There was a period between my junior and senior years of college where I went on a string of really awful dates. Sometimes the guy would like me, other times we’d both realize how wrong we were for each other right at the start. While I didn’t really stop dating, I became incredibly frustrated and once I felt like my New York move was within reach, I declared I would stop going on such terrible first dates and save myself the trouble.
I mean, if I wasn’t preoccupied with bracing myself for another man who literally slurped up his pasta, I’d be able to concentrate on more important things, like freelancing, my friends, and enjoying my last semester before graduation. And so, for the first time in my life (now being the second), I stopped looking for a relationship. I put up my guard and decided that I didn’t want anything to do with the opposite sex or the hassle they ultimately brought to my life.
And that was right when Mr. Idea walked in.
Most literally, I saw him walking down the street towards me in this green shirt (that I can still see clear as day as I type it right now) towards me and a sliver of hope said “Oh, let that be him!” A friend of mine, S, had set us up on a blind date and though it took me a while to agree, when I saw him with his big goofy grin and his 6’4″ frame strutting my way – I couldn’t have been happier to meet him. Our lunch date turned into dinner and a movie, which turned into us staying up all night long, talking and laughing, gradually feeling the fireworks burst between us.
Within a week, he started calling me his girlfriend and the love that we were growing so effortlessly continued to bloom over the next few months. Being around him was so easy and the way we melted into each other’s hearts and bodies seemed perfectly ideal. And our union came with so many signs - something that has always been important to me. He was from New York, I had always wanted to live there. He told me his name meant some sort of butterfly (jokingly, of course), and I had always said that whoever I ended up with must give me butterflies in every inch of my body. He always said we were putting the carriage in front of the horse because we moved so quickly, and for a while, I had always wanted to be proposed to in a horse-and-buggy in Central Park. He left me notes in random places to surprise me and brighten up my day, and as a writer, I always value written words.
I could list countless other romantic signals that made me feel like he was The One for me. I couldn’t imagine anything more aligned with the universe and I certainly had never felt anything so magical, so peaceful, so passionate and so surprising. We fell incredibly quick and before I knew it – I looked back at this person who I thought was so right for me and realized, I didn’t know who this person was.
And things started to change as fiercely as they began. All of the red flags that I ignored in an effort to keep the love alive for him started sprouting up in such vivid warning colors that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. We were incompatible in the bedroom. We were incompatible emotionally. We wanted different things. We had opposite drives – both in sex and in our careers. We valued and wanted vastly different things out of our partners and our futures. Suddenly, the couple that everyone wanted to be turned into the couple who fought, stayed up all night , and the flutter in my heart morphed into a severe sting that I still feel today. Right this very second.
I had put off writing about Mr. Idea because even in the duration of this blog, he’s been in-and-out of my life by calling or texting or emailing. You see, even though we broke up several months ago (nearly a year, now) – we haven’t been able to just let go. Sure, we don’t see one another, nor will I ever agree to be a couple with him, but for whatever reason, it is insanely difficult to let go of him.
During our relationship, I learned much more about what I want (and what I don’t) – but more importantly, I learned about myself. Before Mr. Idea, I was the gal who said she would never let her social life go when she became part of a pair. But when he walked into my life and I started loving him – his priorities became first. His desires became supreme. What I needed and what I deserved became secondary to meet his requirements. I stepped away from my friends, from my writing, from my goals, and positioned myself as his everything. Because there were so many romantic signs and I had this idea of what we would be, I would be silly to walk away – no? I would be wasting all the work and the tough times I stuck through for him if I just broke it off, right? No matter how miserable I was or how often I cried from his selfishness – I knew I couldn’t leave.
Until finally, it occured to me that I literally had no other choice.
If I didn’t pack up my heart and my pride and any type of confidence I had left, I would lose everything I had worked so hard to get to. I would start compromising what was most important to me and 20 years from now, I’d look back and wonder what in the world I had done. And so, with the most courage I could derive from my stomach, I said goodbye. I cried harder than I knew possible and there was more fear inside of me then I had when I boarded the flight to New York.
Because, I still loved (and love) him. I knew he wasn’t my Mr. Right and though he had qualities that would never satisfy me in the long-term, he did bring happiness to my life. He did help me grow into a better person. He did help me through some difficult times. In the beginning, there was a lot of passion and incomparable butterflies that reaches my toes, like I wanted. And anytime you leave someone who you still care about – you have that emptying feeling of fear. Of hesitation. And at times, you want to go back – but you remind yourself that stepping into a relationship with someone who was merely a dream…will end in a nightmare.
I’d by lying if I said there was a day that went by that I didn’t think of him or I didn’t wonder if I made the best decision. But I know I’d be a fool if I returned to a relationship that did far more harm than it did good. Or a love where I lost every other love in my life to focus on a dead-end relationship.
On the surface, in photos, and on paper - he is everything I wanted. But when I broke up with him, I did it because I realized I hadn’t fallen in love with him for who he is, as a person. I had been swept away by the idea of him. And the image of what I thought he and we would become. I saw things I didn’t like, things I knew I could never live with, and things that didn’t match me at all – but I stuck around because I believed that something would change. That the magic we felt so immensely in the beginning would come back around, and I’d realize that whatever troubles we faced were just temporary. It took a couple swift kicks to my heart and my head for me to come to my senses and start to let go of this idea.
And really, what dies more slowly and more painfully than a dream? A heartbreak will leave you broken, but you’ll feel the gumption to go on another date eventually. But when you fall in love with this amazing dreamy idealistic plan that you dervied with someone, it is so difficult to let that longing go.
I will never forget him nor what he taught me and brought to my life. He is not a bad person and at his heart-of-hearts, he is a sincerely wonderful individual who is all deserving of everything kind and wonderful. I would never wish him anything but happiness and the best of love.
I just know that I’m not the love of his life, nor is he the love of mine. Because when I think of finding Mr. Right or Mr. The One – I don’t want to be smitten with an image or an idea, I want to love the real deal, the honest-to-goodness reality and truth, and all of the flaws of another human being. If there are no silly romantic symbols or pennies leading me to him, so be it. I’d rather have no signs then allowing myself to be misled by my own idealistic desires.
After all, ’tis better to feel and lose true, profound love, then to get lost in something that’ll never be more than an idea.