After a devastating break up and a year of dating flubs, finding him was like finding a Prada Saffiano Lux bag on sale -- incredibly rare. It's funny actually, we almost never met, as I adhere to my self-created strict online dating rules, number one being: Thou shall not engage in more than three emails back and forth before he shall ask for my phone number. After years of dating and months of online dating this was a rule I found to be helpful. The idea behind it is that I didn't want to get caught up in long email chains that never amounted to a date, or worse, invest time texting someone only to encounter them months later and realize they are nothing like I had anticipated.
When we got to the third message, he merely asked what my schedule was like, without asking to meet me. I normally would have sent him to the 'never date' folder, but for some reason I took the bull by the horns and said, "My schedule changes, here is my number, maybe we can meet sometime," and sure enough he followed up to set a date.
In typical fashion I was in the midst of dating someone else and had just had a weekend rendezvous while at a friend's wedding in Florida. Having not heard from this new suitor in the week leading up to our date, I had assumed it wasn't going to happen. I was surprised when, on the day of our scheduled meeting, I woke to a text from him. Having nothing to lose, I took him back out of the 'failed date' folder in my brain, and decided to go forward with the original plan.
It was the dead of winter in New York City, so leaving the apartment really was an effort, but you have to put yourself out there when you are looking for love! When I arrived he was already sitting at the bar. He greeted me with a hug and warm smile. Our conversation instantly flowed smoothly and hours flew by. At one point he put his hand on my waist and leaned in for a kiss and in that second everything changed. It was magical. Like that moment in a romantic comedy where everything stops and there is some pop love song playing while the cameras circle around these two people embracing. When we pulled away I was smiling from ear to ear. It was the best kiss of my entire life. From that instant forward we were inseparable.
He was everything I wanted in a companion: funny, cute, smart, sweet, kind, thoughtful, and ultimately, we just clicked. When you've dated as much as I have, finding someone with all these qualities is an answer to your prayers! After two months of being attached at the hip, I was sure I could see exactly how everything would play out; when we would move in, get married, all those silly girly things. But as I settled into my fantasy the bubble burst. He changed, and there was nothing I could do to repair the fragile dome that had protected the honeymoon phase.
I tried to ignore his change in attitude and stay positive and happy as he became more distant and cold. I stayed true to the person I am, looking at life with the glass half full and consistently giving him 110 percent. But it doesn't matter how many nice things you tell a person, or how many thoughtful gestures you put forward, if someone doesn't want to be in a relationship, you can't make him.
The more I believed I was the perfect girl for him, the more isolated he became. It made me feel bad about myself. When I became attuned to this, the reality set in, he wasn't "the one." I still saw and felt all the wonderful things about him, but I didn't want to be with someone who didn't want to be with me. This recognition is incredibly hard to come to grips with. So much so, that I wasn't the one who ended things. After months of riding the roller coaster and constant mixed messages, it was he who told me we weren't working. I saw it coming but I was still distraught. I told myself I had one night to be upset and then it was crucial to move on.
I quickly returned to Match.com and started dating again. No one was him. I compared everyone. I yearned for an instant chemistry like we had shared. He had raised the bar in my dating life and I knew I wouldn't settle for anything less than the feeling I had those first two months. Day in and day out I still thought about him, and when he came back into my life with an apology email, it was like my reality could be the plot of a great romantic comedy. "This time apart has led him to recognize that we really are a great match," I thought. Even though I told myself I wouldn't rush back into things with him, it was another hard reality when I again figured out he hadn't changed and still wasn't going to let me in and be "the one." To be honest, I don't even know why he came back. It was never clear, but it was obvious that it wasn't because he was ready for a happy ending.
As I get older I really do believe that every experience is one to learn from, and though hard times don't become easier, they also don't last as long. We understand that life goes on. As I truly reflected on him and us, I realized that I fought the notion that he wasn't "the one." My defense mechanisms were pouring out of me, "buts, ifs, ands," and I was convinced I could make this work. But I couldn't control his mind, only my own. I didn't want to feel bad about myself. I didn't want to feel like I had to try so hard. I wanted, and want, to feel loved, accepted, respected, trusted. He may seem to have everything I desire, but without him wanting to be with me, he lacked the biggest and most important quality one can look for in a suitor.
I think you have to be brave and smart to let go. I'll be honest, even in writing this there is a piece of me that hasn't let go. He still sits on a pedestal in my heart and I believe this to be ok. I have learned to have standards and also to trust my gut. If there is one thing I would like to impart on other people, it is to stand up for what you want and not to settle, or belittle your needs. If you are giving your all to someone and you like who you are, then no one should have the power to bring your spirit down. Shine bright like a diamond. Thanks, Rihanna. But seriously, life can be the journey you want it to be, and it's ok to realize that the path you believed was your destiny isn't. In the moment, it's hard to comprehend, but when we work on ourselves, all we can do is put our faith in fate and believe that one day, "the one" is.