If this young twenty-something female could send advice to herself in the past, this is what she’d say…
We need to talk about that awesome guy you’re seeing. I know you think you love him and in a way you do, but it’s not a forever kind of love. Not yet anyway. Maybe someday it could be—but only if you make better choices than I did.
Believe me, I know how romantic Brandon can be. He’s sweet. He’s kind. And so hot. His kisses are like a drug you can’t get enough of. He tells you all the time he loves you. And you believe him. You can’t imagine life without him. What you can imagine—and you think about every day—is the two of you together through high school and a wedding somewhere down the road. That’s what you want to happen so that’s what you tell yourself will happen.
Nailed it so far, haven’t I?
Even now as I write this, I remember how his strong arms felt around me. How his embrace made me feel safe, warm, protected. The memories are incredibly vivid and somehow, both amazing and gut-wrenching in the very same moment.
I loved being his girlfriend.
That’s why I ignored the red flags—huge, deep red, banner-sized flags—flapping all around us. When the kissing turned into marathon make-out sessions. When we couldn’t wait for the privacy of an empty house. When clothes started coming off.
Oh, we agreed not to have sex. Because we knew GOD created sex for marriage. We’d heard it all our lives. Still, we inched along on that slippery slope of how-close-can-we-get-without-going-all-the-way, desperately clinging to the myth that our agreement to “not do it” would protect us.
Guess what? It didn’t. One night it just happened. For days, we made up excuses, the most convincing being that because we loved each other, it wasn’t that big of an “uh oh”. In fact, since we were committed to each other and would, you know, probably get married someday, it was actually okay. So we kept doing it. Every chance we got.
Pretty soon, sneaking around to have sex consumed us. Of course, we couldn’t let our parents find out. They’d never ever approve and would be so disappointed in us. Even our friends—most of them active in the church youth group like us—wouldn’t understand. So we hid the truth from everyone—except GOD. Oh, we’d have kept it from him, too, if we could have.
The guilt and the sneaking around really got to me, and I wanted us to stop. “What would be the point of that?” he said. But every time I looked my mom in the eye or walked into church or pretended to our friend that we were “waiting”, I felt like such a hypocrite. I stopped praying because Brandon’s “what would be the point of that?” reasoning seemed to fit there, too.
All the guilt and pretending took a huge toll. Things between us changed—and not for the better. Our relationship unraveled before our eyes. Nothing we did helped. And then the unthinkable happened. He walked away. “We’re not the same people we used to be,” he said. I certainly couldn’t argue with that.
I thought my life was over. We were supposed to get married. We HAD to get married because we’d already had sex.
Shame overwhelmed me. I tried to put it all behind me and move on with my life. But the hole in my heart refused to close.
We totally went our separate ways. It was better that way. Even passing him in the hall sliced into my already bleeding heart. No one understood why we couldn’t just be friends. I couldn’t tell them we’d moved way beyond what a high school dating relationship was supposed to be.
When I dared to look at him, his eyes reflected the same deep hurt I was trying to escape. And I was strangely relieved. If I was hurting this much, he’d better be hurting too. Real mature, I know.
I tried to fill the emptiness by fooling around with a lot of other guys. Kind of an “I’ll-show-him” crazy, revenge-like attitude. I didn’t sleep with any of them though. I’d already given all of me to someone, and he’d walked away. I tried to hate him, but nothing could purge the memories of him from my mind or heart. High school ended and college took us to Christian schools in different parts of the state. Maybe now I can forget him.
I met some incredible girls my freshman year, and finally, I opened up about my past. Two of the girls had suffered through similar experiences. They helped me realize that sex had bonded Brandon and me in such a deep, profound way because that’s what sex is supposed to do. We’d been cemented together then ripped apart. No wonder it had hurt so much.
I saw him the other day—we were both home on Christmas break—less than six month from graduation. Our eyes connected across the street for a long moment before I pulled my gaze away. A few seconds later when I couldn’t help but look back, his blue eyes met mine, and my scarred heart skipped a couple beats. He offered a brief wave and a hesitant smile—that same heart-stopping smile that still haunted my dreams.
I waved back, blinking against the hot tears instantly stinging my eyes. Something in the way his gaze lingered set my pulse racing. His pace slowed, and he glanced at the crowd on the corner waiting to cross the street. His eyes found mine again as the light turned and the crowd lurched into motion, with him bringing up the rear.
My slow shuffle ground to a halt. All these years, I’d desperately clung to a sliver of hope that someday we’d get a second chance. Did he want the same thing? A vise squeezed my chest, breathing was almost impossible.
Someone clapped him on the back, drawing his full attention for too many endless moments. His head whipped my way one last time, and his raised hand paused in an uncertain waving gesture. On tiptoe I waved until the distance between us—and his attention-seeking friend—forced him to turn away.
That sputtering spark of hope instantly fanned into a strong flame. We can try again—give our relationship another shot. It will be different this time.
Oh, please, can’t we just try again? I promise it will be different. We will be smarter and not complicate things with sex. Anything even close to sex will be off the table. Completely. If we get a second chance, we’ll do it right.
I trudge home as a light snow dusts my coat with white crystals. Will he call? Should I call? Oh, GOD, remove this longing to be with him if there’s no chance of us being together.
There’s still time for you to make better choices than I did. Please, give this awesome relationship the chance it deserves.
You at 21
Could this be you? A guy or a girl in a relationship that’s heading down the wrong path. Take control of the situation now and make choices that will protect your heart, your mind, your future.
Maybe your past left you wondering what might have been. Learn from the past. Do not repeat the mistakes of the past. You and your future are worth fighting for.
Read the guy’s perspective here… “I never meant to hurt you. I never stopped thinking about you…”
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