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What if I told you that whoever your divine deity is – God, Buddha, the universe, whatever – he or she has some sort of Cupid-esque role in choosing whom your heart beats most heavily for? But unlike the cute little cherub with the bow and arrow, your higher power isn’t hand picking your next lover – the entity, instead, is choosing your next lesson.

No one reading this has ever escaped the claws of a monstrous relationship without learning something new about what it takes to create and preserve long-lasting love. But most importantly, you learn a lot about yourself.

It’s funny how you may think you know what you desire in a relationship, but once you get exactly what you wish for something greater than you will have you suffer through misery, tears, and heartache to let you know that what you want is not what you need.

Here’s a personal example to illustrate my point.

There was once a man who plucked my heartstrings the moment I laid eyes on him. His movie star looks, by far, were his most magnetic feature – luminous light brown eyes, a dazzling smile, and a smooth complexion that reminded me of warm, syrupy pancakes. His celebrity doppleganger, for sure, was Lee Thompson Young (rest in peace).

I’ve never seen women gape and drool like they did when he was around.

On top of his visually pleasing visage, we had parallel personalities – we both were short-fused, devotedly loyal, vengeful, unyielding, and secretly indulged in trashy reality TV shows like Bad Girls Club and Love and Hip-Hop.

I always implored the heavens to send me someone exactly like me – personality and all – and there he was in all his tall, mocha-filled glory. “God is real!” I thought.

But be careful what you wish for …

We were like magnets of the same polarity – we kept repelling each other. As two raging hotheads, we both easily exploded into anger when all we needed was just one “cool-headed” party to douse the flames. Subscribing to the “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” mentality, the two of us were constantly caught in a toxic web of one-upmanship – you did this to me, well I can do worse to you!

He’d often take jabs at me and I’d shrink into feeling worthless and devalued. It was karma, though. In previous relationships, I was the biggest ball buster of all; I always thought my exes were just too sensitive and thin-skinned, but now I truly understood how they felt.

And while I cherished kiki-ing with him about the latest tea on the ladies of Real Housewives of Atlanta, I secretly wanted a man who would tell me to stop watching that bullcrap and introduce me to more intellectually stimulating viewing pleasures.

Yeah, the relationship was a sh-tshow, but there was one lesson I learned that was the most important of all: I dated myself and holy sh-t, I am f-cking nightmare!

How could anyone stand me? The incessant need to be right, the excessive taunting, and the you-f-cked-me-so-now-I’m-going-to-f-ck-you philosophy – all traits he had – were characteristics that were embedded in me too.

I was absolutely insufferable and I had no clue how the men of my past endured my shenanigans.

When I wished for my equal, I am sure that whoever was sitting up in those clouds said, “Oh, so your unbearable a– wants to date someone who is exactly like you, huh? HAHAHA! You gon’ learn today!”

And with that, a cupid’s arrow pierced the heart of a man whose purpose was not to be my long-time lover, but to be a learning experience – a spiritual guide to help me become a better woman and, ultimately, a better partner.

I’m no longer ill-tempered – I’ve found inner peace and a tranquil state of being. I’ve learned to take the high road and gave up all the tit-for-tat. And lastly, I am a little more considerate of what comes out of my mouth; I don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone.

Oh, and I’ve traded in The Bad Girls Club for Mr. Robot and House of Cards –  I’m still gonna keep watching Love and Hip-Hop, though. It’s a guilty pleasure I just can’t shake.

Haunted by the memories of a past lover, you may be tempted to curl your lips in complete contempt. But what about, instead, reflecting on how his short-term presence in your life taught you a life-long lesson that sculpted you into the wiser, more knowledgeable woman you are today?

Kimberly Gedeon, founder of The Melody of Melanin, is a content creator and illustrator with nearly 2,000 professional articles published online. You can say hello to her on Instagram or Twitter – she doesn’t bite!

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