Before October of 2020, I had never been in a relationship before. I lived out my romantic fantasies through reading books, watching romantic comedies from the '90s (Tom Hanks will always have a special place in my heart!), and daydreaming about how much happier I would be once had I found my person.
My romantic tendencies ended up leading to me creating a Bumble account.
I had made a Bumble account multiple times in the past, but it usually led to getting excited about one person and then being ghosted. However, this time was going to be different - I could feel it! I felt more confident than ever before, and I was feeling gutsy.
I only posted one photo on my Bumble as I hadn't taken any recent pictures of myself, so I figured I wouldn't get many matches.
But only one match ended up mattering - my soon-to-be boyfriend, Clayton.
Clayton and I hit it off right at the beginning- our conversations were so easy and natural, and the first time we ever met felt like two old friends catching up after years apart. In fact, we both agree that we would've been best friends in high school. He was one of the funniest, smartest, and kindest people I had ever met, and I couldn't wait to begin a new chapter of my life with him.
Everything was going perfectly... until I started to realize how much I still had to learn about being in a relationship.
All my life, I had told myself that a boyfriend would solve everything and that with a boyfriend, I would be complete.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Slowly I started to grow way more insecure than I had ever felt when I was single. Now, I had someone who would see me in every shape and form I had to offer. I felt myself growing anxious at the thought of him seeing me without makeup... or more. This anxiety led to many nights alone crying about how he could even look at me without feeling disappointed or like he was settling.
About a month and a half into our relationship, I became mentally and emotionally exhausted, and I began self-sabotaging out of anticipation that our relationship wasn't going to last. I started picking fights out of insignificant things, and I never wanted to be alone out of fear that he would find someone else or realize how much happier he would be if I wasn't there. I even compared myself to his female friends and felt my confidence slowly deteriorate.
I had no idea what I was doing- and I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't want to talk to Clayton about it out of fear that he would think I was needy or so insecure that it would be exhausting constantly reassuring his attraction to me. I was developing real feelings for him, and the last thing I wanted was to let this relationship go.
I put my pride and fear of being seen as weak aside and decided to see my counselor again. After one of our sessions, we both agreed there was only one thing to do-
I decided to talk to Clayton about how I was feeling.
My tear-filled eyes and runny nose were met with words of reassurance and understanding. Instead of being annoyed or overwhelmed by my emotions, Clayton helped me talk through everything I had been dealing with throughout my struggles. He learned about my past obstacles regarding mental health and my body confidence, and I realized that he would be with me through thick and thin, and I wouldn't have to go through these battles alone anymore.
However, after this conversation, I learned a precious lesson:
Learning to love yourself is crucial when going into a relationship.
Having Clayton in my life has made me immensely happier and more at ease, but if I had let my insecurities get the better of me, I would've had to give him up.
The cliché saying "you have to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else" was something I had always rolled my eyes at."But having a boyfriend will make me love myself!" is what I would tell myself, and I couldn't have been more wrong. My problem was that I went into our relationship with the sole intent of having him fix everything where I felt I was flawed whether it be through constant words of affirmation or spending all of his time with me. It's not fair to put such a task on someone, and it certainly won't make a relationship long-lasting.