Ah, it's that time of year again: The trees are coming back to life, the flowers are in full bloom, the sun sets much later and the temperatures are way up.
Wait, what's that warm, fuzzy feeling radiating through your body? Oh, that's right: Love is in the air.
With your social media feeds being filled to the brim with engagement photos and wedding snapshots, and the winter blues finally being gone, it's easy to look around and want to find love. Whether you're in a relationship and can't wait to plan all your summer outings or whether you're single and looking to find someone, the feeling is spreading like wildfire.
That feeling can make us introspective. We can think about what we want out of a person or relationship. We can think about who we want to be in a relationship.
But it can also make us take a step back and think about those who have come before us. We think about the people we fell in love with, and who therefore altered our lives. They changed the way we now look at relationships as we continue dating.
This happens to everyone, it seems. Except for me.
That concept doesn't appeal to me. This is odd, seeing as I love nostalgia and looking back. But I've also somehow become a perfectionist, and I want to know how I can fix previous mistakes in the future.
For me, it almost feels like this is the wrong kind of looking back. You look back and see all the mistakes you've made, and you relive all the pain and sadness that came from losing the first (and then second) love of your life.
It reminds me, in a weird way, that I failed. It makes me think I let both myself and that person down.
It also forces me to evaluate that concept as well. I deeply and truly cared about those two people. But why should I have to feel like I let either of them down? It wasn't me who let them down. They had fully been the ones to let me down.
Why is it that I've always felt like I'm also somehow part of it?
Sometimes, it's nice to look back and know you were strong enough to walk away. This is especially the case when it no longer becomes beneficial — but rather toxic — to your life.
My first real love, not at all shockingly, was in high school. It was just after I had broken up with my first boyfriend. I was introduced to this guy who we'll call Lameo for the sake of anonymity. He had bright blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was funny and sweet. He made me feel special.
We were on and off for a few years. He kept coming back to me when he wasn't with a girlfriend, and he utterly ignored me when he was. He would say he loved me. He would say I was perfect for him.
But then, he'd turn around and date someone else. “We're too perfect for each other to date right now,” he would say.
I was a love sick teenager, and I believed every word he said. But as time went on, I realized what a terrible situation I was in.
He saw me more as a security blanket. I was someone who could build him up and make him feel wonderful.
Being a writer gives you the tools to make the ones you love always feel like they're on cloud nine with just a few properly placed words or phrases. But we didn't have any sort of title attached to our relationship.
I realized I couldn't do it anymore. Here I was, a smart girl who could make anyone laugh. I was full of enthusiasm, but I had resigned myself to a life where I was pining over someone who wasn't worth my time.
I knew I had to let the situation go. Because if I didn't, I would be doing myself a disservice.
I was — and always have been — more than a mere security blanket. I was not a safety net he could fall back on until someone else came along. Once I realized that, it was easy for me to turn my back. That sort of person didn't deserve my attention.
That's how I felt for years after. I had fun every now and then, but I didn't allow myself to garner feelings for someone in that way. I'm the queen of crushes, but I would quickly realize I didn't want to be in a relationship. I would just move on.
That is, until I found someone else, of course.
When I was in college, I decided to go on a trip with one of my best friends. This had me reconnecting with someone who lived in our vacation spot. After I came home, we talked more and more. I had had a crush on him in both middle school and high school.
Soon, I realized I was totally interested in him. We'll call him Teddy.
He too, very oddly, had blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. (This wasn't intentional.) He loved to read and watch movies. He was everyone's best friend.
He was sweet and kind in the most natural way, and he always made me laugh. We developed feelings for one another really quickly. We decided to date.
Then, I didn't hear from him for a week. When I finally got ahold of him, he told me he thought we had maybe jumped into things too soon. He told me things were too hectic for him.
But we did want to be together. It just wasn't the right time. We were on and off for a year. We would go back and forth about how it wasn't a good idea, but that didn't stop us. It was cyclical in the worst way.
I thought we were going to last. He had great qualities, and I could see myself with him in the long run. He felt the same.
But he was too wrapped up in his own mind, and he just couldn't follow through. I just couldn't do it anymore.
I had to think about it and decide whether or not I wanted to keep up this back and forth. As it turns out, I didn't.
No matter how much you love someone and no matter how much you care for him or her, you can't change his or her readiness or willingness to make something work. You can't force him or her to see what's right in front of him or her if he or she doesn't want to see it for him or herself.
Sure, it hurt like absolute hell to end it and move on. But it was important for me to do so. You can't want to be with someone who's going to wait until the right moment because there is no right moment. The right moment is whenever you decide to just go for something.
Until I actually sat down to pen this cautionary tale, I had all but forgotten that I even had these experiences. Someone brought up Teddy in reference to our relationship, and it took me a second to even recall that it had happened.
This isn't because it didn't mean something to me. It's because I just don't think it adds any value to my life anymore.
Those situations could have turned me off from love. They could have had me thinking relationships weren't worth my time. But they didn't.
They taught me I shouldn't just go for anyone. I learned I should go for someone who truly values and appreciates me for who I am and what I bring to a relationship. These relationships showed me exactly what I didn't want from love.
When I met my boyfriend over two years ago, at the end of my college career, I knew right away that I would fall in love with him. He was different from my two previous loves in all the right ways.
He had dark curly hair and the ability to call me out when I needed it. He played along with my vampire hypotheticals and utter nonsense.
The love and appreciation we have for one another as both individuals and a couple makes it easy for me to not want to look back and think about what happened before.
The most important thing in any relationship is to know your value and understand what you bring to someone else's life. Don't let a previous love affect a new love, and never allow someone to dull you from sparkle to matte. You should always be iridescent to the person you're with.