I used to hear that a lot from someone who used to be in my life. The line was used to dangle possibilities that would never become realities.
There are a lot of things I said I would never do, especially in the context of relationships. Jaded, skeptical and wounded, I had a laundry list of things I said I wouldn’t do to accommodate potential love.
That was then and this is now. I would say my dog ate the list, but I don’t have a dog. I’m eating the words – and being reminded of advice I gave others – on a daily basis. That’s OK—it’s good to remember what lack of hope feels like.
Some people say that you don’t know what you lost until it’s gone. I’ve learned that I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it.
As a single, unattached female I had a good life. Good job. Nice home. Fantastic friends who are my family. I was enjoying life and not troubled by the fact that I wasn’t in a long-term relationship. For me, relationships with men aren’t about finding someone who meets a list of criteria. It’s about finding someone with whom I have that inexplicable feeling: part chemistry, part intuition, part emotional and intellectual attraction. I simply call it “IT.” Despite joining online dating where magical computers are supposed to crunch the data and churn out The One for me, I wasn’t finding “IT.”
I’ve always believed that your life can change in a single moment that otherwise would be unremarkable. I’m not talking about those huge, tragic moments – like being struck by lightning or having a horrific accident. I mean those ordinary moments where a seemingly insignificant decision changes your life.
For me, it was in a crowded room packed with hundreds of people. I noticed an attractive man that I had never seen in this establishment before. And I did something I said I would never do: I sent him a drink. Everyone who has read The Rules or He’s Just Not That Into You believes this is a bad idea. But my filters were clogged and I was being encouraged by a friend. After what seems like hours and drinks were exchanged, I needed to head to the ladies’ room. En route, he stopped me to talk.
In that instant, I knew. This could be “IT.”
Fast forward a mere 107 days. I wake up every morning feeling extremely lucky. And very thankful I broke one of my rules.
Since then a lot of my “nevers” have gone out the window. We spend every available moment together. Social activities with friends and family, grocery shopping, bike riding, reading, watching TV…we do most things as a team. We like it that way. Early on we had the conversation about how much “alone time” we each need. Ironically, both of us feel like we were alone for a long time and we like the companionship.
We’ve begun our relationship with the assumption that it will last indefinitely. How can you begin a relationship thinking it won’t work? We both know what we want in a relationship and we both want the same thing. That’s key. There isn’t that imbalance of one partner wanting more (or less). We have a lot in common but also some stark differences. We balance one another and make one another better.
We know we are lucky. Some people never find what we have. We also are savoring the moments together, because we know we won’t always have them. I met him during the period after he retired from a first career and before he embarks on his second. He will soon begin a challenging job with a lot of travel and we won’t have this opportunity to spend so much time together.
It’s not been without some significant adjustments. Bringing a partner into a close-knit group of friends who are like a family hasn’t been without struggle, and even a bit of unfortunate drama. Personalities clash. Cultures collide. Feelings are hurt. It’s a lot like stuffing four women who don’t know one another into a tiny cruise ship cabin for a weekend (I’ve done that, too).
People feel slighted, ignored. Highly social, I was always available for everyone whenever they needed me – whether for partying or a shoulder to cry on, I was there. I was the “wing woman” for other single female friends. I was a drinking buddy for platonic male friends.
Now I’m joined at the hip with a virtual stranger. The others aren’t getting their “Ginger time,” and it’s a challenge. But they had me to themselves – and I had them – for a long time. It’s his turn to have some of my undivided attention. And my turn to finally be loved the way I need to be loved. I’m incredibly happy and for the first time in many years I feel valued by someone who wants to share my life.
Those who genuinely care about me understand and tolerate this guy they aren’t so sure about. They accept that I AM sure about him. I know it’s not always so easy. If I turn out to be wrong, I will be better for the experience. It’s certainly been worth it so far.
In the end, we are all adults and we will adjust. After my partner and I return from a month in Europe, he will go back to the workforce and reality will be injected into the fairytale. I will have plenty of time on my hands to share with all of those people who are missing me.
Will we live happily ever after? Stay tuned.
But I’ll never say never again.