Dear Kelly,

About a month ago, the person who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with broke up with me because they said we weren’t compatible. I didn’t see it coming. I thought we were getting along great. Not only is my heart hurting, but this has left me thinking I will never find anyone. Is there something else I could have done?

First of all, I wish, as a mother and as a friend, I could give you the biggest hug. Breakups are hard, and so many times, they come out of left field. You find the person who, as you say, you think you will spend the rest of your life with, only to find out they don’t reciprocate that feeling. All too often, the tendency is that we internalize what might have gone wrong. “Was it something I said?” “Was it something I did?” “Was it something I didn’t do?” “If you just tell me what’s wrong, I can try and fix it!” Rather than trying to see that the relationship wasn’t meant to be, we blame ourselves, as if we did something to cause it or that we could’ve done something to change it. What we fail to realize, however, is that relationships are all about mutual effort.

What I mean is that both parties need to be invested in the effort it takes to make the relationship work. It takes communication, consideration, support and hard work. The process isn’t always perfect, but there is a desire and willingness to work together because your hearts sincerely care for what the other person is feeling.

You are confused and wonder why your partner just didn’t give you the opportunity to fix what they felt was broken. But the truth is, if they were committed to making the relationship work, they would have communicated what was bothering them long before now. This isn’t about you and what you could have done differently. This about their lack of willingness to confer their thoughts with you to help cultivate a stronger bond.

In October, I will celebrate my 28th wedding anniversary. There is a lot I have learned through the years about being in a successful relationship.

Too often, couples fall in love based on the way the other person makes us feel. “Oh, he makes me so happy.” “Goodness, she makes everyday better!” “He always makes me laugh.” While these sentiments and moments are great, I’ve got some news for you: That person isn’t always going to make you feel that way. When you are going through tough times as a couple and you disagree about something and tensions are high, your significant other may not care if you are happy or if you laugh. In arguments we say all kinds of things, hurtful things, and do so at the other person’s peril. This begins to put holes in the relationship and then shreds of doubt.

For a bond to be truly successful, rather than dating someone because of the way the other person makes you feel, true love requires that you are committed to wanting to be there for your loved one regardless of what they are going through. If they are sick, you want to be the one to take care of them. If they are troubled, you want to be the one to help them. If they are worried or scared, you want to be the one that supports them. No matter what they are going through, you want to be by their side going through it with them. And furthermore, you know they are determined to be there for you, as well. That’s why the marriage vows say, “For better or worse,” “For richer or poorer” and “In sickness and in health.”

In your question, you wanted to know if there was something else you could have done. I want you to ask yourself, “Did I care for them?” “Did I show love to them?” “Did I support them when they needed it?” “Was I committed to being there for them?” If your answer is “yes” to these questions, then this isn’t about what you did wrong. This is about their inability to reciprocate those actions. Think back to times when you were hurt, scared or tired? What did they do? Were they there for you? The fact is, the way this person cut off the relationship, exhibits their negligence in caring about your feelings. If they had considered how the event would affect you, this would’ve been a longer conversation that slowly happened over time, rather than suddenly out of left field.

So, don’t internalize what you could have done different. You weren’t given the opportunity because this person didn’t want to communicate their concerns. As far as, “Will I ever find anyone else?” Well, let me close with the story about how I met my husband, whom I have spent the most amazing 28 years of my life with.

Before I met Garrick, I dated a different guy for 3 1/2 years. He was cold, uncaring, sarcastic and emotionally abusive, but I chose to look past all of that hoping one day he would change. He, I sometimes think, took pride in ripping my heart to shreds, and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why I stayed with him as long as I did. I tried my hardest to look past all of this and see the good in him, but eventually I realized I was better off without him and gave up. I was in the darkest time of my life. I was completely shattered and broken. I felt like that was my one chance at love, and I was destined to be alone.

Then one night, out of the blue, while out with my friends, I met Garrick. Well, to be honest, we were driving the strip in Fort Walton Beach and saw a jeep with three guys (one of which was this great looking guy in the backseat) and decided to follow it. After a few whistles and waves, they pulled over, so we could talk to them. That awesome guy in the backseat came over and started talking to me. Remember, I was in a dark place and had pretty much sworn off relationships, but I couldn’t deny there was something different about him. In our conversation, he was so considerate and caring. He seemed truly interested in learning about me, what I liked, what I didn’t like, where I was from, what I wanted to do. I was instantly drawn to him, and after talking for a while, I agreed to give him my number. From our first date, I began to learn what it was like to date someone who really wanted to be there for me, and because of that, all I wanted was to be there for him, as well. We got married only five months later, and he has been the biggest blessing God has ever bestowed on my life.

You see, you feel broken now. You feel the circumstance might not be what it is if only you had done something different. I’m here to tell you, that taking into consideration how your relationship ended and the lack of communication before it ended, this wasn’t the person for you. That person is still out there, and what they have to offer you is better than anything you could imagine. They might not be the person you think you are looking for. They might be completely different than anyone you have ever dated, but you will know you have found them when their first instinct is to consider your feelings and support you and when you have the undeniable desire to be there for them as well.

You’re going to be fine. This will hurt for a little while, but focus on the amazing person that you are, your gifts and your talents. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones. Hear them when they remind you of your awesomeness. Every day you will get stronger and stronger, and eventually you’ll be ready to find someone new. Keep an open heart and an open mind, and look for the person who shows you compassion, consideration, kindness and support. They’re out there, and sometimes, when you stop looking, that’s when they’ll appear.

As always, I wish you health, happiness, and continued success throughout all of your journeys.

Do you have a question about Mercer or coping with school in these challenging times? Each week Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at kelly.l.browning@live.mercer.edu or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

 

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