When I was 21, I began a relationship with a woman with whom I would spend 8 years. The first year was incredible. I knew I had finally met the woman with whom I would spend the rest of my life. At this time we were both living with our parents in Boerne, TX. After we had dated for about a year, my father offered me a job in Arizona. The girlfriend and I moved to Arizona and lived together for the first time. As soon as we got to Arizona, she no longer showed any interest in a physical relationship. In spite oftr my feelings of rejection, I did what I could to make the relationship work. As long as I worked for my dad, I was able to pay our bills. But, when I was replaced by someone with more sales experience, my income dwindled. I took the only jobs I could get, attempting to sell insurance. But my lack of ability to sell caused greater stress in our relationship. The girlfriend seemed to be angry all the time. But I loved her. She took a more authoritative role in our relationship as she became the primary breadwinner. She told me that, in spite what I felt about God trying to direct me when it came to my job, I had to think that maybe God didn’t exist and act accordingly. In spite this difference in philosophical views I stuck with her. This was partly the result of my continued love for her and partly because I didn’t want to be alone. I finally found a job that provided me with a descent paycheck at GoDaddy. I hated that I had to manipulate my customers, attempting to sell something every time a customer called for technical support. But that was my job. It was means to providing for myself and my significant other. I once expressed to her the opinion that we worked because we both wanted her to be happy. There would come a time when her happiness wasn’t enough for me. After I’d spent some time at GoDaddy, the girlfriend and I began discussing moving back to Texas. By this time, I was generally unreceptive to any sexual interest she showed. I had stopped even trying as a result of the constant rejection and she rarely instigated. On the couple of times a year she did show interest, I wasn’t even sure I was reading her right. This caused her to become frustrated with me. The last year we spent together, I had been struggling with a lack of employment opportunities again and was serving as caregiver for her father. As her father felt he should be able to do whatever he wanted and she felt I should be able to tell him not to do whatever he wanted, she was constantly angry with me for “letting” him engage in irresponsible actions over which I had no control. I felt as though I was no longer her partner, but her employee, constantly failing to do my job the way she thought I should have. Then I moved into the guest room. I didn’t want the temptation of any connection to arise. Our bed had felt like a giant canyon ran down the middle. It was dangerous to reach to the other side. My moving into the guest bedroom felt like an act of bravery. I wanted her to see that I was done. At the same time, I wanted to be there for her father. When I told her that I was only there for her father at this point, she made arrangements for him to live somewhere else and I moved out. I spent 8 years of my life with someone who was not a good fit. I let my fear dictate my actions. I’ve been alone for 4 years this month. But not because of fear. This time I know what I am looking for. I am not going to settle. I worry that I may have waited too long to find the courage to strike out in pursuit of my own happiness. As I spent these years trying to make this doomed relationship work, others, who might have been more suited to be my partner were getting married. Still, I remain hopeful. I believe there is someone out there who will just get it, who will understand the power of love to change the world, who will love me for me and want me to be happy. Still, my hopefulness doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake to stay as long as I did. It wasn’t her fault I lost those 8 years. It was mine.

I share all of this, not to complain or to pass judgement. I share all of this in the hopes that my younger friends will learn from my mistakes. Don’t continue down a road that leads to heartache. Know yourself well enough to know what you want and that you deserve to have what you want. Life is too short to spend it with someone who does not share with you the perspectives that make up who you are.

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