40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: You Can’t Hurry Love
I would be the first to tell you that I wrote my last blog for me with the hope that somebody else will be inspired by it. I like to help people through the stuff I write about, but ultimately, writing makes me feel good. However, as good as this piece feels for me, I’m actually hoping that this one will help others. When I scroll through social media (especially Twitter) I often see people complain about how hard love and relationships are. Some of these sentiments come from people who are in their late teens and early twenties. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in the same place in life. I felt many of the same feelings these hopeless romantics are going through right now.
When I first considered writing about this topic I thought I was going to give it a title like “Don’t Get Married Until You’re Thirty” or something to that affect. I strongly believe that, but I think what I have to say is about more than just age. It’s also about the approach and thought process behind the choices you make in love. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not that much of a robot that I think you can control what your heart is feeling. However, due to how complicated people are, mistakes can happen when it comes to relationships with other people. This is especially true when it comes to deeper emotions that take us into the realm of an intimate relationship.
Teenage Years & Puppy Love
By the time I made it to my teenage years I was already kind of broken when it came to my self esteem. As a kid who grew up getting picked on due to some of the issues I faced with Opitz G/BBB Syndrome, I found myself not feeling very good about my odds of finding a girlfriend. Although I could sense that some girls were interested in me, I just couldn’t actually believe it was really true. There was one girl in particular who tried pretty hard to get me to go out with her. She was a pretty good looking girl who I used to cross paths with in one of my classes and on the basketball court at the school gym and local playground. I often heard rumors that she liked me, but just couldn’t believe it. Her friends would sometimes try to tell me this too. This girl even told me straight up during one of our classes that she liked me. Again, I didn’t believe her. After that fateful day, the topic wasn’t brought up again until she attempted to ask me to the prom during our senior year. I once again didn’t believe it and declined.
I don’t have many regrets in my life, but I do regret turning this girl down so many times. Not only because I did actually like her, but because I set myself back and sold myself short. By not going out with a girl who so obviously liked me (and I liked her back), it only made my self esteem worse. While most other people my age were progressing and growing in the areas of relationships and love, I basically stayed in the same rut for years. There were a lot of lessons that could have been learned and milestones that could have been reached much sooner had I not sold myself so short.
Late Teens & Early 20’s Grind
I think one of the toughest time periods in life are the early adulthood years. These years are often glamorized in movies and tv shows, but it’s actually not the easiest time. From my perspective, I think a lot of people are open to the joy and excitement that can come with finding somebody to fall in love with when they are a teenager. Then you hit a point when you learn that love is much more complicated than holding hands and giggling with each other all day. A real relationship takes work and you must consider the deeper feelings and potential baggage the other person may be carrying. I think many people learn that by the time they reach college/early adult life. As a result, finding somebody who wants to actually make a serious commitment can be difficult. If you don’t have experience in relationships at all, it can be doubly as difficult to find somebody.
Perhaps I met a lot of the wrong people when I was younger, but a lot of times I got turned down to be somebody’s boyfriend because I just didn’t have any experience. I don’t know if they found it too intimidating or overwhelming to be the first relationship experience for somebody or if it was me personally, but I had a heckuva time meeting somebody. This only made my confidence even worse. It almost seemed like I was continuing to spiral down this very bad cycle of rejection. Whether it was my own self rejection or somebody else’s, the was a bad cycle to break out of.
Making It Happen & Taking A Leap Of Faith
The saying that you’ll find love when you’re not looking for it (that’s probably not the actual saying, just more or less paraphrasing it) couldn’t be more true when it comes to my first relationship. Back in the 2000’s I spent a lot of time on the message board of one of my all time favorite musicians. We had a great sense of community and always had fun regardless of whether it was us meeting up at a show or just being cheesy on the message boards. I spent a ton of time here as it was nice for me to have some friends who were like-minded even if it was mostly online. However, there was a girl who became very persistent about talking to me during the middle of the decade. I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time. I especially wasn’t looking for anything online. However, this girl was determined to get my attention. After awhile, I started to catch on to the fact that she seriously liked me. As a result, even though we lived a few states away from each other, our feelings blossomed. We spent more hours than I can count talking on the phone and chatting on old school webcams. For whatever reason, despite how far away we lived from each other, it all came together and clicked….atleast for awhile. As you can imagine, maintaining a long distance relationship takes a ton of work. Especially when one person is still working through college and the other is getting their career started. The good times were amazing, but there were too many obstacles in our way in order to make it work.
One major problem I had with the aftermath of this relationship was finding love again. Although I felt more confident in myself, it was still hard to come by. It took me a few years before I finally met somebody in my own neighborhood to start a relationship with. Frankly, this turned out to be even more of a mistake than the long distance relationship. Somehow I got myself in a situation where my girlfriend and I moved in together way too soon in the relationship. I did this mostly because I was so tired of not taking more risks and leaps of faith in my life. I don’t necessarily regret the experience, but I shouldn’t have done it. We wound up getting married after only being together for about 11 months. That’s way too soon folks! I knew that at the time, but was simply tired of being told what to do, how to do it, and simply tired of being too tentative with things in my life. I’ve always been so good and so thoughtful about my decisions. I loved her, but I also really just wanted to take a leap of faith rather than going by the book. At the time I felt like I had allowed way too many chances to slip by me. I just couldn’t see myself being cautious and doing that again when I had a great opportunity to have the things I wanted right in front of me.
Needless to say, the marriage only lasted about two years. It’s hard to summarize what actually went wrong without going on and on with a 4,000 word post. Without going into detail about what actually occurred, I will say that I should have stuck to my beliefs and not allowed myself to move so fast. That’s the bottomline. Taking a leap of faith was a fun adventure, but it caused too many problems. My family wasn’t very happy with how I was choosing to live my life. That also put a big strain on things. It wasn’t so much the spontaneity as it was the fact that we were talking about having kids together. Considering some of the issues I was born with, they weren’t exactly thrilled that I was thinking about all of this. Their extremely cold attitude towards her plus our own relationship issues really prevented us from having much of a chance together. At the end of the day, it just didn’t work out.
A Blessing In Disguise
The fact that my first marriage ended the way it did turned out to be a blessing. Although I still had a ton of work to do on myself by the time I met my wife, the whole scenario almost seemed like it was destined to work out the way it did. By the time 2013 came around, I was getting into my mid 30’s and had much more experience with the world than I had in the past. I think this on top of my wife’s incredibly thoughtful and caring nature lead to me finding something that finally felt like real love. Although we’ve had our challenges just like anybody else, I’ve come to find that my wife and I have something very important in common with each other: we share a lot of the same values. Although this is something I have always been looking for, it really wound up being very difficult to find.
Today I am proud to say that my wife and I have been together for five years, with almost two of those years in marriage. It’s by far the best, most successful, and most fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had in my life. We bring out the best in each other and we compliment each other very well. I’m glad I went through all of the hard stuff because I wouldn’t have gotten here without it, but I will say that a lot of the heartache I’ve experienced could have been avoided. The truth is, life isn’t easy. We make difficult choices sometimes due to our environment or through other factors like learned behavior. Regardless of what kind of judgement we make, sometimes our choices turn out to be right, but other times they turn out wrong. I’ve come to learn that you can’t really question things too much. The story of your life unfolds the way it does for a good reason. I went through some of the bad stuff because I was meant to be lead to my amazing wife.
Don’t Be In Too Much Of A Hurry To Find Love
Although I’m very happy with my life, I do feel like it doesn’t pay to push so hard for love. Especially when you’re younger. Sure, it’s easy to get depressed because you see your friends, classmates, peers, etc all enjoying romantic/intimate relationships. That’s totally natural. It’s ok to feel those things. You’re only human. However, don’t let it rule your life. Even if finding love is hard to come by in early adulthood, it won’t last forever. Eventually, things do start to change for the better. I didn’t believe this for a very long time, but I do today. In my personal opinion, forming a serious relationship isn’t for most people in their teens and twenties. My first two relationships were both with women in their early twenties and they both didn’t work out very well. That’s not to say it was all their fault. I was a part of the relationship so I take responsibility too. However, it’s odd to me that I didn’t have the kind of relationship I feel I truly deserved until I was in my thirties. Perhaps I just had bad luck, but I truly believe it’s better to wait until you’re a little older to get seriously involved with somebody.
Regardless of whether you’re a teenager or young adult, don’t let the missed opportunities and struggles to find love get you down too much. I’m at the risk of sounding too parental, but give yourself some time to figure out your life. Most of us will find love at some point. Once you do find it, you’ll find that there are a lot more challenges and responsibility that goes along with being somebody’s significant other than you might think. Don’t get me wrong, having a significant other is amazing. Especially one that takes good care of you like my wife does. She is my best friend. However, it took a lot of time to find her. I had to make a lot of mistakes during times in my life when I shouldn’t have been looking so hard for it. You only get to be that young once in your life. Don’t let good opportunities pass you by, but don’t rush into anything too serious either. You have plenty of time for that once you get your life sorted out!