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My heart doesn’t seem to make geographic distinctions—it only understands time.
I took my two little girls to the ice cream stand recently when my six-year-old unceremoniously fell and scraped her knee.
As anyone with small children knows, this is a common enough occurrence. As parents, we give hugs and heal boo-boos throughout any given day without much thought. It’s part of the job. When I pulled into the driveway, their mom was waiting in the lawn chair in front of their sprawling, country house.
This being the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York, it was a typical early evening at the start of summer. Peepers peeping, sun setting, crickets yelling back and forth—all the sights and sounds that reminded me of a time not so long ago when I lived there with them.
I opened the passenger door and joked, “Show mama your severe laceration.”
My ex elbowed me rather playfully in her attempt to get me to stop adding to the histrionics that my daughter loves to indulge in. Everything about that moment made time seem nebulous. It was as if, for just that moment, we were still together. And I didn’t mind it one bit. I love her; and for me, love grows stronger with time.
This is regardless of the fact that we have not been together for two years.
As a boy, my parents liked to move houses every year. I attended 12 different schools before I went to college. That is one for every grade I ever attended. This sort of upbringing made it so that I never felt any roots. Instead of creating lifelong friendships like other boys my age, I got in the habit of creating sh*t storms everywhere I went. It didn’t matter because I knew by the end of that year, I’d be starting fresh somewhere else.
As I evolve emotionally, I have come to understand that this lack of history with anyone is probably why I tend to trust and love my ex the way that I do. We have children. We are connected—year in and year out. This sort of connection with another human has been rare in my life.
I have dated women since she and I split up that have been suspicious—or at the very least, incredibly wary—of the love I still have for her. She and I are as unconventional as two divorced people can be. Our conclusion did not take place in family court, nor was there a single lawyer involved. To tell the truth, we managed to part ways without even a single loud word or accusation. All we had was the mutual understanding that it just wasn’t working.
We’re just too different in our relationship styles; I am a hopeless romantic and she’s businesslike and pragmatic about everything. Toward the end, I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and I knew the kind of relationship I longed for. I also knew I was never going to get it there.
But that’s it. I am never going to be one of those guys that sits across from a dinner date and goes on and on about what a crazy woman she was and how I should have custody and how much I regret our relationship—because none of that is true. My only real regret is that we couldn’t make it work, because after two years of serial dating, I haven’t yet met anyone that I trust as much as she. I am reminded of this reality whenever anyone asks me for an emergency contact. She is my closest family member in this world right now.
I will never understand why any intelligent woman would see this as a red flag. There is practically zero chance of the two of us trying again. What’s done—in this case—is done. I am very accepting of the fact that relationship dynamics change over time and our romantic era has come and gone. This makes it so that I am open to finding romance elsewhere.
This is what I have been occupied with for the last two years.
I have come to understand that if someone I am dating finds it questionable that we have preserved other aspects of our relationship, this person is probably not emotionally evolved enough to suit me. So generally, it’s usually not a big loss. I mean, a few times it has been disappointing to lose the physical connection because of that, but chances are it would’ve ended in some other way further down the road.
So, this has worked as a crucible of sorts, separating me from partners that would have been poor choices anyway.
I know this: when I find my person, she will be not only fully accepting of my feelings for my ex, but happy that I have them. She will be emotionally intelligent enough to realize that this is a good quality in a man.