Original article written June 18, 2017
Life is full of curveballs. Sometimes our biggest achievements become our biggest fears, our ambitions blindside us and our successes come at the cost of other opportunities. Our passions become our most fierce competitors, the standards to which we hold others become the ways in which we measure our own unworthiness, and the people we think we love are the ones that make us lose sight of ourselves and why we should be loved in the first place.
I thought I met The One at 22. He’s very handsome, but he is still only just growing into his looks. He is the hardest, most diligent worker I know, with the purest heart and an ambitious mind. He values his home, his friends, and his family over everything else, and feels he’s most whole when he’s near the people and places he loves. He believes that success and happiness mean stability, freedom, and predictability, and he wants nothing more than to have a strong partnership and to provide a happy life for the family he’ll have himself someday.
But the world he works so tirelessly to build for himself day in and day out doesn’t allow him to stray much from this path he thinks he’s chosen. He works hard and he plays hard, but I find his world doesn’t have too much time for spontaneity or charm. Not too much time for passion, simple pleasures, and irresponsibility. It just didn’t have too much time for me.
I am an artist. I’ve been described as fiery, scattered, chronically late for everything in my life, and compassionate. Despite my ups and downs, I am a clear thinker who tries to make it my mission to stay true to my integrity and to keep both feet on the ground. I have a deep understanding for people and desire, and those I choose to have around me are the very core and purpose of my existence and the fuel for my creativity.
It was an unlikely partnership, but there was something that held us together from the start. Maybe we were just so different from anyone we’d ever been with before. Maybe it started as a breath of fresh air that was so good it became the only air you could breathe.
For two years, he thought he loved me. And maybe he even did, very much. But he didn’t value me. Not completely, and not for the important, defining parts of who I am. And learning that loving someone and valuing them for their soul can actually be two very very different things has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my life so far.
I always thought of myself as ahead of the game because I am familiar with the “5 Love Languages” (you should read up about these!) and was always acutely aware of the different ways in which my person and I gave and received love. Understanding and respecting the different ways in which we feel and show love and appreciation is one of the key components, I believe, to maintaining a happy, healthy, and honest relationship throughout your life. I thought that being able to identify my person’s forms of expression would ensure that I would never feel unloved or be disappointed, no matter how different they were from my own. But although we all have different ways of showing and understanding our affection, what nobody ever told me is that different people have different capacities to love as well.
The reason my person isn’t The One, despite my whole heart and body still working constantly to process it, is because, put quite simply, at least at this point in our lives, we have different capacities to feel love. He may have truly and completely been in love with me for a time by what his beliefs and standards are for what love is and what it entails. So in his mind, he loves me. And he will act in a way that expresses that degree of love every day. Unfortunately, I have a very different capacity to love, and I think I always will.
I may have fit the bill for what he needed in his life for a time, but in our two years together he didn’t often show the real desire to be what I needed in mine. He didn’t try to integrate himself into my world the way I invested every piece of my own into his, every day. This doesn’t mean he didn’t love me, or care about me. It just means I was capable of loving and caring about him more. I realized I was settling for less love than I needed and felt I deserved because I knew he was giving me what he could. It doesn’t mean that we were settling for people we felt were less worthy than ourselves. It just means we were both settling for the wrong person.
The scariest point in my relationship was when we both started feeling that imbalance, and the source of it, at the time, was as tangible as it was elusive. Despite everything we’d wanted and tried to keep sacred, it was the inevitable beginning of the end. For a while we tried to write the imbalance off as being due to our different interests, the difference in quality time we could offer each other because of our schedules, the extremely different programs we were in throughout our Undergraduate degrees, and the slight differences in lifestyle we pictured for ourselves after finishing school.
But the bottom line was that I put him first, and he put himself first too. This in no shape or form makes him a bad person, unworthy of me. It just means that at the end of the day, I am always going to feel let down because the person I love isn’t giving me what I need, and the person who loves me is always going to feel like what they can do just isn’t enough. It’s exhausting, and it’s so unfair to both people. I provided most of the energy for my relationship because it’s what I was capable and happy to do, but my person ended up unintentionally using it to thrive in his own life as an individual; because he still thought himself a separate entity from me, where I couldn’t make a separation anymore.
Despite my energy always coming from a place of love and willingness, I was drained. And slowly, over time, I started to lose the entire essence of who I was and what it was that made me special. And it was killing him too, to watch helplessly while I faded more and more into nothing, with nothing he could actually do about it. And the worst part of all of it, was that none of it was actually anyone’s fault.
Heartbreak is one of the most fascinating things in life because it’s something we dread and repel with every ounce of our being, but absolutely need for the betterment of ourselves and our personal growth. Maybe one person in every relationship is always doomed to care more about the other. And this is by no fault of our own, and if both parties understand and can accept this, I still think you can have a very happy and healthy life together.
I’m not mad at my person for not loving me enough, or not in the way I loved him. There is no way you can be mad at someone for feeling a certain way, because regardless of whether or not you feel it’s justified, it exists, and so it is valid. You cannot be mad at someone for not loving you. You can be hurt, lost, and confused, and everything in between. But feeling negatively towards someone because of something they can or can’t give you has never been something that has felt productive to me. At first I felt like I’d lost everything when the tough decision was made to part ways, but I soon came to realize that if he isn’t The One, we were never really each other’s to truly walk away from in the first place. You can’t be upset about something that isn’t meant to be, and just cannot be. Having different capacities to love is built into the fundamental ways in which we are all wired, and is something so out of our control that it shouldn’t and can’t be something we dwell upon or hold our loved ones responsible for.
I know I’m still young, but I truly thought I’d met The One at 22. Maybe someday we will find each other again. But for now, I am completely at peace with the idea that maybe we just never will.