So once upon a time, there was this boy—and, at four years my junior, “boy” described him perfectly. He was many things I wanted in a potential mate and many things I didn’t. I saw those deal-breaker sticking points and refused to give him a second thought for many months of his advances. He would flirt and I would dismiss. He would pursue and I would trot off in the other direction. “He’s not The One,” I told myself.
Then one fateful eve this boy was there when I needed a shoulder and a Long Island Iced Tea. The combination of comfort and six types of booze really seemed to open my eyes. (Side bar: I don’t really rely on booze to begin my relationships. I swear. Stop looking at me like that. It was one drink. Years ago. I don’t have a problem!) So I decided to give him a shot. And by shot I meant I would date him ‘til I inevitably got bored. “He’s not The One,” I told myself.
Things progressed nicely for a few months. We got along splendidly. He made me feel special and treated me nice and all that crap that girls expect from a decent human being who is playing the role of boyfriend. We talked openly about everything. If I took issue with something he did. I brought it up in a calm, adult-like manner and he responded in kind. He respected me and everything I stood for. I enjoyed our time together immensely, but tried not to take it too seriously. “He’s not The One.”
I soon realized that I was more comfortable with him than I had been in my past relationships. I didn’t pretend to be something I wasn’t. I didn’t have to tip toe around him just to keep him. And he really seemed to genuinely want to be with me no matter how much of myself I revealed. Then he said “I love you.” But I couldn’t say it back. “He’s not The One.”
Months passed with this game of his expressing his adoration and me brushing it off. Then something happened. And I was compelled to return the gesture. “I love you,” I said. “I guess maybe he could possibly be The One. Maybe.”
*I should have warned you all earlier. This post is obviously über emo. I apologize.*
Things went along as blissfully as one could ask for in a well-adjusted relationship. We had our tiffs but nothing of the dramatic magnitude I had experienced in the past. I was starting to feel settled and safe. Then one day he called to tell me his life just didn’t have room for me anymore. He was sorry, but he wasn’t The One.
I was crushed. But I knew I would make Gloria Gaynor proud. I would be sad for a bit. The appropriate amount of time. But I would survive. Because I knew he wasn’t The One.
And I was fine with that for the first time in my dating life. This was one of the few relationships I felt had been completely healthy despite the fact that it had ended. It had still been beneficial. Many of the others had been detrimental and mishandled in some way. Either due to me, or the boy or both. But not this one.
I’ve never been one to wish I could take back a relationship. You live and learn. Nothing is a mistake. Everything happens for a reason. Blah blah blah. It’s all true for the most part. But, in this case, it seems to be truer than it was with the others. This time around I didn’t need The One. I just needed someone to show me that a relationship doesn’t have to be an emotionally draining prison. As Scarlett O’Hara as it sounds, that’s exactly what I had experienced with my former fiancé. And even though I had, had well-adjusted relationships between the relationshits, my betrothal had shaped my view of adult courtship. And it was a pretty disgusting glimpse of what romance had to offer.
I’m not romanticizing this particular relationship into perfection either. As I said, there were problems. Some deal breakers that inevitably caused our time together to draw to a close. But they weren’t handled with soul-sucking efforts to fix or ignore them. They were handled by going our separate ways completely in tact as the individuals we had entered the relationships as. Because we were/are adults dammit. And as such we could have relationships that didn’t work out without completely damaging our psyches in the process. Who knew?