“This is not a beautiful love story; but a beautiful love story to us.
Before I begin the story of how Tyler and I came to be, I want you to understand it is not anything like a fairy tale. Not even close to it. But it is ours and we’ve come to love it. This story will be uncensored, raw, and real. With that being said, if you are family, I highly discourage you read any further. But if you don’t close this tab, viewers discretion is advised. If you are included in this story, which some will be, I won’t label you by the correct name — don’t fret.
Now I am ready to begin the story of us.
It all started at Kent State University, the fall of 2015. I was living in a shady apartment building that had an ever-lingering stench of curry and weed. My lovely roommate happened to be my newly ex-boyfriend. We broke up on move-in day, and please do not ask what I was even thinking, moving in with a boyfriend at 19. Tensions had been… high to say the least.
I spent the next week after moving in, with a consistent rotation between drunk or hung over. I started running and that began to clear my mind a little better than the booze did. Through running, I had learned the lay out of my new campus (I was a transfer from Akron).
The first day of classes rolled around and I was genuinely excited. I made my way from my criminal justice class to my next class, kick boxing, and then my last class, classical music — to which I spent the rest of the semester trying to fit in a shower between the last two. It was the measly, unimportant (at the time) music class, that would change my entire life.
That first day, we both sat in the same room, not knowing one day we would we would fall in the most toxic love imaginable, reconcile it with the purest love, and ultimately go on to raise a family and live life together. We didn’t know when we signed up, for what seemed like the worst class of the semester, that it would be so monumental later on. That one decision, to take that exact class, at that exact time, was key in revealing what the rest of our lives looked like.
Now it was probably week two or three until I talked to Tyler. You see, college is expensive and I had to pay for everything from rent to books. Sometimes I didn’t have enough money to buy the books, so I would wing it as best as possible without one. In this music class, you just so happened to NEED the book, because it had a listening and comprehension DVD that pertained to certain classical musical pieces that would be on the test. Therefore, I needed to borrow someone’s book to pass this yawn of a class.
I had seen Tyler on my way out of class, at one point or another, and recognized him. I checked the class roster for his name and surely, it was him. I knew of Tyler because in high school, I was the football team’s student athletic trainer, and Tyler had played football at the school next door. Small town kind of stuff. I texted a friend of mine, from his high school, to get their opinion on if they thought it would be weird to reach out to him in order to borrow his book.
They replied that he probably would let me borrow it and not find it weird, but warned me vigorously not to get involved with the alleged ‘bad boy’. I basically laughed and said, ‘Trust me I have no intentions of that.’ I just needed his book. HA. HA. HA. HA.
Because human interaction in the face-to-face manner is intimidating, I took the less invasive route and casually popped into his DM’s. Which read something like, ‘Hey, I know this is weird, but I think I know you. You played football for Columbia right? I’m not sure if you recognize me, but I went to Buckeye. Anyways, we’re in the same music class and I was wondering if I could borrow your book? I don’t have one.’ To which he replied something along the lines of, ‘Oh yeah, I know who you are, sure.’ I said thank you, I had to go to work, and I would talk to him later. To which I specifically remember him saying, ‘Sounds good, if you work at a restaurant bring me back food.’ Now looking back, a VERY Tyler comment to add.
The next class we bumped into each other, was the same class our professor gave us this ‘wonderful’ extra credit opportunity — watch and dissect an entire film based on, you guessed it, CLASSICAL MUSIC, and then write a report on it. Tyler had suggested we just do the extra credit together as well. I agreed.
The next day, he picked me up and we got Chipotle. SIDE NOTE: it was so AWKWARD because to this day, we have the same exact order and he went first, so it looked like I copied him. Moving on though, we brought the food back to his apartment to eat, and of course, do the extra credit. In hindsight, going alone to a boy’s apartment I had just met, was not one of my better ideas. But a lot of things Tyler and I did were not one of my better ideas.
Tyler then told me he didn’t have the book (so why was I here again!??) but insisted we still do the extra credit together. The movie started, we sat down with our food, and he asked me if I wanted a beer. From that moment on, S**T GOT CRAZY. (If you’re family and you did not listen to my initial recommendation to not read this, I would REALLY stop now.)
I took the beer, because who am I to decline an ice-cold Bud light? Also, this complemented my recent onset of binge drinking quite nicely. What neither of us knew at the time, is we were both in the middle of a breakup after long-term relationships. The two of us, both newly single, had zero intentions of settling down again anytime soon. We were here for a good time.
The movie ended faster than it started, and before I knew it, our casual beers turned into an after-hours party. There was a lot of flirting and sexual tension between us. The alcohol was flowing too nicely. Then came what I like to call ‘The Kitchen Kiss’. We were both drunk, swaying, flirting, touching. There was just something… to this day I don’t know what to call it other than we clicked in that moment.
Maybe the universe was trying to give us an indicator that we had just met ‘the ONE’. This kiss was not just a peck, but an ‘Oh my God’, goose bumps, kind of kiss. We were in the kitchen teasing each other back and forth. There was a moment of silence and then, just like the movies, came our infamous kiss. He lifted me onto the counter, we leaned in as if magnets were slowly pulling us closer, his hands embracing my face ever so gently, my hands around his body pulling his closer to mine, his chest pressed into mine. I could feel the warmth of his body radiating into me. It was a kiss that made my entire body melt in seconds. I remember him pulling away slowly and lowly muttering, ‘Woah…’
The rest of the night became a blur real fast. There are definitely parts I remember and definitely parts I do not. We did a little more than kissing that night, which is something I had NEVER done on the first time out with someone (not even to mention this after school curricular was not even close to a first date). I had texted my best friend to come pick me up late that night. Like a knight in shining armor, she rolled up in her Ford Focus.
I did not initially tell my best friend of my scandalous night. Which raises the first red flag in this story, because I tell my best friends everything. I knew what I did wasn’t like myself and she would be disappointed in me. But I liked what had happened. I liked the feeling of physical attraction without emotional attachment.
The next morning, I woke up, grabbed myself a coffee, and slipped back into bed. My head a fog and blur of the night before. I casually scrolled through my Facebook feed to see what everyone was up to. And there he was. On my ‘people you may know’ bar. Thank you Facebook, for always having the people you least want to see, pop-up on that nifty little feature of yours.
I sank a little under the blanket. The profile picture was of ‘them’. It stared back at me. I felt sick to my stomach. Had I just been a part of a cheating scandal? I wanted to vomit. I immediately called him out, probably sent him a million swear words. When he finally responded back, he let me know they had broken up. Literally two days before we had hung out. It was in this moment, I realized the two of us had something very big in common. We were both looking for a rebound.
Late September leaked into October fast. We spent SO MUCH time together. I quickly adjusted to hanging out with dudes on a daily basis. I came to love his roommates. The five of us were constantly together. To this day, they are still part of my favorite college memories. We began to party A TON around this time.
We started ‘Weird Wednesdays’, which basically meant get black-out drunk. Then, of course, you couldn’t forget ‘Thirsty Thursday’. Friday’s typically were dedicated to house parties and then Saturdays, obviously the peak party day, followed by football on Sundays (obligatory drinking day as well). All those days included moderate binge drinking.
Our grade point averages were plummeting faster than our brain cells. Between having class together, seeing each other on a regular basis, and partying all the time, Tyler and I became super close, super fast. So fast that in a matter of a month, we became best friends. We also became friends with benefits within that time frame.
The hook-up culture was in full swing for us, and the alcohol made it easier to achieve. The both of us getting out of a long-term relationship around the same time, gave us the same emotional state of mind. We both were drinking to forget and getting under to get over. It worked for a while. Until being legitimate best friends, while also having a friends with benefits status, started to infringe upon the feelings department around mid-December.
We were consciously living up our fling with no limitations. I knew he was texting and hanging out with other girls. He knew I was doing the same with other guys. This is not something either of us are proud to admit, and I want you to understand, this was college and what happened happened. It’s hard to relive some of the things I am about to tell you because they’re painful to look back on and we’re ashamed of what we did to each other. But like I promised, I will be real and I will be raw with you.
By December we were inseparable in friendship, but the feelings were starting to emerge. We were still doing our own thing, while living this secret ‘FWB’ fantasy. We would hang out as best friends a ton. He would cuddle me and rub my back on my period. I even came over Christmas Eve, cuddled up, and watched Christmas movies with him at his childhood home. Which sounds so romantic right? Well to be fair and honest, it wasn’t… we were bad.
The same time we would hang out, I was texting other guys. The night I came over for Christmas movies, he was just getting home from hanging out with another girl. We walked this faded line of friendship and more than friends. Was it more or was it just being friendly?
I think we both realized we really cared for each other and had some sort of connection when we went away to Canada for a week. We spent time in Niagara, then saw my family, and ended it in Toronto, bar hopping for New Year’s Eve. We both knew by the time we came back, that we most definitely liked each other. But instead of being brave and embracing it, we fought it so damn hard.
We were frustrated. We knew we didn’t want to be together, but we didn’t want to be apart. We knew we didn’t want to be exclusive, but we didn’t want to watch the other physically be with someone else. From December 2015 to September 2016, we fought it like this. He would purposely make out with a girl at the same party I was at, hoping it would make things end, and then beg for me the next day. I made out with one of his friends and he swore he was done with me, and then I begged for him back.
The tug of war was tiring. Then for a little while, we would go through these inconsistent waves of doing good. We would go on dates and consistently sleep over. I would pick him up from army drill and he would bring me food at work. It got to the point, where I was switching apartments (thank the good Lord) and the overlap of the switch left me homeless for three weeks.
He had me move-in in the meantime, and really made it no big deal. He gave me drawers to put my stuff in and room in his closet. We would take showers together, in a non-sexual but playful way. We would go on nightly runs by a nearby neighborhood, we had our own route. We would go to Walmart at 3 a.m. just to buy breakfast food and feast out. We would work out, get Chipotle, then nap together, like it was our jobs.
After I moved back into my own apartment, there was times, he would even walk all the way from his apartment to mine… in the snow. But then the inconsistent wave would crash the other way. He would be texting his regulars; I would be texting mine. He would be out flirting, hanging out with girls back home. I would be swiping on tinder. This back and forth with people in between, pretending it didn’t matter, lasted until February or March.
That’s when I finally went for it. I told him maybe we should try and just be together. He wasn’t for it. He felt like he just regained his freedom, he wasn’t ready to lose it that quickly. So, we kept being us — hanging out, going to class together (Oh, did I mention, spring semester we somehow landed in the same class again. Thank you universe!) and partying all the time together.
But the intimacy slowed, and I started investing more time in other people. I think things really became strained when I started talking to someone long distance. It wasn’t like we were dating or anything, but I started to like this new boy, at least the idea of him. He spoiled me. He sent me packages and talked to me all the time. I had his entire attention, but he didn’t completely have mine, although I tried. I think this made Tyler mad, or opened his eyes, one of the two. Because now, in my response to saying we should try and make this work, he was agreeing, saying we should be together.
I shot him down. I knew it was because I had someone new and I wasn’t about to settle for a jealous boy. Tyler and I’s toxicity lasted well into the spring. Long distance boy and I fizzled out after a month and I was fully back on the Tyler train, yet again.
Spring rolled around. Nothing had changed. Tyler and I were partying pretty hard. We were together constantly and doing our thing…. We had also started to text/flirt/hook-up with others. By others I mostly mean two people, ‘boat boy’ and ‘rat girl’. These two people were the main ‘others’ in our story, two people we consistently used to, unfortunately, manipulate one another. Which normally went something like this; Tyler and Jess are great, Tyler or Jess hooks up with someone, the opposite partner loses their s**t over it, we swear we’re done, we end up back together in less than a day.
It didn’t matter if it was a person we found attractive for the night, an old ex, or someone we genuinely liked and saw a future with, we always reverted back to each other. We were each other’s drug of choice; we always came back wanting more, not being able to get away. My friends, at this point, were so annoyed with me and the entire situation, so we didn’t talk much.
I was putting myself through this abusive cycle and I had every opportunity to just walk away from it all, but I didn’t. We consistently ruined each other’s state of mind, broke each other’s hearts, and were beginning to crush our friendship by manipulating feelings. Looking back, I still can’t believe our BS lasted as long as it did.
You’re probably wondering at this point… ‘Uhhh why did she or he not leave? There are plenty of people to be friends with benefits with?’ I guess I should emphasize the best friend part a little more. I went to his family’s holidays; he met my family from Canada. We would half-a** make plans to move to North Carolina together and start new lives there. We would have nights in, drink platinum’s, watch terrible movies, and laugh until our stomachs hurt.
He was ALWAYS there for me when stuff got rough. I saw him recover from some traumatic stuff. He had a lot of horrible things happen one after another that year. We would lay in bed and talk about everything. Our pillow talks would seep into my head and eventually into my heart. I could see every potential in him. I saw how he looked at babies, he always sang his heart out in the shower, and he stuck up for the underdogs.
I knew deep down, he was a good guy who was just didn’t have his priorities in order yet. I fell in love with the possibilities I saw in him. When we were together, life simply made sense. I knew it could be so much better than what we were living.
Summer came and I was about done with the whole Tyler/Jess situation. I was so done with the vicious, heartbreaking cycle. I had started a new job that had the BEST employees, I made so many friends and started investing my time there instead. Tyler was due to go away for a month, to California, for annual army training. I found this time to be the perfect detox and promised myself I would stick to my guns.
With Tyler gone, summer fun in full swing, and great new friends, life was looking up. Long distance boy came back for the summer and we started talking again and casually hanging out. He was really nice and I thought this was a good point to start actually talking to this guy. Tyler had been gone a week or so when I got my first text from him (they were supposed to have their phones taken the entire training).
He wanted to talk about why he could never commit to dating me in the past. I wouldn’t give him the time of day, I refused to listen. I kept saying, ‘I don’t care’, and he told me things that made me angry. This was his way of saying, ‘I’m ready to move past that’, and it was my way of saying, ‘I don’t care, I’m moving on and I’m going to start talking to someone else.’ Neither of us got our points across clearly.
The month ended, and as promised, I went to pick up Tyler. It was 3 a.m. when his bus got back to base. I picked up our favorite beer, platinum’s, and we went back to his apartment. We drank and caught up about California and what I had been up to. Tyler tried to kiss me; I turned my head. He tried to kiss me again, thinking I was playing the first time, and this time I responded with no. He asked what was wrong, asked why I wouldn’t kiss him.
‘But Jess I missed you so much, all I want is a kiss. I thought about you the entire time I was away. Please.’ And again, I said, ‘I’m sorry I’m not doing this part anymore.’ I reiterated that I was hanging out with long distance boy. It hurt to say that, because I wanted Tyler. I craved affection from him, but I knew what it would lead to. From that stemmed an enormous fight that ended in tears. We talked things out till morning and grabbed breakfast together. We agreed that we would rather have each other just as friends than not at all.
Not-so long-distance boy and I casually saw each other more and I knew he was very into me. Tyler and I were doing great as being just friends. All was finally working out. Trying to be the best friend he promised to be, he suggested I bring long distance boy to his welcome back party. I thought the idea was weird at first but then realized, if Tyler were to be my best friend, surely, he would need to meet the guy I was talking to. That night, Tyler was really cool to long distance boy, he talked to him, even offered him a beer.
But I felt weird. I also was very drunk, in order to endure the night. I felt like I needed to leave. I couldn’t handle Tyler watching me be with someone else at a party and both of us acting like this was all fine and dandy. So, I asked long distance boy if we could go. He took me to Euro Gyro, a pizza place. Before we went in, he said something nice, something along the lines of, ‘That was cool, we should hang out with him more often.’ I freaking lost it.
I guess it was the build-up of trying to force myself to be with someone I didn’t truly want. I wailed out, ‘I can’t do it; I can’t do this!’ Standing outside of the pizza place. He took me home and we didn’t talk again. I knew I wanted Tyler, but shouldn’t. I was at my wits ends. After that episode, Tyler and I took another trip to Canada, this time to the beach. Back to square one. Back to Tyler and Jess.
The next big, monumental, history landmark, that has significance in how we finally realized we should probably be together, was me leaving Kent. I no longer was at his disposable, I no longer was a walk away, I was no longer convenient. We were still holding out, on and off. Fall came around and he had a new townhouse with five wild roommates that encouraged his wild behavior to flourish even further.
This is when S**T GETS UGLY. He started talking to someone new. Someone who wasn’t rat girl and someone who wasn’t me. I was completely done. The texts we sent back and forth; I don’t even want to recall. They were horrible. I called him names, he called me names. We tore each other apart. We finally called it quits. I had been hanging out with my work friends still, and their friends. I started talking to a new guy, introduced to me by them, because what’s the harm in talking?
We went to some dinners and hung out. It was fun, but more importantly, it kept me away from Tyler. We were successfully off doing our own things, until we ended up back at the same party, because we had all the same friends after all.
The last two people, new girl and the boy, made us both loose our s**t. Seeing me actually be with someone else killed him. It killed me to see him with someone else too. The night he got with the new girl, at the same party I was at, I ran to my friend’s house, tears streaming down my face, the pit of my stomach hurt and my heart broke. This was the first time he picked someone over me.
The day he saw me at the same party — smiling, laughing with the guy I was seeing — broke him. He left the party. It was the first time I had picked someone over him.
THIS IS WHEN THE HAPPY ENDING COMES.
After those two episodes, Tyler and I finally realized we didn’t want to be apart, we wanted to be together. We didn’t want to watch others hold our hearts. I stopped talking to the new guy, he stopped talking to the new girl. He went for it. He told me everything the both of us knew deep down. ‘Jess it’s supposed to be me and you. I love you. And I will buy you a ring right now if that’s what it takes. We belong together.’
Broken from the past months of abuse we had both endured, we proceeded with caution. We started, for the first time ever, talking exclusively. I was driving up to Kent to see him. He was driving to my hometown to see me. On the way home one night from visiting him, he texted me, ‘I’ve been thinking about my future a lot and you were in it every time. I think you and I were meant to be.’
To this day, that’s what sold me. We did a month of exclusively talking and testing out the waters, and by the end of October, we were officially together. Life was amazing. Fast forward two years, and it hasn’t changed since. We now are married, live together, own two cars together, are in the process of buying our first home, and most importantly, we are parents to the most beautiful baby girl.
College is not an easy place to find the person you’re supposed to be with forever. It is your selfish years, the years for self-growth. Not to mention, temptation is around every corner. Maybe that’s why it took us a little longer than the average couple, to figure out it was supposed to be me and him. But we made it. Given the option, I would not have it have happened any other way, because we fought to get where we are. We worked so hard for ‘us’, it makes me appreciate what we do have even more.
We’ve been through every negative thing a couple can endure, and still, here we are. He was there for me when I needed him most, and I was there for him when he needed me most; despite what title we held. I’ve never seen a couple make a bigger comeback. We were horrible to each other, but we took that bad experience and we grew from it.
Since we decided to officially be together, we have the most amazing relationship. That relationship flourished into a marriage where we take on all of life’s crazy adventures together, including our most favorite adventure, parenting. He loves me with all he has, as I do for him, and not once has anyone come anywhere near stepping in the middle of us.
We are amazing for each other. Our story may not be approved by some, and it’s not a fairy tale, and I’m sure none of you will get done reading this and think, ‘What an adorable story, I wish that had happened to me!’ But it is real, it is honest, and it’s how we came to be. I love our story, because I know through the failures of trying to be together, we blossomed into the people we are today.
I watched us grow and mature through the process. We whole heartedly knew this is what we wanted. It’s who we wanted. Who we loved. From the beginning, he was my best friend and he will always be my best friend. But I’m so happy he also became forever and always.
Thanks for reading.
Tyler and Jess”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Edmisten, 23, of Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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