My Boyfriend Surprised Me With A Dream Birthday Trip To Greece & I Feel So Seen In Love
Love & Relationships

My Boyfriend Surprised Me With A Dream Birthday Trip To Greece & I Feel So Seen In Love

If my last relationship taught me anything, it’s that I was way too giving, way too understanding, way too empathetic in moments where I really should’ve put myself first. It took me two years to get over this relationship, not even because I wanted to get back with him but because I was so afraid of losing myself in someone again. I kept revisiting this relationship in my mind for all the mistakes I made, rehashing it over and over in therapy sessions caught up somewhere between “Did I do enough?” and “Why did I do so damn much?”

I remember being in a therapy session trauma-dumping all the things “I had to do” to make this relationship work, feeling like I was carrying the whole thing on my shoulders, while my then-boyfriend kept saying he wanted to make things work but wasn’t putting in the work.

More than a year after the breakup, I still felt resentment as the words fell out of my mouth, expecting my therapist to tell me I didn’t deserve that treatment. Instead, she said, “You didn’t have to do anything.”

Skrrt, what do you mean I didn’t have to do anything? She said, “Well did he ask you to do those things?” Nope. “So you saw him not meeting you halfway, and you decided to overcompensate for him, but he didn’t ask you to?” Yeah, I guess not. “Maybe that’s something to think about.”

She then went on to say that when we try to solve other people’s problems, we rob them of the opportunity to grow. His inability to meet me halfway was his responsibility, not mine. And in the process of taking on his workload when I wasn’t even asked to, I grew resentful.

And she was right, something that frustrated me about this relationship was my partner’s lack of emotional intelligence. He had destructive coping mechanisms, and if I brought it up to him, he’d end up getting angry, and I ended up crying, and the argument would suddenly devolve into him asking me why I didn’t let him be upset. And I thought I could love him through this, get him to see what I saw enough for him to fix it.

But in the end, it wasn’t mine to fix, and when he finally came around, I was checked out.

In My Mental Clarity Era

I was living in Atlanta at the time, and it so felt like everything in my life was falling apart. My relationship, my health, my career, my finances, did I mention my car was also constantly breaking down? I was so over it. I came home every day to cry it out. I decided to sell everything to my name and take a life break.

I moved to Spain to pursue my teenage dream of teaching English abroad. And it felt like shedding layers of myself that hadn’t served me for a long time, and underneath it, I found parts of myself I had lost in my relationship and new parts of myself I didn’t even know existed.

I traveled all over Europe, making new friends, memories, and connections and falling in love with myself through it all. Sipping Spanish wine on sun-soaked rooftops with friends who fed my soul, I was living.

But to be honest, I was still so afraid of dating. Afraid I hadn’t learned my lessons in love. I hid behind the pandemic, saying that’s why I wasn’t bothering to meet new people, but honestly, I didn’t want to deal with it, and I didn’t want to deal with men.

And when I did finally start dating, it felt like every encounter I was having was just confirming all my fears of men and dating. I kept attracting these emotionally unstable men. Am I the problem?

After going on a date with a fine, 6-foot, medical resident, who professed his love to me just two weeks later only to break up with me himself when I told him to slow down, I was so over it.

The change finally came when I said to myself, “I am ready for a real, long-lasting relationship, and I won’t settle or distract myself with anything less.”

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

Getting Clear on Love

Lo and behold, as life does, later that same day, I came across a YouTube video on manifesting your dream man. Shout out to the universe, spirit, God, the algorithm, or whatever else you believe in. Whether you’re into manifesting or not, this video gave me a lot of clarity on my shortcomings and what I actually wanted. It made it much easier to go on a date and say this guy isn’t my guy.

And basically, it came down to three things:

  • Addressing your limiting beliefs around dating. For me, that largely entailed believing emotionally stable, successful, loyal, interesting men worth dating existed if I wanted to find them.
  • Addressing your limitations in dating. For me, this was largely around my lack of boundaries and my fear of speaking up.
  • Becoming very clear on the type of person you are looking for and not just listing off a bunch of qualities but also how they make you feel in this relationship and what kind of things you do together. For me, this included words like safe, seen, heard, adored, and valued. It also included activities like traveling, getting lost in intellectual conversations, and dancing in the kitchen. And it definitely included an emotionally intelligent man.

A Special Surprise

Now, fast forward, and I am finally in a new relationship. And if he’s taught me anything, it’s that if you are a lover girl, you need to find you a lover boy. He was so intentional about getting to know me from the beginning in big and small ways.

On one of our first dates, he brought me a bouquet of sunflowers and said he noticed I had sunflowers on my phone case, so I must like them. They are, in fact, my favorite flower.

In early conversations, he asked me what’s something I feel self-conscious about in relationships, and I said, “I’ve been told I’m too emotional,” he said, “Emotional? That’s okay. If you feel like crying, I will hold you until you are ready to talk.” And, in fact, he’s never once made me feel like my emotions were too much.

He also asked me about things I loved. I said, “I love to travel. It’s my dream to have someone book a surprise trip for me and not tell me anything except what I need to pack. I love a good adventure, and I’m always planning things for others. It would be nice to have someone plan something for me.”

Several months later, sleepy-eyed at 4 a.m., I was headed to the Lisbon Airport (that’s where I live these days) with no idea where I was going. He said, “It’s going to be hot, and you’ll need some bathing suits.”

He wouldn’t let me see a single board, so I couldn’t figure out where we were going, and he had given me the worst clues. “It’s historical. It’s near a beach. And It’s within a four-hour flight from Lisbon.”

“Sooo. anywhere in Europe with a coast?” He was having a good laugh. He knew I was itching to solve the puzzle, all while not wanting to ruin my own surprise.

“Don’t worry, babe, you’re going to love it.”

Some three hours later, we landed in Greece!

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

My Top Four Favorite Activities For An Athens City-Break

My boyfriend planned it all, right down to having someone prepped at the airport with a sign with my name on it to take us to our spot. And I was so appreciative of how much thought he put into everything. Below are some of the things he planned for us to do while in Greece and the reason he gave for choosing the activity.

Acropolis + Parthenon

“I know how much you love history, so we’re starting with the Parthenon.”

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

Island Hopping Tour

“You kept saying how much you wanted to go on a boat, so we’re going Island hopping on a boat tour today.”

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

Day Trip to Nafplio, Greece

“I know how much you love visiting cute little towns, and they said this is the prettiest town near Athens.”

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

Dinner On The Kuzina Rooftop

“I knew you’d appreciate the food here.”

Courtesy of Ambar Mejia

Oh, to be seen, heard, and valued.

Sometimes, the thing you fight so hard to hold onto was just a big lesson you had to learn in a heartbreaking way. Sometimes, the heartbreak lets you rebuild something stronger and wiser.

Sometimes, when you finally let go of what could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve been, you make room for what can be.

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Featured image courtesy of Ambar Mejia

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