What I Learned From Awful People

Let’s get this out of the way, this is entirely subjective. I’m sure to some people, those I’ve listed are great, or they have encountered the fleeting moment of kindness that they accidentally let through their stone cold hearts.

To be fair, not every interaction I have had with these people have been entirely awful. To assert that someone is past the point of redemption or entirely one sided is an inaccurate look at the complexities of the human experience.

That’s to say, I’m sure we have all been awful at one point or another.

For the sake of this story I’m focusing on the awful experiences, and how these moments shaped my outlook, how they may have hurt, but ultimately proved to be beneficial in the long run.

This is the first in the series.

My High School Boyfriend

Ah, young… infatuation? My high school boyfriend was the first serious relationship I had. No the boys I dated before for two months did not count, and to be fair I didn’t really even like them. No, this boy was different. What started out as milkshakes and sunsets turned into alcohol and late night sobbing on Skype. That would be him sobbing, not myself. We dated for about two years, slightly off and on. When high school ended, we decided to do long distance between our different colleges in the same state.

We broke up briefly freshman year of college because he wanted to date other people. Looking back, that’s what I wanted too, but I was clinging to anything that was familiar because of all the changes in my life that had happened recently. Little did I know he had been seeing someone at his college who he had been “studying with” for about three weeks before we broke up.

I was heartbroken, I sucked it up, I went on dates and then no less than two weeks later I got a text from him asking to meet up. This was supposed to be closure for the both of us, but ended up with him crying telling me he wanted me back. I did what any 19 year-old girl would do, I took him back. You may be shaking your head at me, and trust me I am too, but seeing that boy cry and be “vulnerable” made me think that things could be different.

Spoiler: they weren't.

He began to put his guilt of cheating onto me, and followed my every move. I would get a barrage of texts asking what I was doing, wanted to know when he could Skype me so we could talk, asking me not to hangout with any guys, etc. I went from trying to make something work and to appease someone who would cry incessantly on the phone to getting annoyed and refusing to answer any texts.

After I applied to transfer schools and got in, things felt different for me. Suddenly I realized that a change of pace wasn’t a bad thing, but chance to grow and become something more. When I refused to answer one of his phone calls one night, I received the usual two three more until I answered. I was in the car with my best friend when he told me he loved me over the phone. I could not say it back. “Why can’t you say it?” I remember his voice quivered as he started to cry. “I would rather talk about this in person,” I responded. He insisted I say everything right then and there on the phone. So, I broke up with him.

“I’m gonna take your picture out of my wallet, and I’m throwing it on the ground,” he cry yelled at me. Meanwhile, my best friend sat in the drivers seat with her head in her hands, shaking her head and trying not to laugh at the absurdity of this whole conversation.

It lasted approximately 30 minutes.

Relief flooded over me and I realized I no longer had to check in with him about every single detail of my day, and do everything I could to calm him down. It was a burden, it was unhealthy and I finally shook it off.

What I Learned

What didn’t I learn from this? I think just about everyone can look back at their first serious relationship as a major learning experience. I realized how I was to be treated. Not a commodity, but an actual human being. I learned that I was more than my body, I was more than being treated like something that could be thrown away, and I was certainly more than something to be manipulated. I also learned how I need to treat others. There needs to be a mutual underlining of respect in all relationships, regardless of what form they take, in order to be successful. He did not respect me, and I did not respect him. And from there on out, I realized that if that respect was not there, the relationship would not be successful. I saw that in future relationships which I will get into later, but definitely something that stood out for me.