The first boy I ever fell for was the German foreign exchange student. The second, a Motocross racer. When that didn’t work, I went on some dates with someone who could dance the Salsa around me. Then there was a head engineer, a member of the Army, and an amateur taxidermist who is now a cop. I went on a few dates with a high school drop out, I dated a local bar fly and now I’m married to my husband who likes to dress like The Mentalist and watch Dr. Who. And while some of the descriptions above show a glimpse of a genuine passion or insecurity of a person I know or once knew, this list is way more about me then about them.
This list is about knowing yourself and how I didn’t know myself. Not because I wasn’t an avid writer and self-reflector then or because I didn’t take the time, but because I was too busy being intrigued by people to find my own ‘thing’ to be pigeon-holed into. I always admired the fact that those people enjoyed something so much that I thought it could help identify them, but I never had a ‘thing’ myself. I know you’re thinking she must have one now. I don’t and it’s hard.
What I’ve come to realize about relationships in young adulthood is that someone is always scared, someone always cares more, and that ultimately those of us who cereal dated were smart. We knew that we weren’t ready. We knew that forever was permanent and that when we would say forever, it would be forever and that was terrifying. By the way, it should be terrifying. It’s a reality that so many people don’t take time to really contemplate, but I knew the meaning of forever. Maybe that is where the whole, “We’re just seeing each other” phrase came from, from people who knew to be scared of commitment, from people who knew they were actually the commitment type but wanted nothing to do with it because they were not ready for adulthood. Like me, they were trying to pass time and wait until forever didn’t sound so far away.
So who did I date? I dated guys who lived in a distant location. There is no worry about yourself becoming too committed if they have to fly back to Germany or they’re headed back to war, or even states away. True, they didn’t have to be out of the state for me to date them, but they were usually a couple hours away at least. Just far enough that I didn’t have to shave daily and keep up with that flawless, first date image I enjoyed.
I dated the guy I didn’t expect to date. Like he caught me off guard. At one point I thought I would have a summer fling. That relationship was tossed back and forth so much throughout my youth it was absolutely ridiculous. I remember joking with my friends, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” But really, his problem, he was too much like me – didn’t want to commit unless at some point one of us seemed like a challenge again then it was worth another try I guess.
I also seemed to have an ear for others saying, “Oh, he’s so hot.” The more I heard that someone was striking and special the more I thought, “No, they’re not.” Somehow treating them like they were no big deal got their attention. Unfortunately in spite of myself, I fell pretty hard, but I sure was not about to say it. Oh, it was known by my dutiful actions I think, but my personality became this, “Yeah, that’s cool” lack of a personality too afraid to put myself out there. Because of rejection? Sure. But I was WAY more afraid of not being rejected and what that seriousness would look like in my twenties.
So what about the bar fly, the drop out, and the Salsa dancer even? Rebound. I’d try to find the exact opposite personality from the guy who just unknowingly to him crushed me. These attempts were doomed and looking back I think I wanted them to be. I just wasn’t ready.
So what makes someone ready for forever then? For me it was the death of someone I cared deeply for but I never told because his self-assurance terrified me. Pretending to be carefree and light with someone’s feelings does not make them stick around. It makes it so they don’t know you. It was the bitterness that followed after this man’s sudden death at 25, and it was me waking up to a routine life with detached emotions. I craved honesty, and loyalty, and not just love but admitted love. I found it in a friend just like they say, I guess. No games. He knew me and I was absolutely ready. It was genuine and vulnerable for the first time. You see I’ve always been the commitment type; I just had to wait until forever wasn’t scary.