When I saw Melissa for Happy Hour recently, she was doing better, excited about her newest idea, “A Hundred Days of Yes,” where she sent out a mass email asking everyone she knows to set her up with one possible mate. She didn’t seem deterred that the only guy she’d been set up with so far was two inches shorter with a club foot. I understand the enthusiasm and energy when you’re starting something new that you’re just sure will change your life (See Part One). Melissa then asks if I still see my ex sometimes. The three of us had all worked on the same show together a few years prior and she thought very highly of him. I admit, yes.
As it turns out, ending a good relationship for no good reason other than the disquieting feeling that he’s not The One, is a very difficult reason to stick by. Particularly when your ex is fighting to win you back, showing you reason after reason why you do love him, why your connection is special. It makes you question – With so many great things to our relationship, why can’t that be enough? And so we’ve found ourselves in a cycle, a full year later now, still dragging it out and still coming to the same conclusion, circling the drain but never flushing down. I’ve told my friends to stop asking because even I don’t know what to call us. We’re not together but we can’t seem to let go either. My mother, a marriage therapist, has thrown her hands up trying to figure us out. He and I continuously say our painful goodbyes sure this is the last time, fighting to move on, but yet we keep finding our way back to each other. Back to hope and hurt again and again. Am I just biding my time, seeking his familiar comfort or could Mr. Almost Right be my Mr. Right after all?
I know so many women in long-term relationships with men they don’t see themselves marrying, but they stay because there’s never anything wrong enough to leave. And so the years tick on, their attachments grow, their opportunities diminish and the chances of them ever actually springing free to go back into the wild to search for something that fulfills them entirely becomes smaller and smaller. And one day they stop holding out hope that the real love of their life will show up and sweep them out of their ho-hum relationship; they stop confiding in their friends that they don’t see their guy as The One and they start telling everyone including themselves the same lie, that they’re happy now – as they start taking the steps necessary to Settle.
Because he’s not really that bad, is he? You’re happy enough.
And you don’t want to gamble and wind up alone for the rest of your life, the last person to pick a chair when the music stops, that’s no fun. Mr. Almost is certainly a hundred times better than Ms. Old Maid. The older we get, these decisions matter more and more. You can’t date for fun, anymore – it becomes, “Where is this going?” from the outset. And every time you start over feels like more wasted time. Time that we don’t have to waste.
I’m not looking for perfect, I understand even the best relationships take work (What else do you expect when a Martian and Venusian get together?) but I want my whole heart to be in if I’m going to get married. I want to be head over heels. I want to feel at peace. We all have friends and parents who say when they met their spouse, they “just knew.” I’m holding out for that kind of certainty.
Of course, when you throw one fish back into the sea, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a better one…
We’re brought up on this notion that the one we’re meant for will one day find us. But soulmates are a relatively modern luxury, a contemporary construction of socially progressive countries. Most of the world does not marry for true love. And if only a small sect of the entire world does, are we foolish to believe such a thing as The One even exists? Why would we be so privileged? Is it like a religion where its members believe that the rest of the world is screwed for not growing up in their superior religion, rather than recognizing that perhaps, their belief system is really just one of many ways to make sense of the universe, no more right than any other – just a folktale we tell ourselves to feel slightly less alone?
Who knows, I still want love.
Melissa says to me, “I don’t know what the reasons are that you don’t think John is The One. But as a 42-year-old woman, let me say that guys like him don’t come along. Just make sure you’re certain before you let him go.”
She sure uses her age a lot to scare the crap out of me.
I know that picking John out of fear is not the right choice. I freed him long ago to start looking for what makes him happy and I know one day this back and forth between us will stop for good. A guy as great as him will get snatched up. I know that and I let him go, anyway. It’s the only fair thing. He deserves someone who sees him as The One - just as I deserve to feel that way about someone.
The first time I ever saw him, he walked into our production office, confident, unrushed, like he’d been there a thousand times and I said, “I wish I could do that.” He turns to me and says, “What?” And I say, “Walk in like I own the place.” He laughed heartily and I liked him immediately. He was a teamster, a jolly blue-collar guy with an easy laugh and sexy, broad shoulders. He was a fun guy to flirt with at work and over the next six months, I never really saw it as anything more than that.
On our first date, he blew me away. He was so much more than I imagined. Smart, funny, diverse… And I spent the rest of the relationship being surprised by him. But there’s something negative about being surprised by someone, it means you underestimate them. At least that’s what I thought. But maybe in this case it’s that I never met someone like him before. I was shocked to date a guy who was so together, such a… grown man. He was so much more together than I was or anyone I’d ever dated. He’s a handyman, a stock trader, a rough-and-ready camper, a green thumb in the garden and a Macgyver in the kitchen; he owns a motorcycle, a sailboat, a French bulldog and a salt water aquarium. He took me from a part of my life where I was still holding onto hand-me-down IKEA furniture and t-shirts from high school (What? If they still fit…) into Adult Relationshipville. He continues to be one of the most passionate and active people I’ve ever met and by almost all accounts a great fit for me.
What I wouldn’t give for the block in my heart to be moved.
But that damn relentless thing won’t budge. It keeps me up at night whenever I find myself back in his bed, this plaguing, heavying pit that I don’t belong there.
Maybe one day my heart will find its peace with him or maybe that block exists for a reason. If I finally do move on and it all works out for the best and I wind up with my One, I’ll thank that feeling for saving me from a situation unright for us. And I’ll understand that while it was one of the most painstakingly difficult things I’ve ever done to move on, I was just around the corner from a life that fulfilled me.
Or not. There really aren’t a lot of men like him. You never know…
Stay tuned, blogees.
And that’s my thirty sense.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I changed the name of my ex in respect for his privacy but for everyone in my life, it’s pretty obvious who I’m talking about. My ex read this and was understandably upset. I apologized and said I understand why it’d hurt to read something like this. He says, “Yeah, I find out after all this time you’ve been fooling around with some guy named John?!”
( just kidding)