A lot of my recent relationship posts have been about what we are doing wrong in relationships versus what we did right. So today I want to scale back and talk about how those lessons have shaped us. I wouldn’t be as mindful and aware of my relationships now if it weren’t for my exes. Not to say that I was a bad lover prior, however, I’ve learned a great deal about who I am, what I want from people, and what I have to offer — even to those people who are not right for me. With that, to all of my exes, Thank You, Next! is a simple appreciate and goodbye to what we had.
When I started opening up about dating on my blog a few weeks ago a flood of DM’s asking me for advice, my relationship status, and sharing their own stories came in. It’s funny all this time I’ve been talking about fashion because that’s my day job, but all people wanted was a connection. They want to know more about you and experience your humanness. They want to know they are not alone in their emotions. The same is true about relationships. If we could all be vulnerable enough to be transparent that would eliminate a lot of confusion and heartache. But since we are not here goes.
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I’ve always found a man who is still friends with an ex to be a good thing. It means they did something right if they still respect each other enough to be amicable. I pride myself on calling all of my exes friends. I never looked at a failed relationship as one sided because it takes two to tango. Back then I wasn’t in touch with my true feelings enough to know what was serving me and what wasn’t. I wasn’t mature enough to see failure as a lesson and mistakes as miracles. If you are in the same place in your life I was ten years ago this article is for you. Here are the most valuable lesson’s in love my exes taught me that you may have experienced but haven’t received the message.
Romance is not dead
The first time I ever fell in love I was twenty-six. JL was twenty-six, too. Though we were the same age he intimidated me. He had a sense of maturity and old school way about him. A sophistication that made him seem older than he was. He was charming. He proved to me romance is not dead but it is not available for just anyone. It was selective for the one person a man truly wanted to share it with. I was the one back then. He set the bar of romance and chivalry so high no one has ever lived up to him. Maybe women like myself believe in fairytales because men like JL gave us one for a short time in our lives. We did a lot wrong in our relationship due to life circumstances, but the one thing we did right was live in romanticized moments. He taught me being a hopeless romantic isn’t so hopeless.
You can love someone more than yourself
When I met RZ I wasn’t looking for anything. He wasn’t my typical guy — I mean appearance yes, lifestyle no. Not because I didn’t like it, but because his style of life was new to me. A lot less pretentious than my first love. He was humble, kind, generous. Still to this day one of the most caring people I have ever known. The first time he said I love you I will never forget. It was and is still to this day the best (and most intimate) I love you I have ever shared. RZ taught me you can love someone more than yourself. His love is the only love I have ever experienced in my life without question that I knew was real. Even if only in that moment. He was also the one who taught me the way to love someone more than yourself is show them through your actions.
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How to want happiness for the one who got away
This one is tough. We have all been in relationships we didn’t want to end. Even those we chose to end and regretted. JQ was one of those. The only man I think back on and wonder what might have been and know for certain the love I had for him was eternal love. I knew when I met him we had a connection. We were just friends. In fact, our friendship ended another relationship. I didn’t realize at that time I was emotionally invested in him. Really it didn’t hit me until years later when we got together and dated. Together we taught each other how to be honest in a relationship and adaptable. Our love was a strange love. I knew the way he felt for me but fought him on it because I wanted it so badly but was too young to want the “real deal” at that time in my life. I could see myself marrying him but had to let him go because it wasn’t the right time. JQ taught me how to wish someone the best life possible and be happy for them even if it’s not with you. He showed me the value of friendship in a relationship and taught me how to be a better person in a relationship for someone else.
Self love is the only love that will save you
I used to think I was a good communicator until I met my ex and couldn’t form a thought. I wasn’t sure how I could love someone so much and not be able to express it. Until I realized when someone doesn’t love you the same way there are no words to say. They will only hear themselves. This was a toxic relationship. I learned almost every lesson in love through this one. It’s not to paint him out to be a bad man because he is not. I believe he was dealt a set of circumstances that kept him from understanding people the way I do. I am more aware now how important communication and personal reality affect a relationship. He lived a very privileged life (his gracious family shared that with me), but he could not understand my life. I tried to understand his. Though I’m not sure I will ever know the truth, I do know I would have done anything to be loved by him, and tried to always give him that love. Even by suffering. His family made me want my own family with him. I loved their closeness. Their bond. I saw him for more than he was capable of showing. I believed he would be a great father and thought that might change the narrative. If he loved something more than himself he might learn to love me. The way I loved his family like a second family kinda killed me when our love died. I knew I was saying goodbye to them too when we ended things. But I learned you have to speak up and protect yourself no matter how much you love someone else or their family. You have to verbalize when someone is abusive, hurting you, controlling you, and/or manipulating you. You have to love yourself and be honest with yourself no matter how much that kills you. Because in the end toxic love will kill you first if you don’t get out of it.
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It’s been five months since my last relationship ended and I’m back on the dating scene. Although not dating just single. For those of you fresh out of a relationship, starting new ones, or not sure where your current ones stand don’t make the mistakes I did. Don’t stay in situations for the wrong reasons, or lose the love of your life because of timing. Things happen exactly as they are supposed to, but we make the choices that determine our fate. Listen to your heart and to your partners. See the lessons and value in what they are teaching you. Every relationship you spend time in has value in your life. Even the worst situations have valuable lessons, but it’s up to you to receive them if you want to grow. Trust yourself and know when it’s okay to say thank you, next I’m grateful but I deserve more.