Valentines Day: Perfectly Imperfect Love Stories
Alright people things are about to get real here on Valentines Day. As we all celebrate love today, I can't help but think about my own crazy and uncomfortable love journey this year. My boyfriend, Kevin, and I broke up in the spring of last year. At the time, we were both insanely busy, stressed and fighting our own battles which quickly led to our destruction as a couple. I was devastated, hurt and embarrassed. I felt like I had lost my perfect love story.
You know those people whose romances happen right on schedule? Two years of dating, a storybook wedding, 1.8 kids within five years and cute little house in the suburbs. For a long time, I was caught up in the idea that everyone else's relationship was perfect and it was just mine that hit road blocks and bumps. However, the more open I have been about my own relationship the more I heard the reality of all those perfect couples I had seen on Instagram. So today, some of my friends and I are sharing our own perfectly imperfect love stories. Not many of us have the perfect love story and it is often the challenges in relationships that help drive us to find out bliss.
So, after almost 7-months (and a lot of work on ourselves), Kevin and I have reconnected and today we are better than ever. I learned so much about myself during our time apart and although it was painful, I am so happy that we took time away from the relationship when we did. We have both grown so much and are better equipped to be successful long term.
Kevin is the best. He is hard working, generous, kind and forever the best dressed man in the room. He supports me in all of my wild adventures and continues to catch me when I fall. He balances me out and has helped me appreciate the finer things in life (like sleeping in, Premier League soccer and pizza). He doesn't like peanut butter so I know he isn't perfect but I now know he's perfect for me. I love you Kev!
Heather and Hunter
“Young couple meet in first year university, begin dating shortly thereafter only to pursue their relationship despite an ocean between them. Reunited after nearly 4 years apart, life ‘together’ would finally ensue back home in Toronto and end with a wedding a few years later.” Epic love story? Perhaps. Perfectly imperfect love story; definitely.
Fourteen years strong as a couple but not without it’s ups and downs. We both thought anything would be a breeze in comparison to long distance but no one can prepare you for the turbulence and chaos that comes with surgical residency; physically present but absent at the same time. A true test of any relationship and one’s own ability to be and remain patient, compassionate, open, supportive and independent all at the same time. Always having to explain to friends what being ‘on call’ actually meant and why my partner couldn’t be there was a constant reminder that the struggle was real. At times, I felt like the loneliest married person out there but conversely, we relished in spending time together when we got it. It was an important reminder that nothing that’s worth fighting for ever comes easy. It was also an important lesson that maintaining some level of independence in a relationship is important; it allowed me to continue to pursue my own dreams and professional passions and continuing to support my partner to do the same made us both have a sense of worth outside of our relationship.
When the tables eventually turned and my life and schedule became more chaotic, my partner was just as supportive and championed me to pursue my dreams. At the end of the day, relationships are all about give and take and each person needs to be there to help lift the other up when they need it. Although it was a test of character, I’d say we both came out better people on the other side and learned a whole lot about ourselves and our relationship in doing so.
One final lesson to be learned: go on vacation with each other- often! Nothing can replace that quality one on one time, especially when you have busy professional lives.
Jess and Mike
Mike and I went through a really hard time when we were completing our graduate studies at different universities. We rarely saw each other and eventually we started to fade apart. Our texts became shorter and shorter and our love began to fizzle. I felt lonely in my relationship. Eventually I started to seek attention from others, and started to get those butterflies you get when you meet someone new. I starting to think that the grass would be greener on the other side and once I realized what I was doing, I decided it was time to end my long-term, long-distance relationship. I wasn't happy. It wasn't fun anymore and it felt like we weren't even really together.
My boyfriend was heartbroken. The news took him by total surprise. He was so deep into his studies that he didn't even notice he wasn't paying any attention to me. I still loved him, but felt I wasn't in love with him anymore. This wasn't fair to either of us. After a long, teary-eyed discussion, we decided to give it one more try. We had an open conversation about what we liked and disliked about each other and we were brutally honest! ... not sure how it didn't end there haha ;)
He was going to try to be more spontaneous and I was going to stop worrying so much about how I looked (AKA - not take so long to get ready and have tantrums in the bathroom). We were both going to be more clear and upfront about our feelings (no more immature silent treatments) and we recognized that relationships take hard work, every single day. Since then, we have learned the importance of honesty and open communication in our relationship. We tell each other EVERYTHING. Without honest communication, we wouldn't be where we are today.
We've been together for 9 years now, married for 3 this summer and we've never been closer. I never look back and wonder if the grass would be greener, my side is perfect just the way it is.
Alena and Ryan
How do I even begin to describe how amazing my boyfriend is? And that's not me being a sappy girlfriend (if you know me, that's not really my style), but I truly mean it ... how did I get so lucky? In many ways, Ryan and I have a near perfect relationship - 'near' being the key word, nothing is perfect. We don't fight, we love each other unconditionally, he's my shoulder to cry on and my best friend - not to mention the guy can grow an epic and extremely handsome BEARD (*cue HEART EYES*).
Just over a year ago we hit a rough patch, actually I hit a rough patch. I was off doing my Masters in Ohio and it was a difficult transition being away from home again. I started to realize that as much as I loved having Ryan in my life, I didn't really know what life with just Alena was like. Do I love myself? Am I confident in myself? Who is Alena without Ryan? I freaked out a bit and something in my gut told me I needed some time to myself, just Alena time (bare with the third person for a second, it's almost over).
Ryan and I parted ways for several months. Even though it was ultimately my decision, it still hurt so much. It was a dark time but needed to happen for me to grow from it. Ryan came back into my life and I knew it would be forever from that point on. I had more clarity and confidence in our relationship and in myself. Ryan is truly an angel sent from God. If you're reading this Ry, thank you for showing me what true love feels like.
Hannah and Ben
The best thing Ben and I ever did for our relationship was break up. We started dating when we were eighteen, in school and still only partially formed humans. After three years, we said a tearful goodbye (he yelled a lot and I think I threatened to punch him in the neck) and took the next two years to grow up, meet new people, and figure out who we were. We had no idea we were going to end up together, so that time apart was difficult and often awkward because we shared a group of friends neither of us were willing to part with. We learned how to be friends, how to exist separately, before we came to the conclusion it would be more fun to exist together. Growth isn't linear, it's sloppy and unexpected. The confidence we both gained in ourselves and in each other over the years helps us to be each other's biggest cheerleader, toughest critic and best friend!
Happy Valentines Day Friends! Whether it be a partner, family or friend be sure to tell those you love how much you adore and appreciate them today and everyday (even if sometimes they drive you crazy!)