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"Love takes two." The most important lessons I learnt when my love left me for his ex-girlfriend.

Right the first moment we laid eyes on each other, I already knew that it was going to be something different.

We had this intense chemistry that immediately drew us closer despite the differences we had as two individuals.

So, naturally, we wanted to spend more time together, and we did just that. We joked, we laughed, we kissed.

Before I knew it, I had already fallen for him hard and fast. It was so amazing that it felt almost too good to be true.

Indeed, it was too good to be true.

At one point, things suddenly felt off.

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I could sense that there was something up with him as he started to distance himself and stop communicating with me as much, but I didn’t voice my concerns. I acted like everything was normal because I wanted to see how things played out.

One day, he told me he had to leave for his hometown to attend a relative’s funeral.

During the two weeks when he was gone, I was worried, yet I held on to the last time we were together to calm myself down.

However, much as I wished to lie to myself, my intuition was right.

When he came back, he avoided me for three days and then he said to my face that he didn’t love me, he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

"I’m still in love with my ex. I don’t love you."

Those words sounded so simple, yet to that hopeless me at that time, they were heavier than stones.

It was like the end to everything that ever meant anything to me.

I was shocked, I was angry, I was humiliated and, yes, I was incredibly hurt. It was all too much.

My eyes were all red and I seriously could not breathe.

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That night, I ran away and got on some random bus that I had no idea where it would lead to but I didn’t care.

I just wanted to run away from the whole world even though I knew there was no place for me to escape from that nightmare.

I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t fathom any of it.

Everything that I thought was mine, I had wholeheartedly treasured, just vanished like a popped bubble in front of my eyes.

I thought he blind-sided me. He strung me along. He made me his rebound. I was just a temporary band-aid for his broken heart.

And while I was left behind, all wounded and broken, he got to jump from one relationship to another and carried on with his happy life with the very woman who he claimed to have ruined him, the woman who I couldn’t help but measure myself up to because the man I loved chose her and not me.

What does she have but I don’t? I did not know.

What I knew was that he made me feel like my existence, my love was an inconvenience and I was crazy for even thinking there was something special between us.

And why did it have to happen to me? Why then?

Needless to say, I was in misery.

The thoughts of him wounded me like someone just stabbed me right in the chest as I was torn apart between love and hate for him.

I had to actively tell myself to hate him; otherwise, I would have immediately run to him and never been able to let him go, like a big-time loser.

It was tough back then as all the feelings were so intense that they overwhelmed me and every waking moment of my life to the point of numbness.

It took me a very long time and a lot of conscious effort to finally put things into perspective and figure something out to free myself from him and that past.

I did it because I had to.

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What I realised is that when he left me, my instinct was to blame, to accuse, to victimise, yet I never once took a step back and tried to rationally think what the whole situation actually showed me about him and the state of our relationship.

Instead, I swallowed the pity pill and kept focusing on getting him back for all the wrong reasons.

Jealousy, insecurity, desperation, obsession — you name it. It was anything but love, since I had missed the point of love.

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Love, in this case, was letting go. I wasn’t letting go. I was being selfish.

Worst of all, I allowed that man to walk in and out of my life as he pleased because his affection, his time, his love had become some kind of reward, something to chase after, something lost that needed to be taken back, something that was conditional for my happiness except happiness had become a blur.

I even forgot that affection wasn’t meant to be fought over.

No. It should be voluntarily given and love takes two.

It’s scary to me how feelings could blind me and take over me like that.

But, I guess, only by experiencing that high-speed rollercoaster of love and pain could I discover my own limits and finally let go of him and our tragic story.

Most importantly, it was the chance for me to learn: to forgive, to accept, and to respect people’s choices even if that choice means my heart getting broken.

Perhaps, I should be proud that I did give it my all so I had nothing to regret. I should be grateful for the precious opportunities to reflect and grow so that I won’t screw up the next time I meet a truly worthy person.

Now looking back, it turned out that man was much wiser than me.

He left me to be with someone he loved while I held on to him — someone who didn’t want me.

I kept thinking I was stuck in that situation, but the truth is I wasn’t.

I always had a choice and I still do.

The choice to walk away from those who hurt me.

The choice to be happy, to find someone who has both feet in the door, who is open to love and ready for love, and to not settle for anything less — especially not someone who doesn’t choose me the same way.

This happened a long time ago, but the takeaways still resonate with me today.

The key thing is to be brave — brave to let go and keep moving forwards.

If you could do that then, trust me, you’ve already done 80 per cent of the work. It’s going to be okay because time will take care of the rest.

After all, if we don’t pick ourselves up, no one else would and could for us.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission.

Feature image: Getty.

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