Beware: Dating a Man Your Age Could Ruin You

It had been a week since I left Jared, my spring fling. After spend­ing two months in Ore­gon with him, I was ready to start get­ting my crap together. The first thing on my list was get­ting enrolled in school again. In the time that I was in Ore­gon, I had missed the dead­line for re-enrollment. Hop­ing that there was some­thing my coun­selor could do, I called and he only con­firmed that I had to wait till the spring semes­ter. So, there went that, another semes­ter out of school missed.

My moods were depres­sive every now and then, espe­cially when I thought of all the plans that I had made with Jared. Yes, I was the one who decided to leave him behind, and with good rea­son. But that didn’t change the fact that I still missed him. I had got­ten the clo­sure I needed from him the night before I left after I told him that it was time for me to go home. But I still felt like I was rejected after all that we had been through. I wasn’t the spe­cial one to change him—heck, I wasn’t even spe­cial enough to be con­sid­ered his girl­friend and that was what really got to me. After days of mop­ing and crit­i­cism from my mother, I decided that I needed to get up and do something.

I started with fill­ing out appli­ca­tions at the mall in town. If I was going to have to wait till Jan­u­ary to enroll into the spring semes­ter for school, the best thing I could do in the mean­time was get a job and save money. Since I wasn’t talk­ing to my best friend, Melinda, or any of my other friends for that mat­ter, I went alone. I always attracted atten­tion when I was by myself in pub­lic and guys always tended to come up to me to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion. My self-esteem was way low and none of them ever com­pared to Jared, so I always just blew them off. They were just look­ing for a good time and I wasn’t it. After drop­ping off a cou­ple of com­pleted appli­ca­tions with my resumé attached, I decided to go home.

Every now and then, Jared texted me ask­ing me how I was doing and telling me that he missed me. I was over it, and then I wasn’t. I was def­i­nitely going through a rough time. Sev­eral times I wanted to text him and tell him that I loved him and that I missed him, but I never had the nerve. I had to be strong, so I always texted back with short words that, in the end, pushed him away, and in a way, I felt free.

Two weeks passed after my trip to the mall to sub­mit appli­ca­tions. And one Wednes­day after­noon, I received a call from one of the retail stores I applied to. They were hir­ing for the hol­i­day sea­son and were look­ing for a part-timer. Ecsta­tic, I told them that I was def­i­nitely inter­ested and they asked me to come in the fol­low­ing day for a group inter­view. Within three days, I was hired along with 20 other girls.

It had been a long time since I had felt that I was doing some­thing with myself. Not being in school made me look and see that I had oppor­tu­ni­ties before me that I had taken for granted. Being accepted into col­lege with a full schol­ar­ship was a bless­ing, one that I never appre­ci­ated until then. So it was impor­tant to get myself back to school and work­ing a job to get myself where I needed to be.

To say that my breakup with Jared had been a clean one would’ve been a bit of a stretch. I had real­ized that he had noth­ing to offer me and my illu­sion of him as the per­fect guy was shat­tered. Jared was jeal­ous and pos­ses­sive, yet aloof and dis­tant when he was around his friends. Whether it was some­thing that I needed to work on or some­thing he would get over, I didn’t stick around to find out.

As I reflect back on my rela­tion­ship with Jared, it was more of a hit-it-and-quit-it deal, “friends with ben­e­fits” and that was all. He was my first and that would be the only rea­son that he would be memorable.

Although I felt like I was stuck in a rut, work­ing this part-time retail job ended up lead­ing to that life-changing moment that I had been wait­ing for, because it was where I met him.