At 25, I fell for a French artist. I had never felt such intense feelings before and thought he was the one. After I bought us an apartment, he came home one day and dumped me, telling me that he ‘didn’t feel butterflies anymore’.
At 29, I was in a relationship with a man I thought was going to marry and end up happily-ever-after with. My whole life plan was set. I knew he was the one. But then he cheated on me.
At 33, I jumped into a relationship after falling for my RV mate at my first Burning Man. We got serious quickly and talked about our future and family. This time I was certain, he was the one. I’d later find out he was cheating on me the entire time.
At 37, I met my partner. By now, I don’t believe in the one.
While I’ve only had a few serious boyfriends, there’s been dozens of people in between. From first dates, to month long romances, to the ones that would start and end like a broken record, playing the same track over years. My dating life resembled that of a revolving door, and each time a budding connection didn’t grow, I questioned if there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Some people say it’s up to fate. Maybe I had no say in how many times my heart broke. Maybe there was nothing I could have done to have changed my romantic future no matter how many psychics I visited.
Some say love happens when you’re not looking for it. I’ve questioned this logic. While I understand that desperately searching for love is unhealthy, I think that this statement brings more shame than it does a solution. Most people are wired to want to connect. Sure there are times when romance is not a priority, but it’s completely natural to want and therefore look for someone to connect with.
And then there’s those who say you ‘just know’ when you meet your person.
From falling in love to standing in love
I met my now partner and all the myths I’ve heard about how you meet the one, haven’t applied to me.
I don’t think it was fate that I was on a dating app. I definitely was looking (hence, dating app). And while it’s been a beautiful, evolving, steady partnership we’ve been building, I don’t have that all-consuming, bet your life on it “just know” sense.
Maybe it’s because of my history of choosing the wrong people out of a place of my wounding has something to do with it. Because I swear I just knew each time I had a romance at Burning Man, oh and let’s not forget that British guy who had four kids and lived in a different continent whom I also swore, “This one’s different”.
My track record doesn’t set me up to give a lot of merit to my ‘just know’ meter.
And while I don’t have the “I just know” conviction, what I do know is that I can choose — to choose him, to choose the partnership, even if my feelings du jour are telling me something else. I’m aware of my past patterns of reacting to any conflict by automatically thinking it’s over, and looking for an exit strategy to protect my heart. I can see this when it’s happening and choose to not let the intimacy-sabotaging rollercoaster take me for a ride. It’s fucking hard sometimes, my doubts, negative thoughts and catastrophic hypothetical situations can feel so real.
I can feel the lust chemicals gradually oozing out of me, as my rose tinted glasses become clear, and I see the oil marks and dirt on the lens. Oh, he’s not perfect. Oh, his pizza obsession is not so cute anymore. I see this perfectly imperfect human being, and the foundation we are building, and I’m choosing connection, every day. I don’t say forever, because I don’t think I believe in that word anymore.
My palate much prefers reality over romanticism these days.
I’ve thrown my fate cards out the window, and leaving my romantic destiny up to good ol’ fashioned hard work. The stuff they don’t show in the movies because it would be too boring. Maintenance. Commitment. Making an effort even when you don’t have the chemical momentum of lust to motivate you. Choosing love. Communicating like an adult. Having hard conversations. Allowing yourself to be seen. Seeing someone as the human that they are, not a projected fantasy of what you want them to be.
Maybe that’s been fate’s lesson to me all along.