When I fall in love, I fall instantly. I am not graceful, taking my time, reserved. My entire heart clings to that person and all of my cliche hopes for the future.
At least it used to.
In the past year of singledom I have gone out on 1-3 dates with about 9 guys. Each time we get to ‘the question of us’ I leave them feeling confused because, to the outside world, the beginnings of the relationship were really bright. I even surprise myself. When the time came to commit, I found myself feeling misunderstood, isolated, and even lonelier than I had been when I was single.
It is that need to be involved with someone, no matter how wrong they are for us, that keeps us going to these great lengths to get a date. Any date.
The differences between these people we see and our idea of Mr. Right do not have to be major.
In my experience none of these men have been bad people, or even obnoxious people, they just did not make my stomach flip. So I had to decide whether to stay in the relationship just because there was no glaring reason not to, or decide to keep looking based on the principle that to be alone is far better than to stay and feel the depressing lack of deep connection.
As I would recant these stories to my best friends at coffee the next day, they would worry. They would tell me how happy I had seemed, how much my new coupling had appeared to be working, and how I was just being too picky.
For my own benefit they asked me to stay just a little bit longer with a few of these guys in order to ‘really find out’ if my instincts were right. They saw that I was seeing only the negative, so they asked me to define what I was looking for instead of obsessing over what was not working.
So I developed my own three point checklist.
I chose 3 qualities that were necessary for me to be attracted to someone. They were:
Those are all favorable qualities that did not make the selection process any easier.
Anyone in the world can be intelligent, funny, and kind. It is akin to saying “I want him to be my Prince Charming”…it’s such a cliche that it becomes a moot point. So then I thought maybe I should decide on a collection of deal breakers instead.
I made a list of 3 things I will not tolerate, and the list was as follows:
- Long hair (sorry, I can’t do it)
Then I realized that those are not things that anyone would want to deal with in the first place (except number 3) and therefore this new list turned out to be another dead end.
It led me to believe that trying to define attraction–and love, in qualities and checklists is fruitless and frustrating.
Each of the guys I have dated this year have satisfied each of my lists and yet I really wasn’t connecting with any of them.
Maybe the secret is in the serendipity, the worthwhile part of dating is being shocked by the person you find. You don’t have to think, you do not have to analyze, you just know. I might be reverting back to the hopeless romantic in me but I think I’m on to something here.
The one boy I really fell for this year was intelligent, kind, able to carry a philosophical conversation casually, but it was something more. He was a gentleman with romantic eyes who showed me adventure and outlined the qualities in me that were special.
Our adventures consisted of junk food and drives to watch the sunset almost every night. These meetings were ordinary and run of the mill but somehow beautiful and complete.
Most importantly he made me feel so understood and secure, as if he were my best friend and I had loved him for years.
I cannot define that quality or find it in a list, but it made me believe in love at first sight. I may sound fanciful here but I cannot deny that I fell for him so completely, in such a short time, and I felt my inner hopeless romantic return.
I missed her.
It was not that I was no longer fearful, but something in his mischievous smile made the fear worth it, something in how he could see and understand and accept all of my idiosyncrasies made the fall worth it.
All of my defining, over-analyzing and wondering “is he the one?” was for naught because you can’t define it or look for it, it just happens to you.
If you allow yourself to get too scientific with things, as I had with my lists and astute observations, you lose the fun of the whole process. It should not even be called a ‘process’. It is something we are lucky that we get to do.
We get to fall in love, so maybe we should all stop with the stress involved.
Stop and breathe and really feel.
The aforementioned stomach flip is the only thing that I would keep on any list of things to look for in a relationship. If you look into that person’s eyes and feel like you cannot stop yourself from grinning, blushing, or doing an absurd combination of the two, then you’re on to something. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you.
Once your stomach flips everything else in the world makes sense.
The journey was worth it because love has brought your inner hopeless romantic back– and she’s missed you too.