I'm not a girl who has boyfriends. I have casually dated a few guys, but I find I thrive better in my independence.
In my 23 years of life, I've only added two "official" ex-boyfriends to my shortlist of relationships -- one in high school, one in college. Both of these extended well past their expiration dates.
I dived headfirst and heart-filled into my high school romance because it was truly the first time my interest was reciprocated. About four years later, I tiptoed into my second relationship with a more realistic attitude.
We had been seeing one another for a few weeks. He was on the football team at my university, and attending his games became routine. One day, he asked me to be his girlfriend, to which he later admitted he thought I'd say, "No."
His instincts weren't too far off. I weighed out the thoughts in my head, "Could I see myself with this person? Hm, well, I guess I should probably get some more practice with this whole relationship thing." And just like that, I became a girlfriend.
For about three months, everything was going smoothly. People always inquired how we were so happy and how we never seemed to fight. That is, until the one day we did fight.
For a brief period, my boyfriend was living with me in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment. I left for class, and upon my return, I sensed something was wrong as I saw the shadow of his 6-foot frame at the edge of my bed.
Beneath my Victoria's Secret were my secrets. He had found my diary, which was not-so-cleverly hidden under layers of lace in the top drawer of my dresser. He read my diary cover to cover. Not only was he guilty of reading my diary, but also of searching for it.
From the beginning of our relationship, I told him I was not into the lovey-dovey romantic things that seem to trend among most couples. I'm not someone who believes in Valentine's Day, nor am I someone who needs flowers or overly romantic good morning texts, whereas he desperately needed those.
In his quest for my diary, he was searching for confirmation of my feelings for him, and when he couldn't find them, things went awry.
The words written on those pages began to haunt me as they left his maddened tongue. My words leaped from my pages and began echoing off walls in my apartment as he spoke, asking “Why are you writing about them and not me?”
He was referring to men I met years before I even knew he existed. Occasionally, I still thought back to some of those men.
The conversation became heated, and the flames led us from my bedroom to the living room; I suggested it as a more neutral space.
His questions quickly turned into accusations: “You're a cheater, you're a liar." "That's what sluts and whores do. I never expected this from you."
While he vocalized his rage toward me, I internalized my distrust toward him. It was all my fault in his eyes, and part of me began to believe that, too.
Our relationship never recovered from that argument, as much as we both tried to hide our insecurities. We began creating Band-Aid after Band-Aid.
For him, marriage seemed like the perfect fit to wrap around our fresh relationship wound. For my 21st birthday, he bought me a promise ring. He told me he had been saving up for it, which said a lot considering he was working for Chipotle at the time.
A fake smile spread across my lips as the ring encircled my finger. As much as I wanted to be excited, I wasn't. I thought, "This isn't me. This isn't what I want. This isn't who I am at all. This is all wrong."
I wore the ring for a few weeks because what girl doesn't want a ring? Me, apparently. Society places the idea in all our heads that a ring is a poignant moment in a relationship to look forward to. We're all expected to eagerly await the day our beloveds kneel before us with the presentation of expensive symbols of our courtships.
The more I wore the ring, the more I wanted to throw up -- something I never told him and something I denied telling myself for a while. A ring is not a solution to a relationship, and neither is marriage.
As time went on, I slowly began to stop wearing that ring on my finger. I realized I was wrong to even pretend to like it in the first place, to give it a chance when I knew one didn't exist.
He always saw me as his future wife, whereas I saw him as a meaningful experience. Is that an unromantic, shitty view to some people? Probably. If we all look at each person as the endgame, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment if things don't work out.
But if we choose to look at our lovers as experiences, they become intangible. Some last a moment, and some can last for life, but there is no limit to, nor expectation of, your adventures together.
When our relationship ended, I still had the ring in my possession. I kept it for almost a year, looking at it occasionally, trying to decide what to make of it. One day, it kept glaring at me from within its velvety, blue box, hidden in the same dresser that once concealed my diary. I decided it was time.
So, I went to the jeweler, and had it appraised for much less than what it was purchased for. I received $20 and bought Chipotle.