The Boyfriend Count

The happiest day of your life? It may well turn out to be, but months of pre-wedding planning can make it one of the most stressful times of your life too. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When you enter a relationship, you usually commit with all your heart, thinking you will end up married in the end. What you don’t count on are the unexpected bumps in the road that alter the life you had envisioned when you first fell truly, madly, deeply in love. So even if you thought you were going to marry your first love, it’s possible that you didn’t—or you won’t. Or vice versa. 

It’s only natural to wonder what it would be like if things turned out differently. Or, if you aren’t married yet, how things usually turn out on the opposite ends of the spectrum—all the while wondering where you will fall.

So what is it like to marry your first boyfriend versus your fourth or fifth? Two married women, whose names have been changed, share their experiences.

No Happily Ever After

Grace had four serious boyfriends before she met her husband. With each one, she thought they would end up getting married. But that was not the case. “My first relationship ended because we suddenly found ourselves in different stages of our lives. He was four years older and working and I was in college. I wanted a boyfriend who would bring me to class and fetch me from school, and he wanted to get married!” she shares. “The second one was the same, but this time, it was the other way around. I was very committed to the relationship, and he was so focused on his career. 

“The third one was very painful. We were so happy together until our religious beliefs got in the way. The fourth one was crazy! I was so in love with him and would do anything for the relationship to work, even if I knew deep inside it wasn't going to. We were on and off for years, until I finally decided, enough.”

After a Long Wait

Grace met her husband on a blind date after she had taken a break from the dating scene. “And on that first date, I knew there was something special about him,” she says. “I met him at that point in my life when I already knew who I was and what I wanted. I knew what I could bring into a relationship and what I wanted from a relationship. It wasn't difficult to figure things out anymore.”

And what did she learn from having had several relationships? “They taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Not everything should be turned into an issue. I say this because, as I grew and matured after each relationship, I came to a point where I already knew what my essentials and non-negotiables were in a relationship and those that I can compromise as well.” This is why she knew for certain that she was making the right decision when she married her husband. 

Young Love

Sharon met her husband in college. “We were frenemies,” she says. “We were friends for five or six years before we became a couple and then got married on our fifth year anniversary as boyfriend and girlfriend.” She still distinctly remembers that moment when she knew she was going to marry him: “When I met his family and saw him playing with his cute nieces.”

All the Doubts

Sharon admits it’s only natural to doubt when you’ve only known and had one relationship. “Your exposure is limited to one person and this may deprive you of a wealth of experiences that other people go through. Although these experiences may be painful, they do contribute to your personal maturity. Since you've only been with one guy, you might have questions or doubts about your decision to marry him.”

However, in Sharon’s case, the benefits outweigh the doubts: “You have a strong foundation based on friendship, intimacy, and your shared history together. Since you're with the same person all throughout your journey, there are no pauses or re-starts.”

Drawing Certainty From Him

Above all, Sharon says her certainty came from her husband. “When I was unsure, when my lack of faith would drive any sane man crazy, he was always constant. He was unwavering and so certain about spending his life with me. His conviction and faith in our partnership made me believe that I made the right decision. There will never be another man who could ever be so patient, understanding, accepting, and loving of someone as nutty as me. Other guys would pale in comparison to the level of devotion and unconditional love that he has shown me.”

Happily Ever After

It doesn’t really matter what path your journey will take. What matters is that, in making the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone, whether he is your first, fifth, or hundredth love, you are sure about who you are and what you want in life. Only then can you commit to building your own happily ever after with someone else.


Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.

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