I had to stop thinking I'd been hurt by love in order to find it again

Aug 18, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Image: Grafvision/Getty Images

The other evening, I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine and we were discussing the last guy she had dated. She didn't understand how someone "so wonderful" had "hurt her." Despite the numerous dates he took her on and the amazing words he said, out of the blue one day, he dropped her. He was her dream guy — they were into the same things, had similar lifestyles and their aspirations were along the same lines. None of it made sense. She had decided she was done with dating and stated, "I'm done getting hurt."

I thought of how many times I’d told myself, "I'm done getting hurt; I'm done with love." I mean, just open up a diary of mine from when I was 15 years old.

I've been lucky enough to be in great relationships, but I’ve had my fair share of bad ones — from the guy who said he could see us going somewhere to the guy being upfront and saying he didn't want it to go anywhere but kept coming back. I realize now they all had one thing in common: I had an "image" of what I wanted them to be. When none of them lived up to it and I saw them for what they were, I claimed my love life hurt me — but that wasn’t true. What had really happened was they didn't live up to my needs, and therefore, I was disappointed.

As I grow into my adult years, I've learned that people can be misleading. They can hurt you. They can tell you one thing and do the other. Sometimes when I start to really like a person, I don't see his true colors. I focus on what feeds my need and what goes with my vision rather than taking the person for all that he is. When they don't match up, I tell myself that they’ve "hurt" me.

But the fact of the matter is, no one can live up to anyone's imagination. No one can live up to someone else's ideals of what perfection is. At the end of the day, all you need is someone who loves you perfectly. Now, I try to remind myself that when I am hurt and disappointed or when my rose-colored glasses were shattered by reality, I haven’t failed. When I have "loved," I have not "lost." It’s just called “living.”

Here’s what I think: Maybe we aren't hurt by love, but rather, we are disappointed that things don't turn out the way we think they are supposed to.

Really, when someone left me, they weren’t really hurting me. They were relieving me because they weren’t what I needed. When they left, they made room for someone even better for me.