On New Year’s Eve of 2014 I went to a party, met a cute guy, and ended up talking and laughing with him until 5 in the morning—something 100% out of my grandma-like, go-to-bed-by-nine character. It was fun, and he immediately brought out my carefree, goofy side. He showed me his record collection and we danced together like the main characters in the year’s most stereotypical rom-com.
The hopeless romantic in me loved that we met by total chance. I loved that we were watching Moulin Rouge at 3 in the morning and having deep conversations about life. It seemed like the perfect beginning to a story we would tell our kids someday.
Following that evening, as my mom and sister met and loved him, and my best friend seemed to offer her immediate approval, it all quite honestly felt like fate. I thought, “This is it. This is the guy God has finally brought into my life that I’m supposed to marry.” After a few years without dating, and after recently coming to a place of contentment about being single, I assumed this was the reward for my patience.
Because of all this, I buried way, way deep down any reservations I had about our relationship—even from the very beginning.
That first night, I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable by how strong he was coming on to me. I didn’t necessarily want to leave; I was just a little on edge because of how much he already seemed to like me, even though he didn’t know much beyond my name, occupation, and some small talk. But I was having fun so I shrugged it off.
When we went on our first date, I chalked up how much he talked to excitement. I couldn’t admit it bothered me when he carried 80% of the conversation and I could hardly get a word in. As things continued getting more serious between us, these moments kept happening, and our personalities oftentimes just did not gel.
But opposites are supposed to attract, right? If that’s the case, then this must be normal, I thought.
It’s not like he had any huge, fatal flaw deal breakers. There were just a bunch of baby red flags. Things I was able to easily talk myself down from because at the end of the day they were simply harmless differences between us, right?
And although the first month or two felt like an uphill climb on my part, as I reassured myself that the things I liked about him outweighed the awkwardness of navigating of a new relationship—we eventually settled into our new normal. And I really was happy. For the second time in my life, completely in love.
Because there were good things he brought to our relationship as well—his honesty and optimism, the way he dealt with conflict, his strong beliefs, and how easily he could bring out my fun side. In many ways, we worked. And I was convinced he was my future husband, so I ignored the occasional thought that I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man.
We were in too deep, I had confided in too many that this was my forever person, and even started a wedding Pinterest board for Pete’s sake! This was my future, I decided, reservations or not.
So when he broke up with me on our 8-month anniversary, the words shocked, devastated, and confused only scratch the surface of how I felt. My world was shaken to the very core—all of my dreams and future plans gone in seconds. As I cried myself to sleep that night, I was in denial that this was happening. So I prayed and stayed faithful to the belief that we were meant to end up together… for 6 entire months.
As it turns out, though, we’re not.
And during those 6 months—when I thought I was just being patient until my soulmate reentered my life once again and we lived happily ever after—what was actually happening was that I was growing. Being single again gave me clarity I so desperately needed. I was reminded of who I am and what I truly want and need in a relationship. I still missed this person, but I was able to see beyond the situation and to my surprise, heal.
I realized that what happened, believe it or not, was for the better.
The cliché phrase that “hindsight is 20/20” is overused, but oh so true. I wish I had opened my eyes and given more weight to all those baby red flags in the beginning, probably saving myself some hurt down the road. But at the end of the day, I’m thankful that I went through what I did. I’m thankful for the ups and downs, the joy and heartbreak that relationship brought. Because now, from a healed vantage point, I can see how that year prepared me for my actual forever person. It prepared me for someone who unquestioningly is my perfect match in every way and meets my relational needs far better than I thought was even possible.
I’m so glad I didn’t settle for a love that’s just good enough. Because the extraordinary type of love I’ve found is far better.
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