Aside from the constant arguments between us, which were draining, we were both young and foolish. Neither of us had experienced true independence — after all, we started dating in high school and broke up at the beginning of college — and didn't really understand what it was like to really live as individuals. I hadn't learned how to grow on my own.
Discovering What You Like In a Guy
I wouldn't say I've been a serial dater, but I have had several boyfriends (only three of those being "serious" and long-term) and a decent amount of flings and one-night stands thrown into the mix. From the complete assholes, to the stage five clingers, and total sweethearts, I learned a great deal about the qualities I do and don't like in a man.
While some might argue that they'd rather just be happy with their current boyfriend and avoid the drama of heartbreaks and running into players, I feel that's just part of life. Loss and heartbreak are things we need to experience. The reality of it all is that life isn't fun and games; things get messy. In the real world, everything isn't perfect, and dating around — even if that means "kissing" a few frogs — is part of that learning process.
So Many Fish In the Sea
I don't believe in the idea that we all have one love or a soulmate. With the billions of people in this world, that's highly unlikely. Although I do in fact value the concept of a life-long marriage, I know we're not "matched" up with our spouses-to-be by whatever God you do or don't believe in. So testing the water and dating different people throughout your life is important. If you do and find that in the end you still want to be with your first S/O, then fine. But how do you know he, at of all the men out there, is really "the one" if you never experience love with anyone else first?
Allowing Yourself to Grow
Many women say that they've grown as a person with their one and only significant other over the years. That's all well and good, but if you've been dating someone since you were an adolescent, how do you know what you want for yourself?
Whenever we date people, especially if it's been for a good number of years, we tend to make our decisions with them and not based on solely what we want. Whether it's you or your S/O, someone is going to have make compromises during the relationship. Do you want to go to that college because you absolutely fell in love with it on the tour, or does part of you like the idea of being close to your man? Did you take that first full-time job because it's what you've always dreamed of, or because you kind of liked it and it just happened to be in the same city as your S/O?
You'll Always Wonder 'What If?'
Of course, there's always going to be the big "what if?" when you plan on marrying your first and only serious boyfriend. I know some of you probably say, "Well I never wonder" and you should recognize your denial right now. Because you're lying to yourself. It's not wrong to be curious. And for those of you say, "Well I have wondered but if I really wanted to be with someone else, I would be," I have to call that BS now because I've said the exact same thing before to my friends and family. It wasn't until after my first relationship that I realized it wasn't meant to be and it really took the breakup for me to face the truth. If I was still with that boyfriend, I doubt I'd be where I am now in my life.
This article was written by Emma Goddard. Follow her on Twitter @egoddardhokie.
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