Okay so it wasn't technically a relationship but I would be lying if I said it didn't feel like one. Anyway, I want to share my experience. So if you like stories, enjoy:

We met through a mutual friend last year while taking summer classes at UCSB. After a few encounters with him I sensed that he was attracted to me. I found him attractive too, but I pegged him as a stereotypical college athlete who thinks he can get any girl he wants. My instincts were screaming at me to stay away, and I did... until he confessed that he liked me. By the time he told me how he felt, he was about to head home to Florida. That didn't stop us from talking though. We texted everyday for about a month and then I "ghosted" him. With that said, my intentions were always good. I was under the impression that he was coming back to Santa Barbara for Winter quarter; I figured we would pick up where we left off once he was back. However, during the time that we weren't in contact his plans changed. Long story short, his coaches somehow screwed him over and he enrolled at Arizona State instead. When I heard this, I was forced to accept my feelings for him that I tried to deny all along. Perfect timing, right? So, I sent him a text asking why he didn't update me on his situation. We ended up talking again but this time on a deeper level. We texted consistently and FaceTimed for hours almost everyday. We shared our hardships, childhood photos and memories, opened up about our fears, hopes, dreams. We really got to know each other. He honestly became one of my best friends. 

This went on for a few months and I started to fall for him. It seemed like he started to fall for me too. I was at my cousin's wedding reception toward the end of February when he sent me a few texts that said: you mean everything to me, I would do anything for you, I promise I will be worth it after college, I will sacrifice anything for you and us, I'm serious about us, I'll wait for you no matter what, you're my person, I need you. When I read his words I remember thinking oh shit things just got real. The things he said scared me but made me feel secure and happy at the same time. Eventually he surprised me with a visit to California. He took an eleven hour bus trip to see me which spoke volumes about his feelings. I met him in LA and we spent a day road tripping from Malibu to Santa Barbara. It felt like we were a real couple: holding hands in the car, cuddling up to one another, showing affection. It was hard to say goodbye and I missed him more than ever when he left. A month or so later I paid him a visit in Arizona. We binge watched movies, hot tubbed; I tried sushi for the first time and showed off my terrible beach volleyball skills. It felt easy and natural being with him. However, I was thrown into his routine of daily basketball practices which were always followed by a nap (I swear this boy could sleep all day). Then he would have additional team commitments and school responsibilities. I started to realize that if we were to work out, he would never be able to give me all the time and attention that I need. All in all, I had a great time but when he dropped me off at the airport I was sad and scared. Sad because I was leaving and scared because I had no idea when or if I was going to see him again. 

After I visited him in Arizona he pulled away. At first I wasn't worried because he did this twice before: once after he got mad at me and again after he visited me in California. After about five days of hardly any communication I sent him a message letting him know that I was there if and when he wanted to talk (because the last time he pulled away he said he was "going through stuff" and thought that I hated him??). That same night he sent me a message on Instagram telling me to text him because he got a new phone. So I did, and he responded to that, but not to the message I sent after. I waited three days and gave him one more chance to explain to me what was going on. The days dragged on and I started to feel like this time it really was the end. I waited a week to clear my head and decide how I wanted to handle the situation. I still don't know if I handled it correctly. Sometimes I feel like I made the wrong call, but it is what it is. Worrying about what he was thinking and wondering when he would stop ignoring me was emotionally draining. I had also been around this block with him a few times and I couldn't do it again. I decided I needed to cut him off myself, otherwise we'd keep going around in the same circle. The bottom line is that I don't deserve to be treated this way, no one does. It's not okay to give love and take it away with no explanation. At this point we still shared our location with each other, so I unshared mine and Venmo requested the $200 I let him borrow for a plane ticket. I'll admit that might've come off a little savage but I also sent him one last message telling him goodbye and wishing him the best in an attempt to leave on good terms. After all, we were friends before we were anything else. To my surprise, minutes later he blocked me on all social media, including Venmo. He probably blocked my number and email too but I won't bother to find out. I don't understand how he could walk away from six months of getting so close to me without exchanging a single word. I also don't know what his intentions were when he blocked me on everything. To hurt me? To let me know that he can't stand me? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that I won't be seeing that $200 ever again lol

Since he left me to fill in the blanks on my own, I started thinking more critically about the relationship we shared. I recognized the red flags that I either missed or chose to ignore. The subtle mind games he played with me started to become clear and I realized that I was used in ways I never expected to be used. The way he reacted to me letting go showed how much I meant to him (not much, despite what his words told me). I was just another naive girl who was blinded by his pretty lies. Even so, I don't regret getting involved with him. We shared a lot of good memories and I'm a better, stronger person than I was six months ago. 

Here are some things I learned:

1. Having an intimate connection with someone is special. You can't replace this kind of bond with a friendship, or a parent, or a sibling; it's just different.
2. Don't ignore red flags (lies, lack of commitment, conflict avoidance, withdrawing, moving too fast, mixed signals, etc).
3. Long distance is tough. It takes solid communication, patience, and effort from both partners.
4. Honest and open communication is key. Whether you need to discuss something that upset you, or you want to share your feelings, you should feel comfortable doing so. You shouldn't feel like a bump in the road will result in the end of your relationship.
5. If it seems too good to be true, it very well could be.
6. You can't change a person, their behavior, their feelings, or their mind.
7. Love is shown through actions, not words.
8. Trust is the most important thing. If you can't trust the person you're with you need to ask yourself why.
9. If games are being played in the relationship, you're both going to lose.
10. Undefined relationships are confusing, complicated, and stupid. Define the relationship. Not for the sake of a title, but for the sake of understanding what is expected in the relationship.
11. Love and respect yourself first. Don't lose that love and respect for yourself in the process of trying to love someone else.
12. Before you get into a relationship know how much you are willing to put up with. The lines can get blurred when feelings are involved so it's important to make your boundaries clear beforehand.

Putting yourself out there can be scary and people get hurt. Sometimes it's going to be you, but it's worth it. In the end, I believe everything happens for a reason; I may not know the reason for this particular experience yet, but I trust that God will reveal it to me eventually.

-Lo

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