“You’re basically married!” is a phrase I get a lot when I tell people how long I’ve been with my boyfriend, or add that we’ve lived together for most of our relationship. “Why would you want that at 22?!” is typically a pretty common follow-up question that I choose to ignore. Comments like this used to get under my skin, and out of nowhere, I would find myself contemplating my unwavering and loving relationship, to no fault of either of us. Suddenly, I would question why I’m not living up being single in New York, even though all I wanted was to curl up with my love. The more I contemplated, though, the more I realized no one knew just how lucky I was to have him in my life and no one could seem to even guess how much he had done for me. From the outside, I can see how it might seem like I don’t do anything without him, but the fact of the matter is, he makes most things possible for me.
My boyfriend has been there through a lot for me, many events my friends don’t even know happened. He was there when I went to the hospital with a migraine that was causing me to throw up nonstop. He was there to comfort me when I told him I was harassed on the subway. He was there to comfort me EVERY TIME I told him I was harassed on the subway. He was there, holding my hair, every time my anxiety became so unbearable. He was there to hold me when I recalled my sexual assault. He was there each time I hated a therapist or psychologist. He was there when I was told I needed knee surgery again. He was there when… I do anything.
Yes, by all means, a friend can be there for you, too, but is it so bad that my person of choice is my boyfriend? In each of the moments above, my boyfriend has been the rock I needed to keep myself up, the ear I needed to hear every single feeling I had, and the voice I needed to talk me off the ledge and bring me back to earth. That relationship, be it friendship or romantic, is an incredibly unique one that’s meant to be cherished. Why was I letting people outside of that relationship comment on it, and why the fuck was I letting their comments get to me?
Right now, the general attitude of girls my age is to have fun and focus on their careers, and men have taken a serious backseat. I often attribute this attitude to being so confused about my relationship because I was that girl when I met him. About two months prior to meeting my boyfriend, I had officially sworn off men and to instead focus on myself. I literally said, “Fuck men,” and started living for me. Then I met him. At first, we were simply having fun, but I realized pretty quickly that I was falling fast and hard. I kept living for me, but now I was living for me with someone else and I loved every second. I never once questioned the nature of our relationship until someone said something to me.
The primary concern that gets expressed when I talk to people my age about long-term relationships is the lack of freedom. I am here to say in the right relationship, in the relationship where someone can be your rock and your support, you will never have a lack of freedom. My boyfriend has pushed me to go after and take opportunities I never would have on my own. Without him, I never would have applied to my first internship because I didn’t think I was good enough. In fact, he’s pushed me to do tons of things I wouldn’t do because I thought I wasn’t good enough. He is the only thing in my life that I know and feel I am good enough for, and his support has meant the world to me. The bond we have is special, so sure, say I’ve settled down at 22, but at least say it like you’re happy for me… because I am.
Feature image via Emma Craft