Koen Meershoek

If You're Always Defending Your Relationship, This Is What You Need To Realize

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It turns out I found my soulmate when I was 16 years old.

I met my boyfriend at prom during my sophomore year of high school. We both went with different people, and ended up talking while everyone else was dancing.

We had a lot in common, and started dating that fall. Fast forward to today and we have been together for over eight years. A lot has happened since 2007, and it's safe to say we aren't the same people we were when we first met. Our relationship hasn't always been stable because we haven't always been individually stable. When I was 16, I was very insecure and had absolutely no idea what I wanted out of life. My boyfriend was only 15 and had his own share of insecurities. We've been through a lot and grew up together while maintaining our relationship.

In the last eight years, we have both done things we aren't proud of, and we have both put each other in some less-than-ideal situations while we were growing up and maturing.

We have had our "on-and-off" moments because we didn't know how to argue and we were selfish. Every time we disagreed, we would break up. After living together for three years, we finally realized that disagreeing doesn't mean that we can't get past the issue.

We have since gotten very good at expressing our concerns, respecting each other's opinions and working through our problems. We have gotten to a place that is ideal for both of us and we are now both confident in ourselves and our relationship. It wasn't easy, but we made it work and we've always fought for each other, even if one of us loses faith.

In the last four years, my boyfriend has moved over 1,000 miles away, twice. The first time was for a few months and the second time for a year. Each time the situation was different, and I understood his reasons for going. I've always been supportive about what he needs to do in order to be happy in life and he has returned the favor. However, my family and friends don't always feel the same way. 

There are people who care about me who have watched the progression of our relationship and they have their concerns. While I completely understand and appreciate their concerns about how my relationship isn't "normal," I'm getting really frustrated with feeling as though I need to constantly defend our decisions and my relationship.

I have actually found myself acting like a car salesmen when talking about my boyfriend, in trying to prove to them why he's right for me. Not only is this totally unnecessary, but then it actually has me questioning whether or not we really are right for each other, which is really not OK. Nobody should have to act like a criminal defense attorney for the person they love. This is why I've decided to stop defending the fact that I've chosen this relationship.

Of course I understand that the concerns come from a good place and aren't intentionally rude, however it's important for people to realize that everyone has a right to live the life that they want for themselves.

I feel as though it's difficult for some of my friends and family to get past things that happened in high school and see our matured relationship for what it is. We have been growing, learning and evolving over the course of our relationship, and I don't want our past to constantly be a reminder what would could happen. People learn a lot of lessons as a teenager and in their early 20s, and it's not okay to constantly hold those mistakes over their head. If we have moved past it and it's only fair that everyone else most past it too.

Also, after being with someone a certain period of time you begin to feel this pressure to do things a certain way: get married, buy a house, have kids. That was never in our plan. We have never done things in a standard way, and I don't expect to begin anytime soon.

The truth is, I'm okay with my boyfriend pursuing his goals in a different state while I stay and finish college. I'm OK with the fact that we have been dating for over eight years and we're not married. I'm okay with the fact that we don't have a perfect, storybook relationship. In fact, I'm more than OK with these things. We have accomplished something huge by consistently overcoming situations and sticking together through it all.

I'm very happy with the person I am, the person I'm with, the relationship we have and the life that we share. He constantly tells me how much he cares about me and how excited he is to spend the rest of his life with me.

We're always laughing, he treats me right and we are both 100 percent committed to each other and our relationship. We trust each other with everything and we are each other's biggest supporters. Even though we're still 1,000 miles away right now, we FaceTime or text daily and have been taking turns traveling to visit while we wait until this fall when we will live together again.

I really don't know what more my family and friends could want for me, and I hope that they can learn to trust that I know what I deserve that I've already found it.