The summer after my freshman year of college, I was one of about eighteen college students doing a five-week internship. We lived together on site, girls on one floor, boys on another. We ate our meals, spent all our free time together, carpooled to the ice cream shop and closest big city on the weekend.
We spent a lot of time together.
Living in close proximity, it was natural for attraction to develop between many of the interns. And I was no different. I remember there was one guy who caught my eye. “Tim” was funny, athletic, and kind. Most intriguing to me was that he actually showed interest in me: flirting, teasing, and trying to sit at my table for meals. As a girl who never had a boyfriend, but had plenty of crushes, this was a welcome change—which made me feel even more attracted to him.
But as the weeks wore on, I began to see signs of how different we were from each other. His values, life goals, and outlook on the world were not the same as mine.
My heart tried to convince me to give it a go and just see what could happen. If anything, it could just be a summer fling, right? We could both have fun and then just go back to our normal lives—no harm, no foul.
I started thinking more about what I was looking for in a guy and why I was attracted to this one. Deep down I knew I wanted to wait for someone who really cared for me and I for him. I realized the thing I liked best about Tim was the attention he was giving me. But I wanted to wait for a guy I could spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t want to waste my time—or my heart—on a guy if it wasn’t going to work out in the end. Even in a brief, no strings attached relationship, I knew I’d be risking heartbreak.
Once my head caught up with my heart, my attraction to him started to wane. I started to notice how condescending and argumentative he could be. And when he lost his temper during a debate with a fellow intern, it made me glad I listened to my gut.
Neither of us ended up acting on our feelings; it wasn’t even something we talked about. We’d still hang out and enjoyed chatting and laughing with the group, but I no longer hung out with him alone. The summer ended, and I never saw or spoke to him again.
When it comes to love, we’re often told to “follow your heart,” or to “feel, don’t think.” But sometimes our hearts need our heads to guide them. While it’s necessary to have feelings in a relationship, I learned you can’t totally rely on them. And I’m so glad I waited for someone who was a better fit for me.