Before I met my prince charming, I had to kiss a few toads — one of them just happened to be a part of the royal family.

It all started back in California during my college years. I was a sophomore dating a senior who thought he was the best thing to ever happen to a woman. He felt relationships were only about what a man wanted or needed and treated me more like an object than a person.

We may have cared about each other, but we fought constantly. We dated that entire school year, then he moved back home to Texas and we were on and off for another six months or so after that.

He never talked about his family much when we were together. I knew he had two older brothers and a sister, but he seldom spoke of them and only called them by childhood nicknames when he did. He spoke the most about his mother and the town they grew up in. Frankly, he was the baby and he and his siblings just weren’t very close.

Dating him was the reason I almost flunked out of college during sophomore year, and trying to “make it work” with him nearly cost me my junior year too. He never treated me the way I deserved and I was so happy to grow up and realize that I didn’t need to be with a jerk who didn’t appreciate me for the woman I was, and who, rumor had it, was cheating on me. He was just no good for me, and by the beginning of my senior year we didn’t even speak anymore.

I completely moved on. It took me an extra year to finish my program, but after graduation I got an internship in California that led to an awesome job offer in Miami.

When I got settled there, I met a great guy in line at the bank and we started dating. He was also a Texas native (guess I have a thing for southern accents) and things got super serious between us before I even knew what hit me. He was The One and I knew it. He treated me like his world and I just knew he’d be my future husband. We dated for about 8 months and he was ready to introduce me to his family. We flew to Texas and pulled up in front of his parent’s family home. Imagine the shock and horror on my face when I saw my college ex walking from the house and toward the car. My new boyfriend says, “Oh, there’s my brother coming now.” My heart dropped to the floor. Could this be, I thought? Did I really fall in love with ex-boyfriend’s brother thousands of miles away? I felt sick.

Long story short, it was a very awkward first family dinner. I wasn’t sure how my new boyfriend felt about it, but like I said, they weren’t very close so he wasn’t as upset as I thought he’d be. I was pretty messed up about it, but we talked about it, and didn’t see any reason to break up over the past. That said, we’re getting married next year, but I still don’t look forward to family dinners. My ex and I keep things cordial for the sake of his brother, and their family, but things will never be peachy between us. Plus, let’s be honest. I’m sure he’s a little jealous. The whole thing is just awkward and I hope it gets better over the years.