Two vastly different ideals about how we are meant to lead ourselves around in this world:
1. You can't trust your own heart. Even the bible says it, not that most of the people that read this will care about that, but just the idea that your heart will mislead you has been around for many many years is quite apparent.
2. Follow your heart. Because supposedly you always know in your heart what is best for you, or what the right choice is.
I have altogether too often believed the second piece of advice from the world. Then of course I have been wrong time and time again about a man, and each time feels so different. Different kinds of love, different reasons for loving them, different things I loved about them and different ways that I expressed my love for them. But then it always ends the same. (Well, for the purposes of this explanation, there is a running theme even if the story changes).
Usually it's some version of the following statement: "You are (would make) such a good girlfriend, (wife). You're smart, funny, kind, etc. You're beautiful. You've done nothing wrong, BUT --- " and usually it's followed by, "I'm just not ready for a relationship right now." OR, "You'll make such a great girlfriend, just not MY girlfriend." OR "I'm an asshole, I don't deserve someone as great as you."
When you're told that you've done nothing wrong, and that you're somehow so perfect, even been told by a man how much he loves you, but he still leaves you, there's a small part of you that dies each time. A small part of your trust, your openness, your ability to love, your optimism; it's a hole in your heart that gets bigger and bigger until someday, you become one of those awful disagreeable fat grey-haired secretaries with a mom-do that everyone at work hates because all she talks about is her cats and her breathing problems, and how bad her bunion is hurting her even though she wears diabetic shoes. I bet they all used to be very fuckable and pleasant, but were driven to terribleness by assholes.
You tell yourself that next time, you'll be able to sniff out the bullshit earlier on. You tend to trust your instincts much sooner. 20 minutes into a date you know if you're going to sleep with them or not, and after the second or third date you know if you could date them for at least a few months and put some effort into it. But after a few relationships, you start to learn more about yourself and what you're looking for. You (hopefully) figure out your own quirks and what you may need to change for a future mate. You can enjoy dating and be happy about the choices, even the mistakes that you've made, because they're preparing you for "the one".
And then, just when you start to feel like you have everything figured out, you get sucker punched with a sledgehammer.
The most common saying among couples and happily married folks is that they "knew". Sometimes they knew right away, maybe love at first sight. Other times it was within the first couple of months, but very quickly. You tell yourself, "I'll know, My heart will absolutely tell me and I'll absolutely know for certain when the love of my life comes along." and you wait, and you hope, and you try to remain optimistic. It should happen for everybody, right?
About two months ago, I met someone. He was everything that I had pictured in my mind when I would think about the perfect man for me. He was intelligent, very skilled at his job, successful, had his shit together, and was well respected among his peers. He had kind eyes, a gentle voice, and was incredibly well dressed. The second that I saw him I thought, "I have to talk to him. I want to get to know that guy." It was as if lightning had struck, like when Michael Corleone saw Appolonia in The Godfather and immediately went nuts for her. So I slipped him my card, shook his hand, and walked away hoping that if there is a God, He should want good things for me, and that night one of those things was that this very attractive guy might just happen to be single.
So the next day he called me. On the phone. Like an adult man who is interested in an adult woman fucking should do. (He even addressed how he doesn't think that people call each other anymore, and how detrimental that is to how dating should be. I obviously agreed.) We set up a date, and I was so nervous the night I was meant to go out with him, that I almost threw up. I thought about what I was going to wear for two fucking days. I didn't even know this guy, but I know that I wanted him to like me. A lot.
Here's something you should know about me: I don't get nervous before dates. EVER. Excited, yes. Terrified? Absolutely fucking not. That's how I knew this was very different. A little voice inside me told me how important this was, and how I needed our first interactions to be perfect. So of course when I walked in to the bar to meet him for drinks, I tripped over myself like a giant baby giraffe. He didn't laugh. He stood up and greeted me as though it didn't even happen. What a gentleman.
All foolishness aside, the rest of the date went extremely well. We both had an instant attraction, had similar likes/dislikes, political views, and were very career-driven. He even said, "I think you really like me. I think you were thinking about me all weekend." I don't remember the last time my face had turned so red, and obviously he was right. When he walked me back to my car and kissed me goodnight, the first thought that popped into my head was, "I think I'm going to marry this guy." and as crazy as that statement may have been, it was not completely irrational to become attached so quickly, because we started saying, "I love you" by date 3.
I remember he asked what was the most common problem that I had encountered in my past relationships. I said, "I feel that I've always had to fight to make myself a priority, and I should never have to do that." He seemed to view this as a challenge. "This girl doesn't know what's in store for her, I'm going to treat her like a queen."
He was doing everything that a man with deeper intentions would do. Out of the 5 love languages, I think he was using all of them pretty much each time we saw each other. Making quality time, words of affirmation, touch, gifts, and I suppose acts of service if you count how much emotional intimacy we were sharing. When I was away for Christmas, he called me every day, twice a day. We emailed love letters and got to know each other on a deeper level. When I returned he promised to take me places, go on mini adventures, and overall he was treating me the way that I had always prayed for a man to treat me. We talked about things in "we" statements, as if we were suddenly glued together and would be for some time. It was even discussed that if he should have to leave town for an extreme length of time, he would fly me out to visit, and I would stay in his home to take care of the dog. We made plans for trips, events, next year's holidays; he said things in such a certain manner that I didn't think we would ever end things by choice or something of our own doing.
Then one day, he seemed... off. Nothing so different as to truly worry me, but he was going through a lot of stress. Work, tax season, personal life, a lot of things that were hitting him all at once. Life was happening, just like it happens to the best of us. I didn't feel the need to become alarmed, we were still saying I love you and he was still calling me at the end of the day to help calm him down from the shit hitting the fan.
But the next night, after I was assured that everything was fine, after I'm still making plans in my silly little head that this wonderful man would never break my heart, he pulled the rug right out from under me. "I am so stressed out. I can't be in a relationship right now. You've done nothing wrong. You've been perfect. I need time to figure my shit out."
AND ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.
I emailed him asking him to reconsider, just take some time to relax and not put a complete stop on us. To remember that a relationship is about two people who are there for each other when life happens, and please don't shut me out. Later on to myself, over and over in my mind, I kept recounting everything he ever said, "WE can't mess this up, WE have a future together, WE're different and WE have a shot at something really great." and now a week later after complete silence I wonder how I can, or ever should, trust any man ever again.
This kind of bullshit is what turns women into bitter old cat ladies. You're promised things, you're given gifts, you're given hope, you go to bed with a smile and wonder how you ever lived without a love like this. You don't remember the last time you've ever been so happy, and in one fell swoop this person who you trusted with your whole heart revealed their wolf-like fangs from under the soft woolen muzzle of a sheep.
There are relationships I've had where I honestly did imagine or infer feelings and a future together. Situations where I got my hopes up due to my own crazy thoughts, and I wasn't actually promised any of the things that I expected. However... this time, it really seemed different. I was promised things. I was told the things I had always wanted to hear. I thought I was given the sun, the moon, and the stars, and that I could touch them and hold them right in the palms of my hands. I was so excited that perhaps I could still believe in my fairy tale, that real love can happen to me where this person would love me just as much as I love him, and a man truly would follow through with everything that he presented himself to be. But then the moon and the stars suddenly turned to dust in my hands, just as my hopes were at their highest height.
Perhaps I dodged a bullet. Perhaps this was supposed to happen, to put me over the edge and say, "fuck this shit, I'm getting a puppy and I'm saying screw it to all these men and focusing on more important things." Perhaps I got lucky and found out early on that he was all talk, and ended up being unable to deal with crisis in his life without shutting me out. Is this how he would react if something terrible happened while we were living together, or married? Should I write him off as a coward and say to myself that he wasn't a "real man" to begin with? Most women would tell me that "real man" doesn't leave his woman in the dust when life happens, they would go to their woman for encouragement and consoling.
Writing this all down has already made me feel as though perhaps I was under a spell and I'll get over this far more quickly than I imagined. Going out and getting a dog after I said, "fuck it" has certainly more than helped hasten the process. Though I haven't had to see hide nor hair of him, so I can't really say how I feel, aside from mostly numb. I think I'm still in shock.
Needless to say, my heart lied to me. She was foolish for talking me into believing him. And I was a fool for believing her.
Dear God: Please send me a man who will treat me like a queen, and behave like a king when the time calls for it. Send me a captain to sail our ship when we run into choppy waters, and let me be his voice of calm and reason when the storm hits at its hardest. Send me someone to respect, and shall respect me in return. Send me a man who is as loyal as the sun rises, not just to me but to his friends and family. Send me a love to be proud of.