The lessons I’ve learned from the only 3 men I’ve ever loved: thank you

Love can not exist with out an exchange. When you love someone, you exchange different parts of who you are, without realization. And even when that love is lost, the pieces of your self remain with that person eternally. These pieces, these fragments, attach themselves and transform into viable life lessons.

I’ve loved a whopping three men in my entire life. And in essence … none of them chose to be with me. Depressing right? Meh not really.

I’ve dated more than three men, and spent way too much time in situations I had no business being in. I mean who hasn’t right? It’s a sign of the times as a millennial to make not so sound decisions from time to time.

Even though I’ve dated a plethora of gentlemen for various amounts of time, there are only three men I can say that I truly ever was honestly in love with. And it was three very distinct and different types of love, but love never the less. What does that even mean right? Does that mean I lied to every other man I may have said those words to?

Yes and no. At the time I thought what I felt was love. But 9/10 it was comfort I was feeling. Complacent comfort laced in fear of being alone because society says at my age I should have a partner. So I pushed my feelings and better judgement aside in order to step into this forced awkward hazy feeling I confused with being in “love”. But I knew better I always did. And each time the relationship came to a fizzled out anti climactic end, I knew it was inevitably because I was holding on to the loves I truly pined for.

The Lessons I’ve Learned From The Only 3 Men I’ve Ever Loved

The First Love: The first man I ever loved was a young love. It was a love based on selfishness. I was my best self around this person. I was an elevated version of my self and was in a constant search to always be better, to be smarter, to be healthier. When you love someone you hold in such high regard you pine for their attention and affirmation. You find yourself unable to simply take comfort in the fact that who you are is what got their attention in the first place.

This was the love I believed I wanted for the rest of my life. And in the end he chose to focus on bettering himself. (Rolls eyes, what a martyr right?) How could anyone be mad at the idea of putting themselves first and realizing you aren’t ready to be someone’s end game.

But at the time, all I could feel was devastation. I was frustrated and felt that I had put my best foot forward. It was one of the worst pains I could remember feeling, but every day the pain would slowly dwindle. Instead of lying on the floor in a mess of dramatics, I stood up. Not because I wanted to, but because I had no other choice.

The First Lesson: So what did I learn? I stated this love was based on selfishness. And it taught me that in essence sometimes you have to be selfish. You have to be selfish with your time, your heart, your spirit. You can’t just give it all away to everyone, because not everyone will know how to properly use it. My biggest mistake in this “relationship” was giving everything to everyone that wasn’t ready for it. It taught me to be wiser about who I give my time to, and who I give my love to. This love taught me that at the end of the day, you have to love yourself first, and the most. Which means you may end up having to disappoint others you care about.

The Second Love: I used to think this was my favorite love. This love however was based on lies and poorly kept secrets. Therefore it is no surprise that it crashed and burned in the same manner as the foundation it was built on. This type of love was the type you dream of. Soulmates. The love that when you look in their eyes you feel passionate, and excited. It was fun, there was a thrill. It was the love I internally fought for the hardest and longest. It was also the easiest to truly give up.

I’ve always been one to have fairly high self esteem. I think quite highly of myself very often. However this love, instilled a self doubt I had never felt/ faced before. I willingly attached my soul to a man that I wanted to build a “forever with”. But you can not build forever without communication and trust. I had never known I could love so hard, and mourn a lost love so long. I’m talking YEARS. Because I refused to face defeat. I didn’t want to give up because I thought this was everything I wanted and more. So I grit my teeth, and faced the clear signs with hazed eyes.

The Second Lesson: What did this second love teach me? Do not settle for what you think you deserve, demand more. There was another that came exceedingly close to creating the same feeling/sentiment which made me realize two things: 1) This love isn’t anything new. It is not unique or ideal. 2)This is a codependency that isn’t healthy or sustainable.  True love should never be hidden nor should it make you feel doubtful. Love and relationships are hard enough without the added bullshit, and constant self doubt.

The Third Love: When I think back to this love it is the one I look back on with the most fondness in my heart, as it is also the freshest wound to heal. This love was in the works for decades, so when it finally came to fruition it was the last love I ever wanted to feel. But that wasn’t the case.

I was beginning my career, I was beginning this blog. I was growing and changing every day. I was selfish, and self centered. And I was looking for a supportive cheerleader instead of a partner. My stubborn ways killed a relationship, and when given the opportunity to re-examine my mistakes I chose not to. That was a mistake I’d have to deal with for years.

The Third Lesson: Choose people who choose you. All of you. They accept who you are and they help make you better. I was regretful for many many many years when this love came to an end, because unlike the other two I blamed myself for this disastrous downfall. I was too busy, I was too unavailable, I was too “independent”. All things that are very much a part of who I am, but was willing to change for another chance.

But then I realized mistakes are choices. They may not be choices we like, but they are choices we have fully and consciously made. The outcomes of the choice may not have always been what we expected but it is still a choice. I believe in the power of choice. And I believe that when someone shows you who they are you either choose to see it or look the other way. This love taught me to choose to see things as they present themselves.

I say all of this just to say this (and I promise to try and avoid being cheesy)= whether it is fleeting love, lost love, or true love it will teach you many things. It will shape and mold how you see the world, and what you think about yourself and others around you. I am glad to have loved these three men as it taught me how I want to be loved and how to love the right way. And when I say the “right way” I mean the right way for me. There is no one way to love someone.  Each lesson helped me walk towards living my best life. And I am excited to continue learning.

Hey there! I’m Melissa, co-founder of Trials n Tresses, natural hair and beauty lover, binge tv watcher and lover of life. When I am not creating content for TNT, I’m busy teaching the future of society.