My last boyfriend was 10 years my junior, and I thought it my job to spare him 10 years worth of mistakes by telling him what to do all the time. As you can imagine, he got tired of that and left me. Reflecting back, I learned that just like with your own teenagers, you have to let people have their own learning experiences—no matter your good intentions. Today I’m a lot less controlling as a result.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, we asked some locals to share their most important lessons learned from love lost, too.
Ivy Vanessa Yapelli was divorced with kids by her mid-20s, and looking to rebuild her nest. The new man was all the things her ex-husband wasn’t; kind, funny and social. He was also impulsive and financially irresponsible. He could “spend $400 treating a group of friends to a night out of clubbing the day before rent was due. I ignored this because he made me laugh and I loved how much he loved me.” The relationship ended tumultuously a year later. Said Ivy, “you can’t make someone be ready for something they’re just not ready for yet.” She took that understanding with her when searching for her current husband.
Nicaury Bello recalled a past relationship she described as “one of the best I’ve had.” This man was communicative and expressive. He thought it best to discuss problems immediately. She would retreat. “I was not used to talking about uncomfortable situations with my partner.” After they parted, Nicaury realized “isolating myself, closing myself off, does not lead anywhere.” She now finds herself more relaxed in a moment of conflict “and I can try to find a solution before it becomes a bigger problem.”
Paul Cameron dated a woman whose returned affection was inconsistent. “I was feeling insecure in the relationship, so I proposed to my lady to keep her.” Eighteen months later, he found being engaged did not manufacture the emotional surety he craved, and they broke it off. Instead of remembering the relationship as failed, “I learned that sometimes love can be seasonal. Everyone can’t do like my grandparents and be together for over 50 years. Sometimes...a few years is all that was meant to be.”
Dino Clay once dated a woman who said he was robotic about his emotions, and that it was uncomfortable for her to not know how he felt.
After they split, said Dino, “I tried looking at myself from what I perceived was her position and discovered that yeah, I was rather an emotional recluse.” Today Dino is consciously more transparent about what he’s feeling. He says he’s not afraid to “wear my emotions on my sleeve”—but in a manly way, of course.
*Related read: Second chance at love stories
Story topics: Community