Seven Things I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me When I Was Dating…

I keep seeing this awesome post being shared across my social media feeds… It Matters Whom You Marry. And I must admit, while I was reading through it. All I could think in my head was… this could have been me.

I don’t talk much about my past relationship or my life before meeting my farmer husband and moving to North Dakota. In fact, I think I announced my break-up publicly months after it happened. I had just joined social media when the relationship ended and I didn’t feel right about airing my “dirty laundry” so to speak online at the time. But I think enough time has passed that it is time for me to tell that story… in hopes that someone out there, somewhere, is thinking the same things I was. I don’t regret the choices I made in the past because without them, I wouldn’t have learned these things. And without the time spent in that past relationship, it’s possible that I wouldn’t have met my husband.

So let me paint the picture to you. Before I met my husband, I was involved in a six year relationship spanning from my first semester in college and well through my early 20’s. I re-connected with a guy whom I went to high school with, we were friends but never decided to actually date. Well, things changed when we re-connected and so we decided to give it a go. It was a whirlwind meet and profess love and I was swept off my immature feet without realizing so many things. Our connection was like electricity and he fueled my romantic at heart fire with writing me songs and poems. It was a honeymoon stage on drugs. But as soon as that stage ended, it was a roller coaster. When we loved, we loved hard and when we fought, we fought hard. I was reckless, I experienced major ups and downs, and by the end of it for two to three years, we were pretty much fighting constantly to keep our relationship afloat.

And that’s when this feeling of unhappiness started eating me inside. It was like a virus that took over me. I ended up being in a place where I did things I am not proud of, I went through stages in life where I purged things out of my life.. Friends, hobbies, whatever. I turned my life upside down and made huge changes in my life trying to figure out what it was that was eating me inside and causing me to feel this way. I felt like I was drowning in a lake full of people but yet nobody could hear me scream. But it never occurred to me, not once. That that feeling was my relationship.

Now that I am out of the relationship and I look back on it, I see the red flags. I see the warning signs. I should have read into them, I should have stopped this whole thing way sooner than I did. Yet I couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t break it off. Toxic relationships paralyze you. They make you blind. They make you believe things about your life that simply aren’t reality. It took me confiding in someone completely outside of my social circles to be the one to call me out on it. To be the one to say, did you ever think that maybe it was your relationship that was making you unhappy? At first, I took the defense and of course defending my relationship. There was nothing wrong with my relationship. Sure we had our ups and downs but this is NORMAL in relationships. But the more I thought about it, the more I lived through my relationship some more, the more my eyes were open and the more I realized it. It was true. This wasn’t normal. And it wasn’t healthy. And then all I could think about was getting out. And I did. I walked away. And the minute I did that, I remember writing in my journal that the day after I broke it off, I felt a sense of peace, I felt whole, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. And you know what, instantly, my life changed.

Breaking off that relationship was the best thing I could have ever done for my life. And I will admit to you today that I loved my ex, but love isn’t enough. And  that to this day, breaking his heart and walking away completely was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but he wasn’t right for me from the start. I was holding onto a relationship that was for all the wrong reasons and I was carrying a lot of his emotional baggage and that was what was keeping me from breaking his heart. I think there even came a point where I told someone he couldn’t make it without me. It’s amazing that two people as individuals can be so good but once brought together can be downright toxic. And the sad part is… nobody could see it. We were so good at holding it together and putting on the facade that when I finally broke it off, our friends and family were SHOCKED. They believed us to be the golden couple and we regularly talked about the future and marriage.

And as much as my friends and family loved me, I just wish someone out there would have said these things to me when I was dating… I wish someone out there would have saved me from a time in my life that very well could have ruined my life. Here are a few things that I wish somebody would have told me when I was dating…

1. Don’t Waste Your Time

When I look back on my relationship, although I learned so much from it, sometimes it feels like such wasted time. Life is short, time is precious. And I wasted so much of it caught up in an unhealthy relationship. I missed out on so many other things and a lot of my college experience because I was SO consumed in my relationship at the time. It is absolutely possible for two people to have a connection, but without a future together, why waste your time? Say for example you meet a guy who is divorced, never wants to be married again, and has two kids. If you are looking for a husband and want to have kids someday. Don’t tempt yourself into thinking that somewhere down the line, he may change his mind and become your forever. Granted, crazier things have happened, but the majority of the time? I’d say those sort of situations end in a break up and both parties thinking about the time they lost being caught up in that relationship.

2. People Don’t Change

My ex and I were wrong from the very beginning and although I knew that, I thought it would change. I could change him. And you know what, I wasted years of my life with him believing this false idea. People. don’t. change. You are better off loving someone for who they are  right now than who they aren’t. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go into a relationship thinking you can CHANGE him. Because the cold, hard reality of truth is that, you can’t. People change for themselves, not for other people. Let me give you a very small example, my ex was a smoker. I hated it. I truly believed that if he loved me, he would quit. So he he did and I believed him. Come to find out that he didn’t quit at all and instead spent years hiding it from me. He didn’t want to quit, he liked smoking. But he knew that our relationship was in jeopardy because of it, so he faked it. If people don’t want to change for themselves, they won’t. Change comes from inside. It may be spurred by influences outside but it takes looking in on your inner self to change your life, not someone giving you an ultimatum in order for change to happen.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Break Hearts

It is totally possible that you may indeed have a connection with someone, but they may not be the right one for you. That is possible. But don’t be afraid to break a heart if your relationship starts going down a path that you don’t feel comfortable with. Dating is dating for a reason. Meet lots of people, experience lots of different relationships, and don’t be afraid to break hearts if you need to. That way when you get to a point in your life where Mr. Right comes walking through the door, you  will know instantly because you’ve been through and experienced enough to know what exactly you are looking for in a husband. Granted, your Mr. Right may not be the ideal life you were looking for, it rarely is. I NEVER imagined I’d be married to a farmer. But I married my husband because he contains many of the traits I was looking for in a husband. Don’t be afraid to break someone’s heart. We’ve all been there, they will get over it.

4. Know When To Call It Quits

Know when to say enough is enough. Don’t let that virus eat you from the inside. Don’t get to the point where I was. Seek outside counsel if you need to, talk to someone completely outside your relationship and social circles.. If you are feeling like something isn’t right, don’t ignore that feeling. It’s your gut talking to you, or even more importantly, it’s the good Lord speaking to you. Something is telling you that the path you are going down isn’t right, it’s potentially dangerous, and it’s time to you stopped to read the warning signs. I’d imagine that if you talked to women who have been through toxic relationships, you will hear things like “I shouldn’t have let it go on for so long, I should have gotten out sooner…” Don’t let a toxic relationship paralyze you or make you blind and know when to cut it off.

5. If You Are Having Doubts, It’s Probably For Good Reason

If you are doubting your relationship, there is probably a reason for that. When I was in my past relationship, I doubted CONSTANTLY. In my mind, I had already planned out our future, us getting married and having kids.. You know, every girl’s dream. But when it came down to it, I seriously doubted if I could go through with it. Could I? Was he REALLY the guy I wanted to marry? Of course, each time I would talk myself into the answer yes. But I doubted and the more I doubted, the more that awful feeling spread. When I met my husband and decided to move 1,500 miles away from my family and all I’d ever known in California, I never once doubted. Sure I was terrified, I was scared about moving and starting in a new place, I was worried about making friends, I was terrified about becoming a farmer’s wife… All these other emotions, but never doubt. I never doubted for even a minute that I wasn’t doing exactly what I was meant to do and that I wasn’t supposed to marry my husband. Doubt is dangerous and really, it’s another sign you should be looking out for.

6. Don’t Get Bit By The Marriage Bug

When I was in my past relationship, I was in a stage in my life where all my friends and girls I went to high school with were slowly but surely getting married. It is SO easy to get bit by the marriage bug as a young twenty-something woman. You romanticize a life with a husband, a home, and kids. And then you try and fit your toxic relationship into that perfect picture. Don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with an idea or a future, instead of the person you are with. One of the things that I finally came to realize is that I really was in love with an idea. My perfect life I was building for my ex and I in my head was just that, an idea. Any man could have filled his part and honestly, I was loving him for all the wrong reasons instead of the right reasons. When that person who woke me up in my relationship asked me WHAT it was I loved about my boyfriend at the time, I couldn’t tell you one single thing that wasn’t a general trait that anyone could possess. You could have plugged any guy into that equation and he could have filled that perfect picture in my head. Don’t get married just to be married or because it’s what all your friends are doing. Get married for the right reasons and you are bound to have a fruitful life together.

7. And finally, when the right one comes along, you will know.

I know it sounds so cliche and corny, but it is true. I met my husband when I wasn’t looking. I was literally two months out of the relationship mentioned above and the last thing I was looking for was another relationship. I vowed to all my friends that I was going to stay single for a year and in walked my (now) husband into the picture. I played hard to get at first by telling him I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I didn’t want to fall in love too quickly as I did in my past relationship. I was guarded with my heart, unsure about if I wanted to ever trust again. But no matter how hard I tried to stick to my guns, eventually, I couldn’t deny the fact that he was the one for me. I couldn’t deny it anymore, I just knew.

So although I may not know you and although I may not be your friend or family. If what I am describing is you, I am here to tell you. It MATTERS whom you date and even more so it matters WHOM you marry. Don’t let yourself go down the destructive path I did and it is my hope that if you are in that situation right now that this post spoke to you. It is my hope that you will be able to save yourself before it’s too late. And it is my hope that if you went through something like this, that you find that perfect match for  you and experience loving someone for all the right reasons and living a life of love to the fullest.

Thank you, for reading, and for listening as I tell a story to the world that not many people know. I invite you, if anyone feels brave enough to share their story in the comments, please do. Set those memories free. Or if you feel like keeping it confidential, email me. Have you experienced a toxic relationship? Did you ever feel trapped in your relationship?

Self Portrait. An expression of a dark time in my life.

Self Portrait. An expression of a dark time in my life.

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25 responses to “Seven Things I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me When I Was Dating…

  1. This time last year, I ended a 6 month relationship with a guy I met through a friend. This relationship never should’ve happened either, and like yours, it was toxic in it’s own way. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. It was little enough that I think many people didn’t see it at first, including myself.

    The night of my 30th birthday, he treated me like trash in front of my family and friends. I hated myself for staying with him for so long. Over the next two months I worked at trying to get out of the relationship, but for some stupid reason, I kept going back. Beginning of October 2012, I finally said enough was enough and we quit talking. We talked again a few months later. He said I left him for someone else and because I thought he was fat and ugly. Neither of those was true.

    In January, I joined a dating site, not expecting to find anyone. I just wanted to see what was out there. In April when I was least expecting it, I came across a simple profile that seemed to speak to me. Just a little over 6 months later, he and I are still going. It stinks we live far apart now, but he treats me like I know I deserve to be treated. Because of my ex, I appreciate the man I am with now so much more. Thank you for your beautiful post!

    • Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your story!! I am SO glad you found the strength to walk away from your toxic relationship! AND that you found someone who treats you the way you are supposed to!! I wish you all the best in your new relationship!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I was in a toxic relationship too, and while it may not have been that lengthy, it was definitely long enough to make me realize that I was tired of crazy. I moved on to a new guy shortly afterwards, trying to forget, and he turned out to be the one I can’t imagine life without. We’ve been together almost 2 years now, and as much as I remember the incredibly strong feelings I had for Mr. Wrong, I know we would’ve continued down an unhealthy relationship path had I stayed with him.

    • I know they say hindsight is 20/20 but it is SERIOUSLY amazing once you come to the realization of how BLIND you are in a toxic relationship! So glad to hear that you were able to recognize it and get out before it got worse! It makes my heart so happy to know that you, too, found someone who is worth your love and treats you right! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I wish you all the best in your new relationship!

  3. I married my high school sweetheart after dating for 6 years. We divorced 3 years later. I learned 2 very important things from my experience. 1 – You can NEVER know someone completely. 2 – You are stronger than you think you are. That inner strength is there somewhere. You just have to find it.

  4. I love the pictures you share today (with your bright, positive smile) so much better than the picture you included in this post!! Looking at that one made my heart ache for you. God is so good!

    • AMEN! God is SO good when you are in tune with him! It was tough to hit the publish button on this one, but honestly, it’s been amazing to see so many women come forward and share their personal stories of hurt and then empowerment and finding that right person! And amazingly, it’s been people I know in real life and from high school that this has been speaking to the most. Lots of re-connections today, AMAZING!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    I was never in an overly toxic relationship that pulled me away from friends, family and who I was. That I know of…

    However, my husband was in two extremely toxic relationships that he had broken off long before I came along. His family and friends hated them and the person they turned him into. They never came out and told him any of that until he and I had been dating several years. He was so upset with his friends and family for not telling him at the time. He was extremely damaged from his past relationships and it took a toll on us at times and it took a while for him to come around to a commitment again. Dating someone who had been cheated on in the past was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I felt like he was so strong on the outside but fragile on the inside. His friends and family knew he was broken into millions of pieces and hoped that I could put him back together. I am so glad I was able to prove to him that not all girls act the way the prior women in his life acted. I strongly believe that we have one of the strongest most trust worthy, easy going marriages around because of all he went through and what it took for us to get where we are today.

    • Kelly, wow! Such an awesome comment! I agree with you, it took experiencing all those awful things in order to make us who we are today. And I believe the exact same thing about my marriage because my husband is one of the only people in this world who knows the whole truth about all of it. He knows those things I did that I was not proud of and he still loves me. I know that those things from the past do indeed make our relationship stronger and more trusting because I could be honest with him, right from the start! Thank you so much for sharing that with me!

    • I take that back…. Oh my gosh. I repressed a memory of a toxic relationship I was in the summer before my sophomore year of college.

      I had almost forgotten all about it. I fell in love with a city boy that I was working with at an RV factory over the summer.

      He was everything I didn’t want. He lived in the city, worked at Abercrombie part time, chain smoked, drank a lot, talked bad about his mom and brothers, spent more time getting ready than I did but he was always complimenting me and seemed so compassionate at first. I remember getting into trouble a lot with my mom that summer for coming home really late or not at all. That was unlike me. I was a goodie two shoes and my parents never had to discipline me for things like that.

      Of course summer ended and so did the summer love. I went back to college several hours away. I remember him being out of cash because he was always buying clothes and alcohol so he could never come see me and I was always driving hours home to see him. I paid for our meals. He was always hungover when we would go out.

      I remember receiving a phone call from him one night when I was at college only to find a girl on the other line…. she was telling me that he was done with me and to have a nice life. She hung up and I tried calling back but no answer. I tried calling his friends and they told me it was over. I gave up. I was helpless. I was hours away and he didn’t want to talk to me. I did nothing to him. Weeks later he called and wanted a sweatshirt back and some concert tickets for a future concert we planned on going to (that I had paid for) mailed to him.

      He said he would pay me back for the tickets and the postage. Never saw a thing. Haven’t heard from him since. I don’t know how people can be so careless and so cruel. Wow. I had forgotten all about that relationship until this day but it helped me figure out that I could never be with a guy who couldn’t hold his own.

  6. What an excellent read! Thank you for sharing your story. As I sit here on my 48th birthday. Single now for 7 years, contemplating to write or not. I cannot agree with your words more! So many young ladies should listen to their gut, being single is much better then being sorry and stuck in an unfulfilling relationship when not being treated they way they should. Feeling alone with someone is much worse than living alone and learning who you are and what you are capable of.
    It’s been a powerful experience to live on my own knowing I can do everything for myself 🙂
    To young ladies out there in toxic relationships. It’s okay to be alone and learn who you are and be healthy alone before entering into a relationship.
    Learning what you want in a partner is so important.
    I’ve never known what it feels to have the “feel right feeling with a guy”
    I am keeping the faith that someday he will walk in my life and give me the reassurance to know it’s right. Till then I do the things that make Me happy 🙂
    Thanks for sharing you are an inspiration to be brave enough to share and get others to open up 🙂

    • Gina,
      Some GREAT thoughts! And honestly, that is one of the reasons I think I feared so much in ending that relationship. I had lost almost all of my friends and really, I felt like if I broke it off, I would be alone and that terrified me. So I was stuck! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment sharing such beautiful wisdom, for the support, and for reading!!

  7. Fantastic post. This is the kind of thing everyone should read.

    I was thankfully not in a similar situation, but I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen people get married and then end up divorced really quickly. Or breakup and then marry the next person that comes along. This situation really ruins things until you can get your head back together.

    I’m so happy you knew it was time to go and you went. I’m so happy you found the kind of person you needed all along. And you were freaking gorgeous in that dress. I can only assume the boots was a new embrace and not something from your old life. 😉

    • Thank you!! I had to muster up some courage to hit the PUBLISH button to literally bear my soul to the world. BUT I am so glad I did. Through this post I’ve been able to re-connect with old friends and hear their struggles and successes as well as many people who shared below. It’s empowering to know that by sharing my own life, I can empower others and touch hearts.

      I am so thankful that I got out when I did and that through finding that inner strength it ultimately led me to my husband! And THANK YOU so much for the kind words! Our wedding day was seriously a dream come true, it was perfect in every way possible! 🙂 And actually, I’ve always had a love for the country and boots. I DID pick up the sunflower boots specifically for the wedding though!

      • My wife has a boot thing, too. 😉 Whenever she starts talking about a new pair, I remind her how much she worried about spending that kind of money on the first pair. So if you know of a place online, we may be eternally grateful (her for more boots, and me for less money). 😛

  8. This is an awesome post! I wish I would have read it years ago! Hopefully someone else will read it and learn from it.

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  10. You know, it is easy to say “Don’t waste your time.” SOOO easy to say that. Not easy to do. Because everyone thinks that a bad relationship happens all at once, but it doesn’t. It’s the frog in boiling water: if you heat up the water slowly, he’ll stay in until he dies. But if you try to put him into hot water, he’ll know to jump out.

    Bad relationships are like that: it’s not bad all at once or you’d leave immediately. It happens slowly over time such that you don’t really realize it until you’re absolutely miserable.

    I’ve dated a few turds in my life. And, while I have kicked myself for staying too long, I am ultimately grateful for learning that “ME MATTERS.”

    As women, we are taught to put others first. We have to learn the hard way that self matters, and that being selfish is actually GOOD. Take care of yourself first so have the energy to take care of others. And, until you have an unhealthy relationship, you won’t recognize a good one.

    *steps off soapbox*

  11. Thank you for posting this! I know it’s hard and it’s risky putting your life story out on the internet, but I truly believe it is now how we all connect and can support each other.
    Almost a year ago I left my boyfriend of three years. We started dating in high school and I thought I was in love. He was a dairy farming, truck loving, and quiet guy. I thought we knew each other extremely well and I honestly can say I had wedding bells going off in my head. Although this sounds like some kind of fairy tale, just like you Jenny we put on a good front as being the golden couple. I even had myself convinced! But deep down I knew things weren’t right. It wasn’t healthy with the ups and downs daily and I knew it, but I didn’t think there was anyone out there. The last year was horrible. I cried almost every week because of him and then I found out he had not just lied, but cheated on me too a year previous. I left him and held my head high as I walked away.
    Over the next couple of weeks after we broke up I found out many things. 1) he was a major weight on my shoulders now gone 2) we were never right for each other. I loved his farm and family, not him. 3) I was going to be okay.
    My friends and family are and were extremely supportive and helped me get over him, even as I had more girls he had cheated on me with come approach me!
    I can honestly say every thing you have written in this blog post is true and I’ve learned that quickly. I may not have a significant other right now, but that doesn’t mean I have given up hope. The right one will come along and when he does, I will be here! Thank you for writing this, it’s so nice to know I can relate to someone.

    • Beautiful comment Kelsey!! I am SO proud of you for walking away from it and recognizing all the lessons learned through that relationship!! Thank you so much for stepping up, finding courage, and sharing your own story!! I write in hopes that I will connect with people and it’s for reasons like this that I continue to share the things that are hard to tell so thank you! 🙂

  12. #3 I don’t think we will make it- beautiful farm girl- but thinks drama and theater are ten times more important than trust.
    Recently nearly demanded I share login codes to my email – that’s roughly an accusation, I trusted her completely to have many men and women friends, (she had been deceived and left by her husband ten years ago) ? She’s doing whatever she can to live with her past and not let that happen again. Soo painful to watch unfold, knowing “that” issue will always be there, and our future (probably) won’t happen. underline live with her past – trusted past tense

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