The Hardest Part of Being Exclusive for the Past 10 Years

I realized earlier this month that it’s been TEN YEARS since Brandon and I went on our first date. Ten years may not seem like a lot if you’re reading this and you’ve been in longer relationships than this one, but this one right here is a milestone for the both of us.

winning
Winning

We were supposed to grab a casual bite to eat after work. As corny as it sounds, it seemed like fate was drawing us closer and we had to get to know each other. His closest friends were my closest friends. He’s a Sigma, I’m a Zeta (the only true constitutionally bound Fraternity and Sorority). We worked at the same shopping center at the time. He was my customer at the restaurant I worked at and often stopped there to eat during his break time. My co-workers always called me to take his meal order when he came by. They enjoyed watching our flirty interaction.

One day, he reached out to me on MySpace (yes, I said MySpace) after coming across my page through a mutual friend’s page. He invited me out to “catch up” and I agreed. Thanks Tom!

Tom
Myspace Tom

We rode in the car together for our first date out of convenience and because I was 100% certain he wasn’t a serial killer. Our casual after work meet up turned into dinner plans after a late meeting got pushed back.

As we were pulling into the parking space of the restaurant we had chosen, his truck shut off completely. It was parked at a 45 degree angle halfway into the space in the middle of backing it in. After failed attempts to restart it, he sighed in embarrassment and looked at me and asked if I would mind getting in the driver’s seat and steering the truck while he jumped out and pushed it into the parking space. I didn’t mind. We went inside, called a tow truck, secured a ride back to my car with a friend, and carried on our conversation and getting to know each other. We didn’t let the inconvenient event ruin our night. We’ve been working together as a team ever since and the rest is history.

Brandon and I were casually dating multiple people around the time that we met. We were both good about keeping our options open. We had occasional lunch and dinner dates. We let our friends “hook us up”/ introduce us to friends of theirs as neither one of us were in serious relationships at the time. After about 5 weeks of dates, on March 5th of that year, we agreed on being exclusive and sealed the deal with an oreo cookie shake from Applebees.

Fast forward ten years and here we are. I can honestly say that being exclusive was not difficult for me but it was a bit of an adjustment. Before our relationship, our longest relationship for the both of us was two years and neither one of us could say we were the best partners in our late teens and early twenties to our exes.

I decided to write about the hardest part of being in an exclusive relationship after ten years from both mine and his perspective:

Here’s what I said:

The absolute toughest part about being in an exclusive relationship for me was defining our boundaries and establishing trust. I have never, ever, given my whole heart to anyone else before Brandon. I thought I had. I’ve loved before. I’ve hurt before. But I’m talking about the kind of love where the other person knows everything about you. They know you so well, they know the move you’re going to make before you even know what you’re going to do. The kind of love where they know the triggers that upset you. They know what hurts you and what you most treasure. They know your fears and why you fear them. They know everyone that is important to you. The mere thought of losing your partner literally brings tears to your eyes because you rely on them for full emotional support. Their life is intertwined with yours in every way and vice versa.

Giving my heart to Brandon was something that took time. It was a gradual, slow process in which trust was established. The hardest part for me was trusting him to hold my heart, allowing him to enter my life in the way that he did, and trusting that he wouldn’t hurt me. It’s frightening and equally joyful.

The thing about trust is that we had to build it and also discuss and agree on our boundaries when it came to other people. We had to have conversations about what our comfort level was with people and certain situations that presented themselves over the course of our relationship. Is it ok to meet an ex for lunch? Is it ok for your ex to live with you? (Yes, true story. My ex who was honestly nothing but a friend was living under the same roof as me when B and I first started dating). Is it ok for your friend of the opposite sex to spend the night at your place while in town? Is it ok to be friends with an ex lover? We discussed our level of comfort with each situation and it took A LOT of trust! We had to build trust and confidence in our relationship that only developed over time and getting through some tough conversations.

Here’s what he said:

No more women. It’s as simple as that. You have to wrap your head around the fact that this is the woman you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. It’s easy to wrap your head around it in the beginning because I knew you were it. You would be the only woman for the rest of my life. I consciously and rationally made that decision. It’s an easy relationship in every way. We’re compatible financially, I love spending time with you, etc.

Men (and people often) crave variety, but I know that there’s no other woman out there that can make me as happy as you do and I’m not willing to lose this. It’s not worth it.

Marriage (or relationships for that matter) isn’t for everyone. I don’t encourage or discourage it. When men ask me, how do I do it? How do I commit to one woman? I always say the same thing. I tell them to ask themselves if they’re okay losing the person they’re with. If they are, then they need to re-evaluate their relationship. I remind them that stepping out on the relationship would destroy what they have and if deep down they know that they can’t live without that person then that’s what keeps you together. True love, that’s hard to find and nothing is worth losing it.

Being in a relationship is a serious commitment and getting married was the ultimate commitment to our relationship. It’s a lifetime vow we made to each other and we cherish it. We understand that relationships are tested which is why we work at it every day. We know there’s going to be easy days and difficult ones. Every day, the good and bad days make us stronger.

Lunch date in our early years-2006
Lunch date in our early years taken on his Palm Treo Circa 2006

 

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