I used to think loving someone meant giving up anything and everything to be with him or her to prove your love is strong enough to make that sacrifice.
I lived in Ireland for four months and was lucky to fall deeply in love. We planned a make-believe future and discussed what we would have to do to get there.
What I didn’t see then — in the world we made up — was it was me who would have made the sacrifice. When I had to leave, I promised I’d come back for him, and he promised me we would figure it out.
I remember coming back to America completely numb. I didn't know how I could live without this person and believed I'd do anything to get back. At the time, I planned to move back to Ireland and go to graduate school while he finished up his final years. We'd live happily ever after.
While I do believe in fairytales and happy endings, it didn't happen for us. What I didn’t realize was what I would be sacrificing to lead that life with him. I didn’t think about family milestones, like weddings, holidays and the birth of my nieces and nephews.
I was willing to give up everything I knew for him, but I didn't think about how doing so would affect everything else in my life. I had to know he was willing to sacrifice for me, too, so I asked him to come live with me the summer after I left Ireland. I asked him to give up everything he knew to be with me, too.
He couldn’t do that, and I couldn’t be mad at him.
What I came to realize about relationships is that it isn’t about sacrificing everything to be with someone you love; it is about finding someone who would never let you make that sacrifice. Relationships are 50/50, and if you find yourself giving more than that, the scale will be unbalanced.
Before investing in a relationship, define your own values in goals. Doing so will allow you to establish a solid foundation for being alone. When you get into a relationship without your personal beliefs defined, you won't have a clear vision of what you want to build together, which will make it easier for everything to crumble.
Define these things for yourself, then find someone with similar ambitions and goals who will not only support you, but also be there to help you achieve them.
When I came home that summer, everyone kept trying to justify the breakup. They said we have very different lives; we grew up differently; we have different goals, and the obstacle of distance is too insurmountable to handle.
As much as you want something to work, it never will if one party won't sacrifice. As much as the idea of picking up and leaving everything behind appealed to me a year ago, I know now it could not have worked if he wouldn't make sacrifices, too.
Falling deeply in love didn't scare me, but how far I was willing to go to keep that love did.
When it comes to relationships, a good partner would never ask you to change aspects of your essence. Sure, it is selfless when someone gives everything for love. It truly warms my heart to imagine someone out there is willing to do that.
But, on the road to discovering love, which turns out to be one of the most important things in life, never abandon those who loved and supported you before you found it.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It