I Did Not End Up With The Love Of My Life

And I’m OK with that.

When I was 17 years old, I met a boy that changed everything. You know the kind — tall, smart, handsome, and a complete charmer. I was swept off my feet from the first time he flirtatiously tweeted me (ugh, we are such millennials). As the 21st-century typical high school story goes, we entered the “talking” stage, then the “dating” stage, and then finally, after a few months, we were boyfriend and girlfriend.

The clichés do not stop there. We fell in love the summer before I left for college and he entered his senior year. We danced around the subject the whole summer and tried our best to stay blissfully happy even though we knew our relationship had an impending expiration date. I will never forget the day that I left for college and the tear-filled, heart-wrenching goodbye that came with it. I was losing my boyfriend and my best friend all in one day.

I got to college, threw myself into a multitude of activities to distract myself, but I woke up with a pit in my stomach every single day for those first few months when I endured radio silence from someone I used to talk to every single second of every single day.

I won’t bore you with the details, but throughout the course of my freshman year, he and I spoke on and off, went through a few attempts to get back together, but eventually it ended for good. But, when it all ended for real, a different feeling than helplessness, loneliness, and sadness swept over me. I took a deep breath and felt relieved. A weight was lifted off of my shoulders, air was back in my lungs, and my heart felt lighter. For a few days, I had no idea why I felt like this — I should have been completely heartbroken.

I truly do believe this boy was, and always will be, the love of my life. I also truly believe that we are not meant to be together. Our relationship was intense, consuming, and exhausting. When things were good, I felt like I was on the top of the world. When things were bad, I felt like the sun was going to fall right out of the sky. I had never met someone who meant so much to me and had so much influence on how I felt and who I was. My heart broke every time we said goodbye and was quickly pieced back together every time we said hello again. He was the other half of me; I did not feel whole without him around.

I realized my relief came from my head, not my heart. When I was 17, there was nothing more I could ask for in a relationship than what I saw in the movies — and that is exactly what I got. But, now, at the tip of my twenties iceberg, I have realized that there are so many more important things in a relationship than love.

I gave my entire heart to someone and it still did not work out, and that is okay. I experienced at 17 what some people don’t experience until they are 70. He will always have a piece of my heart that no one else can touch, and I of his. I learned more from him than I have learned from anyone else in my life. He taught me so much about love, what I want, what I need, and myself. That relationship did not turn me into a man-hater, cynic, or bitter heartbroken girl. I hurt, I healed, and I have come to a place of understanding instead of heartbreak.

In my next relationship, whether it is in a year or ten, I sincerely hope I don’t love him as much as I loved my first. I hope that I feel whole, even when he is not around — because I am. I hope that we argue, but we don’t stay up all night exhausting the same subject because we pick our battles. I hope I never miss him so much my heart hurts because he is never that far away. I hope he lets me make my own mistakes, but is always there to help me back up afterward. I hope that he is my partner in everything that I do — my number one fan, critic, and best friend all in one.

More than anything, I hope that I never have a love like my first one again. It was too much. It was too emotional, strong, and passionate. It meant too much to me. Every emotion associated with that relationship was polar.

So, to my mom, my best friend, and everyone else who fed me the, “you are going to find someone you love even more,” line when I was enduring this heartbreak, I hope you are wrong. I hope I never love someone as much I loved him, but I do hope that I learn how to love someone better than I loved him.

By Katie Wilkes for TheOdyssey