Relationships are messy. They are complex, they are serious and they have seasons. In the beginning, you typically enjoy a few months of merriment. It's a stimulating curiosity.
It's trying on 10 different outfits and settling on the first one. It's ordering a garden salad so you look casual on that lunch date. It's putting 10 minutes of thought into a two-word text message.
But just like everything else in life, relationships have ends. They're never easy. It's never just like, “Yeah, we had good times, so good luck.” There are emotions invested, which makes the end really tricky.
But after the end of a long relationship – especially when you're young – comes the opportunity for the cycle to start all over again. The butterflies come rushing back, harder than a Saturday morning hangover. The hesitation and excitement come back, in waves of newfound confidence and coffee dates.
But as we move forward, our exes do, too. This is one of the most jagged truths to swallow after a long-term relationship. I've never had the pleasure of meeting my ex's girlfriend. But if I ever do, I would have these things to say:
1. Be patient.
Be patient with this relationship. Your newfound interest has been through a lot of sh*t. So, be patient when he questions you or doesn't shower you with trust. There's a reason that wall is up. But, I promise you it's worth breaking down.
2. Be present.
Be truly present in the moments you share. Too often in relationships, we get lost in the daily routine that is life. We get stuck in complacency. So, do whatever you can to avoid that.
Spontaneity is a must. Wake him up at 4 am to go to Denny's. Bring his mom a present. Take his little brothers to the candy store on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Make him go to an amusement park on a Monday, or get him to people-watch at the library. Keep him active, and he'll show you a side of himself that often goes unseen.
3. Be careful.
Just like this is true of anyone in his or her 20s, there's room for you to get hurt. Be diligent in breaking down his boundaries, but also be mindful and respectful of your own. Take it slow, and trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, you're right. If you think all is perfect, step back and reflect.
Damage can cause young souls to become careless and reckless, so keep that in mind. Don't hesitate, but don't lose your head in the high of a new beginning.
4. Be happy.
You should be happy. You've found someone special. So, as much as you should use caution, you should also dive in. Find that moderation.
Let yourself embrace the free fall. Don't second-guess what that text meant or what he's doing when he isn't with you. He deserves something carefree and full of joy, and I'm sure you do, too.
Don't get caught up in the obstacles of monogamy and expectations. Kick back with a cold one and laugh together. (His laugh is contagious.)
5. You're lucky.
Finally, you should know you're lucky. Don't ever be intimidated by me if he brings me up. Our relationship was only one chapter, and now, you're holding the pen.
Realize how much that means, and be grateful for it. Draw outside the lines, and call him out when he gets out of line. Appreciate him as his own person, and allow him to flourish into someone you'll be proud to say is yours.
Finally, I wish you the best. Don't ever think otherwise.