Recently, a friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend. This was her second serious breakup in three years. Her previous breakup was awful. The circumstances are pretty private, but they were engaged, and had already sent out invitations for a wedding. They had to call off the wedding, and completely extricate themselves from their very much bound together lives.
This most recent breakup was just as bad. They had a long distance relationship and he was supposed to move here with the intention of them living together and eventually getting married. He took a leave of absence from his job, told her he was moving here, and then at the last minute, pulled out. Then, a few weeks later, he called her and told her that he was now dating his recently divorced co-worker.
My heart aches for her. It is terrible to watch her go through yet another gut-wrenching breakup. But part of me is also relieved. The first breakup caught me off guard, but it made me more aware of who she was with. It made me more protective of her. So this most recent breakup, with a guy we'll call Bob, was actually a bit of a relief for me. I did not like Bob. I knew he would hurt her, and it pained me that there was nothing I could do about it. I have learned from past experiences to keep my mouth shut when it comes to situations like this. Unless I felt Bob would cause her physical harm, I figured they were her lessons to learn. But Bob was a bad guy.
To begin with, he lied to her. In the beginning of their relationship, he was spending time with his ex-girlfriend, and when she asked him to stop, he didn't. He lied about it, too, and she caught him. When she found out, he was in town visiting her, and she kicked him out of her house, ending his visit abruptly. Then, there were some other things. A while back, he began to balk about moving here to be with her. He was worried about the damage it would do to his career. And then, of course, it ended the way I described up there.
This past week, I finally told her how I felt. I told her how I was sad that she had to go through this much pain and sadness, but that I was also happy she wasn't going to end up with that guy. I told her how I didn't think he was the right person for her. I told her how a relationship can be a lot of things, but it should never be hard...especially from the get go.
It made me think, though, that the boyfriends of friends that I'm always skeptical of, or don't really like all gave my friends a hard time. They dicked around with saying "I love you," or they lied, or they were flaky and thoughtless. In the game of love, those are all strikes in my book. If you behave that way in a relationship, your reward shouldn't be the trophy of marriage, it should be the bench, or better yet, permanent blacklisting. It makes me sad that I have at least a couple of friends that have all, in my mind, settled for what seems like a compromised version of happiness.
One of the things that makes me happiest in my marriage is knowing that from the get go, A.P. was good to me. He made me a priority. He showed me how he felt about me. He made sure I understood where our relationship was going. There was no guessing. I've never, ever thought A.P. would cheat on me, nor have I thought A.P. would ever really hurt me. I've always believed in his love for me because he made sure that I knew it existed.
There are other things, too, that were important to the foundation of our relationship and subsequent marriage. We talked about the big things: kids, where we wanted to live, money, our goals, and so much more. We had those big discussions so that, so far as we could tell, we were on the same page.
Sometimes, as a married person, you get asked how you knew you wanted to marry your spouse. For the most part, I think every relationship is different, and there is no real way to "know." Some people feel it right away, some people take years. I knew it twice: once on our first date, when I looked at his profile while he sat on the couch next to me, talking, and thought, "I could look at him forever," and again, a year and a half later, when I realized how secure I felt in my love for him and in my relationship with him.
When I think back on the few successful marriages that I have known, it seems like they all began with this first, most important quality: genuineness from the get go. A.P. was genuine with me from the get go, and it has given all the important things in a marriage, such as trust, honesty, kindness, patience, etc., the sturdiest of foundations.
I grieve for my friend, but I know it was the right thing to have happened. She is better off, and I hope that she learns from that relationship. I also have high hopes that she will, in the end, find the perfect man for her. One who appreciates how smart, beautiful, and amazing she is...from the get go.
What quality made you realize your relationship was the real deal? Or what quality do you seek out in a partner? Honesty was a big one for me. I was sick of playing guessing games with guys!
P.S. Tune in for this week's Wedding Wednesday post for a discount code on a great site!