Like many 20-somethings who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing with their life (AKA all of us), I recently went through a quarter-life crisis. This crisis had me questioning everything from the direction of my career, to the quality of my friendships, to the status of my love life. Working through these questions led me to make some huge changes in all areas of my life. For example, I sought out a new job, I dropped some friendships that were unhealthy for me, and probably the biggest change of all, I broke up with my long-term live-in boyfriend.
Yeah, the boyfriend I moved across the country for last year.
I won’t get into the details of our break up, but I will say it was a long time coming. We had been together since our second year of university, and the relationship just didn’t work once we transitioned from being wasted 4 days a week full-time students to full-time adults.
I did the single thing for a while, but after a few months of solo Netflix dates I was ready to get back on the dating scene.
And by “dating scene” I mean I downloaded Tinder.
I wasn’t looking for anything serious on Tinder, but I also wasn’t looking for hook ups either. I was using it as a fun way to meet people (since I was basically alone in a new city) and maybe get a free dinner or two out of it.
But, the universe obviously had different plans for me because despite my greatest efforts to keep things casual, I actually did find something serious on Tinder.
And he is the complete opposite of everything I thought I wanted.
For so long I believed that being a couple meant sameness. Of course the guys I dated didn’t necessarily share all the same interests as me (i.e. obsessive Kardashian stalking), but we always shared many of the same hobbies, were from similar familial backgrounds, shared the same opinions on politics and current events, and most importantly, we were both in love…with me.
Yes, I was that girl. That girl who only dated guys that put me on a pedestal. If a guy didn’t become instantly obsessed with me after like, a week at most, I was over it and on to the next, because I genuinely believed that a man in love should kiss the ground you walk on.
So ever since I got my first boyfriend in 5th grade, I thought that both sameness and excessive doting (on me) was what I was looking for in an ideal partner.
But hindsight is 20/20.
And my track record shows that seeking out these qualities in a boyfriend clearly does not work well for me. In fact, it usually blows up in my face. My relationships became stale, boring, and full of power struggles. I always had the upper-hand which both bored me and made me resentful. With so many commonalities, we ran out of things to talk about or explore together, so we always got stuck in a rut.
My relationships lacked passion and reeked of hostility. And I’d had enough.
After my last break up, I knew I had to do something different. I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted in a partner, but I knew what I didn’t want this time.
So when I met my new boyfriend for the first time, I decided to keep an open mind and take a chance on him. He was the complete opposite of anyone I had ever dated before and I literally thought why the hell not??? I just ruined yet another relationship so what do I really have to lose at this point???
And I am so glad I did.
My new guy and I have practically nothing in common at first glace. Many of our interests, opinions, and even values are different. Yet somehow it just works.
He’s stubborn, strong-willed, ambitious, and confident. He doesn’t tell me he needs me or that I’m his whole world. He has lots of friends, a good job, tons of hobbies, and a very full life to keep him satisfied. He doesn’t put me on a pedestal and he’s definitely not obsessed with me. Though that is still something I struggle to come to terms with (I like being worshiped, OK???), I know that everything he says and does for me is genuinely because he cares about me and not because he’s trying to impress some elevated version of me that he’s created for himself in his head.
It’s been both refreshing and eye-opening. Better yet, it’s made me realize what I want.
I want someone who challenges me. I want someone who doesn’t let me push them around. I want someone who has his own life and encourages me to have my own life. I want someone who treats me as an equal. I want someone who has his own opinions and ideas.
I want someone to co-exist along side with.
I don’t want someone to become co-dependent with.
And that, in my opinion, is what finding love as an adult is all about.