After my last breakup, I once again told myself I was done with boyfriends, at least until I moved to New York (which happened about a week ago). But then, of course, I reunited with Ryan.
I met Ryan during my freshman year of college when I was a big old hot-mess, and he was a hot upper-classman. I may or may not have tackled him at a house party without knowing his name, but that’s beside the point. What really matters is that four years later, he asked me out on a date.
I thought it could be just a fling during my final days in Philly. Since he let me know early on that he would be leaving for the Navy in December, it seemed perfect -- there could be no commitment, as he would eventually be stationed in South Carolina for the better part of six years, while I would be in New York for (hopefully) a long, long time.
Our first night out together, he was shy. Dinner was a bit awkward, and I did the majority of the talking. Plus, afterwards he took me to a Flyer’s game -- I really, truly despise all sports -- in which his two male friends accompanied us to (that’s a no-no for a first date, guys). Our incompatible interests and behaviors made me sure a relationship would not be blossoming. Just a lot of great make-out sessions.
But then, after months of his persistence, fun nights out and even better nights in, I realized I was developing feelings. And with his constant sweet gestures -- like driving all over town to find me the perfect sunflowers and waking me up on a rainy morning with my favorite coffee -- it was basically impossible not to fall in love. The more time we spent together, the more he let me in, and the more I saw a genuinely beautiful person.
Did I mention he’s really, really I-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-of-you handsome? Cause he is.
While we try to avoid talking too much about his planned departure, as the months continue to fly by, I’m certain that I don’t want this to be a fling at all. The problem is I am 100 percent anti-long distance relationships, no matter how madly in love I am. I understand that they work for a lot of people, and many don’t suffer any negative effects in their relationship due to distance, but if I’m with someone, I need to be with them. Like, at least once a week.
The truth is that I get distracted on Skype, I rarely answer the phone, and I generally suck at keeping in touch with people who are far away, especially while trying to start a new life in a new city as a recent college graduate. Maybe that’s indicative of my selfishness -- but right now, I need to be selfish. I can’t put someone else first.
More than that, I have to be realistic: I wouldn’t be happy only being about to see him once every few months when one of us could afford a plane ticket, and since I live in New York, that’ll be never. And what’s the point of being in a relationship if it doesn’t make you happy? I’ve been down that road already too many times, and it only leads to resentment.
We’ve discussed our options a few times. We could take our time for what it was and look back at each other with good feelings (although I think that’s easier said than done), or he could change his plans and join the reserves instead, which would involve a five-month separation compared to a six-year one.
But I can’t watch him give up an amazing opportunity, which will pay for his schooling, rid him of his loans and lead to a great full-time job and opportunities to travel -- his favorite pastime. I can’t let him make that decision for me, when I know I couldn’t give up my dreams for him. It wouldn’t be fair, and I’m trying to be a grown-up who does the right thing these days.
And what if one day, whether in the near or far future, we aren’t so in love anymore? I mean, I’m 22 years old and completely acknowledge that my views on life and even my personality are severely altered with each passing year or big transition. Also, after a couple of bad break-ups, I understand that love isn’t perfect and definitely isn’t everlasting. People change and do shitty things.
Basically, what I’m saying here is I don’t want him to make that kind of huge decision for me then look back a year later after we broke up and go, “Well, that bitch ruined my life.” Um, hello guilt for the rest of eternity.
Instead of him changing his future for me, I should be responsible and accept the consequences that I knew came with getting involved with a military guy despite the fact that it really freaking sucks.
I don’t regret falling in love with Ryan. If anything, it’s made me realize that relationships and feelings are going to messy and complicated as hell like 99.99 percent of the time. And if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet someone who truly loves to help people, who aspires to change things, and who I would be proud to say I know while he’s serving our country.
Not too long ago, one of the many times I was trying to run from my feelings and end our relationship before it turned into love, Ryan said to me, “I’m coming back for you in six years.” Maybe it’s unrealistic to think that type of fairytale romance is possible, but it doesn’t hurt to think about. Especially cause he’ll be coming back in that Navy uniform (yum).