I have just had another brief encounter, another promising start, dashed before it could really grow its legs.
The thing is, I have been divorced for eight years. It wasn’t messy, it wasn’t complicated, it was just sad because two people grew apart who had married too young.
The brief encounters I have experienced over the last few years have been quick “relationships” with men that I have met organically or online. Sparks fly, you have a multitude of things in common, sexual attraction. You think for perhaps what feels like the hundredth time, this could be a good one, maybe The One. But then something happens, things fizzle out and you are no closer to a relationship then you thought you were.
Why did it fall apart? And seemingly, why have they all fizzled, especially my last one?
I met him using an online dating application. Our first meeting was over drinks and it was nice as first dates go. We talked about our marriages ending, mine feeling like a life time ago, and his a very recent few months ago. He spoke about his children, his work (he was in my city on business), little tid bits of his life and I did the same.
By our third date I was smitten. Having discovered both of our shared love of the ocean and the hilarity of the fact we were both living smack dab in the middle of the country, completely landlocked. Both of us had come from seafaring places and were finding the great distance of the ocean sad.
He was funny and caring and I could feel his adventurous spirit matching my own. I was so excited, and I felt he was as well. I think we both decided to let the fact that we lived in two different cities three hours apart, not become a concern. After having spent an incredible five days together he went to Europe with his children for a month to visit family. We talked every day and sent photos back and forth. I could feel something growing between us.
I felt an excitement like I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
When he got home from Europe he came to see me almost right away and the reuniting felt amazing. But then almost immediately into the two days we had to spend with each other, we started to talk about the reality of making this work. Of making us work. And slowly but surely that telltale sign of an impending fizzle was making itself known. I had barely got to know this man and already I was losing him. I was losing him to circumstance, bad timing, distance and maybe, if I am being honest, his too recently detached heart.
And so the same old sad story that I have been telling myself forever, that I’ve had my heart broken a million times, started playing on repeat in my mind. But this time, I was sick of it. Instead, I asked, “Why do I keep playing the victim in my quest for love? Why am I forgetting that with all the lovers I’ve had, in the beginning, were all fun? They have all taught me something.”
What this last brief encounter has taught me, and thank goodness it did, is that in actuality, I’ve had my heart broken three times.
Three times from the three actual, significant relationships I’ve had. Everything else has just been a disappointment. It doesn’t give them any less value, but it also doesn’t warrant the amount I have been giving them. Because let’s face it, out of some of those men I dated, I am glad they were brief!
It is true that I have become sad and defeated from all of these fizzled out brief encounters and that it has also left me with a feeling that every effort I do make now to date someone comes off as desperate. The whispered collective says, “Oh she’s 36, she has no children, she must be desperate,” echoes in my head.
But then I also feel that knowing what I want from life and from my relationships is not desperation, it’s just my truth.
Maybe all of these brief encounters have left me too bold, and maybe I do unintentionally imbue them with pressure, but in a world where we have learned to hide behind computers, with that dastardly beautiful world of social media, it has left little to no room for people who do still speak their mind when it comes to love and relationships, who are not afraid to let you know exactly how they feel. Maybe all of us women who are sensitive with hearts on our sleeves are not desperate. We are just really sure of what we want and are not afraid to show it.
When I was lying in bed this weekend, wondering how another one could have possibly bit the dust again, I was chiding my sensitive heart, shaming myself for feeling too much too soon, blaming it all on me instead of the circumstances that had clearly presented themselves.
I heard a little voice say,
“How dare you speak of your heart in such a way!? You should be so lucky to have a heart as deep as a well, a heart that can just keep pulling out love.”
Because if I couldn’t dig deep down inside there and bring out any more love, then surely I have become bitter. And a bitter heart is a lonely heart, a sad heart.
So let’s stop telling ourselves that every encounter fizzles, let’s stop thinking that it has all been vain.
Keep on your quest for love my friends, keep being willing to wait for love.
Let something to grow that will be healthy and long lasting.
Wanting love, children and family is not desperation; it is one of the truest and most beautiful gifts we as humans can give each other—no matter your sexual orientation and station in life.
So keep being bold my fellow women.
Keep pulling out all that love from the well of your hearts. Because one day that arrow will hit a target and its impact will be explosive because it will be met with just as much honesty and it will be unabashedly unafraid.
And so, for all the fizzled out “almosts,” Thank you.
Thank you for teaching me, for helping me to grow and for showing me exactly what I do want, and that I am willing to keep trying for it.
I hope that you are all willing to keep trying too, to keep telling yourselves that you are not desperate, but that it’s just your truth, your beautiful truth.
Author: Laura Reid
Image: Favi Santos/Flickr
Editor: Sara Kärpänen