Pillow Talk

It is not uncommon to hear people refer to love as spiritual, emotional, unconditional and so on. What people often fail to remember, however, is that love is educational.

I have had three loves in my life that I consider being significant.

My first was, well, my first. The girl on the track team with the pretty smile. She was the first woman I dated and she loved me in a way that many people dream of being loved. The problem was that we had a three-year age gap and were at what seemed like very different stages of our lives. And while she loved me relentlessly, I couldn't reciprocate the feeling, or at least not as intensely as she needed me to.

While this was the relationship that cruelly forced me to understand what it feels like to be loved by someone you cannot love back, this was also the relationship that taught me how to accept love from another person without fighting it.

My second love was nearly the opposite. What began as an unexplainable and exciting flame diminished in a matter of years, and I was left with nothing but heartbreak and resentment toward a man I never had any intention of hating. This man, no matter how hard I tried to convince him to, could not love me back in the way I needed. After being on the other side of the unrequited love story, this relationship was a slap in the face, but a lesson nonetheless. It taught me not to settle for the love someone is willing to give me instead of the love I deserve.

My third, and hopefully last, love was the icing on the cake of my lifelong love lesson. Finally, I experienced a love story that had balance and reciprocation. I had found someone who I could love so easily and who could reciprocate those feelings without me begging him to. But I didn't stop learning.

This third love put me to the test. Now I apply the lessons that my previous exes had taught me to a real-life, functioning relationship. Every day I am more aware of the way I am receiving and giving love. I take every small lesson I learned along the way in both my previous relationships to improve myself as a partner in my current relationship.

I know, love is the one thing we want to distance from our education, but doing so does a disservice to ourselves and our partners.

Each relationship, long or short-term, is an opportunity to grow and learn something.

If you let yourself forget that, you lessen the chances of your relationships succeeding in the future because you will continue to make the same mistakes.