I’ve always been moved by change. I need change and challenges in my life.
Living abroad was always something that I was certain of. I wanted that adrenaline of moving to a new place, having to solve challenges in a language that was not my first nor second one, build something in a new place, learn from people with a different background and lifestyle.
So when I thought I found the love of my life, I saw myself pondering whether that was it. He was everything to me and I loved him like I loved no one else before.
But he didn’t want to travel. He didn’t want to live abroad. I did.
And I saw my own dreams become a bit smaller. I saw myself re-structuring my life to fit his life. And that’s when it hit me.
1st sign: He didn’t like my band
Just before we starting dating, at 19, I had the chance to become the vocalist of a friend’s band. I was so excited. I was finally writing lyrics with other musicians and not just creating music in my head.
So when a couple of weeks later we started dating and he didn’t support it, I felt really sad. I was doing something I really loved, I was sharing it with the (then) love of my life and he couldn’t care less.
He didn’t forbid me to do it (I would have honestly dumped him if he did), but he would often be upset that his free Saturday afternoons were overruled by my 4 hour practices.
And even though I was torn between spending time with him and practice, I didn’t leave the band. It was something I was really proud of and I would not give up on it because of a boyfriend.
I went away for 6 months
Fast forward 3 years, at 22, I told my family and friends I was going to do an ERASMUS program for 6 months in Holland.
This was the conversation that would inevitably follow:
‘What about your (long term) boyfriend?’
‘What about him?’
‘Well… You’re in a relationship… Don’t you think you should stay?’
And honestly, my brain would just not get it. In my head, one thing didn’t invalidate the other.
So I went.
And as I hoped for and worked on, we kept on dating whilst I was away.
Of course it was tough. There was a lot of MSN Messenger (the predecessor of Skype), phone calls and text messages.
He came to visit, and I went home for Christmas.
And despite him (sort of) breaking up with me on the last week of being away, he picked me up at the airport upon my return and we got back together. The relationship survived, and we were fine.
And then I left again – for another 6 months!
To be fair, the sort-of-break-up reason was reasonable: he was not very happy with another decision I had made.
Basically, after spending six month in Holland, I had decided to go away for another six months, in six months time. Yep, within a year and a half, I was gone for a full year with a break in the middle.
You see, I had the chance to to work in Florida, USA, for Walt Disney World (which I talked about on this post).
He naturally freaked out and I totally understood him, but that would not deter me.
This was another lifetime opportunity not to miss and if we were meant to be, we’d be!
After a rocky six months back at home, I broke up with him a couple of weeks after settling down in Florida.
Because I understood that I wanted something else after Disney. He was not willing to follow me and I wouldn’t want to make him go through it all again.
Then came doubt
I went back home as a more grown up person. Someone far more open minded and ambitious. I came back with even more dreams and certainties.
But then I spent a year completely lost.
I still loved him, he still loved me. I was again torn between following my dreams and aspirations or staying and settling down for a life with someone I was sure was (at the time) my ‘forever and ever’.
We tried giving it a go but after failing (because of my indecisiveness and dreams), we spent the rest of the year trying to get over each other.
But I still wanted something else. So I went for it and moved to England.
Because this is what I think of life: it’s damn short. And dating someone shouldn’t stop you from doing things you love.
I didn’t let a relationship stop me from following my dreams
The person you’re dating needs to support your dreams.
Even if they disagree with them, they need to let you be who you are and walk alongside with you. If it’s something you believe in, if it’s something you’re good at, they need to advise you the best they can, but let you fight for your dreams and support them.
Like, I don’t love my husband’s beard, but it’s something he wants, and I’m not going to force him to shave it off! #True #YeahImBeingSilly #LightingTheMoodUp
Because, if they’re not pushing you up, at the minimum, they can’t drag you down.
From my experience, you can see there’s something I’ve never done: I didn’t stop pursuing my dreams because of a boyfriend.
And you might think: ‘Well, maybe you didn’t love your ex-boyfriend enough’.
Let me stop you there.
I honestly did. I really loved him. And both of us suffered for years with the end of our relationship.
What kept us together for three years and a half was the crazy stupid deep love we felt for each other.
I was sure he was the love of my life at the time and I imagined having kids and staying with him until we were old and grumpier (if that’s even possible).
But I was also sure of one thing: If it was meant to be, it would have been.
When you’re meant to stay with that person forever, if your love is strong enough, you survive everything.
But if your relationship is to survive, both of you need to keep being 80% yourselves, and 20% an adaptation to the other.
And in our case, one of us would have had to be 20% of themselves and 80% of an adaptation, to keep the relationship alive. I was not happy to allow that to happen to myself nor to him.
My greatest fear was not to lose him! As even when far away, I was fighting for ‘forever’ and I was sure we’d make it.
My greatest fear was to miss out on those opportunities for someone that could eventually not be a ‘forever’.
I know how love can blind us and how most women (and some men) stop being themselves to simply follow the other person.
And if that’s what makes you happy, fair enough! If following someone is your thing, that is still you being you and there’s nothing wrong with that.
My greatest fear was having my relationship turned to ashes for any other reason a few years later and not having done those things because of it. I would have ended up with no relationship and no once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
I didn’t lose him nor did he lose me because we didn’t love each other enough.
We lost each other because we were not going in the same direction.
And any relationship in which its ‘members’ are not going in the same direction, is a doomed relationship.
If you want it, do it
So whatever it is that you’re planning on saying ‘no’ to because of a partner, think it through properly.
Will it be something you’ll never regret?
Will it be something you’re happy to miss out on because of someone else?
Is that a dream, is it a lifetime opportunity?
To be honest, whatever the answers above are, my advice is: say ‘YES’ and GO!
If you then regret going, you can always give it up halfway through, and return.
But if your relationship truly is a ‘lived happily ever after’ it will survive the test of time come what may.
If you are both going in the same direction, both of you can still be yourselves.
If you’re not going in the same direction, you’ll part ways sooner or later.
So make sure you don’t regret not doing things because of a partner that isn’t a ‘forever after’.
In my case, mine wasn’t, but a lot of my friends from Disney came back home to the same relationships, got married and are happy right now. Which proves that what has to be, will be.
And don’t forget (with a few exceptions, like i.e. teen pregnancy or drug addiction):
“It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.”
— Paul Arden