Dating. The stepping stone to a long-lasting relationship, or is it? The term has been thrown around loosely for a long time and perceptions of the word vary from person to person. Not only will I be giving my opinion on this definition, but I will be telling some very personal stories about my best and worst relationships that affect how I date today.
What is a date? Some people define it as a means to meet and get to know someone that they would potentially want a long-term relationship with. Others define it as a precursor to a hookup. Personally, I am a relationship-oriented person, even though I have only had one in the last couple years, and it set me back farther than where I was. This is where my stories come in, which I will explain in a bit. However, to finish my thought, a date is something you do when you are interested in any sort of relationship. Living in Orlando, it’s hard to gauge what a date is when asked to go on one. Are they interested in me as a person, or are they just trying to get my pants off? Usually it’s the latter. For a long time, I gave up on relationships and just embraced it. For a long time, I thought that was all I was worth, just a good time. I was having a hard time getting over a relationship I‘d been in, and then I got into another one that became the biggest mistake of my life. Here are my stories…
In 2014, during the second semester of my sophomore year of college, I met a guy. He came to hang out and it wasn’t supposed to be anything serious, but we hit it off. A few weeks later we were in a relationship. I’d dated a bit before this, but nothing had ever lasted more than three months. I’d thought I was cursed. But with him, we got through three months, then four, then six, then eventually a year and a half. He was the first person and only person thus far that I can truly say I have ever loved. I still love him, just in a very different capacity. I take a lot of blame for our breakup, which is why I took it so hard. Nothing is harder than losing someone, knowing that it was your fault. After a few months I became that crazy jealous boyfriend. I texted him all the time, asked him where he was, didn’t trust him. He never gave me a reason not to trust him. It’s almost embarrassing how I acted, looking back on it. If I were him, I wouldn’t have stayed with me for half as long as he did. There were a few issues though on his part. He wasn’t out to his parents. It took about six months before I even met any of his friends, and I knew that I would never meet his parents. He also still lived with his parents, with no intentions of moving out, and he was 23 at the time. He was in the Army Reserve after just getting home from being stationed in Hawaii when I met him. During the summer of 2015 I took an internship in Ocean City, Maryland as a seasonal police officer. I was gone the whole summer. Around July, he called me and told me that things weren’t going to work out. He’d volunteered for a minimum nine-month deployment overseas. I cried for days. Why was this happening? Why then? What was I going to do? I thought he was the one. Looking back on it, as I said, I understand why he left, and I am glad he did. If I had stayed in that relationship, I never would have reflected and changed myself. I needed to calm the hell down and relax. I needed to trust people and not assume they were going to cheat on me every time they were out of sight. After that, I compared everyone I dated to what I had with him and found any excuse for a new relationship to not work. No one was good enough because no one was him. Then, after a year and a half, I met someone else, someone that ended up becoming the worst mistake of my life.
On New Year’s Eve I met another guy, a guy whose name I refuse to say still to this day and it’s been a year since I left him. When we met, we hit it off. He was nothing like the partner I’d had before, but I rolled with it. Not long after we met, we moved in together. It was more of a financial decision for us than a love thing. We figured even if it didn’t work out, we could still be cordial to each other or move out. After only about a month of living together, I just wasn’t having it anymore, but I stayed anyway. I stayed because I thought I was subconsciously comparing him to my ex and making excuses. I tried to fight through that. He made my life miserable the whole time. Everything we did had to be done together even if it was at home. I couldn’t go anywhere without him, and if I did, my phone would blow up. Even when I was working he would think I was out cheating and would blow my phone up. It reminded be a bit of how I acted towards my other ex, although I wasn’t THAT crazy. Around the end of April, I couldn’t take it anymore. I told him that I didn’t want to be with him any longer. He threw a fit and threatened to commit suicide. He was going through some other health issues as well. I stayed a bit longer. I also couldn’t afford to move out. I had no money. I had to live there, and he would not let me live there peacefully unless we were together. I played along while I hunted for apartments behind his back. I had to get out. Around the end of June, I tried to leave again. I started packing up my bags and just decided that I would find a place after I got my stuff packed in my car, but he was unpacking my things faster than I could pack them. I couldn’t do anything. When I tried to leave anyway, he barricaded himself in front of the door. I pushed him out of the way and left, but I knew I would have to come back. All of my belongings were there. When I returned, he was there. He apologized and said that he would calm down and he would accept that we weren’t together anymore and I could move out when I found a place. It was like a breath of fresh air. I still couldn’t stand him, but I at least played his game to keep the peace. Mid-July I found somewhere. We were in the car, and I told him I was leaving. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Do you like your job?” I was confused by the question. He continued, “I will make sure you lose your job if you leave. I will call the police and tell them that you beat me.” I thought he was bluffing. I knew he had a doctor’s appointment that day, and so I told him that I would stay. He went to his doctor’s appointment, which was in Tampa, and I took my opportunity. But he beat me to it. He wasn’t bluffing. While I was packing my car, a police officer showed up. My ex had called the police anyway and accused me of domestic abuse. I gave the police officer my side of the story. He was very nice and knew that my ex was lying, but he had to file a report anyway. When I left, my ex also filed a restraining order on me, and since he didn’t know where I was living, he sent it to my work. I played it off that it had to do with something else. Luckily, I didn’t have to explain it any further. But now I was gone. I was out. I made it. But now I have a domestic violence accusation on my record, forever, when I didn’t even do anything. All you need to do is say that someone did something, and you can mess up their entire life, especially the life of a criminal justice major. In December 2017, I applied to the Winter Garden Police Department. I blew their written test out of the water and almost beat the record for their physical test. I was a shoe-in. I filled out the long and excruciating eighty-page application. I was honest, knowing that they would see that on my record. The recruiter called me and said that he pulled the report and could clearly see it was a false accusation, that nothing had happened. There was no question. HOWEVER, the department has an automatic disqualifier for anything related to domestic violence. ANYTHING. But he still sent it through. He believed in me. He knew I was a great fit for the department, especially with my policing experience. He said they may overlook it since it’s legit nothing. I got a call back about a week later. They didn’t accept my application because of that one thing. That one false accusation basically flushed my degree, four years of hard work, and my 3.8 GPA down the toilet. I knew the moment he said it that I would never get a job in my field ever again. My ex knew that too when he did it. He purposely ruined the future I had worked for my entire life because I didn’t want to be with him. I’d never done drugs, never even tried any, I rarely drank before I was 21, I stayed out of trouble, I had a squeaky-clean platform to build my career on, but all someone had to do was say I’d done something.
That experience deterred me from dating for a long time. I didn’t have time to go through another crazy relationship. I was too busy picking up the pieces of my career, my dreams, and failing to glue them back together. I eventually came to terms with it. Now I’m focusing on writing and getting my book published and starting this blog. I’m working on building a different career. At first, I didn’t want a relationship until I got there. Now I think I’m ready to find someone to join me on the adventure.
So what is dating? It’s an experience. It’s a moment in life that gets you ready for the next step. Whether it works out with that specific person or not, it gets you ready for what is to come. It lets you find yourself. It allows you to realize what you like and don’t like. It makes you a stronger person. If you go through a bad dating experience like I have, just remember that everything happens for a reason. I tell myself today that I wasn’t meant to be a police officer. I’m destined to write and share my stories with the world. Don’t get discouraged and never, EVER, settle.
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Hasta La Pasta,