One year ago today, March 8th 2017, my first real romantic relationship ended. So I thought it would be appropriate to write the story of our relationship.
Matthew R. was my first real boyfriend. (The three boys that fought over me in first grade don’t count.)
Our story started back in 2014, when he started going to my church. He didn’t go to church on Sundays very regularly, but he did go on the youth group trips. Spring break 2014, we both went on the trip to Lone Tree, New Mexico. It was a ten hour drive. Matthew, our friend Jamie, and I were all in the same van, second row from the front. I quickly developed a crush on him.
I think I fell for him so quick because I was 14 and hadn’t really talked to a boy outside of my family since I was 10. Going to an all girls school will make you kind of boy crazy. But I also just really liked talking to him. He was funny and had an amazing smile. He also knew a lot of random facts and had interesting opinions. At least, so it seemed at the time. Needless to say, it was a fun ten hours.
We ran into each other several times at the camp. We went horseback riding at the same time and went shooting as well. We never ate any meals at the same table, but I always looked for him and hoped he would sit with me.
I remember on the way back from camp I pretended to take a nap just to try to get closer to him. It was me, Jamie, and then Matthew, so I put my pillow in Jamie’s lap. I laid my arms under my head just so that my fingers would brush Matthew’s arm. Being the gentleman he is, he moved his arm.
Fast forward about a year to the spring of my sophomore year. Matthew was at Sunday school for the first time in weeks, if not months. We sat on the couches and just talked. I decided I wanted to talk him more, and texted him that afternoon.
I tried to be strategic with my texting by not sending more than two texts in a row before he replied and other stupid things like that. I also tried to flirt, but I think it just came off as really awkward compliments. I texted him in class, even when the teacher was talking. That is something that I had never done before or have since, except for with my mom. I’ll text her in class, but not when the teacher is talking. Anyway.
I remember the day I accidentally on purpose told confessed my feelings to Matthew. It was early May. The youth group was having movie night in the summit, and I had gone with my friend Layla.
Lets talk about Layla for a moment. She shipped Matthew and me hard. For those who don’t understand what that means, let me translate: Layla really wanted Matthew and me to be a couple. She had this whole story where we would get married and she would be my maid of honor and eventually our millions of kids would save the world. Layla even went so far as to ‘steal’ my phone to call him. We called at the worst time though, as he was having a meeting with a teacher. Yeah. Awkward. And speaking of awkward…
Movie night. The Summit. Early May. Layla was telling everyone that Matthew and I were a couple, and I was going behind her and telling everyone she was lying. When the movie, Big Hero 6, started I texted Matthew and told him what had happened. I don’t remember the exact words, but I essentially accidently said that I did want to date, and he said that we should be friends for a little bit longer.
A few weeks later, I believe it was May 22 or 23, I was at his house to watch Doctor Who. You see, it had come out in one of our text conversations that he had only seen part of one episode of Doctor Who. I was like oh no, if this is gonna work out he is going to have to watch Doctor Who! So my parents drove me to his home. They went in with me to meet his family.
After the introductions, our parents sat at the dining room table. Me being the awkward little potato I am, I followed them. Matthew stood in the kitchen. Our parents talked and talked, and I stared at the table. Then something terrible happened. Somehow the topic turned to irritable bowl syndrome, or IBS. At my house we joke about IBS, because it was something my mother used to suffer from. I just heard IBS and started laughing. Everyone stared at me. I stopped laughing. I offered no explanation. That moment haunted me for six months straight and sometimes I still cringe today, I am not joking.
Soon after that disaster Matthew and I just started watching Doctor Who. He sat on one couch and I sat on the other. We ate pizza for lunch. He liked the show and took to pointing out all the plot holes and inconsistencies in the backgrounds.
The next time we hung out after that was my sweet sixteen the next month. I had invited Matthew and three other friends from school to go to the mall. That was a lot of fun. We walked from store to store, just browsing and talking. I asked one of my friends to ask Matthew is he liked me, but my friend was so shy and awkward to ask him. Another friend said that she was pretty sure he liked me though. We went back to my house once we were done shopping for ice cream and cake. I asked my youngest sister to ask Matthew to read her a story, because I wanted to see how he was with little kids. My sister asked a different friend to read the book. The friend she asked was a great story teller though!
That summer we texted every single day. I made an effort to always text goodnight, even if hadn’t talked since lunch time. I remember one week that he was away on a youth trip. When they arrived at the camp they were told to tell everyone they talk to regularly that they would not have phones for the next week. I was in bed when I got the call. I did not answer at first, but I did check my voicemail after several minutes of panicked thoughts. I don’t remember exactly what they were though. The voicemail Matthew had left was really bad. I could not understand a single word of what he had said. So that week I have no idea why he was not texting me. But I still texted him good night and that I hoped he had a good day every single night. I might have also texted him good morning as well.
At some point we stopped writing out good night and good morning, opting for emojis instead. I don’t remember when this started, only that it was before we started dating and he was the one who started it. Instead of sending good night he sent the angel emoji and the night emoji. A few days after that I started doing the same thing in the mornings. Angel emoji sunrise emoji.
I listened to a lot of Shawn Mendes music during this time. I still associate his music with falling in love.
The second time we hung out in person that summer was on August third. We went to the pool. He didn’t wear a shirt and I didn’t wear my glasses so I couldn’t admire the sight. In the pool my brother, Matthew and I played a lot of games together. We would throw diving toys and race to see who could collect this most and we would splash each other. Matthew always won those games. He was the fastest swimmer and could make the biggest splashes. I, on the other hand, would try to splash with my eyes closed so he would just swim away while I was feebly splashing around.
After swimming we went back to my house. We watched a movie, but I don’t remember what it was. We sat next to each other, knees and arms barely touching. That’s when I decided I wanted to tell him how I felt.
When he went home that, I had not told him. So I made up my mind to tell him the next day.
It was evening on Tuesday, August fourth. My parents had gone to the store. My siblings were playing Nintendoland in the living room. I was in the living room with them, sort of playing, mostly texting. I told him that there was something I had meant to tell him the day before.
‘What did you want to tell me?’
‘I like you.’
‘As in, like like?’
‘Let’s talk on the phone.’
‘No! I’m too nervous, I would be able to speak!’
‘Okay, we can text’
Or something to that effect. I kind of made him ask me to be his girlfriend after that. 7:04 pm was the exact time we became an official couple. When my parents came home, I ran out to the car.
‘Looks like Daddy is going to need a shotgun after all.’
‘Matthew and I are officially dating now.’
I tried to be cool about it, but I was actually just bursting with happiness and excitement. The next few days we texted about the logistics of our relationship. Who would we tell and when? How are we going to act at church? How are dates going to happen? I told my parents the same night, he told his the next day. At church we wouldn’t announce it or anything, but we also wouldn’t hide it. We would try to hang out every weekend, alternating houses. We also started talking on the phone every single night.
Talking on the phone was really awkward at first, but we soon fell into a rhythm. I would ask him how his day went, we would talk about that for a bit, then I would talk about my day for a while, then silence. I would try to keep the conversation going, but it was hard. He never really gave long answers or asked me a lot of questions. He also always played games while we were on the phone. I told him that I did not like that, but he still did it. I would rush to finish my homework so we could talk, and how does he repay me? By playing Xbox with his friends! If I really needed to talk to him I would tell him to turn his games off, but I only did that maybe two or three times our entire relationship. I did not want to be the controlling, jealous girlfriend. I wanted him to show me that he loved me by paying attention to me.
It wasn’t all bad though. He really was a gentleman. He always held doors open for me and he would help me do the dishes when we were at my house. When we were on the phone he made sure we hung up by 9 or 10 pm so that I could go to bed. I liked those sweet gestures, but the chivalry also kind of annoyed me. Most of the Saturdays we spent together my parents would leave us to babysit while they ran errands. When they came back with groceries, Matthew wouldn’t let me carry in any heavy bags. I did not like that because I wanted to help, my parents raised me to help with everything I could. I also made an effort to get to doors before him so that I could open them myself. Now that annoyed him, because he was raised to always open doors for others. We did talk about these pet peeves, but nothing ever changed. He never changed.
Let’s talk about something happier, like the first date where we actually snuggled. I believe it was a Sunday. Matthew’s grandmother had driven him to church that day, as his parents were out of town. After church we went to Luby’s for lunch, and WalMart to rent a movie from RedBox. We got Home, a very cute movie about purple aliens. We sat on the couch together during the movie. There is one scene where the song Cannonball by Kiesza played. During that song, he put his arm around me, and I laid my head on his chest. I was very comfortable and eventually wrote a poem about that moment. I made Matthew write half of it too. He said he didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the movie, which is a shame. Home is a really cute movie.
Another first would be our first kiss, which was actually the result of a bet/challenge. If I could watch 3 animes in 3 weeks, he would kiss me. I beat the challenge, of course. That weekend we were at his house. We were watching The Maze Runner movie, since he had loved the book series. There was a good chunk of the movie that neither of us paid attention to because we were both waiting for the other to make the move. After I don’t know how long he finally turned my head towards him and we kissed.
Yet another first is our first hug. There was one Sunday after church when he went to hug me goodbye, but I didn’t get the cue and I ran off to get my siblings from their classes. The next weekend my mom made me give him a hug.
I just want take a moment to talk about my mom. She is my best friend and I went to her for all of my relationship advice. She didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, she told me the truth. She always reminded me that most high school romances don’t last. That constant reminder really weighed on my heart. I later realized that was because it was true. On several occasions I made Matthew promise to never let me go, to never leave me. He always promised that we would stay together. Biggest. Lie. Ever.
Guys, there was one time when his dad told him he had to choose between me and his games. He called me in tears. He was sobbing because he might have to give up his games. At least he chose me over the games, but still! It shouldn’t be that hard to give up an Xbox over your girlfriend! I kind of kept assuring him it would be okay, but I was kind of annoyed too. Don’t tell me you love me and then cry when you have to chose me over stupid video games. That reminds me…
The first time we said I love you was at my house. We were watching Supernatural. I was in my desk chair, he was in another chair right next to me. I was leaning against him so our temples were pressed together. I kind of just blurted out I love you. After what felt like an eternity, he said I love you, too. That was a sweet moment. After that there was no hesitation to tell each other I love you.
He also never hesitated to compliment me. He always made me feel beautiful, no matter what I was wearing or how much I weighed.
We watched a lot of TV together. While he was catching up on Doctor Who we watched whatever episode he was on, then we watched that week’s episode when he was all caught up. Then he watched Supernatural up to the point I was at, and we started watching that together. I tried to get him into Sherlock, but that never really worked out. We also watched kid movies with my siblings.
We watched a lot of Netflix because we didn’t really have a lot to talk about. I always worked hard to keep conversations going, but he did not. I did like just watching TV with him, but I also wanted to have meaningful conversations.
There was one weekend when we were both sick at home, so we were talking on the phone. I found a list of 1,000 questions to ask your boyfriend. It took us two and a half days to get through all of the questions. In all of that time, we never had a deep conversation. It was all really superficial and simple. Which is fine… sometimes. Definitely not all the time. I would always try to have real conversations with him, but he never tried. For all that he said, he never showed me his love in any real manner.
Not that he didn’t show his love at all. He got me knitting needles and a thing to hold them in for Christmas. He got me a mini red rose bush and a box of chocolates for Valentines day. One time he went to an anime con wit his friends, and he texted me to ask permission to go into a maid cafe for lunch. A maid cafe is a Japanese restaurant where the waitresses wear little maid costumes. I said I wasn’t comfortable with him going there, and he set about finding somewhere else to eat. His friend then told me that the maid cafe was the cheapest option for food, and I let him go. But Matthew didn’t even mention the money. If he had I never would have said no, because I understand money problems, trust me. And it turned out that there were only waiters, all in tuxedos. So it was all good.
Some really good times were when we hung out with my friends from school. We had a Yule ball around Christmas time where we ate Harry Potter themed food and played Truth or Dare. Another time we played Sardines and Superfight and watched YouTube videos. On Halloween we all dressed up and went trick-or-treating with my siblings around my neighborhood. Matthew started this thing where whenever one of our friends wasn’t looking he would put his arm around me, and when she saw she would go ‘No touching!’ and he would wait until she looked away to put his arm back. He was Batman and I was Catwoman.
Matthew would also occasionally sing to me. I remember one night specifically when we were driving back from my grandmother’s house. I was resting my head on his shoulder, and he stroked my hair and quietly sang ‘I can’t help falling in love with you.’ I added that song to my ‘Our Songs <3’ playlist on Spotify the next day. Yes, we had a playlist of songs that either reminded us of each other or did a good job of explaining our feelings. Most of the songs were from him to me.
In the meantime, I was writing actual love letters. For his birthday and valentine’s day I drew little stick figures of us and hand wrote one page love letters. I also crocheted him a hat with a beard and I bought a Giant Microbe Herpes as a gag gift. I also gave him pictures of us.
In the fall of 2015 my family was doing our Christmas pictures in a park near his house. When Matthew heard this, he kinda sorta invited himself. We let him tag along. He took two pictures with the entire family and a few pictures of just us. Looking back, that was a mistake. Don’t take family pictures with your boyfriend. Ever. Especially when you’ve only been dating for 1 or 2 months.
That early on we were still in the puppy dog love stage. My mother told me that the first 6 months of any relationship are bliss, all pure childish love. She was right, of course. We dated for 7 months and 4 days, and that last month was just me delaying the inevitable. I knew God wanted me to leave him. But I didn’t.
Let’s talk about God for a moment. Another big piece of advice my mom gave me was that God has to be first in any and every relationship. To accomplish this, I made sure Matthew and I prayed together every night, and I prayed on my own a lot. I prayed that God would help both of us to grow closer to Him and that our relationship would go in the direction God wanted it go go.
Which brings us to the last month of our relationship. February was when God really started putting it on my heart that it was time to end things. I spent a lot of time actually crying, begging God for another option. I loved Matthew and I did not want to give him up. But I also knew that I needed to obey God. So, on March 8th, 2016, I called Matthew and broke up with him. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I know I talked about feeling like he wasn’t really putting effort into our relationship. And I know he didn’t defend himself at all. He said okay. If that’s what I wanted. He still wanted to be friends. In my head I was screaming ‘Fight for me! I love you! You promised we would always be together! I love you! Act like you love me too!’ It really broke my heart that he just let me go. I cried myself to sleep that night. I cried at school the next day. I didn’t go to school the day after that. I was so hard for me to not call him and try to fix things. I did text him a few times, trying to make sure he understood why we broke up. I also still gave him a Bible for Easter. He didn’t have a Bible. I wanted to give him one long before we broke up. I wrote a letter about how while God did tell me to end our relationship, it was not God’s fault and he still needed to go to church and follow Christ. He never went back to our church though.
That is what still bothers me today. Has Matthew completely turned away from God because of me? I don’t know. I have no idea how he’s doing. He’s not on any social media. I did text him on his birthday this past January, but he never responded.
What’s interesting about that is that we said we would contact each other around Mother’s Day to see if we were ready to be friends again. I did not contact him because I wanted him to make an effort for once. Needless to say, we have not actually talked since April 2016.
I’m mostly okay now. I’ve grown to rely more on God now, which is good. I would say I’m over Matthew, though he will always have a special place in my heart as my first love. I do miss that companionship, but I know that I will meet the guy God wants me to be with in time.
Matthew taught me a lot. He helped me come out of my shell more. Our relationship helped me grow closer to Christ. He helped me build my self esteem. Our relationship taught me what I want in a husband.
I am so incredibly thankful for the time I had with Matthew, and I wish he knew that I am doing okay. I wish I knew how he was doing. But I will trust in the Lord that all is well. All is as it should be.
Happy one year single-versary to me.