‘We weren’t in a relationship, but he changed me forever.’
Words by Tegan Morgan.
Growing up, I promised myself that “no boy would ever change me.”
It was decided. I wouldn’t let a boy change my plans, hold off a career or affect my friendships. I had seen it happen all too often; hard-working gals with the world at their feet put their life on the back-burner to be with a guy.
“You do these things for love,” they would say, but all too often, I saw it result in shattered hearts, missed opportunities and broken friendships.
I would not be one of those girls.
I was 22 by the time I found a boy who liked me enough to, you know, hang out sometimes. My first relationship wasn’t even a real ‘relationship’. There were strictly no labels, since “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” came with connotations of dinner dates, movies and awkward family Christmases.
But whatever it was, and whatever you want to call it, it changed me. And I didn’t even realise until it was too late.
It started out as a friendship which blossomed over drunken D&Ms about an insignificant crush I had and an ex-girlfriend he still loved. As months passed, the drunken D&Ms turned into awkward drunken hookups. Soon enough, our drunken nights out turned into sober nights in.
And that’s when I realised the only boy I was crushing on was him.
It took me by surprise. I wasn’t looking for it, and if I was perfectly honest, I didn’t really want a ‘relationship’ at that point in my life. I knew I was moving away in a few short months and I couldn’t bare the thought of breaking someone else’s heart for the sake of a fleeting romance. But we decided that it was a risk worth taking. We went into it knowing we would probably never last, but hoping to enjoy it anyway.
Besides, I was fine with casual… right? I don’t cry in the first two minutes of The Notebook, so clearly I was a heartless bitch capable of playing it casual, right? RIGHT? RIGHT?!
During our short time together, I fell in love with being in a (not)relationship. I grew so much and changed for the better. I was confident. I was relaxed. And I was so, so happy.
He told me I was beautiful and I believed him. He told me I could do anything I set my mind to and I did. He smiled and I melted.
I got comfortable with having someone around to ask about my day or watch late night TV with. I got comfortable with good morning texts and late night escapades. I got comfortable with being in a (not)relationship.
Getting comfortable was my only mistake.
If I wasn’t so comfortable, I wouldn’t have dismissed all the times I thought something was wrong. I wouldn’t have made excuses for the empty promises and lonely nights. I wouldn’t have let myself be anything but a priority to him.
But, the truth was, I just wasn’t a priority any more.
It was over after only a couple of months. But the real kicker was what come after that. The sleepless nights replaying every moment, trying to work out where it all went wrong. The lonely days writing blog posts and fighting off thoughts of getting back together.
I honestly had no idea how long it would take me to get over something that wasn’t even a ‘relationship’. Like all 20-something girls, I just assumed Sex and The City was every young woman’s Bible and that Charlotte’s rule of “It takes half the amount of time a relationship lasts to get over an ex” was Gospel.
Half of two months of a (not)relationship equals one month. BUT – minus another half for the fact that it wasn’t a ‘relationship’… Aaaand you’re left with… Ah. Good. Two weeks to move on. Max.
Many months later, I was still pining over what I had lost; wondering if he missed me too. Until one night, I realised I wasn’t missing him at all. I was no longer attracted to him. I didn’t want to follow him home to meet his family, let alone follow him across the countryside. Of course, I still treasured our time we spent together but I just didn’t miss him any more.
What I missed was intimacy.
I missed being close to someone. I missed telling someone my inner-most thoughts and feelings without judgement or fear. I missed someone being there for me when I was down or celebrating with me when I was happy. And I missed being someone else’s number one, as well.
I missed being a team. I missed having someone who believed in me more than I believed in myself; someone who stood up for me when I had been backed into a corner, someone who told me that everything would be ok. I missed having someone who was there for me when I was feeling overwhelmed or upset, someone who supported me through thick and thin.
I missed who I was when I was with him. Confident, relaxed and oh-so-happy. I had never been so completely content as I was when I was with him. I had never been so confident within myself. I was just an all-round better person when I was in a (not)relationship.
But most of all, I missed being happily single. I missed being blissfully ignorant of just how much I freaking loved sharing my life with someone. I didn’t know what I was missing until I had it, how full my life was with someone else in it. And how empty it was to be alone.
My first (not)relationship had changed me. It hadn’t broke my heart or shattered my dreams, but it had given me a new identity – one that I loved and hated all at once. It was like an episode of: Tegan, The Girlfriend.
Now, let’s be clear, I was not his “girlfriend” (no labels, remember), but I loved the person I had become when I was with him. Tegan, The Girlfriend was one cool, empowered, wholesome chick. But I hated that this new side of me had bloomed as the result of a (not)relationship. Why couldn’t I have found it on an island retreat or during one of my many long showers, pondering life’s big questions? I resented the fact that he was the reason for the new, inspired me. I resented the fact that he gave me a reason for my happiness, because it meant that he could just as easily take it all away.
So, when he did leave, I felt like I was a balloon that had been inflated to my full potential, only to be let down into nothing more than a withered sack of air.
I knew what it was like to feel inflated, full and loved. I knew what it was like to take a leap of faith, knowing I could get blown into the stratosphere, or I could be caught by someone who didn’t want to let me get away. I knew what it was like be tied to someone’s wrist and shown off to all of his friends. I knew what it was like to show off my pink and purple polka dots with absolute confidence that someone would take me home. I knew my potential as a bright and beautiful balloon. Why would I want to be anything else?
Whether I liked it or not, my first (not)relationship had well and truly changed me.
I had lost my GLIMMERY SINGLE GIRL POWER SPARKLE.
It was all gone.
Because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the happiness I once had being single, when I knew what I was missing out on. I liked Tegan, The Girlfriend. I liked her a lot.
But now all that remained were the remnants of a faded old balloon.
Tegan Morgan is a 22-year-old writer and teacher (what a talented go-getter she is). If you’d like to keep up to date with her life (and I highly, highly recommend you do) follow her personal blog ‘Fifty2Fridays’ here or here. Do it. Now.
Oh, and you can find another piece Tegan wrote for T2D right this way.