Me in a relationship: then and now

I wrote about the long break I had taken after my last break up. I’ve casually gone on a few dates and got pretty intense with a few guys, but I haven’t been anyone’s girlfriend in a while until recently. Before I met my beau, I’d spent a lot of time working on myself and reflecting on my past relationships. I read A LOT of self-help guides. The rules are always the same: Don’t sleep with a guy on the first date. Don’t obsess over him. Don’t talk about kids and marriage early on. Give him space. Have your own life. 

I tried to follow those rules and waited and waited for love to come find me. At times I also took initiative. Every time I met a potential guy, I’d start wondering how he could be the one and obsessing whether he liked me. I wanted him to like me even thought I didn’t even know him that well. When he didn’t, I’d get angry. “How could he not like me? I’ve done everything right!”

During the break I did meet a person who was everything that I had dreamed of. Sparks flew, and I thought there was nothing that could come between us. I was ready to risk everything for a chance of happiness with him. Then he broke my heart in a way that I didn’t know he was capable of. It was the first time I realized I had matured as a woman. I picked up my heart in pieces and walked away. I was hurt and scared, but I knew if I grew from the experience, it would make me stronger and a better woman. I knew I had to be the one to mend my own heart instead of waiting for another guy to do that for me. Every day after that, I focused on myself and went after what I wanted in life and worked on actualizing my dreams. I still believed in love, but I wasn’t boy crazy. I was happy just being in a new city even though I kept joking about how all my friends were paired up. 

One day not long ago, this man came into my life. If I still had that mental checklist of traits that I wanted in a boyfriend, I would have failed him almost immediately, but my past experience had taught me perfection on the paper doesn’t guarantee relationship success. He seemed to be a nice guy. I shouldn’t deprive myself from the chance of enjoying his company. 

Was I scared? A little bit. But you know what the beauty of having your heart broken numerous times is? You’ve seen the worst. You know you will get over it even if it gets broken again. I will not let fear ruin my future relationships because I’m not a coward. 

At the very beginning, I was a bit insecure. I didn’t know how to act and how to assume my role. I had been out of the game for so long and I was dating someone from a completely different culture. Things were a little intimidating. 

Amazingly, the lessons I’d learned from the past suddenly came back to me before I was about to do something stupid. In the past, I couldn’t stop nagging my exes and checking in with them when they were out with friends. I wanted them to call me every day. I wanted to know everything, more importantly, whether they were thinking of me as much as I was thinking of them. I needed their assurance and validation all the time. This time around, I just went with the flow. It was hard not to try to be the one in control, but eventually it got easier. I’ve stopped wondering where he is, what he is doing, whether he misses me, and I’ve refrained from freaking out when he occasionally excludes me from his plans.

It got easier because I love myself and my life more than ever. 

I’m happy to give him space because I need my space too. I enjoy spending time with my friends as much as he enjoys spending them with his. I don’t nag him because I don’t think forcing someone to do something they otherwise wouldn’t do carries the same value. When I tell him to have fun, I really want him to have fun. Sometimes I feel a little hurt when he doesn’t invite me to everything, but I’ve learned to think in his shoes, there are things I don’t invite him to either. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like him. It’s just not the right occasion. 

Have there been times that I wonder if he’d lose interest? Definitely. I think women tend to want their guys to be the one who care more. Whenever I know I’m about to drive myself crazy, I just remind myself I’m a beautiful, intelligent and sexy lady. It’d be his loss not mine. I know it sounds very cocky, but I truly believe your main source of confidence should be you, not your man. 

The other very important thing I’ve learned is not to fall in love with (only) words but action. I’ve been guilty of falling for men who were so remarkably eloquent that I just wanted to jot down the sweet nothings they said to me. My beau is not exactly bad with expressing his affection, but it is better shown in the little things he does here and there. Had I forced him to tell me how much cares about me, I’d have stressed us both. Instead of asking for grand gestures, I appreciate the small things that he does, like how he spends time chopping wood for the fireplace to keep me warm, how he always makes sure my water bottle is filled, how he makes me breakfast while I am sleeping in, how he saves the bread crust for me. I have had guys telling me how much they couldn’t live without me one day and disappearing on me the next. When there is an inconsistency in a guy’s words and action, trust the action. 

I am not an expert, of course. I’m just a woman who has failed enough in love to know better. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my beau, but I will make the best of it and be grateful for his kindness for now.

I hope every girl will learn to be confident and enjoy life regardless they are in a relationship.



About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
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