn’t calm down. Every little thing I compared to my ex. I started to remember all the little habits, all the little routines my ex and I had. I wanted the good things from my old relationship back. And I wanted them now. I wanted to bring my current relationship up to speed to where my old one was. We had only been dating for a month. I knew this wasn’t healthy. And I couldn’t stop.

Things got worse. Every bad memory about my ex came back. All the times I would tell him how I felt and he would just get angry with me. All the times I told him I didn’t think he was treating me right and he would put me in denial. I didn’t want to get hurt again. I thought of the signs in my old relationship that were telling me that I should’ve broken up with my ex sooner. I became very afraid that I would miss these signs again, causing me to stay in my current relationship when I shouldn’t and make the same mistake. I experienced anxiety for the first time. My stomach was in knots. I never wanted to get out of bed. I was astounded by how much my past relationship was affecting me. I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. I had always been a logical person and never let my emotions get the best of me. That made the anxiety worse.

It’s funny how much a person can affect you. Never had I felt so much pain from one person and so much joy from another simultaneously. For someone that doesn’t get very emotional, it was quite a shock.

I constantly wrote in my journal. I luckily had wonderful friends that put up with me when I had to talk things through. It took a lot of self-reassurance and the assurance from others. Very slowly, time heals. And then something dawned on me and I felt the anxiety roll away. I was putting so much pressure on myself to make this relationship better than my last one. I thought, “if this works out better, I won’t feel that pain again.” Unfortunately, life is pain. But fortunately, the pain teaches you how to embrace and appreciate the happiest of moments. I have surrounded myself with people who I love and will always be there to support me. Most importantly: this is a new guy, a new chapter in my life, and I am a new me. Right now I am happy, and I have to trust myself going forward.

Lastly, it’s ok not knowing where a relationship will end up. Maybe this will end when I graduate and get a job somewhere else. Maybe it will end for a totally different reason. Maybe we’ll stay together forever. The point is, sometimes you just can’t plan for the future. And sometimes you shouldn’t! If you focus on your happiness now, it will set the stage for a means to achieve happiness later. Right now I’m young, and I am constantly reminded that things in life just fall into place. Just relax. All that is left to do is enjoy the journey.