High school seniors are often described as immature and in-the-moment. But when I describe myself back then, it was self-aware and determined. I was known for knowing what I wanted. For having a plan. For going after my dreams.
At that point in time, dream number one was already in the works. I had signed the paperwork and I was on track to play D1 Tennis starting in August 2012.
I attribute dream number two to being a lifelong romantic. Though tennis was important to me, this dream meant more. Dream number two was true love and it was something I didn’t know if I would ever find. But Dec. 2, 2011 changed everything because on that day, I was introduced to a sweet, blonde-haired boy. It only took a week for said boy to ask me to be his girlfriend and it didn’t take much longer for my heart to start pounding inside of my chest. Had I met my perfect match? Was he my soulmate? Not yet. But if I was honest and open about my dream, there could be a chance that he would be my happily ever after. For me, there was only one way to find out…
Within the first two weeks of dating, I bluntly told Jeff “I am not dating just to date. I’m looking for the person I’m going to marry.” And I meant it. That didn’t mean I was willing and ready to get married tomorrow. Or able to commit myself to spending the rest of my life with a guy who I had met less than a month ago. But just like with my dream of playing college tennis, my dream of finding true love would take hard work and effort in order to be successful. It meant I would have to spend my time wisely.
When I told Jeff “I’m looking for the person I’m going to marry,” what I really meant was that if his intentions were to simply date me and have fun with no real interest in developing something deeper, then I wasn’t going to stick around. I was only willing to be in a relationship with someone who was fully invested. That meant two things: 1) getting to know everything about me on every level and 2) being open to experiencing everything with me. It also meant that fear of commitment couldn’t get in the way. My request was that he gave me everything he had. And if it wasn’t right, then so be it. But if it was, we wouldn’t have any doubt in our minds.
Flash forward to 2017. We dated for just over five years and got married this past January. I know a lot of people will question me and say, “At 17, you’re too young to be thinking about marriage,” or “High school and college relationships aren’t meant to last. They’re meant to teach you about yourself.” But I don’t buy it.
I truly believe that the reason Jeff and I made it through five years of dating without breaking up ONCE is because our foundation was set from the beginning. We weren’t thinking short term and limiting ourselves. We weren’t closing ourselves off due to fear. Instead, we saw the bigger picture and we allowed ourselves to go to the deepest depths of our soul. No subject was off limits and we were involved in each other’s lives to the fullest extent. Lucky enough, we walked down the altar with no doubt that our love was the real deal.
But say your story doesn’t follow the path that mine did. What if you go down this route and find out that your significant other isn’t the one for you after giving him or her everything you have? I have four words for you: At least you know!
Think of all the relationships that end out of fear; fear of being real with your significant other. Think of all the relationships that end with confusion; confusion over what could have been had you two taken the time to really delve deeper. If your relationship ends on that note, unanswered questions will burn inside your mind.
One thing that any married person knows is that making it to the altar takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of discussion. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of your soul. And it takes the realization that if you are going to stand before someone and commit yourself to them for the rest of your life, you’d better be sure it’s the right person.
When I told Jeff “I’m looking for the person I’m going to marry,” my goal was simple. To take the necessary steps to ensure that I ended up with the right person whether it was him or not.
I got my answer. And I hope you get yours.