Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where was this book/movie when I was dating?!?

I went and saw the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" last Sunday afternoon with a girlfriend, and I've gotta tell you, I loved it.

It seemed, in fact, that the whole audience at the theater loved it. And we're talking about a boat load of singles and couples from high school age up to mid-lifers. My girlfriend and I have gone to LOTS of movies together on Sunday afternoons and we both noticed that none of them have ever been as packed as this one was.

It was amazing to observe: Someone in the audience would utter a comment after a particularly relatable scene and the whole theater would crack up or reply RIGHT ON and such. My girlfriend and I repeatedly looked at each other and were like OH MY GOD, THAT IS SO TRUE.

As I walked out of the theater, all I could think was WHERE THE HELL WAS THIS MOVIE (or the book it was based on) WHEN I WAS DATING??!?!

I swear, I could identify myself in so many of the scenes from the movie, both from Ginnifer Goodwin's character - who was the quirky singleton desperately searching (or, in some cases, stalking) for love with ALL the wrong guys - and from Jennifer Aniston's character - who was in a live-in seven-year relationship with a wonderful guy who repeatedly said he never wanted to get married because he didn't believe in marriage while she sat there dreaming of a white wedding and watching her life slip away as The Perpetual Girlfriend. SO MANY TIMES I got the itch to slap one or both of them upside the head and say, "WAKE UP! I've been there - and there - and I've made those same mistakes. This path - and that path - will not lead you to happiness!"

Of course, as most Hollywood movies do, this movie ended on a happy note all around. But having lived those scenarios in real-life, like so many other women, I know - and you know - that's not always the case.

I spent six years of my life in a relationship with a man I almost married. I loved him; I know he loved me. But, as time went on, it became clearer that neither of us was really what the other wanted in a partner FOR LIFE.

Three months before our wedding date, and after a LOT of soul searching, I told him I didn't think we should get married. A month later, I moved out of our apartment and into a place of my own.

I had never lived alone before; I'd always had a roommate. It was hard, really hard, at times. But it was good for me.

I had to figure out who I was, what I wanted my life to be like, who I wanted in my life, and what I was looking for in someone with whom I'd eventually share my life. Being alone for awhile was exactly what I needed.

The good news is that my ex and I remain friends to this day, and we're both happily married to people who are much better suited to us. It makes me happy to know that we both found happiness in the end, and to know that we've both always wanted the best for each other.

Of course, there were a few times after we split up when I found myself feeling frustrated - not at him, but at myself - for having spent SIX YEARS of my life with someone I didn't end up marrying. I sometimes wondered whether I had at some point in those six years met someone else who might've been my husband if only I'd been single when I'd met him.

But that kind of thinking gets you nowhere. Furthermore, I'm 99% sure that really wasn't the case - I'm pretty sure I would've known if I'd met The One while I was with the one who wasn't The One.

(Now, for the record, I don't actually believe that there is only ONE person in the world for each of us. I actually think that there are likely several people in the world for each of us and it's really a matter of finding each other in the right place at the right time and feeling that connection.)

The truth is, it was precisely because I spent six years with the the one who wasn't The One that I came to live where I live and got the job that placed me in Washington D.C. at JUST the right time to meet Super Man's best friend, who introduced us to each other.

If I had broken things off with my ex even one year earlier, I never would've left Madison, since my family was there and that was really where I know I would've wanted to stay. And if I'd stayed in Madison, I would have never met The One.

Super Man: My husband, the father of my child. The man who embraces and appreciates all of my good qualities, tolerates all of my bad qualities, does his best to understand my many quirks, and makes me want to be a better person.

That story, however, is for another time. :)

Before I met Super Man, I dated a few other guys who weren't The One. One in particular DEFINITELY wasn't The One, but I remained hopelessly optimistic about his "potential" for far too long.

Now that is a relevant story to tell in light of today's subject!

See, the problem was that he seemed like The Perfect Man from the very first moment. Looks, however, can be deceiving...

The first time we met, through a friend, I actually caught a glimpse of him through the window of the restaurant (not knowing yet that it was him), and I remember thinking, "Who IS that man? He is absolutely gorgeous!"

When Gorgeous ended up walking in the restaurant and up to my table, I nearly cried. It simply was not possible that HE was the guy I was being set up with. And it only got better from there.

He was charming, easy-going, funny, had a very successful career and was financially stable, was very big on family (he came from a pretty large, close one himself and said he very much wanted a family of his own). We realized that we lived less than a block apart as we talked about where we lived, and we worked four blocks apart (and both within walking distance of our respective apartments). And - the most important part - he seemed VERY interested in me.

He asked for my number, gave me his phone number. He gave me a very warm hug and a kiss on the cheek when we parted ways. And he left me a message that same night inviting me to go out with him the next day.

For those first few weeks, we saw each other at least two or three times a week, with him almost exclusively initiating all of our dates. And then, without any explanation or identifiable event, it all changed.

Oh, I saw the signs, I know I did. I just completely ignored them. :)

Suddenly, for several weeks, I was lucky if I saw him once a week. He would either call or email me a few times a week, but not always to make plans together. His emails went from normal exchanges to bizarre almost riddle-like messages.

And then, just as suddenly, he'd be back to wanting to see me multiple times a week, and he was his usual self again. I was completely perplexed.

I attributed his erratic tendencies to all sorts of other things, none of which included HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO ME.

I chalked it up to him having to travel for work, him having a rough week at work, him getting together with his many guy friends for ski trips or whatever. Anything except him not wanting to be with me.

I tolerated it for awhile, but when I started noticing that he was being way too vague about how he was spending his time during those bizarre "absences" (for lack of a better word) and started getting the sense that I was being played, I kicked him to the curb.

I might've been a little slow on the uptake, but I was no idiot. I knew I deserved better, and I was done accepting less.

That was all well and good. Until that pesky little issue of us living a block apart and working a handful of blocks apart meant that we kept bumping into each other while out and about, day and night!

At first, I'd barely acknowledge him when I'd see him. Even if he followed me out of a restaurant asking me to talk to him, I'd give him the cold shoulder and blow him off.

Then, one day, he happened to be walking up my street when I was struggling with the wrong kind of screwdriver (the only kind I possessed) trying to put my new license plates on my car. He offered to help me. Reluctantly, I accepted.

As he worked on swapping out my plates, he apologized for having been so wishy-washy, and told me a story about how he was skittish about relationships because he had his heart broken by a girl in years earlier and "never really got over it." He was so sincere in the way he told the story that I couldn't help but quash my immediate skepticism.

My mistake.

He asked me to give him another chance, to let him buy me dinner or take me to a movie. I relented.

And thus the merry-go-round started all over again.

I kid you not, I stupidly went through this routine with Gorgeous probably ten times in nearly 18 months.

I know!

I KNOW!!

Things would be ON for several weeks, and then I'd wake up again one day to find they were back to being weird and I'd tell him I was done, and then several weeks later he'd weasel his way back into my life again.

Sadly, it took me changing jobs and moving away from that neighborhood for the completely dysfunctional circuit that was our "relationship" to be broken. And once I no longer ran into him everywhere I went, I was good. I was free, I was strong, I was able to see the situation for what it really was and know that I didn't want to be in it ever again. And thank God for that!

I've heard that Gorgeous is still single, and still riding the same old merry-go-round with young women who are very much like I was then. I wonder if he's happy; I think, probably, he is. The life he's living is, after all, his choice.

When I think back on that time in my life, I feel so incredibly thankful and grateful to be out of the dating pool. Granted, I learned a LOT about myself and what I wanted as a result of swimming in those shark-infested waters, but man, those were some hard lessons to learn!

What I'm most grateful for is that I was able to recognize someone truly wonderful when at last he came along. Yes, he too is gorgeous - but he's also gentle, smart, loving, tender, strong, responsible, and GENUINE. What you see is what you get when it comes to Super Man. He doesn't play games and he knows who he is.

So. It seems I got my happy ending, too. :)

XOXO
SW

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