I’ve had 3 significant relationships in my mid to late twenties (and counting). The latest one being a bit freshola so I’m going to share more of my lessons learned than the juicy details which are still a bit sensitive.
"Although we only dated for about 3 months, I know that I would have never been able to fully give him what he needed - it was never going to be enough."
I can say that in my mid twenties I was more confident in my skin, comfortable with sharing my journey, knowing that I was always enough and having people leave if they couldn’t deal with my grief or where I was at in my life ( door is opened if you can’t support ya girl, buh bye). By this point I had grieved through highschool, university, had a handful of jobs, had medical issues, lost some friends and my ovary. I didn’t care if someone was not going to accept me for me - I’d been through it. Nonetheless, as anyone would, I still craved deep connection and a partner to share my life with. I was content on my own but was hopeful and ready to adult date for realsies.
In my mid twenties I was in a relationship with someone a few years younger than me. We connected so easily and it was so nice to have someone genuinely all in. I was drawn to him for his resilience and optimism. You know one of those people who have such shitty circumstances but always highlight the smallest joyful thing that happened to them and talk about it for an hour. Maybe he was in denial and lonely - I sure did not see it that way at first, innocently. We met one night through mutual friends. My sister would bluntly tell me at the end of our relationship that I stayed for a year with him because I felt bad for him. While that was harsh it was somewhat true. Everyone else gave up on him and neglected him in a sense - I wanted to show him that someone like me wouldn’t (thought as I’m writing: my intentions were so off, I thought I was thinking about him fully but this was really me trying to fulfill my own unmet need). He experimented with things that I was not comfortable with (red flag), he cheated on me with his best friend’s girlfriend (mega red flag), he put me in unsafe situations ( liquid hot magma red flag!!) and lastly told me that I gave him the moral compass that he never had. You’re welcome pal - happy to be of service to you. For what? I spent the following months building myself back up. He shattered my confidence and made me question my self worth ( oh hell no sis!). But he came from a broken home, his friends were immature and exactly what I worked hard to stay away from when I was younger when my siblings and I were taking care of each other, and even though he added no value to the relationship and it was a one sided positively growing relationship I stayed thinking it would get better. It never would have. I left after a year of being with him. I did a one time cry that night I ended it and I was done.
There I was again getting drawn to someone who would allow me to push further from my issues and focus on his instead. I felt like we connected from our experiences of having to push through difficult circumstances. This was all about wanting to connect for me and less about what I thought I deserved and wanted in a partner.
Onto the next:
Dating a fellow scorpio made sense for where I was at in my mid to late twenties. I just wanted to be understood and who better than someone with the same zodiac sign. It definitely was not intentional but intrigued me. It was nice for the first time in a while to have someone understand how I operate. I liked having my space, time for myself, preferred banter over sweet words and hyper focusing on things I loved like my work and GGH (duh!). For some guys in the past these were issues. He was very ambitious, had a great family, worked hard and was ALWAYS respectful of my time and planning even when he had 100 things going on (SEE, I knew it was possible - re: my last blog post). Also bonus that he was my grade 6 crush. I was embarrassingly nerdy (thick stache, oily hair, teeth and ears that grew faster than my face could and rocked circle glasses) but I was obsessedddd with him. I guess there is a surge of hormones that will never justify the 0-100 in my confidence at that age. But anywho, years after I mastered my eyebrows and owned my features we ran into each other at Starbucks. It was a full circle kind of experience with this one. We dated for months and there were stressors which led to a big disconnect. He wanted me to be somewhere I wasn’t in the relationship, grew very frustrated with me and I pulled out of it about 7 months in. Some of my friends may jokingly claim that I get cold (scorpio stereotype - some truth!) or that “when I’m done I’m done.” I was this way for a reason. I had stayed too many times, repurposed relationships and given up all of me to give to a relationship that was never going to work in the past. I wasn’t doing it anymore and I’m sorry if that hurt his feelings and the other guys I briefly dated in between these relationships but this was for me. Who was going to have my back like me?
My most recent relationship ended right when the pandemic started which was an awful yet insightful experience for me to work through. I really thought this one was it for me. Not only did we connect quickly (yes, my OG criteria), he also lost his dad (great, we can openly share our grief journey), we had so much fun together, but he actually checked off almost all of the things I was looking for in a partner. I admired how selfless he was (later I would realize this should have been a red flag), how great his sense of humor was, how tall he was (can I get an amen up in here?!) and how deeply we connected about everything. Our grief had shaped us both in similar ways: family first always, valued close relationships because we had a lot of people leave our lives, work hard from a young age, big dreams for supporting our moms and providing for ourselves and our kids in the future. We could easily dream while together. He initially joked about how much more he liked me than I did him. I initially found this charming to have a guy express his emotions so quickly and openly. I just present more reserved like I gotta feel you out for longer than a month to be oversharing all of my thoughts and feelings. To each their own though! I caught on that he didn’t really like this because he would fish for compliments and for me to share my feelings. The worst possible thing you can do to me in a relationship (other than cheat and lie - actually a lot now that I’m thinking about it..) is push me to do anything I don’t want to or don't arrive at on my own. He wanted me so badly to solidify our relationship ( for him that was referring to him as my boyfriend). He was pushy. I eventually wrote him out a letter sharing my feelings. He would continue to insinuate that I wasn't validating him enough - he was growingly revealing his insecurities. I jokingly asked, "what if I’m not where you’re at for the next step?" He’s like, "I don’t know but I already want to take you on vacation" (woaaahhh pump the breaks). This was about a month in. Everything comes to surface one way or another. I learned a lot about him at the 3 month mark. He gave so much selflessly to others because he craved that same love. He was starting to get anxious and have panic attacks.I thought we were having a good time though.. I questioned myself if I was too laid back or too reluctant. He made me feel bad for it (when I shouldn't have). He had work to do on his own previous traumas and losses and was projecting that on me hard.
At this point I had been in therapy on and off for around 2 years. I had seen my progress and I was happy with where I was at. I appreciated the work that went into it - all those days I had to push myself to go and work through tough feelings and traumatic years. The one thing I had now that I didn’t have years before was immense awareness. I picked up on his moves, his intentions and what he wanted from me quickly. Although we only dated for about 3 months, I know that I would have never been able to fully give him what he needed - it was never going to be enough. I knew then and I know now still that he cared but like I implied previously, even the healthiest, most confident, most expressive, most supportive Carm would have never been fully enough for him - there were issues bigger than us.
Although I am a 27 year old single woman I am very proud of where I came from, how much progress I’ve made in my journey, and how much love and work I put into myself. My best investment yet!
COMING UP NEXT SUNDAY: Grieving a relationship